Hokm Game Rules
Most guides on Hokm start with describing the big picture, explaining the game objective, the point system, the terms, etc. While such an approach makes all the sense on paper, it may not be as effective as walking one, step by step, through a real or virtual game and explaining the rules and the terms as one comes across them. For this to work, start baazii.com and play a game with the computer as you continue reading. [Don’t worry if you get kicked out of the game for taking too long to play. When playing with the computer, you have at least 10 minutes to go back to the same game and pick where you left off.]
Note: [Text within square brackets and in italic is related to baazii.com]
The players sitting across from each other form a team. You should select your teammate before starting the game. The most common way to pick the teams is by drawing cards. [In Baazii.com the teammates are determined by the order of arrival. In Friends mode you can change your seat by clicking on an available seat.]
Determine the Ruler (Hakem)
At the start of each game, one of the players has to be picked as the ruler. The ruler has the advantage of picking the trump suit (hokm) and leading the first round. To pick the ruler, one of the players shuffles the pack of cards (standard 52-card deck) and, going counter-clockwise, deals one card to each player, until an Ace is drawn. The player who receives the Ace is the ruler. (A common way to pick the teams is to continue dealing to the rest of players until the second Ace is drawn, the receiver of which is the ruler’s partner. This is not available in the Baazii app yet.)
Pick the Trump Suit (Hokm)
After the ruler is determined, the player sitting on the ruler’s left becomes the dealer. She shuffles the cards again and deals the first five cards to the ruler, waiting for him to pick the trump. If you are the ruler, a rule of thumb is to pick the suit you have the most of. It may become tricky if you get two cards of two different suits each. Again, the rule of thumb in that case is to pick the suit with a higher total rank. The ruler should announce the trump before the rest of the cards are dealt. [In baazii.com you should tap on the desired suit shown on the table and then press the start button on the bottom right corner of the table. The trump suit will show at the top left of the table for the rest of the game.]
Deal the Cards
The dealer continues dealing the rest of the cards. First she deals five cards each to the rest of the players. Then she deals two rounds of four cards each to all the players, always going counter-clockwise, starting with the ruler, and finishing with herself. Each player will have 13 cards now.
Arrange the Cards
It helps to sort the cards in your hands, putting cards of each suit next to each other. [In baazii.com you can either do it manually or press the little button on the top right of your set of cards, any time during the game.]
Play the First Trick
The ruler plays the first card. The other players, starting with the player on the ruler’s right, must follow suit (play a card of the same suit as the first card). If a player has no cards of the suit led, they may play any card. With all four cards on the table, the team who has the card with the highest rank wins the trick, picking the four cards and putting them in a pack, face down, in front of one of their players.
Within each suit, the cards are ranked, lowest to highest, from 2 to 10, followed by Jack, Queen, King, and Ace. A card not matching the led suit or trump is worthless, regardless of its rank. Even the lowest trump card is ranked higher than any non-trump card.
After each trick, the player who has played the winning card in the previous trick leads to the next. Again, the rest of the players have to follow suit unless they are void of the suit led, in which case they are free to play any card. (A player mistakenly playing a different suit, while they still possess a card of the led suit, is considered to be cheating, and loses the whole hand, or, in some circles, the whole game, if they get caught!) [baazii.com does not allow players to play a different suit if they possess the suit led.]
Winner of the Hand
Each round of four cards collected by a team counts as one trick. The team who wins and collects 7 tricks wins the hand. Since there are a total of 13 tricks to win, once a team wins 7 tricks, there’s no point playing the rest of the cards, if any. People use different methods to keep track of the hands won by each team. If you are eating pistachios while playing, their shells come very handy here! [In baazii.com a yellow, triangular petal is shown in front of one of the players of the winning team.]
At the end of each hand, if the ruler’s team has won the hand, the ruler stays the same. Otherwise the “government” changes hands and the player on the right of the old ruler becomes the new ruler. The hand plays similar to the first one, with the player sitting on the left of the ruler shuffling the cards and dealing 5 cards to the ruler, waiting for her to pick the trump. And again, once a team collects 7 tricks they win the hand.
Double and Triple Points
If a team collects the first 7 tricks, they win two points instead of one. If the ruler’s opponent team does this, they win three points instead!
Winner of the Game
The object of the game is to win 7 hands before the other team. [In baazii.com the team who completes a 7-petal flower is awarded a cup.]
Have Fun Playing
Once you play a couple of hands with the computer, it’s time to go Public, or play with your Friends. Hopefully this will help you play real games with your friends as well.
A Brief Guide to Hokm
You can find a concise and thorough guide to Hokm and many other card games at pagat.com
Comments and Question
Please feel free to send me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if I have missed anything or you have any comments or questions.