A good cajun bet
Cajuns have played bourrè, a popular south Louisiana card game, for generations. And if you end up with a bad hand of cards, it can be a costly loss.
A handful of regulars and the occasional newbie gather twice a month at La Maison de Begnaud in Scott, Louisiana. This old Acadian-style home turned visitor and cultural center provides an introduction to the colorful and unique traditions of the local Cajun community. Cajun musicians come here for Friday night jam sessions. Or you can join an occasional class in speaking Cajun French. And twice a month, you can get a bag of poker chips and try your luck at the bourrè table.
picking a king or queen of bourrè
No cash required for this bourrè game. All players get a bag of poker chips to start the game. This game is similar to the card game spades. The object is to win as many “tricks” as possible. The person with the most tricks for each round wins the pot. Any player who fails to win a single trick has a bourrè, and has to pay a two chip penalty to the pot. But in some variations, the penalty for players who bourrè is matching the number of chips in the pot.
After dealing five cards to each player, the dealer turns up the final card. The suit of that card become the trump card for the round. The object is to win the trick, by following suit and playing the highest card of each round. If a player can’t follow suit, they can play a trump card. The highest trump card wins. The player with the most tricks at the end of each round wins the pot. But if two players tie with the same number of tricks, it’s a split pot that remains for the next round until there is a clear winner.
Begnaud House bourrè featured on tv
sharing stories and playing bourrè
What makes this game so much fun to watch is hearing the stories shared by the players. Those who don’t know each other discover that they have common friends and interests. They talk about their families, the schools they attended, the places they’ve visited, and their churches.
They laugh and occasionally complain when dealt a bad hand and end up with a bourrè. After two hours of dealing cards, collecting chips and telling stories, time is called and the match is over. The player with the most chips is the queen or king of bourrè and gets to pick a prize from a few of the souvenir items. But the reign of bourrè royalty only lasts two weeks, until the next game at the Begnaud House.
how to play bourrè
The rules of the game can vary greatly, with limits on ante or matching the pot. Here’s one way to play the game:
Each player puts an ante (a predetermined number of chips) into the pot. Cards are dealt one at a time until players have five cards, with the dealer turning the last card face up. That card become the trump suit and is part of the dealer’s 5-card hand. After looking at their cards, players may drop out of the hand and forfeit their ante. If staying in, players decide whether to keep all of their cards and stand pat, or discard up to 4 cards in exchange for replacements from the deck. The player to the dealer’s left begins by playing a card face-up, trying to build a winning trick. Each player in turn must follow suit with a higher card. If a player has no cards in the suit, they must play a trump card. If unable to play suit or trump, you can play any card. The highest card of the suit wins unless trump is played. Then the highest trump card wins the trick. Play continues until all five cards are played. The person winning the most tricks wins the pot. If any two players tie, it’s a split pot and those chips are added to the next round. If a player has no tricks, that’s a bourrè and the player must pay a penalty or match the chips in the pot. The deck is shuffled, there’s a new ante, and players get a new hand and repeat the play above.
Again, rules can vary, so be sure to agree on the amount of the ante, how many cards can be drawn and the penalty for bourrè. Have fun!
the “boudin capital” featured on tv
begnaud house cajun jam sessions featured on tv
Check out the Begnaud House on Facebook to see the schedule for bourre’, the Cajun jam sessions and Cajun French classes.