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s Feb 6

How to play preferans? A very short guide


The game of Preferans usually consists of several deals, and is played until certain game objectives are achieved by each player.

Preferans can be played by two, three or four players, but in theory, five or even six players are allowed. Game deck has 32 cards: 4 suits with cards from Seven to Ace. The weight of the cards is determined by their face value - seven low, ace high. If a trump is assigned, then the trump card weights more than the rest of the cards. Face weight is the same in the trump suit.

Each Preferans deal has three stages: Trading, Dealing and Recording points

Each round is played by three players (or two players plus «dummy» in the case of a two-player game). First, 10 cards are dealt to each player. The two remaining cards are called «talon» and put aside: their contents is hidden.

The player who plays first is called the «first hand». The next one is the «second hand», the last one is the «third hand».

First word at trading phase and the first move in the game phase are transferred from player to player clockwise after each deal.

SmartPref Pro will keep track of the order of player's moves and other rules so you can focus on the game itself.

Trade begins after the cards are dealt. The goat of the trade is to evaluate your cards, order highest contract, win the talon and order a contract. If your cards are not good enough you can opt out from the trade at your turn by saying «pass». Once passed player can not return to trade.

A contract is an obligation to take a certain number of tricks with a certain trump. You can assign a game without a trump card, however this is done extremely rarely, if cards allow doing so. For example, a 6 Spades contract means that the player is going to take at least 6 tricks and sets Spades as trump suit.

During trade each player makes a bid at his turn: player says the contract, or «pass». Next contract should be greater than the previous one. The one who called the «pass» is removed from the trade.

It is better to raise the value of the contract gradually during the trade phase to avoid giving hints about your cards to other players.

Trade ends when there is either only one player left who called the contract, or all players said «pass».


Deal starts after the trade is finished. All pass is played if all three players did pass during trade. A trick game begins if one of the players wins the trade.

Tricks Game

The player who wins the trade claims a talon and must show it to others. After that, the player must evaluate his cards and discard two of them that he does not need. These cards are called «drop». No one should know the drop except for the player who did it.

The player names a contract - how many tricks he is willing to take, and declares a trump suit. The contract must be no less than the one at which the trade finished. The rest of the players are now «defenders» or «whisters» - they have to choose whether they will play against the player (whist) or not (pass). The goal of the defenders is to make the player to not fulfill the contract - prevent him from taking the tricks that he declared in his contract.

Evaluate your cards for a potential contract based on how your opponents have traded. The moment when they fold at the trade can give a hint about which suit is dominant at their hand.

The deal can be «open» or «closed» - the defenders can open their cards or leave them closed to each other and to player. At the same time, the player's cards are always closed and are known only to him alone. If both players do whist, then the game is played only in «closed» mode.

If the game is played in closed, then each of the defenders makes moves for himself. In open game the whisting player makes turns for himself and for the second defender. If both players pass, then player wins the deal and it is finished.

Usually one of the defenders will pass so that the other will take over the game, as this allows the game to be played with cards open

During the deal each player must put a single card at his turn.

Rules of the move

If there are no cards on the table, you can move with any card - and this card sets the suit of the current turn. If the suit of the turn is already set, then the player must move with a card of the same suit. If player does not have cards of required suit then he must move with the card of trump suit. Note, trumps are only allowed to use if there is no turn suit at hand. If there is no trump suit, then player can play with any card. After all three cards are on the table, the owner of the highest card takes the trick; current turn cards are removed from the table and the turn is over. The player who took the trick now goes first.

SmartPref Pro allows you to make a move only by the rules. In a real game, a forbidden move or not respecting the turn suit is punished with a penalty.

In total, it is possible to make 10 moves as long as the players have cards. The deal ends when the players have no cards left, or if in the process someone made an offer and it was accepted by all players.

Playing the deal in Preferans is the most important part of the game, the same deal can be played both with a profit or with a forfeit, and the result depends strongly on the skill of the players; luck is secondary in Preferans.
All Pass

The all pass deal begin if all three players declare «pass» during the trade. There are no trump cards in this deal, and the suit of the first two moves is determined by the suit of the first and second talon cards. The first three moves are played by the player on the «first hand». The purpose of the all pass is to take as few tricks as possible.

Weight of contracts

The weight of contracts is determined first by the desired tricks value, and if the desired tricks value is the same, by the seniority of the trump suit. The minimum contract is 6 tricks, the maximum is 10. Trump suit weight goes like this: Spades, Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, «NT» - No Trump. This contract is stronger than a contract with a trump of the same tricks value. So, contract 6 Spades is the weakest (unless overridden by the conventions), contract 10 NT is the strongest and cannot be beaten.

The trade panel will display the minimum contract available for ordering, but you can choose any. SmartPref Pro will only allow you to select the contract that meets the rules.

In addition to ordinary contracts, there is also a special contract "Misère" - an obligation not to take a single trick. The misère is played without a trump suit. If the misère contract is beaten during the trade, then the player is removed from the trade. Misère can be beaten by an order of 9 Spades and above, it is very strong contract.

You need to order a misère carefully, since the penalty for each trick on a misère is hefty.

Whisting players also have trick obligations. To avoid a penalty, they together must take at least four tricks in sum when playing against 6 tricks contract; at least two when playing against 7, and at least one trick for other orders. When playing «misère», the defenders have no obligations.

Score recording

The result for each deal is kept in a special table «Pool» according to certain rules. Players receive points in the Pool field for the fulfillment of the contract. All penalties go to the Heap: for non-fulfillment of the contract or the obligations of the whisting players, for the collected tricks at the all pass and others. In addition, the defenders write points in the Whist column against the player for each trick taken. Depending on the convention, the pool recording may stop if the player's pool exceeds the target of the game pool. In this case, the player «helps» others to finish their pool in exchange for whists.

SmartPref Pro records the pool automatically and calculates the result in the form of end points - whists, which can be seen on the pool screen or at the end of each deal. Try playing different games to see how each order affects the outcome.
Game objectives

The goal pool is set before the start of the game - the number of pool points that each player must gain. Before starting the game players must define the denomination value of the final points (whists) in Euro/USD or some other currency and additional conditions of the game - conventions. The game ends when each player has reached the target value of their pool, or, depending on the convention, if the sum of the pools of all players is greater than this value multiplied by the number of players.

Preferans is a zero-sum game, that is, the sum of the final points is always zero, and the winnings of all players are opposite.

You can get in depth game knowledge by playing practice game with bots. Don't forget to use hint!