How to Play the Card Game Basra

Basra is a fun card game from the fishing family of card games. Basra is of Middle Eastern origin being particularly popular in areas of that region including Cyprus, Egypt and Lebanon and is also well known in Greece and Turkey. It has many similarities to the Italian game Cassino. The game also goes by a number of other names depending on where it is being played, including Bastra, Pastra, Pişti and Paşta.

Basra is designed to be played by two to four players, each playing independently. The game uses one standard 52 card deck. The cards within the deck have no relative ranking amongst themselves, but most cards in the deck do have a numerical value, described further below.

Layout for two player Basra Determination of seating positions and the first dealer can be done using any method, with drawing for high card common. To do this, each player should draw a card from the face-down shuffled deck. The players would then select seats at the table in order of the rank of cards drawn, from highest to lowest. If two or more players draw cards of the same denomination, those players should each draw a second card to determine the ordering amongst the players who drew these tied cards. The player drawing the highest card of all also becomes the first dealer. After each hand, the deal rotates around the table in a clockwise direction.

Once seating positions have been determined and the first dealer selected, the deal can begin. The dealer then thoroughly shuffles the deck and offers it to the player to his right to cut. After the cut, he begins dealing the cards one by one in a clockwise rotation, starting with the player to his immediate left. He continues dealing in this manner until each player has a four card hand. The dealer then places four cards face up in a row face up in the center of the table to create the board or floor. If any of these cards first dealt to the board is a Jack or the seven of diamonds, these cards are shuffled back into the remaining deck and replacements dealt. This should be repeated if necessary until the original board layout does not contain any Jacks or the seven of diamonds. He then places the remainder of the deck face down to the side to be used later in the hand.

Play then begins with the first player to the dealer's left. A play consists of the player playing any one card of his choice from his hand to the board, with the player's goal to capture cards from the board in various ways. If the numerical denomination of the card exactly matches that of another card on the board, he captures this card, taking both his card played and the captured card to the side in his face down capture pile. Similarly, if two or more cards sum up to the exact total of the card played he can make a capture, taking the card played and all cards involved in the capture into his capture pile. He may also combine make multiple captures and combine both types of capture in the same play if there are both matching cards and cards that sum to the total of the card played. As such, the cards in the deck have a numerical value for purposes of matching or summing. Aces have a value of 1, the cards 2 through 10 have a value equal to that actually marked on the card. Kings and Queens have no numerical equivalent value, but a King can be captured by a King and a Queen by a Queen. If the player cannot make any captures with the card played, the card simply remains on the board to be captured later in the game.

Special cards which can clear the board If a player, through one of these plays manages to capture every card currently on the board, he is entitled to 10 bonus points (called a Basra). He usually indicates this in his capture pile by placing the card used to make the capture face up in the pile, to assist with scorekeeping at the end of the hand. In addition, the seven of Diamonds and the four Jacks have special capabilities. If a Jack is played and there is at least one other card on the table, the player captures his Jack and all cards on the board. However, he does not score a Basra when clearing the board in this way. If there are no other cards in the center layout, the Jack is simply left in the center of the table, usually to later be captured by another Jack or the seven of Diamonds. Similarly, when the seven of Diamonds is played, if there is at least one other card on the board, the player of that card captures his seven of Diamonds and any other cards on the table. If the total sum of all cards captured by the seven of Diamonds (not counting the seven of Diamonds itself) is 10 or less, and no face cards are currently on the floor, the player also scores 10 points for a Basra. If there are no other cards on the floor when the seven of Diamonds is played, the card is simply played to the center and may then be captured as any other card.

After each player has played his four cards from his hand in turns, the dealer then deals out another four cards to each player from the deck but adds no more cards to the floor. The turn then continues from where it left off, with the next player in turn. When the deck is exhausted and the players have played the last of their cards the hand ends. If there are any cards remaining on the floor, the last player to have made a capture during this hand is entitled to take these cards into his hand (but does not earn a Basra for doing so). After this the points are totaled for the hand. The following chart shows the points earned for each scoring category:
Scoring OpportunityDescription and Scoring Value
Most CardsThe player who captures the most cards scores 30 points for the hand. If two or more players tie for the most cards on the hand, no one scores for cards on this hand, and the score for this category on the next hand is doubled.
JacksEach Jack captured during the hand scores the capturer 1 point.
AceEach Ace captured during the hand scores 1 point for the capturer.
Two of ClubsCapturing the two of Clubs earns the capturer 2 points.
Seven of DiamondsCapturing the 7 of Diamonds scores the capturing player 3 points.
BasraAs mentioned above, each Basra a player manages to perform during the hand scores 10 points for the player.
Scoring Categories for the card game Basra
If any player, at the end of a hand has scored 101 or more points, he is instantly declared the winner. If multiple players have reached this total, the player with the highest total is the winner. If no player has yet exceeded 101 points, the game continues with the next hand being dealt. If two or more players have exceeded 101 and the scores are tied for these players, another hand is also dealt until, at the end of a hand there is a clear winner.


Variations and Optional Rules

Four player partnership Basra Partnership Basra: In addition to the standard four player variant as described above, four players may also opt to play Partnership Basra. The game is played similar to the standard game with the following differences: In all other aspects the four player partnership version is played identically to standard four player version of Basra.

Egyptian Basra: The version of Basra most commonly played in Egypt is similar to the standard game but has several key differences. These difference are as follows: In all other aspects Egyptian Basra is played identically to the version described above.

Lebanese Basra: The variant of Basra played in Lebanon is also similar to standard Basra, with the following differences: In all other aspects, Lebanese Basra is played identically to the standard game of Basra as described above.

Ethiopian Basra: Ethiopian Basra is another variant which is played similarly to standard Basra as described above. The following describes the differences between Ethiopian Basra and standard Basra: In all other respects this game is played identically to standard Basra as described above.

Pasur: Pasur is a fun game which is commonly played and quite popular in Iran. The standard variant, described first is played by two players. This game is also sometimes known under the names Pasoor, Pashur, Chahâr Barg, and Haft Khâj. The three player variant that is most often played is described further below. It is played similarly to Basra, with the following differences: A capture in Pasur
In all other aspects Pashur is played the same as the game Basta as described above.

Four Player Pasur: Four player Pasur is played identically to the standard game. The only difference being that the game is played in two partnerships consisting of two players each. Partners can be determined by all players drawing cards from the shuffled deck, with the players drawing the two highest cards playing as a partnership against a partnership consisting of the two players who drew the two lowest. The players of each partnership should sit directly across from each other at the table. The team who in total scores the most Clubs earns the 7 points in the most Clubs category. All other scoring categories are scored for the partnership of the player who captured the card or Sur. The partnership who, in total during the hand, captured the most Surs scores 5 points for each Sur earned more then the opposing partnership. If both partnerships tie for the most Surs during the hand, no player scores for Surs during the hand.

Three Player Pasur: When Pasur is played by three players, the following two additional rules are usually added to the game: In all other respects the three player variant of this game is played identically to the more common, two player variant of Pasur.
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