How to Play Hokm

Hokm is an exciting trick taking card game which originated in Iran and is currently the most popular card game played there.

Hokm is designed to be played by two, three or four players. Since the four player partnership version is the most popular it will be described first, however versions for two and three players are described in the variations sections below. All variations of Hokm use one standard 52 card deck, with the ranking of the cards in this deck as follows (from high to low); Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.

Determination of First Hâkem This four player version of Hokm is played by four players playing in two partnerships. The first order of business when playing this game is to determine the first Hâkem (or Governor). To determine this, any player begins dealing cards face up in a counter-clockwise direction, one to each player. He continues dealing in this manner until a player receives the first Ace. This player is designated as the Hâkem for the hand. He then continues dealing from the deck, bypassing the Hâkem in the deal until another player receives an Ace. This player becomes the partner of the Hâkem. These two players should then sit at the table in such a way that they are seated directly across from each other. The remaining two players also sit across each other and become the opponent partnership. The player seated to the immediate left of the Hâkem becomes the dealer for the hand.

After the Hâkem and the partnerships are determined, all the cards are gathered together and thoroughly shuffled by the dealer. The partner of the Hâkem cuts and the dealer then begins dealing the cards. He deals the cards, face down in a counter-clockwise direction around the table starting with the Hâkem. To begin, the dealer deals each player a five card face down packet.

Although the remainder of the deck will be dealt, the Hâkem must declare a trump suit for the hand after viewing his first five cards dealt. The Hâkem is the only player who should pick up his first five cards, with the other players doing so after the Hâkem has declared the trump suit for the hand. Thus, the Hâkem looks at his first five cards and selects any suit of his choice to be the trump suit for the game, stating it for all players to hear. After he declares the trump suit, the dealer distributes the remainder of the deck in two more dealing rounds of four card packets, such that each player has a 13 card hand.

The Hâkem of the hand then leads the first card to the first trick. He may lead any card of his choice to this trick. Each subsequent player, in a counter-clockwise direction, must then play one card of their own to the trick. If a player has a card of the same suit as the card led to the trick he must play it. If not, he may play any card to the trick, including a card of the trump suit. The highest trump card played to the trick wins the trick. If the trick contains no cards of the trump suit, the highest card of the suit originally led to the trick wins the trick. The winner of each trick then leads any card of his choice from his hand to start the next trick.

Scoring: The scoring of each hand is as follows:
Winning a Hand of Hokm
After each hand, the identity of the Hâkem and dealer are dependent on whether the current Hâkem and his team win the hand. The first team to score 7 or more points at the end of a hand is declared the game winner.
                     

Variations and Optional Rules

Three Player Hokm: This game can also be played with three players. To allow the cards to divide evenly amongst the three, one two is removed from the deck and set aside, not to be used during the game.

Any player then begins dealing the cards in a counter-clockwise direction around the table until one player gets any Ace. This player becomes the Hâkem for the hand and the remaining two players are his opponents. The player to the Hâkem's immediate left becomes the first dealer.

The dealer then distributes five cards face-down to each player. The designated Hâkem then picks up his cards and announces the trump suit for the hand. The dealer then distributes the remainder of the cards such that each player receives a total of 17 cards.

After all cards have been dealt, the Hâkem then plays the first card to start the first trick. The opponents then each play a card in turn to the trick. When playing to a trick, each player must play a card of the suit led to the trick if he has one. If he does not have such a card he may play any card from his hand including a card of the trump suit. The highest card of the trump suit played to the trick wins the trick. If no trump cards were played to the trick, the highest card of the suit led wins the trick. The winner of each trick leads any card of his choice to begin the next trick.

The scoring is similar to the four player version as follows:
Same Hâkem for next handHâkem rotates to next player
If the current Hâkem wins the current hand he keeps the role of Hâkem for the next hand. If he does not win the hand, the player to his immediate right becomes the next Hâkem.
As in the four player variant, the person who has the role of Hâkem for the next hand is determined on whether the current Hâkem wins the hand or not. The first player to reach or exceed 7 points at the end of a hand is declared the winner of the hand.

Two Player Hokm: There is also a two player variant of Hokm that is sometimes played.

As in the other versions of this game, cards are dealt out, face-up and one at a time until one player receives an Ace. That player becomes the Hâkem for the hand and the other player his opponent and dealer.

After determination of the Hâkem and dealer for the hand, the cards are gathered and shuffled by the dealer. The dealer then begins by dealing one five card packet to each player and placing the remainder of the deck face down in the center of the table.

The Hâkem designated for the hand then selects a trump suit after viewing his first five cards. After announcing this trump suit, the Hâkem then discards any three cards of his choice from these first three cards, face down into a discard pile. The dealer then selects any two cards of choice from his own choice and also discards them face down on the discard pile.

After these discards, the Hâkem then looks at the top card of the stock pile without his opponent seeing it. If the Hâkem wants the card he then adds it to his hand. He then takes the next card of the stock, displays it to himself and places it face-down on the discard pile. However, if the player does not want the first card he picked from the stock, he would then discards it face down to the discard pile and adds the next card from the stock into his hand.

The opponent then does the same thing, looking at the top card of the stock and either adding it to his hand (and discarding the next from the stock after looking at it) or discarding the first card and automatically adding the next card from the stock into his own hand.

This drawing of cards from the stock continues until the last card of the stock has been taken or discarded, which should result in each player having 13 total cards.

Once each player has his designated hand, the Hâkem then begins play of the hand. He leads any card from his hand to begin the first trick. His opponent then plays one card to the trick. If he has a card of the same suit as that led to the trick he must play it. If not, he may play any card from his hand, including a card of the trump suit. The highest trump card played to a trick wins it. If no trump cards were played to a trick, the highest card of the suit originally led to the trick wins it. The winner of each trick leads the first card to the next trick.

The scoring in the two-player variant is similar to the standard four player game. Also similar to the other variants of the game, the identity of the Hâkem is directly dependent on if the current Hâkem wins the hand or not. If the Hâkem wins the current hand, he retains the title for the next and the dealers remains the same as well. However, if the opponent to the Hâkem wins the hand, the opponent becomes the Hâkem for the next round and the current Hâkem becomes the dealer.

The first player to accumulate a total of 7 points is declared the game winner.
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