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Burraco rules

Learn the burraco rules, both online and live.

Burraco is a Canasta like card game. The object of the game is to collect cards in groups and runs that are played to earn points until a minimum of 7 cards or more are reached.

Each smazzata (deal) ends when a player has cleared his hand, taken 11 cards more, and cleared again his hand after reached a minimum of 7 cards or more runs, called “Burraco Runs”.

The winner of the match is determined by the total points earned over a predetermined number of smazzata.

1 Game setup

Burraco is played using two regular 52 card decks with 2 jokers in each deck giving a total 108 cards including 4 jokers. The two decks used have different colored backs so that no two cards are exactly the same.

Before the start of the first smazzata each player draws a card from the deck and turns it face up. The player who draws the highest card will play first in the first smazzata. In case of two cards of the same rank being drawn ties are resolved by the suit in order highest to lowest: Heart, Diamond, Club, Spade. In case of two cards of the same rank and suit being drawn two new cards are drawn until a starting player has been determined. At the start of a smazzata the deck is shuffled. Two stacks of 11 cards each are dealt from the deck and placed face down on the table in a cross, one stack on top of the other.

These two stacks are the pozzetti (pots) and come into play later. The pozzetti are typically placed to one side on the table. Each player is then dealt a hand of 11 cards that they will start with. The remaining 64 cards are placed in a stack between the players and is the draw pile. One card is then turned face up and placed next to the draw pile starting the discard pile. It is now time for the starting player to play the first turn of the game. DRAWING Each players turn starts with the player picking up one or more cards to its hand. This is done in one of two ways. 1. The player may pick up the top card from the draw pile. 2. The player may pick up the entire discard pile regardless of the number of cards there.

2 Playing cards in the table:

After the player has drawn cards it may play cards to the table. This may be done by playing cards from the hand to create a new meld. Playing cards may also be done by adding cards from the hand to an already existing meld.

The melds are owned by the player who created them, when adding to an existing meld a player may only add to its own melds not the opponents. When playing new melds and when adding to existing melds, the resulting meld must conform to the melding rules discussed below. This phase last as long as the player wishes.

Many plays may be made with no restrictions to the order. For instance a player may add to an old meld, play a new meld and then continue to add cards to existing melds. A played card may however not be returned to the hand or moved to a different meld.

3 Discarding:

When the player has made all the plays it wishes to make it must discard a single card. This card is added face up to the discard pile, placing it so that it does not cover the card(s) below it. In this way all the cards in the discard pile are visible. If a players has picked up a discard pile containing only a single card that card may not be discarded in that turn.

This rule only applies if you picked up a single card from the discard pile, a card drawn from the draw pile may be discarded immediately and if two or more cards are picked up from the discard pile any one of those cards may be discarded. After the discard the turn passes to the opponent who begins its turn by drawing.

4 Melding rules:

Melds are placed face up on the table in front of the player who plays them. The cards are placed in a vertical column with each card showing so its rank and suit is visible. Later melds added are placed side by side next to melds already on the table.

5 Groups and runs:

There are two kinds of melds allowed in Burraco.

Groups of cards consisting of cards of equal rank, eg. ( 4S, 4C, 4C)

Runs of cards of same suit that are in sequence, eg. (5D, 6D, 7D)

All melds must contain at least 3 cards to be valid. For instance playing a pair of sevens does not count as a legal group because there are too few cards. There is no upper limit to the number of cards in a meld, all available cards that legally fit in a meld may be played. Each player may have only one group of any given rank. For instance if a player already has a group of jacks on the table that player may not start a new group of jacks. Any additional jacks that the player wants to play in a group must be played in the existing group. When playing aces in a run the ace may be either low (ace, two, three) or high (queen, king, ace). Runs may however not “turn the corner” with an ace in the middle, a run (king, ace, two) is not allowed.

6 Burraco wildcards:

Jokers and Twos In Burraco the 4 jokers and the 8 twos are used as wildcards. A wildcard may take the place of any card in a meld. Each meld may contain at most one wildcard. Playing two or more wild cards in a single meld is not allowed.

In a group a wildcard is used as if it has the same rank as the other cards. For instance a group with the cards (Joker, 8C, 8D) or (2C, 6S, 6S) may be played.

Groups consisting of only wild cards are not allowed. In a run a wildcard assumes the same suit as the rest of the run and the rank needed to fit. A wildcard may either extend a contiguous sequence, eg. (Joker, 8D, 9D) or fill a gap where a card is missing, eg. (4C, 2S, 6C).

Using a two of the “wrong” suit is allowed since it is treated as wild both in rank and suit. When the position of the wildcard is “free” it is customary to place it as the low card in a run, in the example above the run of diamonds would not be (8D, 9D, Joker)

When adding to an existing run a played wildcard may be moved within that run when new cards are added. A free wildcard may be moved to the high position if a new higher card is added. For instance a run (2D, 5D, 6D) can have an 8D added to it, changing the wild 2D to take the place of the missing seven in (5D, 6D, 2D, 8D).

A wildcard locked in the middle of a run can only be freed by adding the correct card to replace the wildcard in that run. An example of this would be adding (4H, 7H) to a run (6H, Joker, 8H) creating a new run (4H, Joker, 6H, 7H, 8H) where the Joker changes to fill a new gap.

Two special rules apply to wildcards in runs.

Firstly a 2 in the same suit as the run is not counted as a wildcard if it is in its correct place. This has effects on scoring and opens the run to allow a wildcard on a run already containing a two. As an example you may legally play a run consisting of (AS, 2S, 3S, 2D, 5S). Here the two of spades does not count as a wild allowing the two of diamonds to be played as a substitute for the missing four.

Secondly a special fourteen card run is allowed by playing all thirteen cards of a suit (ace to king) including a two of the correct suit and then an extra wildcard as the fourteenth card.

7 Clean and dirty Burracos:

Groups or runs consisting of seven or more cards are called Burracos.
These runs earn the player extra points and are required for a player to be allowed to go out.

Burracos containing wildcards are known as dirty Burracos and those with no wildcards are clean Burracos.

Clean Burracos are worth more points than dirty Burracos when calculating the final score.

When a player has a meld containing seven or more cards (a Burraco) on the table the bottom card(s) are rotated 90 degrees to mark that the meld is a Burraco. Dirty Burracos have one card rotated, clean Burracos have two cards rotated.

Clean Burracos can be made dirty by adding a wildcard to them, this lowers the score value of the Burraco but may be required to clear the players hand to go out in some cases.

In the special case of a dirty Burraco run with a misplaced but in suit 2 being extended to allow the 2 to assume its correct position a clean Burraco may become clean. This would happen when adding a 4S to the dirty Burraco (3S, 2S, 5S, 6S, 7S, 8S, 9S) creating a clean Burraco (2S, 3S, 4S, 5S, 6S, 7S, 8S, 9S).

8 Burraco - taking the pozzetto:

When a player has emptied its hand for the first time it will take the pozzetto, one of the two stacks of eleven cards placed on the table at the start of the game. The pozzetti are not linked to a player in the initial setup, the first player who clears its hand will take the top stack and the second one is left for the other player. These cards are added to the players hand and are used in the same way as the initial hand. There are two ways that a player can empty its hand. It can be by playing cards until only one card remains in hand and discarding it or by playing all the cards in hand to the table. In the first case discarding the last card end the players turn. The player may pick up the pozzetto and look at the cards but must wait until the next turn to play them. In the second case the player has not ended its turn and may continue playing in the same turn using the eleven cards added to the hand. Taking the pozzetto in this way is known as taking it “in flight”.

9 Burraco rules for taking pozzetto:

  • It’s needed to finish hand cards, using them all to complete melds (“on flight”) or discarding last card remained.
  • It’s not possible to take pozzetto discarding last card taken from discard area, if the area contained only that card.

10 Rules for ending a smazzata:

  • It’s needed to have done at least one Burraco (clean or dirty)
  • The opponent must have played at least one time
  • It’s not possible to end a smazzata discarding a wildcard
  • It’s not possible to end a smazzata discarding last card taken from discard area, if the area contained only that card.

11 Finishing of smazzata by cards finished:

When only two cards remain in the deck, the game finishes after last player action. That player will be able to play normally, adding games to melds, but when will discard last card, the game will be over. In this case, nobody will take the 100 bonus points for having closed.

12 Burraco scoring: game points, match points and victory points

When a smazzata is finished, game points are summed against all previous smazzate. Match points are based upon game points difference, and Victory Points are calculated thanks to a convertion table.

12.1 Game points:

Bonuses are given for:

  • Dirty Burraco -> 100 points
  • Clean Burraco -> 200 points
  • Finished smazzata -> 100 points
  • Player who doesn’t took the pozzetto will have -100 points.

Cards played in runs earn points for the player according to the rank value of each card.

3, 4, 5, 6, 7

5 points

8, 9, 10, J, Q, K

10 points


15 points


20 points


30 points

Any player with cards left on hand shows these cards. The value of each of these cards is deducted from the players score according to the same card values as scores for melded cards.

12.2 Match points:

The “Match Point” are based upon difference of GAME POINTS: the positive value is given to the winning player, and the same value, but negative, is given to the loosing player.
For istance: Player A: 2.000 Game Points Player B: 1.700 Game Points
The difference is (2.000-1.700=300), then: Player A: +300 Match Point Player B: -300 Match Point.

12.3 Victory points:

Victory points are used to give an immediate result on a head to head play (even if in case of even result, the match point will be used), and they are very important during Burraco Tournaments.
Victory Points are based upon a conversion table starting from Match Points:

  • MP = VP
  • 0->50 = 10/10
  • 55->150 = 11/9
  • 155->250 = 12/8
  • 255->350 = 13/7
  • 355->500 = 14/6
  • 505->650 = 15/5
  • 655->800 = 16/4
  • 805->1000 = 17/3
  • 1005->1250 = 18/2
  • 1255->1500 = 19/1
  • >1500 = 20/0


For istance, in case of +300 Match Point: Player A: 13 VP Player B: 7 VP

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