Baloot in Saudi Arabia

Baloot in Saudi ArabiaThe baloot in Saudi Arabia is almost like an ancestral tradition. The parents and grandparents teach the new generations to play for a pleasant evening at home. Women are also allowed to play, so it is a fantastic alternative to share in a family without social and religious conflicts. However, it is much more popular for men to play among partners and friends away from home.

In baloot, it doesn’t matter who you are and what your role in society is. The only thing that counts is your astuteness and skill in playing!

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But you who read to us will surely be asking yourself: how is it that a card game is allowed in an Arab country? No, it’s not what you think. The Baloot game is an Arab card game like arab poker, in fact, its rules are very similar, however, there is an important difference. This is not a conventional casino game, so there is no money exchange or betting on goods. Therefore, it is completely legal and free to play it in Saudi houses and streets.

The history of this game has several aspects. Some believe that it reached the Arabian coasts through the expansion of the Ottoman Empire several centuries ago. Other scholars consider that the baloot is a derivation of the French game Belote. Although it does not have a specific origin, the baloot is part of Saudi Arabia’s cultural heritage.

How to play?

The rules of the baloot are quite simple. This is a game for four people sitting in a circle in teams of two. There are two hands of cards: Hokum and Sum. After the dealer deals the cards counterclockwise, the strategy begins.

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The dealer places several cards on the table in turn. Players become “buyers”. Depending on which hand of cards the first buyer on the left chooses, the game is governed by it. The buyer must claim the card he wants by announcing it aloud, but if he wants to pass the turn, he must say another specific term.

The objective of the game is to collect 152 points. The order of the cards is the key to achieving the most points. Games that use the hand Sum, the ace is the strongest, followed by a 10, K, Q, J, 9, 8, 7. For a game with the hand Hokum, the J is strongest, then follows the 9, ace, 10, K, Q, 8 and 7.

Are there Baloot competitions in Saudi Arabia?

At the beginning of 2018, the internet was filled with hundreds of images and videos related to a supposed casino in Saudi Arabia. Nothing could be further from the truth. In April of that year was held  one of the largest baloot tournaments   in this country.

More than 12000 professional and amateur Arab cards gathered in Riyadh to celebrate the Baloot Championship. Saudi Arabia celebrated this event in a big way because, besides the juicy prize (one million riyals for the first place), it was like professionalizing a game very loved by the Saudis.

 

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