What is Booray (Bourré)? How to Play the Infamous Card Game

What is Booray (Bourré)? How to Play the Infamous Card Game article feature image

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports; Pictured: Washington Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas

If you read the latest feature piece by Jon Gold on the infamous Gilbert Arenas-Javaris Crittenton gun incident, you learned it all stemmed from a card game called Booray (or Bourré).

There's a strong likelihood this is the first you're hearing of the game, so here's how to you can play yourself.

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The Basic Info

Booray is a trick-taking card gamesimilar to spades that's played with a normal 52-card deck. With anywhere from two to seven players, it's become a popular game for pro athletes to play during flights and road trips.

It's meant to be a game with gambling involved, of course, so each hand starts with an ante.

How to Play Booray (Bourré)

Players are dealt five cards, with the dealer flipping over one of his own cards to reveal a trump suit. If you're unfamiliar with trump suits, here's an example: Let's say the dealer establishes hearts at the trump. That means the worst heart — a 2 — would beat any card from any other suit.

And as Gold wrote in the Arenas feature:

There’s a big advantage to being the dealer, especially in the NBA version of the game, which allows the dealer to choose the trump suit after he looks at his initial five-card hand.

After the trump suit is established, players can stay in or fold. Those who fold surrender their ante for the hand. Those who remain in the game can discard up to five cards and redraw from the unused portion of the deck to complete a five-card hand.

After all of the re-drawing, the fun begins with the player to the dealer’s left playing a card. Everyone who follows must …

1. Play a card of the same suit if you have one

2. Play a higher card of the same suit if you have one

3. Play a trump card if options 1 and 2 are unavailable

4. Play a card from any of the two remaining suits if options 1, 2 and 3 are unavailable

If trumps aren't played, the player who laid the highest non-trump card that matches the suit that was led wins the round. If trump(s) are indeed played, the player who threw the highest trump wins the round.

Taking down a round means you collect a trick. The same process repeats for four more rounds, with the person who won the previous hand leading off.

The player with the most tricks at the end of the hand wins the pot.

If two players tie for the most tricks in a hand, the pot remains up for grabs, and players re-ante.

It is possible that a player doesn't win a single trick in a given game. When that happens, the player must match the entire pot.

Got it?

Happy gambling!

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