Pilotta is a trick-taking 32-card game
Card game
A card game is any game using playing cards as the primary device with which the game is played, be they traditional or game-specific. Countless card games exist, including families of related games...

 whose origin probably goes back to the Frankish occupation of the Greek lands after 1204. The game is broadly similar to Contract Bridge
Contract bridge
Contract bridge, usually known simply as bridge, is a trick-taking card game using a standard deck of 52 playing cards played by four players in two competing partnerships with partners sitting opposite each other around a small table...

 and closely related to the French game Belote
Belote is a 32-card trick-taking game played in France, and is currently one of the most popular card games in that country. It was invented around 1920, probably from Klaverjas, Klaverjassen, a game played since at least the 17th century in the Netherlands...

. It is played primarily in Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

, being very popular among the Cypriot population, especially the youngsters, who usually arrange “pilotta meetings” in places such as cafés and cafeterias. Its counterpart played in Greece is named Vida
Vida is a word meaning "life" in languages such as Occitan, Catalan, Portuguese and Spanish. It is also a female given name. It may refer to:In sports:*Club Deportivo y Social Vida, a football team from HondurasIn arts and entertainment:...

(in Greek )


One variation from the French Belote is based on biddings. In Pilotta seeds which are allowed to bid on are:
  • Hearts
  • Diamonds
  • Clubs
  • Spades

"No trumps" and "All trumps" are excluded in Cyprus Pilotta, since Pilotta is a variation of Contract Belote and not Modern Belote, which does not have these special options or rules.

There is a more recent variation to the game known as Pilotta Palaristi, which reintroduces a point-based bidding system. Bids correspond to the total expected value of the bidders tricks. The winning bidder must gain at least the number of points that have bid, or they forfeit all points in the hand to the opposing team. Bidding is typically performed in increments of 10, with the lowest opening bid being 80.


There are a few steps in order to deal the cards and are similar to the French Belote.
But first, a dealer must be declared at the beginning of the game.

Declaring the dealer

First, the 32 card deck is shuffled and then 'cut' (this can be done by the player sitting on the left). Immediately after, upon seeing the suit(or tribe) of cards which has made the cut, we already know who is the dealer because there are four players and four suits.

This is because the declaration works anti-clockwise in the order shown above,
> > >
(hearts, diamonds, clubs and then spades). If the suit which made the cut is hearts, for example, then the player who shuffled and cut the deck will be the dealer. If it was spades, then the person on the left of the shuffler is the dealer.

The dealer is only declared once, at the beginning of the game; the order of the dealing continues anti-clockwise afterwards until the game is over (usually 301 points).

Dealing the cards

The cards are given counter-clockwise; first, 3 cards are given to each player, starting from the one on the dealer's right and ending at the dealer himself. Then, another 2 cards are dealt, and then another 3.

Playing and scoring extra 5 points

In Pilotta there are some specific rules of play when it comes to scoring extra points.
These extra points are called declarations, or in Greek "δηλώσεις". Below are all of the possible declarations one can earn extra points with (from lowest to highest). In the game, most of the time, declarations will judge who is the winner or the loser of the round:
  • Three in a row (20 points): this can be either 7,8,9 (of diamonds for example) and it gives 20 points.
  • Belote (20 points): If the players holds the King and the Queen of the suit which has been declared as the leading suit, i.e. trumps, then he immediately score 20 extra points (When a player holds the Belote, nobody can deny him those extra 20 points, even if the opponent holds four Jacks, and even if the opponent makes a Capot©. Also, the player can declare the Belote whenever he melds it, not at the start of the first round as all of the others.)
  • Four in a row (50 points): the same as having 7,8,9 with the only difference that the player need to also hold the 10 to complete four in a row, which scores 50 points.
  • Five in a row (100 points): Holding 5 cards of the same suit in a row scores 100 points.
  • Four of a kind (100 points): If the player is holding four queens, four kings, four aces or four tens, he immediately scores 100 points.
  • Four nines (150 points): This is a special case; Nines give 150 points if the players holds all four nines.
  • Four jacks (200 points): This is a special case; Jacks give 200 points if the player holds all four of them.

Holding three cards in a row scores the same points (20) as if one had an Ace, a King and the Queen of the same suit, with the only difference that the sequence with the Ace is stronger than the one holding the 9 and would 'beat' the opponents' hand, therefore cancelling their 20 points and making the Ace's sequence the only valid one between the two.

Declarations must be spoken on the first turn (the game has 8 turns, or tricks) and shown on the second trick, just before the player plays his card. If he decides to show the cards (for example four Aces) just after he has played his card, then immediately the points are not counted.


Usually the score ends when the first team reaches 351 points. In some cases, the limit can go up to 400 points if the players want to pursue a "lengthy" game, or correspondingly lowered to 251 and even 151 points if they are in a hurry, or just want to finish quickly.

External links

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