Card Game With Signals

This page is mainly based on contributions from Paolo Marino and Paolo Ronzoni.

  • Five-player Briscola (Briscola Chiamata)

Trick-Taking Games Trick taking games are one of the most common types of card games, and classics like Hearts and Spades are good examples. It is a game where players all have a hand of cards, and game-play revolves around a series of 'tricks', in which each trick involves everyone playing one card from their hand, with the trick typically going to the person who played the highest card. Virtue Signal: The Game of Social Justice is a card game parody of social justice activism. In Virtue Signal you play as one of several different social justice warriors. The object, simply, is to attract a coalition of NPC followers to your cause, whatever that is. The first player to 15 is the winner. The fun in the game is figuring out your own signals. Dropping one of the side cards in your hand so it rests at a 90 degree angle. Eating a snack next to you. Holding the cards with one (or two hands, depending on how you started out) Holding your cards in a V shape.


Briscola is a trick taking game - that is, the object of the game is to take cards which gives you (or your team) a high score. It is popular in Italy and it uses the Italian 40 card deck. It is often played with Italian cards, which have suits of coins, cups, batons and swords, but you may play using a standard international 52-card deck, just by removing the Jokers, eights, nines and tens. The same game is played in the coastal regions of Slovenia and Croatia under the name Briškula.

Briscola may be played by two, three, four or six players. There is a special version Briscola Chiamata for five players, which is strongly recommended.

Rank and value of cards

In order to define which card wins a particular trick, we must first define a card ranking, given from highest to lowest:
ace, three, king, queen, jack, 7, 6, 5, 4, 2.

Also, the cards have a point value:

Ace11 points
Three10 points
King4 points
Queen3 points
Jack2 points

The remaining cards have no point value.

Briscola is often played with Italian cards with suits of swords (spade), clubs (bastoni), cups (coppe) and coins (danari). In this case the picture cards rank in the order King (re) (4 points), Horse (cavallo) (3 points), Jack (fante) (2 points). In North America, Italian cards in various regional patterns can be obtained from TaroBear's Lair.

As you see, the total value of cards in the deck adds up to 120 points. The player (or team) which scores at least 61 points in a game wins. Games can end in a draw when both reach the same point total (60), and usually Briscola is played to the best of three or five games.

Note on card order

Most books, when describing how to play Briscola with French suited cards (hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades) use the above card order King (4), Queen (3), Jack (2), which is normal in northern Italy. However, many players, especially in the south, reverse the role of the Queen and Jack. The card order is then Ace (11), Three (10), King (4), Jack (3), Queen (2), 7, 6, 5, 4, 2.

Two player Briscola

This is the easiest version of the game, and will serve as a basis for the multiplayer versions.

One of the two players shuffles the deck and deals three cards to each player. He then takes a card (the seventh, in this case) and puts it face up near the pile of undealt cards, which are placed face down. The face-up card suit defines which will be the Briscola suit for the game. The Briscola suit is the trump suit, i.e. the suit which always takes all other cards, card ranking notwithstanding.

The game starts. The first to play is the player to the right of the dealer. In the two player version, this means that the non-dealer (A) will start.

A leads one of his three cards, face up.

B plays one of his cards, and wins or loses the trick according to thesethree simple rules:

  1. If B plays a card of the same suit as the card led by A, then the trick is won by whoever played the higher card - the winner takes both cards away, and puts them, face down, in a pile near him.
  2. If B plays a card which has a different suit from the card which A led, but neither card is a Briscola (trump), A wins the trick, and the cards will go to A, even if B's card was of higher rank.
  3. If B plays a card of a different suit from A's, and one of the cards is a Briscola (trump), then the player of the Briscola wins the trick.

Example (Briscola is the four of spades):

  • Player A leads the 5 of clubs.
  • Player B plays the ace of clubs. B takes the trick (Rule 1).
  • Player A leads the 5 of hearts.
  • Player B plays the King of clubs. Player A takes the trick (Rule 2)
  • Player A leads the ace of diamonds.
  • Player B plays 6 of spades (briscola). He wins the round (Rule 3).

Note that Briscola is unlike many card games, in that there is no obligation for the second player to play a card of the same suit as the first card or to trump it, just because he can. The second player is free to play any of his cards.

Note that if both players play a briscola, rule 1 dictates that the higher ranking card wins.

After each trick, each player draws a card from the pile of undealt cards. The winner of the trick draws first, followed by the loser. The player who won the trick then leads to the next one.

Eventually the undealt cards will be used up, and at this point the loser of the trick just played will draw the face up Briscola card. The game then continues, without drawing cards, until all the cards have been played.

At the end, each player takes the pile of cards he won in tricks during the game, and counts up the points according to the point scale shown above. The player with more points wins, or if each has 60, it is a draw.


Some people play that if the turned-up card, the one that indicates the trump suit, is an ace or a three (the two strongest cards), the card is put back in the middle of the deck and another card is turned up.

Some play that the winner is the first player to reach 120 points: unless one player wins all the tricks this will take two deals, one by each player.

Four player Briscola

The game remains more or less the same, but the two pairs of players sit face to face, and each pair plays as a team. Playing proceeds counter-clockwise.

When playing the 4 or 6 players partnership versions of Briscola, most groups allow some communication between partners either by conversation or by visual signals. See below.

The player to the right of the dealer leads first. The other players may play any card (there is no requirement to follow suit). If no one plays a Briscola the trick is won by the highestcard of the suit led. If one or more players plays a Briscola, the highest Briscola wins.

Simple signal cards

Each player in turn, starting with the winner of the trick, then draws a card from the undealt pile. The winner of the trick then leads to the next one.

When the undealt cards are used up, the next player draws the Briscola card, and the game continues without drawing until all the cards have been played.


The players are A, B, C, D, placed around a table like this:


A and C play together against B and D. A deals the cards. Briscola (the thirteenth card) comes up as a three of hearts.

  • D, who sits counter-clockwise from A, plays first, and leads the 4 of spades.
  • C plays the Jack of spades.
  • B plays the two of hearts.
  • If A does not play a higher Briscola, all four the cards will go to the D & B team.
  • A thinks that for this meagre booty (the Jack is only two points, after all) it is not worth using a Briscola, or perhaps he does not have one; anyway, he plays the 5 of clubs.
  • The trick is taken by the B & D team.
  • B leads to the next trick.


If visual signals are used, players should avoid talking about the cards they have in hand, but signals can be used to indicate the possession of certain high cards of the Briscola suit. One possible system is as follows:

Ace stretch the lips over the teeth
Threedistort the mouth to one side
King glance upwards
Queen/Knight show the tip of the tongue
Jackshrug one shoulder


Paolo Ronzoni reports that around Rome, many groups do not use visual signals but instead allow a limited amount of conversation. There is no talking during the first trick, but from the second trick onwards the player whose turn it is to lead to the trick may ask partner for certain information:

  1. Whether partner has useless cards (Lisci) in hand
  2. What trumps partner has:
    • The leader may ask about Briscoline - low trumps, from 2 to 6.
    • Or he can ask about Vestite - high trumps, K Q J, called vestite (dressed) because they depict human beings wearing clothes.
    • Note that the 7 of trumps is neither a Briscolina nor a Vestita.
    • The leader cannot ask specifically about the Ace or 3
  3. Whether partner can head a trick without playing trump.
  4. Whether partner has Carichi - that is A or 3 of any non-trump suits.

The orders the leader may give to partner are very similar:

  • to play a Liscio
  • to play trump (high or low)
  • to head the trick without playing a trump
  • to play a Carico.

Card Game With Partners And Signals

Six player Briscola

This works in the same way as the four player version. The two teams are made up of three players each:


A, C and E play against D, B, F. The deck is reduced to 36 cards by taking away the two's.

The signals or conversation are the same as in four-player Briscola. If verbal communication is allowed, from the second trick onwards the leader to the trick may ask for information from or give instructions to either partner.


This variant of six-player Briscola is played in Northern Africa and also in Southern Italy especially Sicily. Only 36 cards are used - the twos are omitted from the normal 40-card pack.

The six players are divided in two teams of three. Each team chooses a captain, known as the “rais” - normally they will choose the most skilful member of their team.

As usual three cards each are dealt, and players replenish their hands by drawing a card from the stock at the end of each trick.

The rais of each team can ask certain questions of his partners and direct their play. The possible questions and orders are the same as in four- and six-player Briscola - see above, but asked or given by the rais of either team, not the leader to the trick. The other players are not allowed to speak except to answer questions asked by their rais.

When the stock is exhausted, the rais is allowed to look at the cards of just one of his partners (generally he chooses the partner to his right).

Three player Briscola

It's played the same as the two player version, and the deck is reduced to 39 cards by taking away a 2. All three players try to gain the highest number of points.

Briscola Scoperta

This is two-player Briscola with face up cards. Each player's hand of three cards is laid out face up on the table, and the top card of the drawing stock (which will be taken by the winner of the trick) is face up as well as the trump (briscola) at the bottom of the stock. The card values and rules of play are exactly the same as in normal two-player Briscola, but now both players have access to the same information at all times. The only unknown cards are the cards buried in the stock between the top and bottom card.


'Briscolone' means 'large briscola' and some people use this name to refer to five-player Briscola (Briscola Chiamata).

Briscolone is also the name of a two-player variant of Briscola in which each player is dealt five cards rather than three. There is no trump suit in this game so a trick is simply won by the higher card of the suit that was led. The card values are the same as in normal Briscola so there are 120 points available in each deal, but the game is continued over several deals until a player wins by reaching the agreed cumulative target, which may be 151 points or 121 points.

Briscolone is often played with the additional rule that players must follow suit. That is, the second player to a trick must play a card of the same suit as the first player whenever possible.

Briškula in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Veselko Kelava reports that in Bosnia and Herzegovina Briškula is played with a 32-card pack, each suit ranking: A, 10, K, Q, J, 9, 8, 7. The card values are A=11, 10=10, K=4, Q=3, J=2. Any number can play without partnerships, or four can play as partners, two against two. When the talon comes close to an end and some players draw and some don't get a chance. Only those who drew play to the following trick, so that all again have the same number of cards in hand.

Four-card or double Briškula

In both Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, a variation is played in which four cards (instead of three) are dealt to each player, and everyone plays twice to each trick: after everyone has played one card, the play continues around the table and all play a second card. Whoever plays the highest trump or if there are none, the highest card of the suit that was led takes all the cards of the double trick. Everyone in turn draws a card from the talon and then everyone draws a second card so that all have four cards again, and the winner of the previous trick leads to a new double trick.

Other Briscola WWW sites and software

At the Italian site Tretre (archive copy) you can find rules of Briscola and several variants.


Card Game With Signals

At GiochiStars you can play two-player Briscola games and tournaments online against live opponents

Žan Kafol has developed a web site providing online multiplayer briškola (briscola) for 2, 3 or 4 players.

With the two-player Briscola program at Solitari con le Carte you can now play online against the computer using any web browser. Briscola scoperta and Briscolone games are also available at the same site.

You can play Briscola and Briscola Chiamata on line at the Italian site

You can play Briscola online at Board Game Arena.

You can download a freeware Briscola program from Thanos Card Games.

No Signal Game

With the free Windows program BTM Pro, obtainable from Drazen's homepage, you can play Briscola and some other Italian games against the computer or against other players over a network.

Posted on 2014-07-10 Comments (14)

In the card game Cash, also known as Kemps or Kent, the majority of the game’s opportunities for strategy are found in the signals used in the game. The most important rule in choosing a signal is to choose something that works for your partnership! Not all players notice or react well to the same same thing, so get to know your partner and learn what works and what doesn’t.

Keep in mind that part of a successful Cash game is fooling your opponents. Turn the pitfalls mentioned here around on your opponents—watch them to see if they are committing these errors, or commit them yourself with a phony signal to trick your opponent into calling “Counter cash!”

Verbal signals

Verbal signals (a spoken word used as a signal) are the easiest to successfully communicate and are therefore also the easiest for your opponents to detect. Most of the time, you will be able to use a verbal signal only once. For this reason, it can be pretty much anything, because even if it’s something that you would obviously never say unless it was a signal, like “shark putty”, all you have to do is call “Cash!” before your opponents can call “Counter cash!” and you’re good.

But if you do want to reuse a verbal signal, you can attempt to camouflage it. You can use a single word and bury it within a longer sentence, for instance. Make sure it’s a word that is common enough that it won’t stick out like a sore thumb, but not so common that you will say it on accident. It should also be something that doesn’t force an awkward change in subject—you don’t want to be talking about your grandmother’s cookies, then suddenly bring up Breaking Bad because that’s your signal word. Something that can help camouflage a signal is deliberately waiting for a few moments before calling “Cash”, in the hopes of keeping your opponents from associating the signal with you winning.

There is some merit in pretending an already-used signal is your code word, when in reality you have since changed your signal. The reason for this, of course, is to trick your opponents into losing by calling a bogus “Counter cash!” If that’s what you’re trying to do, re-read that last paragraph, and do everything it tells you not to!

Non-verbal signals

With non-verbal signals, many of the same rules apply. You will want something natural enough that your opponents will not notice, but conspicuous enough that your opponent will. Practically anything will do—taking a drink, fanning your cards out wider or narrower than usual, fiddling with your watch, slowly swaying your chair side to side. Just don’t pick anything like scratching your head or rubbing your eye—you are guaranteed to get a sudden itch in that spot when the hand starts!

One thing to watch out for is that you don’t fixate on wherever your partner’s signal will be coming from. If your partner will signal by adjusting their glasses, don’t stare at their glasses! Your opponents may notice and start staring too, and will call “Counter cash” whenever they notice anything amiss.

And remember, just because non-verbal signals have a higher shelf-life, it doesn’t mean they have an indefinite shelf life. You should still probably use the same signals for no more than three hands. Your opponents are bound to catch on eventually.

Posted in Game Strategy Tags: cash, game strategy, kemps, kent

  1. Hold cards in one hand when don’t have cash, kemps, etc. and hold in the other when you do

  2. We play in band, so my signal is fixing the music stands, or saying “I just need one more card”. Stuff like that

  3. I pick up a card and then lay the same card down. No one has ever figured it out.

  4. I just look at the person, not noticeably, but when my partner is looking at me, and no other people are, I just nod my head.

  5. If you are playing under a table I like to step or give a knudge underneath the table

  6. I like to put my elbows on my knees when I have a match.

  7. My partner and I will run our hand through our hair. We also have a sign to check our phone when we have a match.

  8. Me and my partner always make fake signals

  9. Just say ¨I have Kemps(or whatever depending on what you call it)¨ the others will never suspect it and its the easiest/quickest way to get it across

  10. me and my friend say random letters but if we say AZ iit means we have a set of four, it always works and people call counter kemps on a random set of letters eg: Me: AR Opponent: Counter kemps! Me: Ha ha!

  11. my favorite code i’ve made up is: (you and your partner must be quick at multiplication and subtraction.)
    doubles: a singular word, i.e. duck
    triples: plural, i.e. logs
    kemps: a verb, i.e. walking

    the number code starts with your number – Ace = 1, Jack = 11, Queen = 12, King = 13. The rest are just the number on them.
    Take the number, i.e. 2, multiply by 3 (6), and subtract by 2. (5)

    So, if I had triple jacks, I might say –

    Wires 31

    or, kemps –

    Jumping 65 (I like to add a random number on kemps to throw people off.)

    or doubles of 4s –

    apple 10

  12. I’ve got to say, that’s pure brilliance. My code is:

    32 would be 5, because you’re adding up the 2 numbers, but to hide it, you can say 7’32’.Tthen you could put a number after to say how many of that card you have. I.e, 7,324 would mean: 3+2=5, 7 is extra, and for means you have a Kent.

    How do you like that?

  13. when all my cards are different, i hold my cards with one finger at sight, when i got two likewise cards, i hold em with two fingers, when i got three cards, the fingers, and when i got em all 4, i hold the cards with 4 fingers. this always works and this way my teammate always knows how many cards i got.

Card Game With Secret Signals

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