Hokm is a trick taking card game, in which the object is to be the first team or player to win 7 points. Hokm literally means "command, order" but in card game jargon, it's the Persian word for the trump suit. Hokm is the most popular card game in Iran. Deal and play are anticlockwise.

Players and cards

Hokm can be played with 2, 3 or 4 players. If with four players, two players team up against the other two. The game uses a standard 52-card deck. Within each suit, the cards are ranked from highest to lowest: A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

Hâkem

At the beginning of each round, one of the players becomes "Hâkem". "Hâkem" literally means "ruler, governor" and in card game jargon, it refers to the player having the game's privileges. In Hokm, the privileges are:

  • To be the player with whom the dealing begins.
  • To be the player who orders up trump suit for the playing round.
  • To be the player who leads to the first trick of each round.

Hokm for 4 players

Determination of Hâkem, partners and dealer

The four players are in fixed partnerships, with partners sitting opposite each other. One of the players deals one card to each player face up and anticlockwise. The first player to get an A becomes Hâkem. The dealing is continued (notice that Hâkem takes no more card) until another player gets an A. This player becomes the partner of Hâkem. If necessary, the players change their places until the partners are sitting opposite each other. The player to the left of Hâkem, who is naturally from the opposite team, becomes the dealer.

Deal

Before dealing, the partner of Hâkem cuts the deck. The dealer deals out deck in 3 turns so that each player has finally 13 cards. Each player takes 5 cards at a time in the first turn, and 4 cards in the following turns. The dealing begins with Hâkem and continues anticlockwise. In the first turn of dealing, the partner of Hâkem receives his 5 cards right after that Hâkem has ordered up the trump suit.

Play

Hâkem leads to the first trick. Each player in turn must follow suit. If a player holds no cards of the suit led, that player may play any card (including any trump card). The highest card in the trump suit always wins the trick. If no trump cards are played, the trick goes to the highest card of the suit led. The winner of trick leads to the next.

Scoring

  • The first team to take 7 tricks wins the round and scores 1 point.
  • If taking all the first 7 tricks, the round is over and the winner team wins 2 points instead of 1. However, if it was the team playing against the Hâkem's team who did so, then they win 3 points instead of 2.
  • The first team to reach 7 points wins the game.
  • If Hâkem's team won the round, he keeps the rank. Otherwise, the player to his right (who is naturally from the opposite team) becomes Hâkem for the next round.

Hokm for 3 players

Determination of Hâkem and dealer

Before starting the game, one of 2s is removed from the deck so that we have 51 cards which is divisible by 17 as each player receives 17 cards. One of the players flips one card to each player face up and anticlockwise. The first player to get an A becomes Hâkem and the player to his left becomes the dealer.

Deal

The dealer deals out cards in 4 turns so that each player has finally 17 cards. Each player takes 5 cards at a time in the first turn, and 4 cards in the following turns. The dealing begins with Hâkem and continues anticlockwise. The second turn of dealing begins right after that Hâkem has ordered up the trump suit.

Play

Hâkem leads to the first trick. Each player in turn must follow suit. If a player holds no cards of the suit led, that player may play any card (including any trump card). The highest card in the trump suit always wins the trick. If no trump cards are played, the trick goes to the highest card of the suit led. The winner of trick leads to the next.

Scoring

  • The first player to take a number of tricks that cannot be beaten (is equal or more than 7 tricks e.g. 7-4-5, 8-6-2), wins the round and scores 1 point.
  • If taking all the first 7 tricks, the round is over and the winner, instead of 1 point, scores either 2 if he was Hâkem or 3 otherwise.
  • If two of players take the same possible number of tricks (i.e. 6-6-5, 7-7-3, 8-8-1) then the player with fewer tricks wins the round and scores 1 point.
  • The first player to reach 7 points wins the game.
  • If Hâkem won the round, he keeps the rank. Otherwise, the player to his right becomes Hâkem for the next round.

Hokm for 2 players

Determination of Hâkem and Dealer

One of the players leads one card to each player face up anticlockwise. The first player to take an A becomes Hâkem and the other player becomes dealer.

Deal

The dealer deals 5 cards at a time to Hâkem and 5 to himself and the undealt stock is placed face down in the middle of table. Hâkem examines his cards and declares the trump suit. Then he picks 3 less valuable cards out of his 5 cards and discards them face down to start the discard pile. In the same way, the other player discards 2 less valuable cards of his hand face down. Now, Hâkem draws the upcard of the undealt stock (without exposing it to his opponent). If he finds it valuable, he adds it to his hand, else he discards it face down and picks up another card from the top of the stock. Therefore, each player has two options, the first card can be avoided and discarded but the second is obligatory. Finally, each player has 13 cards. Whether to pick first card or give way to the second, brings a lot of excitement to the game. Sometimes you miss a more valuable card because you have picked the first card. Your opponent must not see any of your discarded cards.

Play

Hâkem leads to the first trick. The other player must follow suit. If he holds no cards of the suit led, he may play any card (including any trump card). The highest card in the trump suit always wins the trick. If no trump cards are played, the trick goes to the highest card of the suit led. The winner of trick leads to the next.

Scoring

  • The first player to take 7 tricks wins the round and scores 1 point.
  • If taking all the first 7 tricks the round is over and the winner, instead of 1 point, scores either 2, if he was Hâkem or 3 otherwise.
  • The first player to reach 7 points wins the game.
  • If Hâkem won the round, he keeps the rank. Otherwise, the other player becomes Hâkem for the next round.

Terminology

  • kot - Winning the round by taking all the first seven tricks is called Kot, which is worth 2 points.
  • Hâkem koti - To kot Hâkem player / team is called Hâkem koti, which is worth 3 points.
  • hokm lâzem - To lead a trick by playing a trump card. This obliges other players to play a trump card.
  • boridan - (literally: to cut) To win a trick by playing a trump card when you are void of led suit.
  • rad kardan - (literally: to bypass) Not to play a trump card when you are void of lead suit for a reason e.g. because you are quite sure that your partner would win the trick.
  • pâyin âmadan - (literally: to lay low) To play a low card for a reason e.g. because you are quite sure that your opponent wins the trick.
  • bâlâ âmadan - (literally: to lay high) To play a high card for a reason e.g. in order to make the next player play a higher card of the led suit which itself could have several benefits.

Tips & Tricks

  • In 4-player Hokm, the third player to follow the lead trick should always play a winning card unless he can't or he is sure the partner will take the trick. This way, you force the last player to play a higher card if he can.
  • Having one or two cards from a suit is very good because you can easily trump the second or third hand in that suit with your trump cards.
  • If your partner follows a trick by playing a face card while there is already a higher face card on the table, this probably shows that you partner has become void of that suit. Then, in the first opportunity, when you lead to the trick, you can play a card from that suit so that your partner could play a trump card and win the trick.
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