Bookaken is a simple and fast game that is not usually taken as a serious, high-stakes activity, but is instead an amusing way of determining which player is to buy the next round of drinks. It requires four or more players, but is usually difficult with more than seven.
A 32 card pack is used for the game, and this consists of the ace, king, queen, jack, 10, 9, 8, and 7 in all four suits. There are a total of 141 points in this pack, and certain combinations have a significant point value. These are called Roem.
Roem are worth the following:
- Three sequential cards in suit: 20 points
- Four sequential cards in suit: 50 points
- Five sequential cards in suit: 100 points
- Six sequential cards in suit: 200 points
- Four jacks: 200 points
- Four queens: 100 points
- Four kings: 100 points
- Four Aces: 100 points
- King and Queen of trumps: 20 points (referred to as Stuk)
No single card can be applied to more than a single sequence, with the exception of Stuk and four sequential cards in suit, which would provide 70 points. Additionally four aces with the king and queen of trumps are worth a total of 140.
To play the dealer shuffles and the player to the right cuts the deck. Dealing is always done clockwise and each player receives a total of six cards, three at a time. The dealer must deal a certain way based on the number of players:
Two or three or four players: after first three cards to each player, two cards are laid face down in the center of the table, and after the second set of three, two cards are laid face up in the center of the table. The remaining cards are set aside until the end of the hand.
Five players: after first three cards to each player, two cards are laid face up in the center of the table, and then the second set of three cards is dealt to players. The remaining cards are set aside until the end of the hand.
It is at this point in the game that bidding occurs. The player to the dealer’s left bids first, though they may pass and miss the bidding for the current trick. Bidding is done in four ways:
- Number bids – must be a multiple of five
- Misere – which aims to lose every trick, take no trumps and bids between 70 and 75.
- Zwabber – aims to win every trick, take no trumps and bids between 100 and 105
- Boonak – aims to win every trick, with a trump suit of choice.
The last bidder is the “declarer” and they must take the cards in the center of the table, while discarding the same number from their hand (face down). Each player must take a turn exchanging cards.
Hands or “tricks” are led by the bids, a Misere leads. A number bid or Boonak declares the trump suit. Each trick is won by the hand with the highest trump in it, or the highest card of the suit.
To determine scores, each win counts as a plus, each loss a minus, but it is only the declarer that gets the signs unless several people bid Misere, and then they too get a win or a loss notation. The player with the most minus signs is considered the loser.