San Francisco Version of Barbú Rules

In San Francisco, a variation of Barbú is played that is quite different from the standard game. Here are their rules:

Seven games: Hearts, Losing Tricks, Last 2, Queens, Trumps, Fantan, Barbú

Special Rules for Games

Barbú and Hearts: Hearts may never be led unless heart-tight. [Jeff's note: particularly for hearts, this rule is of very dubious value. The major effect is that it is nearly impossible to have a very good hearts hand.]

Trumps: You must ruff or overruff if possible. Underruffing is not required.

Fantan: The starting card is called with the game (e.g. "King Fantan"); Aces are high.


Hearts: -2/H:, -6/H:A
Barbú: -15
Queens: -6/Q
Last 2: -10/-20
Fantan: 40/20/10/-10
Trumps: +5/trick
Losing: -2/trick


Non-dealer can double anybody. Everyone must double each dealer twice or more per game. Redoubles are normal; anyone doubled may redouble. Two doubles is a redouble; more than a redouble is just a redouble.


  1. Ravage City: Ravage City replaces Losing Tricks. Barbú becomes -17 and Ravage City -24.

  2. No Non-Dealer Doubles: Some play that one cannot double anyone but the dealer at Fantan and Trumps. I think this is a very good rule.

  3. Must Beat in Trumps: Some play that one must beat in trumps. I do not like this rule; it discourages cooperation.

  4. No Double, No Trouble: Some play that if no one doubles on a negative game, it is not played out, and the non-dealers split the points. Dealer gets the odd point (plus or minus) if need be.

  5. No Waiting: Some play that one must discard the H:K at Barbú at one's first opportunity unless one has more action with another player.

  6. New scoring charts. These are experimental. Please tell me how they work if you try them!

    1. Queens:-8/Q
      Hearts:-2/H:, -6/H:A
      Last 2:-10/-20
      Ravage:+24 if you don't get ravaged

    2. Queens:-6/Q
      Hearts:-2/H:, -6/H:A
      Barbú: -15
      Last 2:-10/-20
      Ravage:+24 if you don't get ravaged

    Note that these tables, as well as the original, are all zero-sum.

    If the Ravage is shared, the scores are +24, +24, +12, +12; if shared three ways, +24, +16, +16, +16; if shared four ways, everyone gets +18.

  7. Eugene Hung contributes this scoring table for a 32-hand game:
    Hearts:-2/H:, -6/H:A
    Barbú: -21
    Last 2:-10/-20
    Losing Tricks:-3/trick
    This scoring requires the optional rule of no non-dealer doubles, I think.

  8. Ed Sheldon reports that folks in London use this scoring table:
    Hearts:-2/H:, -6/H:A
    Barbú: -20
    Last 2:-10/-20
    Losing Tricks:-2/trick

Jeff Goldsmith,, Sept. 3, 1997