Last updated
This article details the rules for Buraco as played in the United States.
Burraco tavolo.jpg
Origin Argentina/Uruguay
Skills requiredTactics & Strategy
Cards104 cards
Deck French
Card rank (highest first)A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Playing timefrom 40 minutes to several hours
Random chanceMedium
Related games

Buraco is a Rummy-type card game in the Canasta family for four players in fixed partnerships in which the aim is to lay down combinations in groups of cards of equal rank and suit sequences, there being a bonus for combinations of seven cards or more. Buraco is a variation of Canasta which allows both standard melds (groups of cards of the same value) as well as sequences (cards in numerical order in the same suit). It originated from Uruguay and Argentina in the mid-1940s, [1] with apparent characteristics of simplicity and implications that are often unforeseeable and absolutely involving. Its name derives from the Portuguese word "buraco" which means “hole”, applied to the minus score of any of the two partnerships. The game is also popular in the Arab world, specifically in the Persian Gulf; where it is known as 'Baraziliya' (Brazilian). Another popular variation of Buraco is Italian.


Game rules

The Setup

Buraco is played with two 52-card decks of standard playing cards, for a total of 104 cards. Team members sit opposite each other, so that no team member is sitting next to their own teammate.

Before beginning the game, the players cut the deck to establish who deals first. The player from the team who has the lowest card must deal to the player of the other team who has cut the highest card. In the case of two identical cards being chosen, two new cards must be cut. The dealer shuffles and the player to their right cuts the deck.

The opponent sitting to the right of the dealer attempts to cut exactly twenty-two cards off the top of the deck. If exactly twenty-two cards are cut off the top of the deck, then that team immediately gains one hundred extra points. This person uses these cards to make two (2) hands of eleven cards each, and the first hand is crossed over the second and they are both stacked in a corner of the card table. These two hands are called the 'pots" (in Portuguese "the dead").

While the pots are being made, the dealer distributes eleven cards to each player one by one in a round-robin manner; these cards are called the players’ hand(s). If during the dealing any mistake is made then (e.g., one card too many, one card too few, cards upturned) the hands and the pots must be re-dealt. Responsibility for dealing the cards always proceeds clockwise from game to game. The remaining thirty-eight cards, placed face-down in the center of the table, make the stock.


Each team has its own collection of runs (in Portuguese "table") that are shared by both players; that is, both players build on each other's runs in turn. A player from one team may not play on the other team's runs.

Runs can be made in one of two ways:

A – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 –10 – J – Q – K – A

Runs of seven or more cards earn extra points for the team, and are classified in one of two ways:



The first team to accumulate three thousand or more points wins the match. There are multiple games during a match. Points are earned by making runs of three or more cards face-up on the table, and each card played in a run earns a point value for the team that played the card.

Point values for cards in Buraco
3, 4, 5, 6, 75
8, 9, 10, J, Q, K10
A (Ace)15

When the game is over, players with cards in their hand that were not melded count negatively against their team's total score for the match.

Additionally, if a team did not take a hand from the pot, then they must subtract one hundred points from their team's total score for the match.

If the game ends before any cards are played from a new hand picked up from the pot, then the player with that new hand will either:

If a team ends the game (If a player plays all the cards in their hand and the team has taken a hand from the pot and the team has at least one clean run), then that team adds one hundred points to their team's total score for the match.

First draw

The first draw of the game varies from subsequent draws in every game as there is no discard pile at the beginning of the game. The first play is made by the person sitting to the left of the dealer. The top card is drawn from the stock and if the player likes that card, then it is placed into the first player's hand. If the first player does not want the first card of the game, then that card is immediately turned face-up to the side of the stock to begin the discard pile, and the first player draws another card from the stock. If the first player accepts the first card of the game then another card may not be drawn by that player on that turn.

Note: As soon as the first card drawn is placed in the hand of the first player, then that player has accepted that card – if the player discards this same card after it is placed in the hand, then the player has exhausted their turn and play proceeds to the next player.

Initial melding

Melding is the act of displaying your cards face-up on the table to earn points. A team may only begin to place runs onto the table if they meld a minimum number of initial points. This minimum initial meld number varies based upon the total number of points already earned by that team in the match. A team with less than fifteen hundred points in the match must initially meld a minimum of fifty points. A team with fifteen hundred or more points in the match must initially meld a minimum of seventy-five points. If a team fails to meld the minimum initial number of points, then all the runs are placed back into the hand of the player and fifteen more points are added to the initial number to meld for that team during that game.

The sum of the values of the cards played in the player's turn must equal or exceed the minimum initial meld requirement according to the player/team's total score:

Team scoreMinimum initial meld
Less than 150050
1500 - 299575

Course of play

Play always proceeds clockwise. Each player begins their turn by drawing. Except for the first draw of the game, drawing can be either:

Note: A player may not advise, verbally or otherwise, their teammate on whether they prefer a draw from the stock or the discard pile.

After a player draws, the player can meld for more points by putting any new runs onto the table and adding cards onto their own team's runs already on the table. A player may only meld during their turn. Once a card is melded into a run, it may not be moved into a different run or picked up and placed into a player's hand. However, wildcards may be moved within a run.

Note: A player may not advise, verbally or otherwise, their teammate on how they prefer them to meld any of their cards.

Aces may rank high or low, and more than one ace may be played in a run.

A player's turn ends when a card is discarded by that player from their hand. A discard is complete when the discarded card is no longer touched by the discarding player.

After throwing away a card to the discard pile, no other move (e.g., putting down more cards, substituting cards, changing the discarded card) is permitted until the player's next turn.

If a player plays all the cards in their hand and their team has not yet taken a hand from the pot, then the player picks-up the next hand from the pot. The player who has melded all their cards takes a hand from the pot and if the player:

If a team has picked up a hand from the pot, and they do not have a clean run, then that team may not play all the cards in either of their hands.

If a player plays all the cards in their hand and the team has taken a hand from the pot and the team has at least one clean run, then the game ends.

If the stock is empty and there are cards in the pot, then the next hand from the pot will be moved into the stock. In this case, it is certain at least one team will need to subtract points from their total number earned for the match.

If the stock is empty and there are not any cards in the pot, then the game is over without either team earning additional points for ending that game.


Additional information

"Burraco e Pinelle Online" is a popular free game of buraco online. One of the strongest Burraco e Pinelle Online players is a user with a nickname: hoangspb [2] who has over a 90% win rate.

See also

Related Research Articles

Gin rummy card game

Gin rummy, or simply gin, is a two-player card game created in 1909 by Elwood T. Baker and his son C. Graham Baker. It is a variant of rummy. It has enjoyed widespread popularity as both a social and a gambling game, especially during the mid twentieth century, and remains today one of the most widely-played two-player card games.

Canasta card game

Canasta is a card game of the rummy family of games believed to be a variant of 500 Rum. Although many variations exist for two, three, five or six players, it is most commonly played by four in two partnerships with two standard decks of cards. Players attempt to make melds of seven cards of the same rank and "go out" by playing all cards in their hand. It is the only partnership member of the family of Rummy games to achieve the status of a classic.

Shithead (card game) Shedding-type card game

Shithead is a card game, the object of which is to lose all of one's playing cards, with the final player being the "shithead". The game became popular among backpackers in the late 20th century. Although the basic structure of the game generally remains constant, there are regional variations to the game's original rules.

500 rum

500 rum, also called pinochle rummy, Michigan rummy, Persian rummy, rummy 500 or 500 rummy, is a popular variant of rummy. The game of canasta and several other games are believed to have developed from this popular form of rummy. The distinctive feature of 500 rum is that each player scores the value of the sets or cards they meld. It may be played by 2 to 8 players, but it is best for 3 to 5.

Thirty-one or Trente et un is a gambling card game played by two to seven people, where players attempt to assemble a hand which totals 31. Such a goal has formed the whole or part of various games like Commerce, Cribbage, Trentuno, and Wit and Reason since the 15th century.

Rummy card game

Rummy is a group of matching-card games notable for similar gameplay based on matching cards of the same rank or sequence and same suit. The basic goal in any form of rummy is to build melds which consist of sets, three or four of a kind of the same rank; or runs, three or more cards in sequence, of the same suit. If a player discards a card, making a run in the discard pile, it may not be taken up without taking all cards below the top one. The Mexican game of Conquian is considered by games scholar David Parlett to be ancestral to all rummy games, which itself is derived from a Chinese game called Khanhoo. The rummy principle of drawing and discarding with a view to melding appears in Chinese card games at least in the early 19th century, and perhaps as early as the 18th century.

Shanghai rum

Shanghai rum is a Rummy card game, based on gin rummy and a variation of Contract rummy played by 3 to 8 players. It is also known as California rummy.


Desmoche is a popular rummy card game usually played for small stakes which closely resembles other games in the rummy family, like Conquian and gin rummy, more than poker. It was probably devised in Nicaragua in the first half of the 20th century.

Tonk, or tunk, is a matching card game, which combines features of knock rummy and conquian. Tonk is a relatively fast-paced game that can be played by 2-4 players. It was popular with blues and jazz musicians in southern Louisiana in the 1930s, including Duke Ellington's orchestra, and was played during breaks in the back rooms of bars and saloons. In many other places it has become a popular pastime for workers while on their lunch breaks. It can be played for just points or for money wagered.

Conquian card game

Conquian, Coon Can or Colonel is a rummy-style card game. David Parlett describes it as an ancestor to all modern rummy games, and a kind of proto-gin rummy. Before the appearance of gin rummy, it was described as "an excellent game for two players, quite different from any other in its principles and requiring very close attention and a good memory to play it well."

Contract rummy

Contract rummy is a Rummy card game, based on gin rummy played by 3 to 8 players. It is also known as Combination rummy, Deuces Wild Rummy, Joker rummy and Phase 10.

Dummy rummy

Dummy rummy is a variation of rummy for two to four players. It is played with two standard decks of cards, including four jokers, for a total of 108 cards. The jokers and twos are wild.


Biriba is the Greek partnership version of a rummy card game of Italian origin called Pinnacola. The Greek name comes probably from the Italian game Biribara, or Biribisso, or Biribi, even if this game is totally different. It is played by two to six players, with two decks and 4 Jokers comprising 108 cards. If 6 players play, one more deck and two jokers more are added. Biriba can also be played by three players with or without partnership rules.


Rumino is a knock rummy card game of Italian origin played up to 6 players in which players try to form sets or sequences of cards. It may possibly have been devised in American during the 1940s by Italian immigrants by adapting the game Scala Quaranta to Gin rummy. It is usually played for small stakes Two 52-card decks are used plus four Jokers comprising 108 cards.

Chinchón (card game) matching card game

Chinchón is a matching card game played in Spain, Uruguay, Argentina, Cape Verde and other places. It is a close variant of Gin rummy, with which it shares the same objective: making sets, groups or runs, of matching cards.

Indian Cherokee Rummy is a card game in India with little variation from original rummy. It may be considered a cross between Rummy 500 and gin rummy. Indian Rummy is a variant of the rummy game popular in India that involves making valid sets out of 13 cards that are distributed among every player on the table. Each player is dealt 13 cards initially; if the number of players is 2, then a 52 cards deck is chosen for the game and if there are 6 players, two decks of 52 cards each is combined for the game. Each player has to draw and discard cards by turns till one player melds his/her cards with valid sets that meet the Rummy validation rules. It could be that Indian Rummy evolved from a version of Rummy in South Asia, Celebes Rummy, also called Rhuk.

Ponytail Canasta

Ponytail Canasta is a variation of the card game Canasta. The rules for Canasta were standardized in North America around the 1950s, it was this version of the game that gained worldwide popularity. In many countries, Classic Canasta is still played in more or less its original form, sometimes alongside a number of variations.

Indian Marriage Card game

Marriage, Marriage Rummy, often called 21-cards rummy, is a Rummy card game, widely played in India using three or more packs of cards.

German Rummy

German Rummy or Rommé is the most popular form of the worldwide game, Rummy, played in Austria and Germany. It is a game for 2 to 6 players and is played with two packs of French playing cards, each comprising 52 cards and 3 jokers. There are no partnerships, every player plays for him- or herself. In Germany, the Germany Rummy Association is the umbrella organisation for local rummy clubs and organises national competitions. The game is often just known as Rommé in Germany and Rummy in Austria.

Viennese Rummy

Viennese Rummy is a matching card game of the Rummy family for 2-6 people played in continental Europe.


  1. Oxford Dictionary of Card Games, David Parlett, pg. 53 Oxford University Press (1996) ISBN   0-19-869173-4
  2. "Burraco e Pinelle Online". www.burracoepinelle.com. Retrieved 2020-08-05.