Last updated
Pochbrett 3.jpg
A modern Poch board (Pochbrett)
Release date1441
TypeMelding, vying and shedding
FamilyStops group
Skills requiredcombinations, chance
Age range10+
Cards32 or 52
DeckFrench or German-suited pack
Card rank (highest first)A K Q J 10 – 7 or 2
Playing time10 min
Related games
Nain Jaune, Pope Joan
Poch board (from a Nuremberg toy sample book of the 19th century) Pochbrett 1.jpg
Poch board (from a Nuremberg toy sample book of the 19th century)
Poch board (ditto) Pochbrett 2.jpg
Poch board (ditto)

Poch, Pochen or Pochspiel (French : Poque) is a very oldcard game that is considered one of the forerunners of poker, a game that developed in America in the 19th century. An etymological relationship between the game names is also assumed. [1] Games related to Poch are the French Glic and Nain Jaune and the English Pope Joan. [2] Other forerunners of poker and possible relatives of the game are the English game, Brag, from the 16th century and the French Brelan (later Bouillotte) and Belle, Flux et Trente-et-Un. Poch is recorded as early as 1441 in Strasbourg. [3]


Pochen is also another name for the card game Tippen or Dreiblatt. [4]


The rules reproduced below are based on the description in Meyer (1908), [5] supplemented by Von Alvensleben (1853). [6] Poch was and is played in many variations with different details; the rules given here are not universal or binding like the rules of chess.


Poch is a game of chance for 3 to 6 people. If 3 or 4 play, a pack of 32 French playing cards or German cards is used. If 5 or 6 play, a pack of 52 French playing cards is recommended. Also needed is a Poch board (Pochbrett) with 9 compartments or 'pools' into which are placed stakes for the Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten, Mariage, Sequence and Poch. Dealing and play are clockwise.

Before the start of the game, the board is 'dressed' in that each player antes one chip to each pool on the board except the one in the middle, the Pinke (pronounced "pinker"). [lower-alpha 1] The dealer shuffles the cards, offers to his right for cutting, deals five cards (3 +2 or 2 + 3) to each player and finally turns the top card of the talon to determine the trump suit (Atout).

Stage One: Melding

After the cards are dealt, the players move to the first stage of the game, melding (Melden or Ansagen), where they declare their 'figures' (Figuren). For example, if a player has the Ace of Trumps, he reveals it and collects the amount in the relevant pool of the board. Players with the King of Trumps, Queen of Trumps, Jack of Trumps, and Ten of Trumps do the same.

If a player holds the King of Trumps and Queen of Trumps, apart from the stakes on these two pools he also receives the stake for their 'marriage'.

The stake on the Sequence pool goes to the player who has the best run of three cards, a higher run beating a lower and a trump sequence beating one in a plain suit. In the event of two equal-ranking, plain suit sequences, positional priority applies i.e. the player earlier in the order of play wins. [lower-alpha 2]

If a pool is not cleared in the course of melding, the stakes remain on the pool and are valid for the next stage. Before the next stage, however, new stakes are added.

Stage Two: Pochen

The next stage is Pochen, a bidding or vying round which resembles a very simple poker game.

The dealer asks "Who's knocking?" (Wer pocht?) Beginning with forehand, the first player with has a 'set' (Kunststück), i.e. two or more cards of the same rank, may say "I'll knock!" (Ich poche!) and place a number of chips in the Pinke in the middle of the board. [lower-alpha 3] Or he may name his stake by saying e.g. "I'll knock one!" (Ich poche eins!) and staking one chip or "I'll knock three!" and staking three chips. Any player who thinks he can beat the 'knocker' (Pocher) with a better set says "I'll hold it!" (Ich halte es!) or just "I'll hold!" (Ich halte!) and places the same number of chips in the pool as the knocker did. Alternatively a player may take over as the knocker by saying "I'll knock higher!" (Ich poche nach!), "I'll raise!" or "I'll knock two!" (Ich poche zwei!), thus raising the stake. However, if he has a hand that he thinks has little chance of winning, he may opt to "pass" and drop out of this stage of the game, losing any stake he has placed. Then the other players take turns to do the same just like the betting rounds of poker. Bidding continues until no-one wishes to raise further.

If at least two players are left in (the knocker and one or more who 'held'), they reveal their sets and the highest wins both the contents of the Poch pool and the stakes placed in the Pinke in the middle. Sets must be either four of a kind (Gevierte), three of a kind (Gedritte) or pairs (Paare). Any four of a kind beats any three of a kind and any three of a kind beats a pair. If the sets are of the same type, the higher ranking set wins; if two players have sets of the same rank, the player who has the trump card wins. If all but one player pass, the knocker wins and does not need to show his hand. Thus bluffing is possible. [lower-alpha 4]

Stage Three: Shedding

The last stage of the game is the 'playing out' (Ausspielen) or shedding phase. Two different ways of doing this are described in the various rules.

Domino variant

Pierer (1844) describes a domino-like variant where the first player (presumably forehand) plays any card, but typically the lowest card of his longest suit. The player with the next higher card in the same suit (which could be the same player), places it on the card played, etc. until the run ends because it is either completed with the Ace or the next higher card is in the talon. The player who played the last card may now start a new run with any card from his hand. The game continues in this way until a player can discard his last card. This player now receives as many chips from each player as they each have cards in their hand. [7]

Trick-taking variant

According to Von Alvensleben (1853), this stage involves trick-taking rather than building sequences. Forehand leads by playing any card and players must follow suit if they can or pass (thus playing no card at all) if unable. The winner of a trick leads to the next. Trumps appear to play no part. Again, the first player to shed all his cards wins as many chips per player as they have cards remaining. When the winner plays his last card, the others may not get rid of a remaining hand card, even if they can follow suit. [6]

Additional rules

According to Meyer, [5] no chips are deposited into the pool marked Poch in the middle at the beginning of the game. Sequence is generally defined as a sequence of at least three consecutive cards of a suit, e.g.  J -  10 -  9. Sometimes it is also played in such a way that the player who has the highest ranking sequence (according to Meyer) may collect the stakes from the Sequence pool. Here, a longer sequence beats a shorter sequence, a higher sequence beats a lower sequence, if both sequences are of equal length and ran, Trumps beat the other suit; if that does not make a difference, then the player closer to the left of the dealer wins.


  1. In some rules only 7 pools are dressed, the Poch compartment being left empty and used for stakes during the bidding in Stage 2 (Pochen). However that means that, if only one player bids, he merely wins his own stake back.
  2. In some rules only the displayed combination, the 7, 8 and 9 of trumps, wins. However, this greatly reduces the chances of anyone being able to claim it each time.
  3. If only 7 pools are dressed initially, the stakes are placed in the Poch compartment instead of the Pinke.
  4. The rules with the Philos Poch board state that if the knocker has 'bluffed' i.e. turns out not to have the highest set, he pays a double stake to the pool before the player with the highest set collects his winnings.

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Pope Joan (card game)

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Glossary of card game terms List of definitions of terms and jargon used in card games

The following is a glossary of terms used in card games. Besides the terms listed here, there are thousands of common and uncommon slang terms. Terms in this glossary should not be game-specific, but apply to a wide range of card games. For glossaries that relate primarily to one game or family of similar games, see Game-specific glossaries.

Elfern, also known as Eilfern, Figurenspiel or Elfmandeln, is a very old, German and Austrian 6-card, no-trump, trick-and-draw game for two players using a 32-card, French-suited Piquet pack or German-suited Skat pack. The object is to win the majority of the 20 honours: the Ace, King, Queen, Jack and Ten in a Piquet pack or the Ace, King, Ober, Unter and Ten in a Skat pack. Elfern is at least 250 years old and a possible ancestor to the Marriage family of card games, yet it is still played by German children.


Tippen, also known as Dreiblatt, Drei Karten, Dreekort, Kleinpréférence or Labet, is an historical German 3-card, plain-trick game which was popular as a gambling game for three or more players. The Danish version of the game was known as Trekort and more elaborate Swedish variants include Knack and Köpknack. It appears to be related to the English game of 3-Card Loo. It was banned as a gambling game in some places.

Bavarian Tarock Card game

Bavarian Tarock or, often, just Tarock, is a card game played in Bavaria and several regions of Austria as well as in Berlin. The name is a clue to its origin as an attempt to design a game resembling Tapp Tarock but without using a Tarock pack. The original form of Bavarian Tarock thus incorporated several elements of the true Tarock games, whilst being played with a 36-card German deck. However, during the last century, the variant played with a pot (Haferl) and often known as Haferltarock, has evolved into "quite a fine game" that, however, has less in common with its Tarock progenitor. It is descended from Tapp Tarock via the very similar game of Tapp, played in Württemberg, and is thus related to Bauerntarock, Frog and Dobbm. It should not be confused with Königrufen, also known as Austrian Tarock or just Tarock.


Brandeln is an historical card game for four players in which three play against a soloist. It is one of the earliest games to use the terms Bettel – a contract to lose every trick – and Mord - a contract to win every trick. It is still played in Germany today.

Newmarket (card game)

Newmarket is an English card game of the matching type for any number of players. It is a domestic gambling game, involving more chance than skill, and emerged in the 1880s as an improvement of the older game of Pope Joan. It became known in America as Stops or Boodle before developing into Michigan. In 1981, Newmarket was still the sixth most popular card game in Britain.


Zwicken is an old Austrian and German card game for 4 to 6 players, which is usually played for small stakes and makes a good party game. It is one of the Rams group of card games characterised by allowing players to drop out of the current game if they think they will be unable to win any tricks or a minimum number of tricks.

Belle, Flux et Trente-et-Un

Belle, Flux et Trente-et-Un, also called Les Trois Jeux or, in German, Dreisatz or Belle, Fluss und Einunddreißig, is an historical, gambling, card game that was widespread in France and Germany during the 17th and 18th centuries. As a relative of Brag and Poch, from which the game of Poker developed, it is of cultural-historical interest. Parlett records it as Best, Flush and Thirty-One.


Matzlfangen is a traditional point-trick, card game for 4 players that originated in the Austro-Bavarian region nearly 200 years ago. It is still played in a few places today. The game is named after the Ten or Matzl, which plays a key role.


Mauscheln, also Maus or Vierblatt, is a gambling card game that resembles Tippen, which is commonly played in Germany and the countries of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.

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Lupfen (card game)

Lupfen is a card game for 3–5 players that is played mainly in west Austria and south Germany, but also in Liechtenstein. The rules vary slightly from region to region, but the basic game in each variation is identical. It is one of the Rams group of card games characterised by allowing players to drop out of the current game if they think they will be unable to win any tricks or a minimum number of tricks.

Bester Bube

Bester Bube, Bester Bauer, Bester Buur, Beste Boeren (Holland), Fünfkart, Fiefkarten, Fiefkaart, Fiefkort or Fiefander (Holstein), or Lenter is an historical German card game for 3–6 players played with a Piquet pack. It is one of the Rams group of card games characterised by allowing players to drop out of the current game if they think they will be unable to win any tricks or a minimum number of tricks. It appears to be loosely related to Five-Card Loo.

Spitzeln is an historical German card game for three players and a variant of German Solo.

Bête French card game

Bête, la Bête, Beste or la Beste, originally known as Homme or l'Homme, was an old, French, trick-taking card game, usually for three to five players. It was a derivative of Triomphe created by introducing the concept of bidding. Its earlier name gives away its descent from the 16th-century Spanish game of Ombre. It is the "earliest recorded multi-player version of Triomphe".


  1. Parlett 1990, p. 86.
  2. Pope Joan, description of the game by David Parlett.
  3. Parlett 1990, pp. 88 and 95-98.
  4. Hoffmann 1874, p. 119.
  5. 1 2 Meyer 1908, pp. 54/54.
  6. 1 2 von Alvensleben 1853, pp. 395–397.
  7. Pierer 1844, pp. 179/180.