Last updated
French-suited 32-card pack.jpg
French-suited 32-card pack
Origin Germany
Type Plain-trick game
Family Rams group
Deck Piquet pack
Rank (high→low)A K Q J 10 9 8 7
Related games
Contra   Kratzen   Lupfen   Mauscheln   Mistigri   Zwicken
Features: pot, 3 cards, no 'hop & jump'

Tippen, also known as Dreiblatt, Dreikart, 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 Three-Card Loo. It was banned as a gambling game in some places.


History and etymology

The game was described in 19th century anthologies and encyclopedias but appears related to 3-card Loo, which was already described in the 18th century. [1] In some locations the game was illegal.

Dreiblatt is recorded as early as 1807 as a gambling game in which players received three cards, [2] and Tippen is mentioned in 1790 as a gambling game similar to Grobhäusern and Trischak. [3] In 1810 it is briefly described as follows: "Tippen... each of the participants in the game is dealt 3 cards, after which trump is then turned, with which he must be able to take at least one trick if he enters the game in order to win a part of the stakes; [the game is named] from the fact that a player who wants to play in the game indicates this by tapping his finger on the table." [4] In 1816, Tippen is included in a list of German card games, [5] but the earliest description of the rules appears in 1821 in Das neue Königliche l'Hombre as Drei Karten ("Three Cards") along with a variant called Loup or Wolf (loup being French word "wolf"), described below. [6] Several early 19th century sources affirm that Dreiblatt and Tippen were the same game. [7] [8]

By 1836 it had reached Mecklenburg where it was played by the lower classes exclusively with French-suited cards alongside Schafskopf, Fünfkart and Solo, the dignitaries playing Whist, Boston, Ombre, Faro and, less often, Solo as well. [9]

Tippen is German for tapping and refers to the practice of players tapping on the table to indicate that they intend to "play" and not "pass" i.e. drop out of the current game. Dreiblatt or Drei Karten refers to the 3 cards each player is dealt. It appears related to the Danish game of Trekort whose rules appear as early as 1774 and again in an Jørgensen's 1829 Danish game anthology. [10]


Tippen is played with a 32-card Piquet pack. The suits are illustrated in the table below. Card ranking is: Ace > King > Queen > Jack > Ten > Nine > Eight > Seven.

Playing card suits
French deck
Suit Hearts (open clipart).svg
Name of the suitsHearts (Herz)Diamonds (Karo)Spades (Pik)Clubs (Kreuz, Treff)


The following rule sets indicate the development of the game from the early 19th century to the present. Note that, although most sources cite three to five players, Pierer suggests the game is also playable by two or up to ten players. [11] Von Alvensleben says that more than five players require a 'whist pack'.

Drei Karten (1821)

The earliest known rules appeared in 1821 under the name Drei Karten ("three cards") and describe the game as follows: [12]

"Drei Karten. This is played between 3 to 6 people. The dealer antes 3 counters (Marken), deals each person one card, three times in succession, the ninth, which belongs to him, determines trumps. Everyone must play the first hand. Anyone who fails to take a trick pays, the first time, 3 counters, and doubles the pool. When there is a bête [pool with more than 3 counters], anyone may pass. In this game you can lose with 2 trumps, and make 2 tricks without a single trump." Each trick taken earned 1 counter.

A variant called Loup or Wolf is also mentioned. [lower-alpha 1] "This is the same game, except that each player is dealt 6 cards, and so at most only five may play, because otherwise there would not be enough cards. The dealer antes 6 counters, not 3, so that when there is no bête, each trick earns 1 counter." [lower-alpha 2] In Ludwigslust Castle is a surviving example of a so-called "Loup Table" (Loupe-Tisch), a card table with seating for six players and six money pockets at each place. [13]

Dreiblatt or Tippen (1859)

In 1859, von Alvensleben gives a more detailed account of the game under the names of Dreiblatt, Dreikarten or Tippen. He also notes that it was sometimes played with four cards and known as Vierblatt to evade anti-gambling laws. [14]


The game is played by 3 to 6 players using a Piquet pack of 32 cards, or by more players using a Whist pack of 52 cards. Players choose any seat and the first dealer is the one who is dealt an Ace. The dealer antes a basic game stake (Kartenstamm) of 3 counters (Marken) and deals each player 3 cards individually. The next is turned as trumps. [14]


When there is only a basic stake in the pool, everyone must play until there is a bête. For each trick won, a token is paid from the pot (Pot). Anyone who fails to make a trick, antes a bête equal to the basic stake. When there is a bête in the pot, players may choose to play or pass; a player who passes throws his cards, face down, on the table; one who plays, undertakes to make at least one trick and does this by saying "I'm playing" (ich spiele) or tapping (tippen) his finger on the table. Each player that takes a trick receives one third of the bête and anyone who fails to take a trick must double the pot. All new bêtes are added to any existing ones. [14]


Players must follow suit if possible, otherwise may trump if able. If the trick has already been trumped, they may overtrump or discard as they please. If there are at least three active players, the first must lead a trump. A player who took the first trick and has the trump Deuce, must lead it to the second trick. [14]

To limit the size of the pot, players usually agree a maximum bête. Everything above that is set aside for the next or subsequent deals along with the basic stake anted by the dealer. [14]


Von Alvensleben records the following variations: [14]

  • Robbing (rauben) must be agreed beforehand. A player who holds the 7 of trumps may rob the trump upcard before play begins.
  • Sniffing (riechen) is when the dealer has the right to swap the trump upcard for a hand card that is then discarded face down. The dealer must announce this by saying "I'm sniffing" (ich rieche!), before turning the trump. The dealer must either play or exercise the option to drop out and pay a simple bête i.e. a single stake. If the dealer plays and takes no tricks, the dealer pays a double bête.
  • Hop and jump (Hupf und Sprung) is the feature that when the pack is cut, the lowest card is viewed and the deal passes to the next player if it is an Ace or Seven. This is done to increase the contents of the pot because the new dealer must also ante the basic stake. With this variation, players are not forced to play when there is only a basic stake in the pot.

Tippen (1905)

Tippen is described in the 1905 edition of Meyers Lexikon as follows:

Tippen (Dreiblatt, Zwicken), a gambling game of cards that is very widely played in Germany. It is played by 3–6 people with 32 cards or, with more participants, with 52 cards. The dealer pays three counters (Marken) as the initial stake (Stamm), deals each player 3 cards, one at a time, and turns the next for trump. If only the Stamm is available, all the players must play (mitgehen), and anyone who fails to take a trick pays a bête (the amount in the pot). Once the pot includes a bête, any player not confident of taking a trick may pass ("passen"); a player, however, with good cards, may say: "I'll go with you" ("Ich gehe mit") or taps (tippt) his finger on the table. For each trick taken, a player receives one third of the existing pool. Players must follow suit or trump.

Tippen at www.zeno.org.

Tippen (late 20th century)

The following modern rules are based on Grupp (1975) and Katira (1983) which are identical apart from the method of dealing and the penalty for taking no tricks. [15] [16]


Three to five players play with a 32-card Piquet pack. The cards rank in the natural order (aces highs) - see above. Deal and play are clockwise. Dealer pays 3 counters into the pot (Pott, Topf or Kasse), shuffles, offers the cut to the player on the right, deals 3 cards, one at a time, to each player, and turns the next card for trump (Grupp). Alternatively, 2 cards may be dealt, one at a time, to each player and the next turned for trumps before one more card each is dealt (Katira).

Bidding and exchanging

Players now examine their hands, assess whether they can take at least one trick and bid to "play" or "pass". If they pass, they lay their cards face down on the table. If they want to play, they tippen i.e. tap their fingers on the table. If all pass, the next dealer also pays a stake, shuffles, offers the cut and redeals. If only one player tipps, that player wins the pot, the dealer rotates and a new deal begins.

Each active player, beginning with forehand, may now exchange up to 3 cards, laying their discard(s) face down; the dealer then gives them the same number of cards from the talon.


Forehand, or the next active player sitting after the dealer in clockwise order, leads to the first trick. Players must follow suit; trump if unable and head the trick if possible. If unable to do any of those, they may discard any card.

The aim is to win at least 2 of the 3 tricks. Each won trick is worth a third of the pot. Any active player who fails to win a single trick must pay a bête equivalent to the contents of the pot (Katira) or the basic stake of 3 counters (Grupp). [lower-alpha 3]


Grupp and Katira mention the following as variations:

  • Force called Tipp-Zwang is played when there is only the basic stake in the pot. [16]
  • Shoving (schieben). The dealer pays the ante but may 'shove' the cards to his left for the next player to add another ante and then deal. That player may also shove. [15] [16]
  • Knocking. The dealer has the right to 'knock' on the - as yet unfaced - trump card before looking at his or her own hand. In exercising this right, the dealer picks the trump up without revealing it, announces the trump suit, picks up the hand cards and discards a card. A dealer who knocks and fails to take a trick pays a double stake. A dealer who takes just one trick having knocked, pays a single stake. [16]
  • Sniffing (riechen). All is as in von Alvensleben's account, except that the dealer may knock the pack instead of saying "I'm sniffing" and add the trump, unseen, to his or her hand cards announcing its suit, before making a discard, face down. The dealer may not drop out, but must take at least 2 tricks. The dealer pays a single bête if only 1 trick is taken and a double bête if none are taken. [15]


Vierblatt or Mauscheln

Where the game was illegal under its name Dreiblatt, players sometimes played a variant with a hand of 4 cards. This was a game in its own right known variously as Vierblatt , Angehen or (especially in south Germany and Austria) Mauscheln . [14] Today, Mauscheln is common in Austria and south Germany, unlike Tippen which is not played in Austria, but still played in Germany. [17]

Loup or Wolf

See above.

See also


  1. "Loup" is French for "wolf".
  2. It is evident that players must have earned 1 counter per trick in Drei Karten as well.
  3. Paying a bête by doubling the pot appears more of a gambler's rule, whereas limiting the bête to 3 counters is more suited to social and family games.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cego</span> Tarot card game

Cego is a Tarot card game for three or four players played mainly in and around the Black Forest region of Germany. It was probably derived from the three-player Badenese game of Dreierles when soldiers deployed from the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars and, based on a Spanish game they had encountered, introduced Cego's distinctive feature: a concealed hand, or blind. Cego has experienced a revival in recent years, being seen as part of the culture of the Black Forest and surrounding region. It has been called the national game of Baden and described as a "family classic".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Préférence</span>

Préférence, frequently spelt Preference, is a Central and Eastern European 10-card plain-trick game with bidding, played by three players with a 32-card Piquet deck, and probably originating in early 19th century Austria, becoming the second most popular game in Vienna by 1980. It also took off in Russia where it was played by the higher echelons of society, the regional variant known as Preferans being still very popular in that country, while other variants are played from Lithuania to Greece.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chratze</span>

Chratze is a trick taking card game, mainly played in the German-speaking part of Switzerland as well as in Bavaria. It is one of over 70 variants of Jass and played with a pack of 36 cards, either a Swiss-German or French one. It appears to be related to the Austrian game, Kratzen.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bestia (game)</span> Italian card game

Bestia is an Italian card game. It is a gambling game and is similar to Briscola and Tressette. The word bestia means beast.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Poch</span> Card game, recorded as early as 1441

Poch, Pochen or Pochspiel is a very old card 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. Games related to Poch are the French Glic and Nain Jaune and the English Pope Joan. Other forerunners of poker and possible relatives of the game are the English game, Brag, from the 16th century and the French Brelan and Belle, Flux et Trente-et-Un. Poch is recorded as early as 1441 in Strasbourg. In north Germany it was called by the Low German name of Puchen or Puchspill, and the board was a Puchbrett.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Zwicken</span> Card game

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. Despite a lack of sources, it was "one of the most popular card games played from the 18th to the 20th century in those regions of what is today Austria."

Lampeln or Lampln is an old Bavarian and Austrian plain-trick card game that is still played in a few places today. 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mauscheln</span>

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mistigri (card game)</span> German card game

Mistigri, historically Pamphile, is an old, French, trick-taking card game for three or four players that has elements reminiscent of poker. It is a member of the Rams family of games and, although it is a gambling game, often played for small stakes, it is also suitable as a party game or as a family game with children from the age of 12 upwards.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lupfen (card game)</span>

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sticheln</span> Card game

Sticheln is an easy-to-learn, trick-taking, card game for 4 players that originated from Austria. It is an old game, being recorded as early as 1756 and its rules being first described in 1830. The name means "playing [for] tricks".

Bester Bube, also Fiefkort mit 'n besten Buren, 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 may be an ancestor of Five-Card Loo.

Ramscheln, also called Ramsch, is a German card game for three to five players, which is usually played for small stakes. It is a variant of Mönch and a member 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 should not be confused with Ramsch, an unofficial contract in Skat, played when everyone passes, in which the aim is not to score the most card points.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mouche (card game)</span> French card game

Mouche, also known as Lanterlu, is an old, French, trick-taking card game for two to six players which has elements, such as bluffing, reminiscent of the much later game of poker. It is a member of the Rams family of games and, although it is a gambling game, often played for small stakes, it is also suitable as a party game or as a family game with children from the age of 12 upwards. It is named after the mouche, a term that variously refers to its winning hand, the basic stake and the penalty for failing to take any tricks. Although also called Bête, it should not be confused with the older game of that name from which it came and which, in turn, was a derivative of Triomphe.

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

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bête</span> 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".

Trekort, Tre-Kort or, in Swedish, also Trikort, is an old card game of Danish origin for four or five players that was usually played for money. It was also known in Sweden, where it developed into the variant of Knack. The name Trekort is also loosely used to describe related three-card games such as Swedish Köpknack. The name means "three cards" and may therefore be related to German Dreiblatt.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kauflabet</span> Historical German card game

Kauflabet or Kauf-Labet is an historical German trick-taking card game for three to five players that was popular within women's circles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">German Tarok</span> Card game

German Tarok, sometimes known as Sansprendre or simply Tarok, is an historical ace–ten card game for three players that emerged in the 18th century and is the progenitor of a family of games still played today in Europe and North America. It became very popular in Bavaria and Swabia during the 19th century before being largely superseded by Schafkopf, but has survived in the local forms of Bavarian Tarock and Tapp. During the mid-19th century, it became the most popular card game among Munich's middle classes and was also played in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by notable Bavarian author Ludwig Thoma, frequently appearing in his novels and journal articles. It was superseded after the First World War by other forms such as Bavarian Tarock.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Zwikken</span> Dutch card game

Zwikken is a Dutch gambling game of the trick-and-trump type using playing cards and designed for three to six players. It is "an old soldiers' game", still popular among the military today.


  1. Parlett 1990, p. 186.
  2. Campe (1807), p. 746.
  3. Förster, Thomas (1790), Thomas Försters Erzählungen von seinen Reisen in allen vier Welttheilen. Vol. 1. Weißenfels: Friedrich Severin. p. 199.
  4. Campe (1810), p. 828.
  5. von Düben (1816), p. xviii.
  6. _ (1821), p. 347
  7. Schütze (1814), p. 78.
  8. von Liechtenstern (1825), p. 528.
  9. Hoffmann (1836), p. 12.
  10. Jørgensen 1829, pp. 245ff.
  11. Pierer 1863, pp. 610ff.
  12. _ 1821, p. 347.
  13. Loupe table at i-p-c-s.org. Retrieved 4 November 2023.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 von Alvensleben 1853, pp. 201ff.
  15. 1 2 3 Grupp 1975, pp. 23/23.
  16. 1 2 3 4 Katira 1983, pp. 130–132.
  17. Geiser 2004, pp. 37, 40 and 58.