Bouillotte Dates From the French Revolution Days

Bouillotte is a French gambling card game that dates from the eighteenth century and the Revolution. It was based on Brelan, and was extremely popular during the nineteenth century in France, and again for a few years from about 1830. It also became popular in America.

Influenced the Development of Stud Poker

The game is regarded as one of the games that was an influence in the development of the open card stud variant of poker. It also gave rise to the Bouillotte lamp. This lamp consists of one or a few candlesticks with a central standard, and equipped with a non-flammable adjustable shade. The shade was often made from tole, a painted or lacquered metal, reflective white on the inside but dark on the outside, that could be lowered as the candles burnt down.

A piquet pack is used for playing bouillotte, which means a deck of twenty cards. This is made by removing all sevens, tens and Jacks from the ordinary deck. When five people play the Jacks remain in the deck, but when three people play, the queens are taken out as well. The ace is the card with the highest value. Two packs of cards are generally used, so that when one pack is in play, the other can be shuffled. Counters or chips, like those used in poker, are used.

Some cards are taken out the deck, the ace, king, queen and nine. They are shuffled and each player draws one. In Bouillotte the player with the ace chooses where to sit first, and the player who draws the king is the first dealer.  Before the deal each player puts one counter into the pot, after which the pot may be raised. Those who do not want to see the pot will be obliged to drop out. Three cards are dealt to each player, and a thirteenth card, called the retourne when four players play, is turned up. Each player then has to bet, call, raise or drop out. When a call is made, the hands are shown and the best hand wins.

Ranking of Hands

In Bouillotte the hands are ranked as follows:  A Brelan Carre is four of a king, with one being the retourne. A Simple Brelan is three of a kind, with the Ace the high card, and Brelan Favori, which is three of a kind with one card being the retourne.

How to Calculate the Winner

If more than one player in Bouillotte has a brelan, the best one is the one that matches the rank of he turn up card, or a squared up brelan.  If no card is a match, the highest rank hand wins. Any player who has a brelan will win one chip or even two if it is a carre, from each opponent. If no player holds a brelan, the hand with the greatest number of pips wins. All hands are turned face up, including thos of players who dropped out. The face value of all these are totalled for each suit, the ace counting 11, picture cards count ten, and the numerals their face value. The best hand is the one with the highest total, and the player who holds the highest card of that hand will win the pot, provided he has not previously dropped out. If he has dropped out, the winner is the player counting the greatest face value of his cards in any other suit.

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