Like many popular social card games, this card game has many local and regional variations in both names and rules. It’s known as Oh Hell in the United States, Boerenbridge in the Netherlands, and Chinees poepen in Flanders. My friends started referring to it as the Belgian card game.

The game is a trick-taking card game. The goal is to score points by predicting the number of tricks the player can take during a round. The game can be played with 3 players or more, although 4-7 is considered optimal. A standard 52-deck is used, with ace (A) being the highest rank and two (2) the lowest.

A game consists of a fixed number of rounds. Each round consists of dealing, bidding, taking tricks, and scoring. The player with the highest score at the end of the game wins.


Each hand starts by dealing a given number of cards to each player. The number of cards depends on the round. The first round is played with one card. With each succeeding round, the number of cards dealt increases, until there aren’t enough cards left for another round. After this, the number of cards per player decreases by one every round. The game is complete when the last round (with one card) has been played.

The dealer deals out the cards one by one, starting with the player to their left, in a clockwise direction, until the required number of cards has been dealt. After the dealing is complete, the next card is turned face up, and the suit of this card determines the trump suit for that round.

After the hand is over, the dealer moves to the player on the left.


Each player now bids for the number of tricks they expect to win. The player to the left of the dealer bids first, with the dealer bidding last. Bidding is unrestricted except that the number of bids cannot equal the number available tricks1. Every round must in total be either overbid or underbid. For example, if five cards are dealt in a four-player game, and the first three bids are zero, one, and two, then the dealer may not bid two, as that would add up to five. The player’s bids are recorded on the scorecard.


When every player has made a bid, the player to the left of the dealer makes the opening lead. The lead may be any suit, including trump[^2]. Play then proceeds as usual in a trick-taking game, with each player in turn playing one card. Players must follow suit, unless they have no cards of the suit led, in which case they may play any card, including trump.

The player who has played the highest trump card, or if no trump was played, the highest card of the suit led, wins the trick. The winning player leads the next trick. Continue until all tricks have been played and won.


  • 10 points for a correct prediction. This includes predicting not winning any hands at all.
  • 1 point for every correctly predicted trick. For example, predicting two tricks and winning exactly two tricks results in 12 points.
  • -1 point every incorrectly predicted trick. For example, predicting two tricks but winning four results in -2 points.

A scorecard is used to keep track of the players’ bids, tricks, and score. It usually consists of a table with a column for each player and a row for each round. Each cell in the table contains the player’s predicted number of tricks (recorded at the beginning of the round), and the number of tricks won together with their accumulated score (recorded at the end of that round).

The First & Last Round

The first and last round, played with one card, are special because they are played blind. Players must each hold their card on their forehead, so each player can see all the other player’s cards but not their own.

  1. This is called the “Screw the Dealer” rule. It ensures that at least one player will fail each hand. ↩︎