Buraco is a card game that mixes strategy and skill, and really appeals to everyone, from the youngest to the oldest.

Several versions in different countries have emerged over time since it's a game played worldwide, but they all revolve around one concept: to create combinations of cards and try to accumulate points.

Let's take a look at how Buraco is played. We just mentioned this game is played in different countries and certain variations apply depending on where it's played.

We'll dive deep into the international Buraco version in this article.


How many cards are dealt in Buraco?

Buraco starts with the distribution of cards to the players, usually two decks of French cards including the jokers, for a total of 108 cards with its 4 jokers. After a good shuffle, the cards are dealt to the players.

Each player then receives 11 cards. The rest of the cards left will be on what is called the “stock”, with all of the cards facing down. The first card of the stock will be uncovered on the table where the “discard pile” will be formed.

During the game, you draw a card from the deck or take the discard pile - all of it, you can't take just one selected card or the one that was just discarded previously.

Each round ends with the discard of one card.

If there was only one card in the discard pile and a player takes it, he cannot discard the same card that turn.

When a player runs out of all his cards he'll be distributed another set of 11 cards.


How many points do you need to score to win at Burraco?

Buraco is a card game based on creating combinations of cards. The goal is to accumulate points by making these combinations in its purest form (without the need to use a wild card like the joker for example) and with as many cards as possible.

Here lies the heart of the game. One must try to put together sequences of at least three cards of the same suit of sequential value (e.g., the 3, 4 and 5 of diamonds).

These groups are called “buraco” when you reach 7 or more cards, following any part of the following sequence:

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

In the game, you can add more cards to a group of cards already played by you or your partner if playing in pairs until you reach a buraco or split it into two, always following the rules.

However, you cannot take one card from one sequence and place it in another one. You can move a wild card within a run though. Talking of wild cards…

You can use a wild card to help you form these groups of cards. These wild cards can take the role of any card that you may miss that will allow you to form a sequence of minimum 3 cards (including the wild card). These cards that have this special role are the jokers and the 2s. You can choose to use either to form a sequence but not both in a single sequence as wild cards (if the 2 is not being used in its natural position, after an ace or before the 3).

A buraco can have a maximum of 14 cards, including a wild card, but this will only have to be placed after the K if you reach this maximum number of cards.

The ace in the sequence can be tied either at the bottom (before the 2) or also at the top (after the K) or both, which would be the maximum level to form a buraco, with the full 14 cards in the sequence without the use of any wild card.


When does the game end?

The game continues until the cards in the deck run out, if a player has not closed first with a buraco or by reaching the number of points established before the start of the game. Then the counting of points takes place.


When can a player close the game of Burraco?

For a player to be able to close the game he must have fulfilled some requirements first:

  • He must have made one clean buraco at least.
  • If he's run out of cards but allowing the card to be left at the discard pile.
  • The last card that will be discarded cannot be a wild card or the one just taken from the discard pile if it was a single card on the pile.
  • The team (if playing in pairs) needs to have picked up a hand from the pot.


How are points calculated in Burraco?

Points are awarded based on the cards and buracos completed by the players.

There are positive points but also negative points. Positive points are calculated according to the groups of cards formed and the value of these cards.


What are the value of the cards in Burraco?

  • 5 points - 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
  • 10 points - 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K
  • 15 points - the ace
  • 20 points - the 2
  • 30 points - the joker

Then there are extra positive points for making particular moves:

  • Royal Buraco - 1000 points
  • Semi royal Buraco - 500 points
  • Clean Buraco - 200 points
  • Dirty Buraco - 100 points
  • Closing the game - 100 points

Negative points are calculated according to the cards left for the players still in the game when one player has closed, following the same values just shown.

There are also extra negative points:

  • If a team didn't take a hand from the pot - minus 100 points


What are the differences between Clean Buraco and Dirty Buraco?

We just mentioned a few types of different buracos and it's important to establish their differences because it's a fundamental part of the rules of the international buraco:

  • Clean buraco - a sequence of at least 7 cards in ascending or descending value of the same suit without the help of any wild card.
  • Dirty Buraco - a sequence of at least 7 cards in ascending or descending value of the same suit using one wild card, a joker or a 2 (not used in its natural position)

A particularity is that a clean buraco can turn into a dirty one if you were to attach a wild card later onto it.

Instead, there is only one single instance in which a dirty buraco can turn clean, if you used the 2 of that suit but not in its natural position at first and then managed to move it below the 3 and therefore occupying its natural place by using the card that was originally replacing.

It's fundamental that you understand the difference between these two types of buracos because you need to have at least one clean one in order to be able to close the game.


What are the differences between royal buraco and semi-royal buraco?

  • Royal Burraco - this is the complete sequence from Ace to Aces without the use of a wild card. This burraco is equivalent to 1,000 points.
  • Semi-real Burraco - this is the sequence from Ace to K without the use of a wild card. This burraco is equivalent to 500 points.


When do you take cards from the “pot”?

When a player finishes his cards he will take a hand from the “pot”, so he will be given another 11 cards to continue playing.

This is an important step as it's one of the requirements in order to close and win the game.

If he runs out of cards without making a discard he can continue playing in the same turn after taking the hand from the “pot”.

If, on the other hand, he has to make a discard to finish his cards he will have to wait until the next turn to play these newly dealt cards.


What are the wild cards?

It's a card that can play the role of another card to form a group. We had said that these can be the 4 jokers and the “2” value cards, so there will be 8 in total because you play with 2 decks of cards. This means that there are 12 wild cards in total.


What are the winning strategies in Buraco?

Try to collect cards of the same suit to create sequences.

Jokers are versatile and valuable cards. Throw them into the field wisely to complete decks.

Choose carefully what to draw and what to discard. Don't reveal too much to your opponents about your moves! Then take a good look at what cards your opponents draw and discard. It will give you an idea of what cards might make a difference to discard or keep. If opponents are trying to put together buracos, don't give them the right cards by randomly discarding them.

If you play in pairs, communication with your partner is critical. Exchange information to fine- tune strategy.

Be ready to change strategy based on how the game moves. There is no one path to victory, so be flexible.

In the end, plan how to handle the cards you have left in your hand. If you have cards of high value (higher number of points) that you don't need, discard them strategically.


What is the difference between open and closed(fechado) buraco?

The key and absolute difference between the buraco that we've described until now and its closed version, also known as Buraco "fechado", is the fact that the closed one is much more restrictive since you can only take the latest card discarded from the discard pile if you're about to use it on a combination in that same move. If you do not only you'll take that card but you'll be awarded the entire discard pile accumulated until then too.

If that wasn't enough, the only card visible on the discard pile is the last one placed on top. The other cards on the pile are hidden so you'd best remember which cards have been discarded and how many you may end up with if you get that discard pile in the end!

Another difference is the fact that as well as the sequences that one can form in the International buraco, there's another set of groups that can be used in the closed version, sets of cards of the same values, like three queens.


What is the difference between closed and closed stbl buraco?

This is the main difference between closed and stbl closed(also known as "fechado STBL") buracos: Stbl closed buraco is the most restrictive version of them all. The only combinations of cards allowed are the sequences in ascending and descending order as well the fact that one cannot just take the discard pile if it's not to use the latest discard and only visible card. So if you choose this version be ready to be on top of your game!


Where can I play Buraco online?

If you want to put the rules of this game into practice, you can play Buraco online with us either on our Buraco website for free without registration or by downloading the iOS or Android app.


Differences between international Buraco and Italian Burraco

We have looked into the rules of the International Buraco but this game is a real staple card game in some countries like Italy, so let's look at its differences so you won't go wrong if you play one or the other!

One basic difference is the fact that not only you can make sequences in ascending or descending order Italian Burraco, like the ones you'd make in the international version, but there's more flexibility since other types of combinations are allowed too, the groups of cards of the same value, like 3 queens for example, as long as each belongs to a different suit.

Also, there are different types of buracos, some not existing in Italian burraco and vice versa. There is another type of buraco that does not exist in the international version, semi-clean buraco (when the wild card is opening or closing the buraco).

Instead, two of the buracos that can be used in the international version cannot be found in its Italian one, royal and semi-royal buracos. These are the most difficult ones to achieve and so you may not get to see them or create them often, but it's important to remember this difference if you play both types of buracos.

Another difference concerns the closing of the game, which cannot be done if the team/player has not made a single clean buraco at least in the international version. Italian Buraco is also more flexible in this sense since it allows for a player/team to close the game if at least a dirty buraco has been done.


Where can I play Italian Buraco online?

If you want to put the rules of Burraco to practice you can play Italian Buraco at our free Burraco Più website.


What are the differences between Buraco and Canasta?

This question is confusing, so we will help you solve it. Buraco is thought to have originated as a derivative of canasta because canasta originated earlier, although it is not known for sure, and both form part of the family of rummy games. So they are similar games but there are fundamental differences that you need to understand if you want to play both. We will tell you some of the most important ones.

Canasta can be played in 2 or 4 players, like Buraco. Here end the similarities

To begin with, each player starts with 15 cards when playing canasta instead of the 11 cards in Buraco. Canasta is played with 3 decks of French cards instead of 2 decks as is done in burraco.

We have already talked about the wild cards in buraco. The function of the joker and the “2” is the same when playing Canasta. However, there is also another “special” card, which are the cards of value “3”. The black ones block the next player's turn after using them and the red ones give the possibility when taken to discard them and take another card.

Another important difference is that you cannot form sequences in the game of canasta, the only possible groups of cards are combinations of cards of the same value.

Aa player must at least have made two canastas, and of those two at least one must be a clean one, to close the game.

Lastly, while a player can drop his groups of cards in Buraco as soon as they are formed, in the game of canasta it is not possible until a minimum number of points is reached to make the opening. This makes the initial part of the game of canasta slower annd also so much longer overall having the possibility of making many different groups of cards with the 3 decks.