Feb 012010

It can be said, no doubt, that the Mus is the most popular cards game, not only in the Basque Country, but in Spain as well and in all the places where Basques travelled.

Mus is a popular card game of Basque origin. It is unusual that although its mechanics- drawing cards and then betting on who has the best hand- are reminiscent of gambling games like Poker, Mus is a partnership game which does not need to be (and usually is not) played for money.
Mus is actually quite quick and straightforward to play, with a lot of scope for bluff and jokes.
Mus is a game for 4 players in fixed partnerships; as usual you sit opposite your partner. It is played anticlockwise. The standard 40 card Spanish pack is used. The suits are swords, batons, cups and coins, and each suit consisting of Rey (R), Caballo (C), Sota (S), 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace (A). The Rey (or King) 12 on the card, the Caballo is numbered 11, and the Sota is numbered 10. In the game of Mus the suits have no significance. Also the 3’s are equivalent to kings and the 2’s are equivalent to aces. So for the purposes of Mus the pack effectively consists of eight kings (Rey), four each of Caballo, Sota, 7, 6, 5 and 4, and eight aces.
Each game is won by the first team to reach 40 points (this will usually take several hands). Normally the best of three games is played, so the overall winners are the first team to win two games. The points are counted using small stones. Points are scored for having the best hand of cards in each of four categories: Grande (high), Chica (low), Pares (pairs) and Juego (game).
Players can try to increase the points scored for any category by betting. The betting on each category is taken in strict order, and only after all four betting rounds are complete is there a showdown where the hands of the players are compared and the points calculated.
A hand is the period of play from the deal, through the four rounds of betting and the showdown to the final scoring. A game consists of how many hands it takes until one team reaches 40 points, and the match consists of two or three games, the side which wins two games winning the match.
There are many mus tournaments everywhere in the Basque country along the year, as well as in the Basque centres worldwide.

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