Playing Manille

When you're a company of four, a great opportunity arises: you can play a game of Manille! Whaaat?? Yes, this is the first thing that pops in mind when in West-Flanders four people meet up. Western-Belgium and French-Flanders are the only region in the world where Manille is by far the most popular card game. And guess what: our Extremis headquarters are based exactly in the middle of this region, somewhere near the border between Belgium and France. 

This card game is cultural heritage. Every Sunday morning after church, our grandfathers and grandmothers went to play manille. Manille tournaments are organised at the smallest village bar, meeting center or parish hall. The prizes: chickens, currant bread, sausages, or soap. No kidding.

Playing Manille

What you need

  • 4 players in two partnerships, sitting across from each other around the table
  • A deck of 32 cards, or a normal 52 card deck: then you leave out numbers 2 – 6
  • A Manille picnic table, a good drink and some snacks. These are not strictly part of the game, but all have a major influence.


  • ‘Manille’: card 10, the highest card in the game
  • ‘Trump’: the suit chosen by the dealer to win over any card of the other suits
  • ‘To cut’: using a trump card to win over the suit that is in play
  • ‘Trick’: You play a trick or a hand by laying one card each, clockwise. One round (or deal) is divided into 8 tricks, as you have 8 cards in your hand at the start of every round.

Card Values

The cards are all assigned a special value:

  • Ten (the ‘Manille’) = 5 points
  • Ace = 4 points
  • King = 3 points
  • Queen = 2 points
  • Jack = 1 point

The Dealer Kicks it Off

  • The 32 cards are distributed equally between the four players, starting with the player to the left of the dealer, moving clockwise. Players receive three cards, then two and then again three cards at a time, until all players have eight cards each.
  • The dealer then announces the trump suit. You look at you cards and probably choose the suit you have the most or the highest cards of.

The Play

The player to the left of the dealer can play any card of his choice, and the three players after him are obligated to follow suit if they can. If they can't, they must cut by playing a trump card. If they can't follow suit or trump, they must discard a card and obligatorily lose the hand. When the opponent has cut, it is again obligatory to overcut if you can. Each trick has a point that is added to the points on the cards forming the tricks. Players are not allowed to talk about their cards during the playing phase of the game. After each deal, the dealer becomes the one left to the dealer, thus rotating clockwise.

Who Wins?

At the end of the round, you collect the cards you and your partner have won with each trick and declare them. Your team receives ten points if you count 40. The other team gets 4 points if you count 26, for example, as the total value of the deck is 60. One player (always the same) writes those points down in a chart with two columns: US and THEM.

The first team reaching 101 points, wins. By repeatedly making tricks with the 8 cards that you have gotten from the dealer, both teams accumulate their score.

After a first game, you can choose for the full Manille experience by adding these extra rules.

More rules, more fun


When choosing trump, there’s in fact a fifth possibility: no-trump. Choose no-trump if you have many manilles and other high cards. No-trump also means that the points are doubled at the end of the deal.


Tapping the table

If the opposing team believes they can beat the chosen trump (get more than 30 points) then they can 'tap' the table to double the points at the end of the deal. If the opposing team 'tapped' the table and the trumping team believes the opposing team will not win the deal, they may 'double tap' the table, automatically quadrupling the points of the deal.


If you choose a trump before taking a look at your cards, points are doubled. The dealer gets to lead the first trick then. This means if you choose no-trump without looking, points are quadrupled.


A round without a winner

If one round ends in 0 points – both teams count 30 points – the result of the next round must be doubled.



If there have been any doubles or redoubles (for example when you play no-trump and the opposing team taps the table), these are applied after counting the total of the round.