Neunzehnerrufen: A Guide to Winning Strategy, Instructions and Rules


Neunzehnerrufen, a traditional Austrian card game, was recommended to me by a few friends of mine as an interesting but challenging little game. Played with a 40-card German deck, Neunzehnerrufen is a game of strategy, skill, and a slice of luck.

The German deck differs from the standard 52-card deck most people are familiar with, which adds an extra layer of complexity to the game. The deck consists of four suits: Acorns, Leaves, Hearts, and Bells, each containing ten cards: the King, Ober, Unter, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, and 4. The game’s name, Neunzehnerrufen, translates to ‘Calling Nineteen‘, referring to the scoring system that the game employs.

Neunzehnerrufen is a game of strategy and skill, pushing its players to think several steps ahead and make calculated decisions based on the cards they hold and those of their opponents. It’s not solely about having the highest cards; understanding your opponent’s playstyle and strategy, and being able to manipulate the game’s flow in your favor is crucial.

Quick Tip for Neunzehnerrufen

Remember, communication with your partner is key in Neunzehnerrufen. Use your bids and card plays to signal your intentions and understand your partner’s strategy.

Rules for playing Neunzehnerrufen

  1. The game is played by four players in two teams of two.
  2. The aim of the game is to be the first team to reach a score of 24 points.
  3. Points are scored by winning tricks and declaring combinations of cards.
  4. The highest bidder becomes the declarer and chooses the trump suit.

The Deal for Neunzehnerrufen

The dealer shuffles the deck and deals five cards to each player in batches of three and two. The next card is turned face up to indicate the proposed trump suit.

How to Play Neunzehnerrufen

  1. Setup: Players sit opposite their partner. The dealer is chosen at random.
  2. Gameplay: The player to the dealer’s left leads the first trick. Players must follow suit if possible, otherwise they can play any card. The highest card of the led suit or highest trump wins the trick.
  3. End of the Game: The game ends when one team reaches 24 points or after a predetermined number of rounds.
  4. Scoring: Points are scored for winning tricks and for declaring combinations of cards.

How to Win at Neunzehnerrufen

Winning at Neunzehnerrufen requires a good understanding of the game’s rules, a solid strategy, and effective communication with your partner. It’s important to make the most of your high cards and trumps, and to try to control the game by winning tricks and declaring combinations.

Best Strategies for playing Neunzehnerrufen

One of the best strategies in Neunzehnerrufen is to keep track of the cards that have been played (card counting). This can help you make informed decisions about which cards to play and when. It’s also beneficial to develop a bidding strategy with your partner and to use your bids to communicate information about your hand.

Neunzehnerrufen is a traditional card game popular in Austria and Southern Germany. It is a point-trick game and is usually played by four people. The game can be quite complex for beginners, but with the right strategies, you can quickly become a competent player. Here are some of the best strategies for playing Neunzehnerrufen:

1. **Understanding the Game**: This is the first and crucial step. You need to understand the rules, the scoring system, and the role of the different cards in the game. Once you have a thorough understanding of the game, you can start developing your strategies.

2. **Communication with Partner**: In Neunzehnerrufen, you play with a partner. Good communication is key to winning. You need to understand your partner’s playing style and tactics. The better two players can communicate their intentions through the cards they play and their bidding, the more successful they will be.

3. **Remember Cards**: Try to remember what cards have been played. It will help you to plan your moves and make strategic decisions. For instance, if you remember that a particular high-ranking card has been played, you can safely play a lower-ranking card.

4. **Play High Cards Early**: If you have several high-ranking cards, it’s usually a good idea to play them early in the game. This way, you can ensure that you win a few tricks and accumulate points early on.

5. **Bidding**: Bidding is a crucial part of Neunzehnerrufen. You need to bid strategically to ensure that you and your partner can fulfill your bid. Overbidding can lead to a loss of points. It’s crucial to understand your hand and make a realistic bid based on it.

6. **Control the Trumps**: The player who controls the trump cards usually controls the game. If you have several trump cards, you can dictate the course of the game. It’s a good idea to keep a count of the trump cards that have been played, so you know how many are left.

7. **Saving your Aces and Tens**: Aces and Tens are worth a lot of points. If possible, try to save these until later in the game when you can win tricks with them without them being trumped.

8. **React According to the Game Situation**: No two games of Neunzehnerrufen are the same. Always be ready to adapt your strategy based on the situation in the game. Pay attention to the cards being played and adjust your strategy accordingly.

9. **Practice**: Like any game, the more you play, the better you get. Practice regularly to hone your skills and improve your understanding of the game.

10. **Have Fun**: Lastly, remember that Neunzehnerrufen is a game, and the aim is to have fun. Enjoy the game and the camaraderie that comes with it. Winning is great, but it’s not everything.

Game Variations

There are several variations of Neunzehnerrufen, including Dreierschnapsen, a three-player version, and Bauernschnapsen, a more complex version for four players. Each variation has its own unique rules and strategies.


The game of Neunzehnerrufen, a popular Austrian card game, presents a myriad of different scenarios that can drastically alter the outcome of the game. Each hand dealt has the potential to shift the way you approach your strategy, and adapting to these changes is crucial to your success in the game.

One potential scenario is being dealt a hand full of trumps. In this situation, you hold a significant advantage over your opponents. Trumps are the highest-ranking cards in the game, and having a hand full of these can put you in a position of power. However, it’s important to play these strategically. You may be tempted to play these cards early to assert dominance, but it could be more beneficial to hold onto them until the latter stages of the game. This way, you can take crucial tricks when your opponents may have exhausted their high-ranking cards.

On the other hand, you could find yourself in the opposite scenario where you have been dealt a hand with no trumps at all. This scenario can be quite challenging as it puts you at an immediate disadvantage. However, it’s not impossible to overcome. In this situation, your strategy should shift towards damage control. You’ll want to avoid taking the lead and instead focus on minimizing your losses. This could involve playing your lowest cards first or trying to encourage your opponents to play their trumps early.

Furthermore, you could also be dealt a hand with a mix of trumps and non-trumps. This scenario is probably the most common and requires a balanced approach. You’ll want to hold onto your trumps for as long as possible, but also try to win tricks with your non-trump cards. This strategy can help you maintain a steady flow of points throughout the game.

Frequently Asked Questions about playing Neunzehnerrufen

  1. What happens if I can’t follow suit? If you can’t follow suit, you can play any card.
  2. How do I communicate with my partner? You can communicate with your partner through your bids and card plays.
  3. What is the best strategy for winning? The best strategy for winning is to keep track of the cards that have been played, develop a bidding strategy with your partner, and make the most of your high cards and trumps.

Lavishly Illustrated Medieval Playing Cards Flouted the Church and Law from Smithsonian Mag, an interesting perspective on card games (incl. in Austria)