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Heart of Louisiana: Bourre’

If you’ve spent a lot of time with Cajuns, you’ve probably heard of the card game, “Bourre’” (pronounced boo-ray).
Published: Jan. 30, 2022 at 3:05 PM CST
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SCOTT, La. (WAFB) - If you’ve spent a lot of time with Cajuns, you’ve probably heard of the card game, “Bourre’” (pronounced boo-ray).

It can be a high-stakes game that has its origins south Louisiana. The game is played regularly at the Begnaud House, a visitors center in the town of Scott.

The game begins with each player getting five cards. And, of course, there’s the ante for the pot. The dealer turns up the final card dealt. That suit becomes trump. With each turn, players have to follow suit. The highest card wins the trick.

At the end of the round, when all of the cards have been played, the player with the most tricks wins the pot. But there are a couple of twists that make the game interesting, like if players tie for the most tricks.

“Split, the money stays in the middle,” said the players.

If a player gets no tricks, that’s a bourre’. It’ll cost you two chips.

I know that it’s an exciting high-stakes game. You can win a lot and you can lose a lot.

“Absolutely,” said Rick Martinez with La Maison de Begnaud.

Especially if you have to match the pot, how do you guys play it here?

“So, if you don’t make a trick, you bourre’. Over here, we play with chips and it’s two chips. But if you have to match the pot, I’ve seen bourre’ games in the past where you had to match the pot. It was $100,” answered Martinez.

He runs La Maison de Begnaud, an old Acadian house just off I-10 in the town of Scott. It’s a visitor center, a souvenir shop, and a cultural center.

“It’s the culture. It’s the food. It’s the music. It’s the people. The people here are just so friendly,” explained Martinez.

On some days, there are jam sessions with local musicians, French-speaking classes, and the regular bourre’ games. Kenneth Credeur says his dad and grandfather were big bourre’ players.

“And I’d hear ‘em hollering,” said Martinez. “They were playing and then they’d laugh. And, they’d at holler each other because, but it was all in good time. They was all having a good time on a porch.”

After two hours, time is called and the game is over.

Darlene Savoy has the most chips and gets to pick a prize as the new queen of bourre’.

What’s the winning strategy for, uh, for bourre’?

“Just make sure you have some high trumps in your hand,” replied Savoy.

And, if you can’t follow suit, the highest trump card wins the hand. That’s the way Cajuns have been playing bourre’ for generations.

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