- Four players sit crosswise in partnerships, establish a first dealer by any agreed means, and are dealt 13 cards each (singly) from a well-shuffled 52-card pack ranking AKQJ1098765432 in each suit. The turn to deal and lead passes always to the left.
Each side's aim is
Poker hands from lowest (1P = 1 pair) to highest (SF = straight flush) to create and score for four five-card Poker hands from the 26 cards between them, and to avoid being left with any such combination in the six cards remaining at end of play. In this game Poker hands score as follows:
One pair 1Note: Scores for the two highest combinations vary according to how many of the significant cards were contributed by each player, as no skill is required if one of them been dealt such a hand. (In the case of Fours, it doesn't matter who plays the fifth, non-significant card.)
Two pair 2
Full house 8
Fours 8 (4+0), 12 (3+1), or 16 (2+2)
Straight flush 10 (5+0), 15 (4+1), or 20 (3+2)
The first hand is played by North-South only. Each of them in turn, starting
with North (the player to the dealer's immediate left), plays a card face up to
the table until five cards have been played. If it forms a Poker combination, they
score for it as specified above. If not, they score 0.
North then spreads the completed hand face up on the table before him or her and the turn passes to East-West, with East leading and both playing as described.Note that only one partnership plays at a time: there is no interaction of play between the two sides.
- The leader to a hand must always play the first card and may not pass. Thereafter, each of you on your turn to play may either play a card or say 'Pass'. If you pass, your partner may either play the next card or pass too. If, however, they also pass, you must then contribute the next card, as no more than two consecutive passes are allowed for the play of any one card. (But this doesn't prevent you from passing all your own consecutive turns, thus enabling your partner, having the lead, to play out a ready-made Poker combination from their own hand.)
- Whenever you are entitled to pass, you may instead say 'Play'. This forces your partner to complete the hand alone, or, if they haven't enough cards left, to play out all their remaining cards in one go.
- North having led to the first hand by North-South, and East to the first by East-West, the turn to lead continues in rotation to the left. This process is repeated until eight hands have been played, each player having led to two hands and stored them face up on the table before him or her. All completed hands remain visible throughout play, as Concerto is intended to be a game of calculation rather than memory. Note that the dealing side, since it plays to the second, fourth, sixth and eighth hands, always has the advantage of being able to see five more cards unavailable to them because all previous completed hands are left face up.
- When each side ha completed four hands and totalled its score for them, the side with the higher score for hands made may then score a bonus for "left-overs" - that is, any combination that their opponents failed to get out. For this purpose the losers reveal their last six cards, and the winners score a bonus equivalent to 10 times the value of the highest five-card combination that can be made from them. For example, if the left-overs are 5-6-7-8-9-A of mixed suits, the winners add 50 for the straight. Six-card combinations don't count, with the exception of three pairs, which gives the winners a bonus of 60. The winners are not themselves penalised for any left-overs. However, if both sides tie for hand-scores, then the appropriate bonus goes to the non-dealing side, since at each hand they will always have had sight of fewer cards than their opponents. (Revision of September 2013.)
- Game score
- Each subsequent deal is made by the player to the left of the previous dealer, after very thorough shuffling, and each first lead by the player at the new dealer's left. Play continues until four deals have been made and played, or until either side, after scoring for hands and any left-overs that may accrue, has reached or exceeded a total of 100 points. If one side finishes with 100+ points and the other does not, the winning side adds a game bonus of 100, plus an additional 100 for each deal left unplayed if fewer than four were played. (Revision of June 2008).
- When you have the lead, go down this checklist and signal the first of
the following combinations or part-combinations contained in your hand:
Five to a straight flushFirst-round or "strong" signals aim for a straight flush or four of a kind. They are normally played on the first two hands, and may be played later given a good distribution. Second-round or "weak" signals aim for a straight or flush, possibly a full house, and are normally played on the third and fourth hands, or on the first two given a bad distribution. Of course, it's up to you and your partner's discretion whether you follow these signals strictly, or whether and how you modify them in the light of whatever known information may be visible in the hands already played, or deduced from how your opponents fared in the preceding hand.
Four of a kind
Four to a straight flush
Two sets of three
Three to a straight flush
Five-card flush or straight
Four to a flush or straight
Three to a flush or straight
- Strong signals (1): straight flush
- You can signal a straight flush bid when you hold three or more cards in suit
and range. Show your holding by playing upwards or downwards, and with one or more
gaps between the two ranks (marked "x" below) as follows:
Note: Some holdings can be shown in more than one way. For example, 5-4-3-A could be signalled 5-2 or 4-A, or even 5-A, since, if your partner holds the missing 3, they will know it can't mean 5-3-A and will therefore play it. Use your discretion, but always try to avoid playing across a gap whenever possible.
Signal e.g. Meaning L x x x H A-5 5 held, 5 in sequence (A-2-3-4-5) L x x H 2-5 4 held, 4 in sequence (2-3-4-5) L x H 3-5 4 held, 3 in sequence, 1 higher or lower (A-3-4-5 or 3-4-5-7) LH 4-5 3 held, 2 in sequence, one higher (4-5-7 or 4-5-8) HL 5-4 3 held, 2 in sequence, one lower (5-4-2 or 5-4-A) H x L 5-3 3 held, 3 in sequence, no other (5-4-3) H x x L 5-2 4 held, 1 missing between (5-4-2-A) H x x x L 5-A 3 held, none consecutive (5-3-A)
- Strong signals (2): Fours and full houses
- Call for four of a kind or a full house by playing your first and second cards
From this... play this... four of a kind same rank, heart then diamond three & three different rank, same colour full house different rank, different colour, from threes first threes only
red and pass (heart if possible)
two pairs same rank, black-red or minor-major* -
or, if out of range, different rank, high then low
one pair black and pass (diamond if both red)* major = or , minor = or
- Weak signals (straights, flushes, two pairs)
- When leading to your side's third or fourth hand, or earlier given a bad
distribution, go for a flush or straight by signalling as follows:
* With a complete straight, play lowest then highest regardless of suit. With four to a straight, play low-high, but beware giving misleading 5-straight or 4-flush signal.
To show this: L-H H-L Examples same suit, out of range 5FL 2P 4 J = five diamonds held
J 4 = J-J-4-4 held
same suit, in range 4FL 3FL 4 8 = four spades held
8 4 = three spades held
different suit, in range 4/5ST* 3ST 4 8 = 4-5-6-7-8 held
4 6 = four to a straight held
8 4 = three to a straight held
- Interpreting all signals listed above
Examples: Partner plays red 4, black 4 = holds another pair. Red 4, black 7 = holds either a full house of 4s over 7s or at least one other card to the same straight. Red 4, black J = holds a full house, 4s over Jacks.
same suit same colour different colour same rank - fours if
otherwise 2 pairs
two pairs same range 3 or more to a SF
or 3 or 4 to a FL
two threes or
3 or more to a ST
full house, threes first
or 3+ to a ST
out of range two threes or 5 flush two threes or 2 pairs full house (threes first)