JEDDAH: The maiden championship of Baloot game, the most popular card game among Saudis, kicked off on Wednesday. The four-day mega event will see 12,288 card game lovers participating.
In fact, over 85,000 people have registered their names but out of them only 12,288 were selected to play in championship over 384 tables.
Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Olympic Complex in Riyadh is hosting 8,192 people in 256 tables and rest will be playing at the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center Complex in Riyadh.
Total of 414 referees, trained to handle players, are being deployed to supervise the game, according to organizers.
The event is organized with the full support and directives of Turki Bin Abdul-Mohsen Al Alsheikh, Board Chairman of the General Sport Authority (GSA) and President of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, who ordered the allocation of massive financial awards of SR1 million.
Apart of excitement of the maiden event, the prize bonanza is huge. It offers cash money to top four finishers. The champion will receive a half million riyals and second place finishers will receive SR250,000, third ranker SR150,000 and fourth place SR100,000.
The popularity of this card game in the Saudi society has turned into one of the major gaming event in Kingdom as GSA had announced last month the tournament besides recognizing it as one of a premier mind games.
The decision came from Kingdom’s highest sports body that not only recognized Baloot card game but also announced the bonanza prize that evoked overwhelming response from Saudi society.
“It is a real pleasure that authorities have recognized the Baloot game, which is foremost in leisure for both Saudi men and women, and the championship taking place offers an opportunity for many to show their mind skills,” commented Saudi youth Mohammed Al Hashim, who has developed some online games.
He told Saudi Gazette, “Saudi society has always been excited of holding a championship of Baloot game.”
The card game, which is commonly known in Saudi Arabia as Baloot, is one of prime indoor games played by Saudis of all age group. It is also commonly played in open places in neighborhoods by youth. Whenever they gather, they love to play Baloot, he added.
Lately it has become so popular that even ladies have begun playing at homes. The game is considered by many as intellectual and a mind game that develops IQ levels.
Baloot is believed to have had its origin in France and has recently found great popularity in the Middle East, especially in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
There are four players in partnership of two teams, who sit across each other. All the cards of rank 6 and lower from all suits are removed and not used in play. The jokers are also removed, which leaves 32 cards in the game with each player getting 8 cards in his hand.
Baloot went online also with the advent of gaming portals. As gaming apps develop, several operators launched mobile apps for players to play their favorite card game online.
—The article is originally published in Saudigazzet