Hola is one of a unique variety of trick-catching card games known as “Ace-10” games. That classification comes from the fact that capturing Aces and 10s is the only way to score points and win. It’s a fun game to play, a fairly easy game to learn, and not a very difficult one to master.
First, you must completely understand the rules of the game. If you’re playing with a group that utilizes nontraditional rules, make sure you’re familiar with those, as well. The following links will help you out there:
How to Play Hola (traditional rules)
Common Hola Rule Variations
Strategies for Winning Hola
A good Hola strategy should be based on your position at the table; trick leader, partner to trick leader, and last to play (right of trick leader).
As leader, you need to know when to fight for a trick, and when to concede a loss, conserving good cards for a better opportunity to catch points. As the leader’s partner, it’s imperative to keep up with what cards have and have not been played. And as last player, you must take full advantage of catching tricks. We’ll explain each of these in more detail below.
Trick Leader: Fight or Flight?
The lead position can be a precarious one, to say the least. As the leader of a trick, you are in full control of the game flow. However, knowing what card to lead is the slippery part.
It is rarely recommended to lead with points (Ace or 10) unless you have at least two more great cards (three is better) to back it up. By that I mean additional Aces or 10s, and/or wild cards (7s and 2s). Otherwise, you must trust in your partner to drop points into the trick when he/she knows the odds of your team catching it are high. Which brings us to…
Leader’s Partner: Points or Junk?
Paying very close attention to what cards have and have not been played is crucial in this position. If your partner leads an Ace, and you know there are no other Aces out there, and that wilds are running short, this is a good time to toss more points onto the trick.
If there are still three more Aces out and plenty of wilds, it’s advised to conserve your points for a better opportunity; unless you have good reason to believe your partner can fight for the trick.
If your leading partner does fight, the more rounds into the fight you get (4 at most), the better your odds of your team capturing it. Go ahead and take the opportunity to toss those points, so long as you have control of the trick already.
Last Player: Always Take Points
Never miss an opportunity to steal a trick when you’re the last player, and there’s points on the line. If your partner already has control of it, and you have a wild or equal value card in hand, save it. If the leader fights for the trick, you’ll have ammunition to catch it on the next go around, when it might be worth even more points.
Get in lots of practice and these strategies for winning Hola should help to improve your game significantly. Good luck!
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