How to Play 500 Card Game

Five Hundred 500 Overview

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500 or Five Hundred is a trick-taking game that combines elements of Spades, Euchre, and Bridge. The game is most commonly played by four players in partnershps. 500 is a social card game and was popular in the United States until around 1920. It continues to be a popular game in Australia and New Zealand.

The object of the game is to score 500 points by making bids and taking tricks.

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500 Rules and Strategy

The cards

The joker is the highest-ranked trump or highest-ranked card in no trump. When trump is declared, the second-highest card is the jack of trumps, and the third-highest is the jack of the other suit of the same color as the trump. The ranks continue from ace (high) to 7. The bidding denominations rank from no trump to hearts, diamonds, clubs, and finally spades.

The Deal

Each player draws a card, with the low card determining the first dealer, with the ace (low) and the joker the lowest card. Redraw when more than one player draws the same lowest rank.

The dealer shuffles the deck and deals three cards at one time to each player, face down and clockwise, beginning with the person to the dealer’s left. Three cards are then placed into a widow face down. The dealer then deals four cards to each player and, finally, three cards to each player.

The Bid

The player to the dealer’s left starts the bidding, which continues clockwise until each player has one turn to bid. Each player may either pass or bid. If a player bids, that bid must be a higher value than the previous bid. Each bid must indicate the trump suit or no trump and the number of tricks to be taken, from six to ten. If all players pass, the hand is thrown in, and the next dealer deals a new hand.

The Play

The player who declares the highest bid wins the contract, and the other two players unite to become the contractor’s opponents. At this point before play, the contractor claims the widow and discards three losers, which can also include cards in the widow.

The contractor leads to the first trick, and subsequently the winner of a trick leads to the next trick. Any card may be led, and the other two players must follow suit if able. If unable, you may play any card. The highest card in the suit wins the trick unless a trump is played. If more than one trump is played, the highest trump wins.

When there is trump, the joker is the highest trump, it must follow suit when trumps are led, and you cannot play the joker if you have at least one card of a nontrump suit led. If there is no trump, the joker belongs to no suit until it is played. If you lead the joker in no trump, you must specify what suit it is. In a no-trump contract, the joker is the highest-ranked card.

The Score

If you become the contractor and win the number of tricks bid, you receive the number of points designated in the scoring table. If you win more tricks than bid, you receive no additional points. For example, if you bid 8 diamonds and win 9 tricks, you score 280 points, not 380 points. The only exception to this rule is if you win all 10 tricks and your bid was less than 250 points. In this case, you score 250 points.

If you fail to make your contract, you must deduct that same number of points from your running score. It is possible to be in the negative. Meanwhile, each opponent scores 10 points for each trick he or she takes. It does not matter whether the contract is made or not, and one opponent cannot count what the other opponent takes.

If one player reaches or exceeds 500 points after a hand, that player wins the game. If the contractor and one or both opponents reach or exceed 500 points after a hand, the contractor wins, and it does not matter if the contractor has fewer points. If only the two opponents reach or exceed 500 points during play, the one who takes the first trick wins the game.

If one player reaches or exceeds a minus 500, that player must continue play until an opponent wins the game. If that player later reaches or exceeds 500, no one wins the game.

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Related 500 Card Game Articles

Over the years we have posted quite a few articles about 500. Read on to learn additional tips and strategy for the 500 card game.