500 (card game)
500, Five Hundred, is a game devised in America shortly before 1900 and promoted by the United States Playing Card Company
United States Playing Card Company
The United States Playing Card Company, started in 1867, produces and distributes many brands of playing cards, including Bicycle, Bee, Hoyle, Kem, and others, plus novelty and custom cards, and other playing card accessories such as poker chips. The company was once based in Cincinnati, Ohio, but...

, who copyrighted and marketed the rules in 1904. The game can be played by two to six players but the most common form is for four players in partnerships although some sources say that the game is primarily for three players. The game is an extension of Euchre
Euchre or eucre, is a trick-taking card game most commonly played with four people in two partnerships with a deck of 24 standard playing cards. It is the game responsible for introducing the joker into modern packs; this was invented around 1860 to act as a top trump or best bower...

 which also incorporates the basic principles of Bridge.


500 has always been considered as a social card game and was highly popular in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 until about 1920 when Auction bridge
Auction bridge
The card game auction bridge, the third step in the evolution of the general game of bridge, was developed from straight bridge in 1904. The precursor to contract bridge, its predecessors were whist and bridge whist....

 surpassed it. Subsequently, Contract Bridge
Contract bridge
Contract bridge, usually known simply as bridge, is a trick-taking card game using a standard deck of 52 playing cards played by four players in two competing partnerships with partners sitting opposite each other around a small table...

 drove it out of favour in America, but it continues to enjoy popularity in Australia. It is popular in New Zealand as well, and widely played in Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....


The game is played with a regular deck of cards with certain cards removed. Specialised "500" packs contain 63 cards, extended from 52 by the addition of a Joker, Elevens and Twelves in each suit, and two Thirteens in red suit. The full pack is only required for six players, however, and is stripped of various cards for varying number of players, the basic principle that there should be just enough for ten cards per player and three left over (or two if the Joker is omitted). (see Variations, below) .


Of the many variants to 500, the standard deck contains 43 playing card
Playing card
A playing card is a piece of specially prepared heavy paper, thin cardboard, plastic-coated paper, cotton-paper blend, or thin plastic, marked with distinguishing motifs and used as one of a set for playing card games...

s: a Joker
Joker (playing card)
Joker is a special type of playing card found in most modern decks, or else a type of tile in some Mahjong game sets.-Name:It is believed that the term "Joker" comes from a mispronunciation of Jucker, the German/Alsatian name for the game Euchre. The card was originally introduced in about 1860 for...

 is included, and the 2s, 3s, and two 4s are removed. Either the two black 4s are removed, or the 4 of spades and 4 of diamonds are removed, in which case the 4 that matches the trump color is also considered trump, so that there are always 13 trump cards. Cards are dealt to each of the four players and three are dealt face down on the table to form the kitty (also known as the widow or blind.) Alternatively, a 45 card deck can be used, in which case the 4s are not removed. Each player still receives a hand of 10 cards, but the kitty is increased to five cards.

Players play in pairs, usually opposite each other. Traditionally, a bundle of three cards is dealt to each player, one to the kitty, a bundle of four to each player, one to the kitty, a bundle of three to each player, one to the kitty or with a 45 card deck: the deal is performed by dealing three cards to each player, then placing three cards in the kitty, four cards each and two to the kitty, and then three.

As in Euchre, in non-trump suits, the order of cards from highest to lowest is Ace, King, Queen, (Jack), 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, (4). In the trump suit, the highest card is the Joker, sometimes known as best bower in reference to the trump Jacks, followed by the Jack of the trump suit called right bower, and then the Jack of the suit of the same color as the trump suit called left bower, which is considered part of the trump suit, followed by the Ace, King, Queen, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, (4).

Bower is an Anglicization of the German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 Bauer, a word meaning farmer, peasant, or pawn
Pawn (chess)
The pawn is the most numerous and weakest piece in the game of chess, historically representing infantry, or more particularly armed peasants or pikemen. Each player begins the game with eight pawns, one on each square of the rank immediately in front of the other pieces...

. This name is often used to refer to the Jack of German games.


Bidding rules vary significantly. Common rules are described below.

After the deal, players call in turn, electing either to bid or to pass. A bid indicates the combined number of tricks the bidder believes he and his partner will take and the suit that will be trumps for that hand, or that there will be no trump suit. For instance, a bid of "seven spades" indicates that the player intends to win seven or more tricks with spades being the trump suit, whereas a bid of "seven no-trumps" indicates that the player intends to win seven or more tricks with no trump suit (in which case the only trump card is the joker).

In American play, a bid of six is called an "inkle". A player who bids "inkle spades" is indicating to their partner that they have some spades but not enough to bid seven. Only the first two players may inkle.

A player may elect not to bid, or to "pass". Bidding proceeds clockwise around the table, with each player passing or making a higher-scoring bid. A player who passes cannot subsequently make a bid in that hand.

A player who has bid may only bid again in that hand if there has been an intervening bid by another player. However, in Newcastle (Australia) play, a player who has bid and not passed may always bid again in that hand.

The order of seniority of suits in bidding (highest to lowest, as reflected in the scores below) is hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades. Therefore, for example, a player who bids "seven clubs" may be outbid by a subsequent bidding player on seven diamonds or seven hearts, but not seven spades. A "no trumps" bid beats any suited bid of the same number. Inkles are typically also similarly ranked: If the first player bids "six hearts", the next player cannot inkle spades, clubs, or diamonds. Their only options are to inkle no trump, bid seven or more (of any suit, or no trump or Misère), or pass. Eventually, all but one player passes and the bid is decided.

In American play, there is only one round of bidding, with each player getting one chance, in turn, to either bid or pass. The player making the successful bid then collects the kitty. This player sorts through his hand and discards the least-useful five (or three in the case of a 43 card deck) cards (possibly including cards picked up from the kitty), and places them face down; the discarded cards playing no further part in the hand.

If nobody makes a bid, there are multiple variations. Most commonly, the hand is declared dead and a reshuffle and re-deal is made. This can be repeated only twice, after which the deal passes to the next player. Alternatively, the game is played where no bids mean the round is played as no trumps, and scoring is ten points per trick. Other variations include that the deal passes to the next player (no reshuffle); or that if no one else makes a bid, the dealer is required to make a bid.

Special bids

  • No trump means that the joker is the only trump card (there are no bowers and no trump suit when playing no trump or "no-ies").
  • A Misère (also called Nullo, Nula or Nello) bid means the bidding player is trying to lose all ten tricks. If playing with a partner, the partner folds their cards and does not participate in the round. Misère is the French
    French language
    French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

     word meaning "poverty". It can only be bid after a 7 bid and before an 8 bid. However, because Misère is worth 250 points, and an 8-Spades bid is worth 240 points, players must decide before the start of play if the 8-Spades bet can beat a Misère since it is worth fewer points but it is considered 'over' the Misère. Alternatively, this bid need not wait until after a 7 bid and always beats 8-Spades.
  • Open Misère is the same as misère except the player playing this bid must reveal all of their cards to their opponents after the first trick. It can only be bid after an 8 bid, and is one of the highest bids which can only be beaten by a 10-No Trump bet. Also called Lay Down Misère.
  • Double nullo is an American variant in which both players of the bidding team play and must lose all tricks. This is also called Grand nullo, which is often corrupted to Granola.
  • Wilkinson Version of Misère is agreed to before the outset of the game, and is bid as such: 'closed misère' can be bid any time (even as a first bid) but is played open, and 'open misère' may also be bid likewise but is played open and without the kitty.

Special inkles

  • Inkle No is sometimes distinguished from Inkle No Trump, with the former meaning the player has high cards and the latter meaning they have the joker. Inkle No Trump is the highest inkle. However, such a distinction is often forbidden and considered by be illegal table talk
    Table talk (cards)
    In certain card games, table talk is communication by a player with another player with the cards in their hand, contrary to the rules of the game...

    , with the only legal No Trump inkle being the full "Inkle No Trump", and with the player's partner left to determine whether the inkle means their partner has high cards, the joker, both, or that they are simply blocking the opponents from inkling.
  • Players cannot Inkle Nullo.
  • Some versions allow bids of 6 tricks, but others consider them only equal to inkles.


The game focuses on tricks
Trick-taking game
A trick-taking game is a card game or tile-based game in which play centers on a series of finite rounds or units of play, called tricks. The object of such games then may be closely tied to the number of tricks taken, as in plain-trick games such as Whist, Contract Bridge, Napoleon, Rowboat, and...

. The lead starts with the player who won the bidding. In some variations, the player to the dealer's left leads first regardless of who won the bid. Players must follow suit if they can (This includes the left bower or any other card that is considered a trump, if trumps are led). If a player no longer has any cards of the suit that is led, he may play any card in his hand. After all four players have played a card, the highest trump takes the trick. If no trumps are played, the highest card of the lead suit wins the trick. The winner of the trick leads on the next trick. Once all ten tricks have been played, the hand is scored. The player to the left of the previous dealer deals for the next hand, so that the deal moves clockwise around the table.

Double nullo may be called by one partner even if the other partner passes. In this instance the player who calls nullo draws in his/her partner and both must play and not take any tricks. The person who calls double nullo picks up the kitty and gives the five cards he/she wants to discard to their partner. Their partner then must take those five cards and pick the ones he/she wants to keep and discard the rest.


The standard game described above is the setup and deck for the most common four-player (two teams of two) variety of 500. Variations exist, with appropriate additions or deductions to the deck for playing three, five or six-handed 500. Three-handed uses no teams, five-handed teams rotate and each player takes a turn without a partner, six-handed can be played as either three teams of two or two teams of three. Six-handed 500 requires a special deck with 63 cards.

Two-handed 500

Two-handed 500 is played with a deck of 43 cards as per the standard game. Whereas in the standard game which includes partners, in the Two-handed game each player plays both the hand that is dealt to them and their partner’s which is dealt to the table. The deal is the same as the standard game, except that the partners hands are dealt to the table so that they have 5 cards face down, each covered by a face up card (to give a total of 10 cards). Bidding is the same as the standard game except Misère is generally not allowed. The kitty is used with the player’s hand only and no cards can be swapped between the hands. Order of play is as per the standard game. After each trick any exposed face down cards from the partner’s hands are turned up and revealed. Play then continues with the lead from the hand that won the last trick.

Alternatively, the game can be played as per three-handed but with a "dead hand".

Three-handed 500

Three-handed 500 is played with a deck of 33 cards. Dealing, scoring and game play are as for the standard game. The common variant is in bidding, where misère may be bid before a bid for seven tricks. This variant is permitted due to the relative rarity of seven-trick bids outside of team play. Open misère may be bid in a similar fashion. Alternatively, the game may be played with the standard deck (45 or 43 cards) with one hand dealt face down, which remains untouched during the game (a so-called "dead hand"). The common strategy is that the two players who are unsuccessful in bidding form a temporary alliance in an attempt to force the other player to lose his bid.

Five-handed 500

Another variation allows five players to play. All of the cards in a deck are used (although only one joker) so that each player can be dealt ten cards. The bidding starts to the dealer's left, and works by the same system as normal 500. The player who wins the bidding then gets to choose a card (the joker cannot be chosen). One of the bowers is usually chosen, or another high card. There are two versions of this variation. In one, the player who owns the chosen card announces that they have it, and then becomes the bidder's partner for that round. In the other, the player winning the bidding will not know who their partner is until the chosen card is played. Note that the partnership will usually change for each round. The remaining three players then play against the partnership. The player who won the bid gets to play the first card.

Scoring for this variation uses the same values as normal 500. If the partnership wins the required amount of tricks, they will both get points (full points each or half points each, depending on the variation), and if they don't, they will both lose points (either full or half). If one of the three remaining players wins a trick, that player will receive ten points.
Neither misère nor open misère is usually permitted in this variant since it is too easy to win.
Because the partnership changes each round, there are no fixed teams and each player plays for themselves. This adds dynamic, and new strategies will arise.

Six-handed 500

Special decks of cards exist for playing six-handed 500, using a total of 65 cards. Besides using all 52 cards of the standard poker deck, plus one joker, these sets include 11's, 12's, and 13's of all four suits. Each player receives 10 cards, and the kitty receives 5. Players seated in alternating positions around the table form two teams of three players each. (Queen's Slippers 500 pack does not have black 13's, usually 6 handed is played with 63 cards and 3 in kitty)

No Trump 500

In some versions, no trump games (including misère), the only trump card is the joker (i.e. the best card) and it has no suit. There are no bowers and all the jacks fall between the queen and ten of their respective suits. Players must always follow suit and may use the joker to trump a trick only if they cannot otherwise follow suit. A player may not "renege" with the joker - i.e., use it as a card of a suit in which the player has already claimed to be void. In some variations, the joker may only be played as the first or last card in a suit.

In other variations, the person who wins the bid also has the option to 'Declare'. Such a declaration entitles the winner of the bid to receive one card from his partner after discarding from the kitty or blind. The partner picks his best card and hands it face down to the winning bidder, who must then discard one additional card to retain a ten-card hand. The winning bidder now plays against the opponents without the assistance of the partner and must take all ten tricks. If such a bid is unsuccessful it is scored as -500 (negative 500).

Walker Ultimate 500

A variation in which the winning team/player must win exactly 500 points. The game is played as normal, with the additional rule that 1000 points (like negative 500 points) loses the game. "Peggings" (or "Scab Points") must be played. This variation usually (not always) results in a longer game, but generates an enjoyable level of complexity to both the bidding and playing.

Local variants may not include either open misère, misère or both.

French Canadian Variation

A variation for four players using two Jokers and a standard 52-card pack stripped of 2s and 3s. The white Joker is considered stronger. The players are dealt 10 cards each in batches of 3-3-4. When 3 are passed, another 3 go to the pot (middle of the table). There should be 6 cards in the middle after the deal. Some variations allow for the final card placed in the kitty to be turned upright for all players to see.

The attacking player takes the pot and discards 6 cards of his choice, and no player may see them. The bidding goes accordingly with the other variation, and Misère may be allowed. The "petite" misère is equal to 500 points and can only be outbid by 8 no trump while "la grosse" or open misère is worth 1000 points and can only be outbid by 10 no trump (the latter is distinguished in that all cards are placed face-up on the table).

The game is played to a total of 1000 points. If a team fails to fulfil their contract, the points are added to the other team's total. Points are never subtracted.

Score keeping for 500

The goal is for the team who wins the bid to take at least as many tricks as they bid. If the high bid is "eight hearts," then the team wins the hand if they take 8, 9, or all 10 tricks and are awarded points according to the table below. There are no bonuses for overtricks (tricks over the number bid). If they do not make their bid, the same number of points is subtracted from their score. Whether or not the bid winning team achieves its bid, the opposing team receives 10 points for each trick they take. A team wins the game by scoring at least 500 points. A team whose score dips to -500 points or below loses the game. This is also known as going "out the back door" or "out backwards."
Tricks Spades Clubs Diamonds Hearts No Trump
6 tricks 40 60 80 100 120
7 tricks 140 160 180 200 220
8 tricks 240 260 280 300 320
9 tricks 340 360 380 400 420
10 tricks 440 460 480 500 520
Slam 250 for contract below total points of 250, normal for above 250
Nullo 250
Double Nullo 500

Variations in score keeping
  • 6-trick bids are considered inkles, raising the minimum bid to 7-Spades.
  • If a team bids 8-Spades or less, but takes all 10 tricks, they can receive 250 points; known as a "slam".
  • A team wins the game by scoring at least 500 points through winning bids, which means that any team surpassing 500 points solely with tricks has not yet won the game.
  • If both teams pass 500 points on the same hand, the bidding team wins even if they have fewer points.
  • A team whose score dips below -500 points loses the game only if the other team is not in the negative.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.