Five Hundred is a fun and unique extension of the card game Euchre. This game was originally copyrighted by the U.S. Playing Card Company in 1904 and exploded in popularity soon after. Although that popularity has waned somewhat since, it is still a widely played game, particularly in Australia and New Zealand where the four handed variation (see below) is considered the national card game.
The basic game of Five Hundred is designed to be played by 3 players, however variants for 2, 4 and 5 players are described in the variations section below.
The 32 card Euchre deck is used for Five Hundred along with one Joker. This deck consists of one card from each of the four suits (♠,♥
,♣) in the following denominations: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8 and 7. As previously noted, one Joker is also added to the deck used for playing Five Hundred.
The ranking of the cards in the game of Five Hundred is dependent on the particular suit which is declared trump for the hand. For the suit which ends up being the trump suit for the hand the ranking is as follows (from highest to lowest): Joker, Jack of trump suit (called the Right Bower), Jack of suit of the same color as trump suit (called Left Bower), Ace of trump suit, King of trump suit, Queen of trump suit, 10 of trump suit, 9 of trump suit, 8 of trump suit, 7 of trump suit. In the other suit of the same color as the designated trump suit for the hand, the ranking is as follows: Ace, King, Queen, 10, 9, 8, 7. In the other two suits of the opposite color as the trump suit, the cards have the expected ranking: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7. If a particular hand is to be played at "No Trump" (see below) all four suits follow the expected, standard ranking. In addition, for bidding and scoring purposes, the suits have a ranking in the game of Five Hundred. This suit ranking, from high to low is: Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, Spades.
One thing to keep in mind during play is that, similar to Euchre, the Jack of the same color but opposite suit as the trump suit is for all purposes considered a member of the trump suit. It can and should be played anytime a card of the trump suit can be played. Thus, when the trump suit is led, this card could be played to the trick. It cannot be played to a trick when a card of the opposite suit is played unless the player has no cards of that opposite suit.
Determination of seating positions should be done using any of the standard methods (i.e. high card draw, etc). Determination of the first dealer is usually done with each player drawing a card from the shuffled deck, with the player drawing the lowest card (by rank and suit) set as the first dealer. The Joker, for this draw is considered the lowest card in the deck and the Aces are considered the next four lowest.
After determination of the first dealer, that player should then thoroughly shuffle the deck and offer it to the player at his right hand to cut. That player should cut and then return the deck to the dealer. The dealer will then begin to distribute the hands to the players. Beginning with the player to his immediate left, he will deal cards to each player. Each player should receive a total of ten cards face down. This is usually done by first dealing a round of three card packets in rotation around the table, then a round of four, and lastly another batch of three. A three card face down widow hand is also dealt to the center of the table. This can be after all the players have their complete hands, but is usually done after each player has their first three cards.
After the dealing procedures, each player, starting with the player to the dealer's immediate left has one opportunity to bid. A player's bid consists of a declaration of the minimum number of tricks he intends to win and the trump suit to be used during the hand. Each subsequent bid must either name a higher number of tricks to win or the same number of tricks but a higher ranked trump suit (or both). A player may also make a bid with "No Trump" indicating no trump suit will be used for the hand. This bid of "No Trump" is considered higher than any other bid of the same number of tricks naming a specific suit. The minimum number of tricks allowed to be declared in a bid is six and the maximum is ten. A player is not required to bid and may pass instead. If all three players pass, the cards are thrown in, reshuffled and the deal passes to the next player.
|The entire Trump suit if the Contractor were to declare Spades as trump for the hand. Notice the positioning of the Left and Right bower.
If at least one player made a bid, the highest bid becomes the contract for the hand and the player making the bid becomes the Contractor. During the play the Contractor attempts to win at least as many tricks as contracted and the other two players combine in temporary partnership to prevent him from doing so. The high bid also indicates the trump suit (or "No Trump") to be used for the hand.
Before beginning play, the Contractor takes the three card widow into his hand. He then discards any three cards from his hand to reduce it back to ten cards. The discarded cards are set aside for the rest of the hand and not revealed to the other players.
Play of the Hand
: The Contractor makes the first lead to the first trick, leading any card of choice from his hand. Each player in turn must then play one card to the trick. The player must play a card of the suit led. However, if the player has no cards of the suit led, he may play any card to the trick (including a card of the trump suit). The highest trump played to the trick wins the trick, or if the trick contains no cards of the trump suit, the highest card of the suit led to the trick wins it. The winner of each trick leads the first card to the next trick. In the case of a No Trump bid, the highest card of the led suit wins. Each player should take in the tricks won and place them to their side, not to be used again during the hand.
Play of the Joker
: As mentioned before, it must be remembered that the Jack of the same color as trump but opposite suit and the Joker are both considered cards in the trump suit and can only be played in situations in which a trump could legally be played. In a bid of No Trump, however, there are some special rules surrounding the use of the Joker. In this circumstance, the Joker is considered the highest card in the entire deck, winning any trick in which it is legally played. The possessor of that Joker may not play it when he holds any cards of the tricks led suit. If he does not have any such cards, however, he may play the Joker which always wins the trick. Also, if the Joker is led to a trick in a No Trump bid, the Joker always wins the trick, but the player of the Joker must state what suit the trick must be played in.
: After all tricks have been played, if the Contractor was able to win at least as many tricks as he bid, he wins the indicated number of points dictated in the following table:
Five Hundred Scoring Table
|Tricks Won||Trump Suit For Hand|
| ||Spades (♠)||Clubs (♣)||Diamonds (♦)||Hearts (♥)||No Trump|
Normally, no extra points are scored by the Contractor for tricks beyond those needed for his contract. However, if the Contractor's bid would normally earn less than 250 points (a bid of eight spades or less) and he manages to win all 10 tricks, he scores a total of 250 for the hand.
In the circumstance that the Contractor is unable to win at least as many tricks as bid, he must instead subtract the indicated point value for his bid from his current score. Negative scores are possible and common in this game. A negative score is usually indicated on the score sheet by drawing a circle around a player's score (called "in the hole").
The Contractors' opponents each score 10 points for every trick they have individually won during the hand. They receive this regardless of whether the Contractor was able to make his bid or not.
The first player to accumulate 500 or more points at the end of a hand is declared the winner of the game. If any player reaches a total of negative 500, the game also ends, with the player having the current highest total (even if a negative score) declared the winner. If, at the end of the hand, the Contractor and one or more of the opponents reach 500 points, the Contractor is declared the winner even if one or both opponents scores exceeded the Contractors score. If, at the end of a hand, the Contractor does not reach 500 but both opponents do, the opponent who would have first reached that total in won tricks during the hand is considered the winner.
: Five Hundred is sometimes played without use of the Joker. The game is identical to the standard games in all aspects except the Joker is not used. In this case the standard 32 card Euchre deck is used. Thus, the ranking of the cards in the declared trump suit would be; Jack of trump suit, Jack of suit of same color as trump suit, Ace of trump suit, King of trump suit, Queen of trump suit, 10 of trump suit, 9 of trump suit, 8 of trump suit, 7 of trump suit. The rank of the other three suits is identical as in standard Five Hundred. In addition, when the Joker is not used, the widow would consist of only two cards, not three.
: Many Five Hundred players allow the addition of the Nullo Bid to the game. A player bidding Nullo is a bid to lose every trick in the hand, using no trump suit. In the hierarchy of bidding, a Nullo bid is considered higher than a bid of eight spades but lower than a bid of eight clubs. If a bid of Nullo does become the high bid and the Contractor manages to play the hand and not win a single trick he scores 250 points for the effort. However, if he wins even one trick, he must subtract 250 points from his score and the opponents each score 10 points for each trick the Contractor did win (in addition to any score they win for their own won tricks).
: The scoring and bidding values most commonly used with Five Hundred and described in the standard game above is called the Avondale schedule. However, some games use the "classic" or "original" schedule. This scoring schedule is as follows:
|Tricks Won||Trump Suit|
| ||Spades (♠)||Clubs (♣)||Diamonds (♦)||Hearts (♥)||No Trump|
When bidding, a bid is considered higher than a previous bid if the scoring value of it is higher. A bid can also be considered a higher bid if the bid would earn the bidder the same number of points as the previous bid, but is for a higher number of total tricks won. Other than these scoring differences, Five Hundred using the classic scoring schedule is played identically to the standard version.
Inverted Suit Ranking
: Occasionally, games of Five Hundred may use an alternate ranking of the four suits. Using this inverted system, the suits rank as follows, from highest to lowest: Diamonds, Hearts, Spades then Clubs. As in all other versions of Five Hundred, a bid of No Trump is considered higher than a suited bid of the same number. The scoring and bidding table for this inverted schedule would be as follows:
|Tricks Won||Trump Suit|
| ||Clubs (♣)||Spades (♠)||Hearts (♥)||Diamonds (♦)||No Trump|
As in the Classic scoring schedule, a bid using the Inverted schedule is considered higher than a previous bid if its scoring value is higher then that of the previous bid. A bid will also overcall another bid if the bid has the exact same scoring value but is for a higher number of tricks to be won. Other than the alternative suit ranking and scoring value differences, in all other respects playing Five Hundred using the inverted scoring schedule is played identically to the standard game.
: In the standard version of Five Hundred, if all players pass the cards are all thrown in and the deal abandoned. However, some games use the following optional rule:
In the event that all players pass, the hand is still played. The hand is played at No Trump, with each player for himself. There is no Contractor, and each player simply attempts to win as many tricks as possible. At the end of the hand, each player scores 10 points per trick won during the hand. The player to the immediate left of the dealer leads the first card to the first trick with the winner of each trick leading the first card to the next trick.
: This game is a fun version of Five Hundred which provides bonus points in many circumstances for cards captured in tricks. Although the basic rules are the same as the standard version there are two key differences.
The first difference is the award of bonus points for winning cards in tricks. This applies for a Contractor who accomplished his bid and for the defenders. A bidder who is unable to make his bid does not score any of these bonus points. After the hand has ended and all tricks have been won, these players sort through their cards won in tricks and add the following bonus points to their score for each captured:
|Card Denomination||Point Value|
|Kings, Queens, Jacks||10|
|10, 9, 8, 7||Value marked on card|
The first player to have accumulated 1,000 total points at the end of a hand is considered the winner of the game.
: This game is the same as One Thousand, however the required total of accumulated points needed to be declared the winner of the game is 1,500.
Four Player Five Hundred
: The following version of Five Hundred for four players, two against two in partnerships, is so popular in Australia and the surrounding area it is actually considered Australia's national card game. This version is also popular in many parts of Canada. The following describes the rule for this four handed variant:
Four player Five Hundred uses a modified 52 card deck. To make this modified deck, the following cards are removed from the standard deck: all twos, all threes, the four of Spades, the four of Clubs. One Joker is added to this modified deck to complete the deck alteration needed for this variation, creating a deck consisting of 43 total cards.
The specific ranking of the cards in each suit will be dependent on which suit is selected as the trump suit by the contracting partnership as follows:
- Selected trump suit Diamonds or Hearts:Joker, Jack of trump suit (Right Bower), Jack of suit of same color as trump suit (Left Bower), Ace of trump suit, King of trump suit, Queen of trump suit, 10 of trump, 9 of trump, 8 of trump, 7 of trump, 6 of trump, 5 of trump, 4 of trump.
- Other suit of same color as trump: Ace, King, Queen, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4.
- Suits of opposite color as trump suit: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4.
- Selected trump suit Spades or Clubs: Joker, Jack of trump suit (Right Bower), Jack of suit of same color as trump suit (Left Bower), Ace of trump suit, King of trump suit, Queen of trump suit, 10 of trump, 9 of trump, 8 of trump, 7 of trump, 6 of trump, 5 of trump.
- Other suit of same color as trump: Ace, King, Queen, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5.
- Suits of opposite color as trump suit: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5.
|The trump suit in Four Player Five Hundred if Spades were to be selected as trump by the Contractor for the hand.
In a no-trump bid, the cards will rank in the expected order in each suit. The Joker is considered the highest card in the deck and will beat any other card in a trick. However, there are special rules on how it can be played, detailed below.
After determining partnerships and first dealer, the players should seat themselves at the table such that they are directly across from each other. The dealer then distributes the cards in a clockwise direction to the players. He begins by dealing one round of three card packets to each player. He then deals a three card widow face down to the center of the table (called the kitty). He then deals a round of four card face down packets and then a final round of three cards packets, such that each player should have a total of a 10 card hand.
The player to the dealer's immediate left then begins the bidding and the bidding proceeds in a clockwise direction around the table. A player may bid or pass. Once a player passes in a round, they can make no more bids during that hand. In order to be a valid bid, a players bid must be higher than any previous bid. A player's bid consists of a number indicating some number of tricks (minimum six and maximum ten) and the suit he intends to use as trump if his is the winning bid. A bid may also be in No Trump indicating no specific trump suit will be used for the hand. A No Trump bid is higher than any other bid for the same number of tricks calling a specific suit as trump. Bidding continues in a clockwise rotation until all but one player passes, with the player making that high bid becoming the Contractor. If all players pass before any legal bid is made, the cards are reshuffled and the deck passed to the next player with no score on that hand.
Two additional special bids are allowed in the four hand variation; Misere and Open Misere.
Misere is a bid to play alone with no trump suit with the goal to lose every trick. Open Misere is a bid to play alone with no trump suit, with his entire hand exposed (after the first trick) with the goal of losing every trick. In a winning bid of both Misere and Open Misere the Contractor's partner sets his hand aside, face down, and takes no further part in the hand.
The scoring value and bidding value of the suited and no trump bids is identical to the scoring table detailed above for the standard three hand game. A bid of Misere is considered higher than a bid of seven No Trump but lower than a bid of eight spades. A bid of Misere can never be made by any player until the bidding had reached seven tricks or higher. A bid of Open Misere is considered higher than a bid of ten diamonds and lower than a bid of ten hearts.
Once the high bidder is determined, the player and his partner attempts to win at least as many tricks as bid, using the specified trump suit. If the high bid was Misere or Open Misere, the high bidder attempts this playing solo, without the help of his partner. To begin, the Contractor picks up the three card kitty and discard any three cards from his hand to the side. These cards are set aside, face down and will not be used further in the hand.
The Contractor leads the first card to the first trick with each player playing one card to the trick in a clockwise direction around the table. The leader can play any card of his choice to the trick, but the other players must play a card of the suit led to the trick if they have one. If a player has no cards of the suit led they may play any card from their hand, including a card from the trump suit. The highest trump card in a trick wins it, but if there were no trump cards played to the trick, the highest card of the suit led wins the trick. The winner of each trick plays the first card to the next trick. In a bid of Open Misere, after the play of the first trick, the Contractor places his entire hand face up on the table and must play the remainder of the hand with his hand so exposed.
In any suited bid, the Joker is considered the highest card of the trump suit. When playing at No Trump, Misere or Open Misere the Joker has some other special properties governing its use depending on if the Joker is held by the Contractor or one of his opponents:
If the Contractor
holds the Joker he may decide which suit the Joker is considered to be a member of. He must declare this before the start of play of the first trick in the hand. For the remainder of that hand, the Joker is considered the highest card of that suit. If for any reason the Contractor fails or declines to make this declaration, then the Joker can only be played as per the rules as if another player other than the Contractor possessed it.
If a player other than the Contractor possesses the Joker, it is considered a member of none of the four suits, and is the highest card in the deck. However, it can only be played in specific circumstances.
|A Joker led to a trump always wins the trick, with the player of the Joker indicating the suit the trick must be played in
- The Joker cannot be played to a trick if the holder contains any cards of the suit led to the trick.
- In a Misere or Open Misere contract, the Joker must be played if it's holder has no cards of the original suit led.
- When leading to a new trick, the Joker can be led with the player of the Joker declaring the suit in which the trick should be played. When played in this manner, the Joker always wins the trick. However, the suit called may not have already been led by any player. If all four suits have already been led during the hand, the Joker cannot be led to any but the last trick.
If bidder and his partner are able to win at least as many tricks as bid, they earn the appropriate number of points as per their bid in the standard Five Hundred Scoring Table
above. If they win less than the number of tricks bid, they lose the number of points per the table of their bid. The opponent partnership always wins 10 points per trick won during the hand. If the Contractors' team wins a slam (all 10 tricks) they score 250 points if their winning bid value was less than 250.
If the Contractor is able to make a contract of Misere his partnership wins 250 points, but loses a like amount if he wins even one trick. A successful bid of Open Misere earns the players partnership 500 points but he must subtract this amount if he wins even one trick. In a Misere or Open Misere bid the opponent partnership does not win any points for taking tricks.
The first partnership to reach or exceed 500 points is declared the winner. However, a partnership may never win the game on defensive tricks. They must score as the Contractors on a hand to win the game. Otherwise, their score can never exceed 490 until they play and win a contract. If a partnership reaches negative 500 the other partnership is also immediately declared the winner of the game.
Some four player games of Five Hundred eliminate the Joker from the deck. In those cases the rules are the same except for the ranking of the trump suit (no Joker included) as well as the widow containing only two cards.
Two Player Five Hundred
There are actually two accepted versions of Five Hundred that are commonly used with two players (both to be described below). The main difference is the deck used for the game.
Five Hundred for Five Players
- Variant 1 - Standard Five Hundred Deck:
This game uses the same deck (including the Joker) as the regular three player version. After determination of the first dealer, the deal procedures are identical to that in the three player version. Thus, three actual hands are dealt out as well as the normal widow. However, the 10 card hand dealt out to the dealer's immediate left is actually a dummy hand in which no player uses or sees during the hand. Other than the fact there are only two active players, the game is played exactly the same as the standard three player version. The first player to reach or exceed 500 total points (totaled at the end of each hand) is declared the winner. If both players reach this total on the same hand, the Contractor is declared the winner. If one player reaches a minus 500 total (at the end of a hand) his opponent is declared the winner.
- Variant 2 - 24 Card Deck: This version of Five Hundred for two players uses a reduced 24 card deck. This deck is created by removing the 7's and 8's from the standard deck used for Five Hundred. Each player is dealt 10 cards and the widow consists of four cards with the Contractor gaining access to it as normal. The remainder of the rules for this version is the same as in the three player variant. As before, the first player to have reached or exceeded 500 total points at the end of a hand is declared the winner (with the Contractor scoring first). If a player reaches minus 500 or lower, his opponent is declared the winner.
: When Five Hundred is to be played by five players, the standard 52 card deck is used with the addition of one Joker.
As in the standard game, 10 card hands are dealt and a three card widow is dealt face down to the center of the table. Depending on the high bidders contract, he may select one or two other players as his partner. If his bid is 6 or 7 the Contractor would state a specific high card in a suit (obviously, a card he does not already have). The player who possesses that card would then become his temporary partner, although the Contractor would not be aware of which other player this was, probably until the card was played to a winning trick.
he may select any other player of his choice as a temporary partner for the duration of the hand. If he has bid 8 or more, he may select any two other players as temporary partners. He does this by simply declaring which two other players to be his partners temporarily for the duration of the current hand.
If at the end of the hand, the player and his partners have won enough tricks to reach or exceed his high bid, each of these players earns the appropriate number of points from the Five Hundred Scoring Table
displayed in the standard game section above. If not, he and his temporary partners would each lose the same amount as per the chart. The defenders win 10 points for every trick won during the hand. If, at the end of any hand, a player reaches or exceeds 500 points, he is declared the winner. In the event two ore more players reach or exceed this total, if one of these players is on the contracting team for the hand, they would be declared the winner, otherwise the player with the highest total is the winner.
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