Five Hundred

Basic Rules:

Objective: Each partnership aims to make a contract by bidding and then to win enough tricks to fulfill that contract.

Players: Four-handed partnership with partners sitting across from each other.

Cards: A pack of 43 cards created by discarding the twos, threes and black fours from a regular deck of 52, then add the joker.

The joker is always the highest trump. The jack of the trump suit is the second-highest trump and is called the right bower. The jack of the other suit of the same color as the trump suit is the third-highest trump and is called the left bower. Thus if spades are trump, the rank of trump is: joker, JS, JC, A, K, Q, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4.

In nontrump suits, the rank is: A (high), K, Q, J (if it is not the left bower), 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, (4).

Deal: First dealer is chosen by low cut. Each player is dealt ten cards in batches of 3-4-3 or 3-2-3-2 or 3-3-3-1. After the first round of the deal, three cards are placed face down in the middle of the table to form the widow.

Bidding: Bidding begins with the player on the dealer's left. Each player has one chance to bid, either passing or making a bid higher than any preceding bid. Each bid must name a suit and a number of tricks, such as "seven hearts" or "eight no-trump". A bid is higher than a preceding bid if it has a higher scoring value in the following table:

                       NUMBER OF TRICKS
     SUIT        6     7     8     9     10

     No-trump   120   220   320   420   520
     Hearts     100   200   300   400   500
     Diamonds    80   180   280   380   480
     Clubs       60   160   260   360   460 
     Spades      40   140   240   340   440
If all players pass, the deal is thrown in without score and the next dealer deals. Otherwise the highest bid becomes the contract.

Play: The high bidder takes the widow into his hand and discards three cards face down. He then leads to the first trick.

The hands are played out in tricks. A player must follow the suit led, if able; if unable to follow suit, he may play any card. The highest trump in a trick wins it, or the highest card of the suit led when no trump are present. The winner of a trick leads for the next trick.

With no-trump, the joker is the sole trump card. It wins any trick that it is played on. However, the joker cannot be played onto a trick unless the player is void of the suit led. When the joker is led, its owner specifies its suit and the other players must follow suit, if able.

Scoring: If the contracting team wins at least as many tricks as were bid, it scores the value of the bid according to the bid table. However, if the team wins all ten tricks, it scores either the bid or 250 points (whichever is greater). If the contracting team is set (fails to make the contract), the value of the bid is deducted from its score. Thus a team can have a negative score. Regardless of whether the contract was made or not, the opposing team scores 10 points for each trick they took.

Game: The first team to reach a total score of +500 wins the game. If both teams reach 500 on the same deal, the bidding team wins. Also, if a team reaches -500 points, they lose the game.

Nullo: This is an optional variant. Nullo is an extra bidding denomination. It is an offer to lose every trick at no-trump. This bid has a value of 250 points, putting it between "eight clubs" and "eight spades" on the bidding table. If a nullo bidding team fails, it is set back 250 points and the oppent scores 10 points for each trick taken by the bidder.

Misdeal: The same dealer redeals if a card is exposed or hands have the wrong number of cards.

Bid out of turn: If a player bids out of turn, his bid is void and the offender's partner cannot bid either.

Exposed card: There is no penalty for exposing a card to an opponent. However, if player exposes a card to his partner, the card must be left face up on the table and be played at the first legal chance. (Dropping a card face up on the table or just naming a card in one's hand, is technically an exposed card.)

Lead or Play out of turn: A lead or play out of turn must be retracted if demanded by the other team. The card lead out of turn is treated as an exposed card. If an error in leading or playing is not noticed until the trick is gathered, it stands as regular.

Revoke: Failure to follow suit when able is a revoke. A revoke may be corrected at any time before the next lead, otherwise it is an established revoke. When a revoke is corrected in time, the offending card is treated as exposed. If it is an established revoke by the bidding team, their bid is defeated. If the offender was not the bidding team, then the bid is scored as made with the opponents not scoring.

Error in scoring: An error in scoring must be proved and rectified before the first non-pass bid of the next deal. Otherwise the scores stand and cannot be changed later.

Three-Handed Five Hundred:

Cards: A pack of 33 cards is created by discarding all twos through sixes from a standard 52 card deck and then adding the joker.

Play: Each opponent of the contractor gathers separately the tricks that he himself wins. But the two opponents should try to work together to defeat the bidder's contract. Each player scores for himself. All other aspects are the same as in the basic rules.

Two-Handed Five Hundred:

Cards: A pack of 33 cards is created by discarding all twos through sixes from a standard 52 card deck and then adding the joker.

Deal: Each player is dealt ten cards as well as ten cards go to a third "dead" hand to the left of the dealer. Three cards go to the widow. The dead hand is not used in play and must not be looked at by either player. The bid is highly speculative since ten cards are out of play. (Variation: to compensate for the dead cards, use a 25 card pack created by discarding all twos through eights from a standard 52 card deck and adding the joker. Then two hands of ten cards are dealt, with five going to the widow.)

All other aspects follow those of the basic rules above.

Five-Handed Five Hundred:

Use a full 52 card deck plus the joker. Each player is dealt ten cards with three going to the widow. After the bidding, the contractor may name any other player to be his partner. If the bid is for eight or more tricks, he may name two players to be his partners. The others combine in a temporary partnership against the bidding team. Otherwise all players score for themselves. All other aspects follow those of the basic rules above.

Six-Handed Five Hundred:

For the Six-Handed game, a special 62 card Five Hundred deck is required. One known manufacturer of such a desk is US Playing Cards in Cincinnati, Ohio.
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