How to Play Five Hundred

By: Karolyn A. Schalk

Five Hundred is a card game with exciting twists and turns. Here's how to play:

Number of players:
2 to 6; best with 3.

Object: To score 500 points by making
bids and taking tricks.

The cards: For three players, use 33 cards that include ace (high) to 7 in each suit with one joker, which 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 (right bower), and the third-highest is the jack of the other suit of the same color as the trump (left bower). The ranks continue from ace (high) to 7. The bidding denominations rank from no trump to hearts, diamonds, clubs, and finally spades.

Dealing: 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, facedown and clockwise, beginning with the person to the dealer's left. Three cards are then placed into a widow facedown. The dealer then deals four cards to each player and, finally, three cards to each player.

If diamonds are trump, the highest trump is the joker and the lowest trump is the 7 of diamonds.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
If diamonds are trump, the highest trump is
the joker and the lowest trump is the
In no trump, jacks are ranked lower than
the joker, ace, king and queen, and higher
than the 10,9,8, and 7 in their respective suits.

Bidding: 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.

Playing: 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.

Scoring: If you become the contractor and win the number of tricks bid, you receive the number of points designated in the scoring table (see chart below). 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.

Five Hundred Scoring Table

Tricks 6 7 8 9 10
Spades 40 140 240 340 440
Clubs 60 160 260 360 460
Diamonds 80 180 280
Hearts 100
No Trump

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.