Five Hundred

Five Hundred is based on the game of Euchre and is generally played by three players , although there are variations for two or four players. (See the Glossary if you are confused about any card game terms. The Glossary will open in a new window.)

Age: Adults and older children

No. of players: 2 to 4 (depending on the version)

Equipment: One standard deck of cards

Time: 15 minutes+

Aim: To be the first player or team to achieve five hundred points by correctly bidding for and winning tricks.

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1. The deck is prepared by removing the 6s, 5s, 4s, 3s, and 2s, and including one joker, leaving 33 cards (Aces high, 7s low). The cards which were removed are not used at all in the game; they are put to one side. The remaining cards are shuffled. Each player cuts the deck; lowest card becomes dealer.

2. The dealer shuffles again before dealing three cards to Player One (on the dealer's left), three cards to Player Two and three cards to themself. The next card is laid face down in the middle of the table to start the Kitty (also known as the Widow). The dealer then gives each player four cards plus one for the Kitty before a final deal of three cards each and the last card to the Kitty. Each player should have ten cards with three cards in the Kitty. Players pick up their cards and look at their hand.

3. Player One starts the bidding by trying to guess how many of the ten tricks they will win. The minimum number to bid is six tricks. They can choose to nominate a suit as the trump suit or they can play no-trumps. The suits have a particular order of importance as trumps for bidding. The lowest bid is "Six - Spades" (meaning that the player hopes to win six tricks with spades as trumps) followed by "Six - Clubs", "Six - Diamonds", "Six - Hearts" and then "Six - No Trumps". The next highest bid will be "Seven - Spades" through to "Seven - No Trumps" and so on until "Ten - No Trumps" as the highest bid. The number of points you can win (or lose) for each bid increases from 60 points (Six - Spades) to 520 points (Ten - No trumps), as shown in the table below.

Number of tricks bidSpades
No Trumps

The order of the cards in the trump suit is; Joker, Right Bower (the Jack of the trump suit), Left Bower (the Jack of the same colour as the trump suit), Ace, King, Queen, 10, 9, 8, 7. If the bid was No Trumps, the cards are in their normal order for every suit (Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7) with the Joker as a wild card which will beat any other card.

4. Player One could also bid "Misere" (pronounced miz-AIR) or "Open Misere", or they can pass. If you bid Misere, you are intending to lose every trick. Open Misere is similar but you play your first card from your hand and then lay your hand face up on the table so the other players can see your cards before you play them. Misere is worth 250 points while Open Misere is worth 520 points. If a player passes, they cannot bid again until the next hand.

5. When Player One has bid, Player Two has the option of proposing a higher bid (worth more points) or they can pass. The Dealer (Player Three) then has the option of increasing the bid or passing. Bidding continues until two players have passed - the remaining player wins the bid. The winning bidder then picks up the Kitty and discards (face down) any three cards from their hand, including any cards from the Kitty which do not help.

Note: If all three players pass without making a bid, the round is declared void and Player One becomes the new dealer for the next hand of Five Hundred.

6. The winning bidder plays any card from their hand. The other players must follow suit (if possible) and place one card each on top of the bidder's card. (This is called a trick.) The trick is won by the highest trump card (if any were played) or the highest card in the suit led by the bidder. The other two players work together to try to prevent the bidder from winning the number of tricks (or more) that they bid for.

7. The winner of the trick leads the first card of the next trick and so on, until all ten tricks have been played.

8. At the end of the ten tricks, each player adds up their score. The opposing players score ten points for each trick they won. The winning bidder scores the number shown in the table above if they won at least the number of tricks they bid for. If they did not achieve their bid, they lose that many points. (Players may end up with negative scores.) If the bidder won a Grand Slam (all ten tricks), they score either 250 points or the value for their bid, whichever is highest.

9. The deal then passes clockwise around the table for each new hand.

10. The overall winner is the first player to score five hundred points or more. (It is possible to achieve this in one hand with bids of "Ten - Hearts", "Ten - No Trumps" or "Open Misere", but these are very hard to win!)

Any player whose score reaches minus five hundred is said to have "gone out backwards" and cannot play any more hands for that game. In this case, the remaining two players play Two-Handed Five Hundred, as described below.

Variations on Five Hundred

(a) Two-Handed - Played as above but the third hand is left face down as a "dummy hand". It remains face down throughout the hand and adds uncertainty to bidding and play.

(b) Four-Handed - Played as above except that opposing players act as partners. The deck also includes the 6s, 5s and the two red 4s, making 43 cards in total. If a player bids Misere or Open Misere, their partner drops out for that hand and does not play. It is also possible to play Cut-Throat, where each player bids and plays for themselves, with the other three players trying to prevent the winning bidder achieving their bid. Four-Handed Five Hundred is particularly popular in Australia.

(c) Up the Creek Without a Paddle - An interesting variation of Five Hundred for 3-8 players, which is described fully here.

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