500

The first trick-taking game I ever played with Parker is French Tarot – the most complicated trick-taking game I have ever come across. We both enjoyed French Tarot and still talk about playing it again, but it took a while to get used to the rules. We soon after discovered 500 (a simpler form of French Tarot) and, because of our experience, took to it quickly.

I highly recommend trying 500, especially if you are a fan of euchre or other trick-taking games. I also recommend French Tarot, but it would be best to learn 500 first.

Materials

  • deck of cards
  • scoring materials

Set Up

Remove all cards numbered less than seven and add one joker. You should now have a deck of thirty three cards. Choose a dealer for the first round; the deal will move to the left at the start of each new round.

Game Play

The dealer gives ten cards to each player and three cards to the kitty. Make sure to shuffle the cards briefly and deal them out in clumps. For example, you can deal cards to the players in clumps of three, four and three, and deal three cards to the kitty at any point.

All players then look at their hands and begin a bidding process. A bid is a statement of how you think you can win the round, i.e. how many tricks you can get with which suit as trump*. Here are the bidding options:

  • 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 tricks in spades
  • 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 tricks in clubs
  • 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 tricks in diamonds
  • 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 tricks in hearts
  • 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 tricks with no trump suit
  • 0 tricks with no trump suit (Misere)

*Cards of the trump suit beat all cards of the other suits.

Bidding starts with the player to the left of the dealer. This person may pass or bid. The next person then may pass or bid higher than the current bid. To bid higher than the current bid, you must go higher in either number of tricks or suit. The suits listed in order of lowest to highest are spades, clubs, diamonds, hearts, no trump. Misere is higher than any bid of seven tricks and lower than any bid of eight tricks.

The order of the trump cards from highest to lowest in each suit:

  • Hearts: J♥, J♦, A♥, K♥, Q♥, 10♥, 9♥, 8♥, 7♥
  • Diamonds: J♦, J♥, A♦, K♦, Q♦, 10♦, 9♦, 8♦, 7♦
  • Clubs: J♣, J♠, A♣, K♣, Q♣, 10♣, 9♣, 8♣, 7♣
  • Spades: J♠, J♣, A♠, K♠, Q♠, 10♠, 9♠, 8♠, 7♠

The order of non-trump cards from highest to lowest:

  • A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7

The bidding process ends when no one wishes to top the current bid. The winner of the auction then adds the kitty to his hand and discards any three cards face-down. The auction winner’s goal is to meet his “contract” (the last bid he made); the other two players’ goal is to work together to prevent the auction winner from meeting his contract.

Play begins. The auction winner places a card face-up on the table. The other players then do the same one at a time (clockwise order). These players must follow the suit of the leader’s card, if possible. For example, if the leader puts down a K♠, each other player must put down a spade if he has one. When a player cannot “follow suit,” he may choose to put down either a trump card or an off-suit card. Trump cards always beat non-trump cards. The highest trump card wins the trick*; if no trump card was played, the highest card of the suit that was led wins the trick. The winner of this trick leads the next trick.

* A trick is a round of cards: one from each player.

The Joker: the highest trump if there is a trump suit, or the highest card if there is no trump suit. Note that, if there is no trump suit, you may not lead with a joker except for the last trick.

Scoring

The two opponents score ten points per trick. The leader scores the amount for his contract if he met it, or negative the amount of the contract if he did not meet it.

# of tricks spades clubs diamonds hearts no trump
6 40 50 60 70 80
7 140 150 160 170 180
8 240 250 260 270 280
9 340 350 360 370 380
10 440 450 460 470 480

A Misere is worth 250 points.

Collect the cards and begin a new round. Continue to play rounds until someone reaches 500 points. The person to first score 500 points wins.

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