How to Play Five Hundred

Five Hundred
Copyright Originally by the US Playing Card Company 1904, this article adapted from Wikipedia

500 is a trick-taking card game based on Euchre. The game was invented and copyrighted by the United States Playing Card Company in 1904. 500 is played as a social card game and was highly popular in the United States until about 1920 when auction bridge surpassed it. It remains the most popular card game in Australia and New Zealand and is also widely played in French Canada.


Of the many variants to 500, the standard deck contains 43 playing cards: a Joker is included, and the 2s, 3s, and black 4s are removed. 10 cards are dealt to each of the four players and three are dealt face down on the table to form the kitty (also known as the widow or the blind.) Alternatively, a 45 card deck can be used, in which case the 4s are not removed. Each player still receives a hand of 10 cards, but the kitty is increased to five cards.

Players play in pairs, usually opposite each other. Traditionally, a bundle of three cards is dealt to each player, one to the kitty, a bundle of four to each player, one to the kitty, a bundle of three to each player, one to the kitty or with a 45 card deck: the deal is performed by dealing three cards to each player, then placing three cards in the kitty, four cards each and two to the kitty, and then three.

As in Euchre, in non-trump suits, the order of cards from highest to lowest is Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, (4). In the trump suit, the highest card is the Joker, followed by the jack of trump—called the right bower—and then the jack of the suit of the same color as the trump suit—the left bower. The left bower is considered part of the trump suit. Then, the order of cards in the trump suit from highest to lowest is Joker, Right Bower, Left Bower, Ace, King, Queen, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, (4).

Bower is an Anglicization of the German Bauer, a word meaning farmer, peasant, or pawn. This name is often used to refer to the jack of German games.

In Australia and New Zealand, special playing card decks made with additional cards (11’s, 12’s and red 13’s) included to allow for a six-handed variation of the game are widely available (see Variations, below).


Bidding rules vary significantly. Common rules are described below.

After the deal, players call in turn, electing either to bid or to pass. A bid indicates the combined number of tricks the bidder believes he and his partner will take and the suit that will be trump for that hand, or that there will be no trump suit. For instance, a bid of “seven spades” indicates that the player intends to win seven or more tricks with spades being the trump suit, whereas a bid of “seven no-trumps” indicates that the player intends to win seven or more tricks with no trump suit (in which case the only trump card is the joker).

In American play, a bid of six is called an “inkle”. A player who bids “inkle spades” is indicating to their partner that they have some spades but not enough to bid seven. Only the first two players may inkle.

A player may elect not to bid, or to “pass”. Bidding proceeds clockwise around the table, with each player making a higher-scoring bid or passing. A player who passes cannot subsequently make a bid in that hand. The order of seniority of suits in bidding (highest to lowest, as reflected in the scores below) is hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades. Therefore, for example, a player who bids “seven clubs” may be outbid by a subsequent bidding player on seven diamonds or seven hearts, but not seven spades. A “no trumps” bid beats any suited bid of the same number. Eventually, all but one player passes and the bid is decided. In American play, there is only one round of bidding, with each player getting one chance, in turn, to either bid or pass. The player making the successful bid then collects the kitty. This player sorts through his hand and discards the least-useful five (or three in the case of a 43 card deck) cards (possibly including cards picked up from the kitty), and places them face down; the discarded cards playing no further part in the hand.

If nobody makes a bid, there are two variations. Most commonly, the hand is declared dead and a reshuffle and re-deal is made. Alternatively, the game is played where no bids mean the round is played as no trumps, and scoring is ten points per trick.

Special bids

  • No trump means that the joker is the only trump card (there are no bowers and no trump suit when playing no trump or “no-ies”).
  • A Misère (also called Nullo, Nula or Nello) bid means the bidding player is trying to lose all ten tricks. If playing with a partner, the partner folds their cards and does not participate in the round. Misère is the French word meaning “poverty”. It can only be bid after a 7 bid and before an 8 bid. However, because Misère is worth 250 points, and an 8-Spades bid is worth 240 points, players must decide before the start of play if the 8-Spades bet can beat a Misère since it is worth fewer points but it is considered ‘over’ the Misère.
  • Open Misère is the same as misère except the player playing this bid must reveal all of their cards to their opponents after the first trick. It can only be bid after an 8 bid, and is one of the highest bids which can only be beaten by a 10-No Trump bet. Also called Lay Down Misère.
  • Double nullo is an American variant in which both players of the bidding team play and must lose all tricks. This is also called Grand nullo, which is often corrupted to Granola.
  • Wilkinson-Chambers Version of Misère is agreed to before the outset of the game, and is bid as such: ‘closed misère’ can be bid any time (even as a first bid) but is played open, and ‘open misère’ may also be bid likewise but is played open and without the kitty.


The game focuses on tricks. The lead starts with the player who won the bidding. In some variations, the player to the dealer’s left leads first regardless of who won the bid. Players must follow suit if they can (This includes the left bower or any other card that is considered a trump, if trumps are led). If a player no longer has any cards of the suit that is led, he may play any card in his hand. After all four players have played a card, the highest trump takes the trick. If no trumps are played, the highest card of the lead suit wins the trick. The winner of the trick leads on the next trick. Once all ten tricks have been played, the hand is scored. The player to the left of the previous dealer deals for the next hand, so that the deal moves clockwise around the table.


The standard game described above is the setup and deck for the most common four-player (two teams of two) variety of 500. Variations exist, with appropriate additions or deductions to the deck for playing three-, five- or six-handed 500. Three-handed uses no teams, five-handed teams rotate and each player takes a turn without a partner, six-handed can be played as either three teams of two or two teams of three. Six-handed 500 requires a special deck with 63 cards.

Two-handed 500 is played with a deck of 43 cards as per the standard game. Whereas in the standard game which includes partners, in the Two-handed game each player plays both the hand that is dealt to them and their partner’s which is dealt to the table. The deal is the same as the standard game, except that the partners hands are dealt to the table so that they have 5 cards face down, each covered by a face up card (to give a total of 10 cards). Bidding is the same as the standard game except Misère is generally not allowed The kitty is used with the player’s hand only and no cards can be swapped between the hands. Order of play is as per the standard game. After each trick any exposed face down cards from the partner’s hands are turned up and revealed. Play then continues with the lead from the hand that won the last trick.

Three-handed 500 is played with a deck of 33 cards. Dealing, scoring and game play are as for the standard game. The common variant is in bidding, where misère may be bid before a bid for seven tricks. This variant is permitted due to the relative rarity of seven-trick bids outside of team play. Open misère may be bid in a similar fashion. Alternatively, the game may be played with the standard deck (45 or 43 cards) with one hand dealt face down, which remains untouched during the game (a so-called “dead hand”.) The common strategy is that the two players who are unsuccessful in bidding form a temporary alliance in an attempt to force the other player to lose his or her bid.

Another variation allows five players to play. All of the cards in a deck are used (although only one joker) so that each player can be dealt ten cards. The bidding starts to the dealer’s left, and works by the same system as normal 500. The player who wins the bidding then gets to choose a card (the joker cannot be chosen). One of the bowers is usually chosen, or another high card. There are two versions of this variation. In one, the player who owns the chosen card announces that they have it, and then becomes the bidder’s partner for that round. In the other, the player winning the bidding will not know who their partner is until the chosen card is played. Note that the partnership will usually change for each round. The remaining three players then play against the partnership. The player who won the bid gets to play the first card. Scoring for this variation uses the same values as normal 500. If the partnership wins the required amount of tricks, they will both get points (full points each or half points each, depending on the variation), and if they don’t, they will both lose points (either full or half). If one of the three remaining players wins a trick, that player will receive ten points. Neither misère nor open misère is usually permitted in this variant since it is too easy to win. Because the partnership changes each round, there are no fixed teams and each player plays for themselves. This adds dynamic, and new strategies will arise.

In no trump games (including misère), the only trump card is the joker and it has no suit. There are no bowers and all the jacks fall between the queen and ten of their respective suits. Players must always follow suit and may use the joker to trump a trick only if they cannot otherwise follow suit. A player may not “renege” with the joker – i.e., use it as a card of a suit in which the player has already claimed to be void. The joker may be led, in which case the player immediately nominates the suit and players must play according to that suit. In some variations, the joker may only be played as the first or last card in a suit.

In other variations, the person who wins the bid also has the option to ‘Declare’. Such a declaration entitles the winner of the bid to receive one card from his partner after discarding from the kitty or blind. The partner picks his best card and hands it face down to the winning bidder, who must then discard one additional card to retain a ten-card hand. The winning bidder now plays against the opponents without the assistance of the partner and must take all ten tricks. If such a bid is unsuccessful it is scored as -500 (negative 500).

“Walker Ultimate 500” is a variation in which the winning team/player must win exactly 500 points. The game is played as normal, with the additional rule that 1000 points (like negative 500 points) loses the game. “Peggings” (or “Scab Points”) must be played. This variation usually (not always) results in a longer game, but generates an enjoyable level of complexity to both the bidding and playing.

Local variants may not include either open misère, misère or both.

French Canadian Variation


46 Cardsget rid of the 2’s and 3’s & Keep both jokers.
JokersThe Red joker is stronger than the black joker. Just make it clear at the beginning which joker is top.
Dealing3-3-4 to everyone. When 3 are passed another 3 goes to the pot(middle of the table). There should be 6 cards in the middle after a deal.
BiddingNothing different.
PotThe attacking player takes the pot and discards 6 cards of his choosing. Once his choice is made, no one may view the rejected cards.
ScoringThe game is played to a total of 1000 points. If a team fails to fulfill its contract the points of the contract are added to the other team’s total. Points are never subtracted. The defending team does NOT score points when winning a hand.
ExtraGames in Quebec are mainly played at family reunions, therefore, rules can vary.


Score keeping for 500

The goal is for the team who wins the bid to take at least as many tricks as they bid. If the high bid is “eight hearts,” then the team wins the hand if they take 8, 9, or all 10 tricks and are awarded points according to the table below. If they do not make their bid, the same number of points is subtracted from their score. Whether or not the bid winning team achieves its bid, the losing bidders receive 10 points for each trick they take. A team wins the game by scoring at least 500 points through winning bids, which means that any team surpassing 500 points solely with tricks has not yet won the game. A team whose score dips below -500 points loses the game only if the other team is not in the negative. This is also known as going “out the back door.”


SpadesClubsDiamondsHeartsNo Trump
6 tricks406080100120
7 tricks140160180200220
8 tricks240260280300320
9 tricks340360380400420
10 tricks440460480500520
Slam250 for contract below total points of 250, normal for above 250


Above portion from Wikapedia

Variations by Numbers of Players
Taken from USPC 500 Rules included with their discontinued deck of cards

The four-hand game is played with fixed partnerships, partners sitting opposite each other.  The pack is 42-43 cards, made by discarding the twos, threes, and black fours from a 52 card pack and adding a joker if desired;  often it is not.  Each player receives ten cards and teh remaining cards go to the widow.  If one side’s score reaches 500, its opponents win the game.  All other rules are as in the three-hand game, except that two alwasy play against two.

The pack and the deal are the same as in the three-hand game, except that the hand at dealer’s left is dealt face down on the table and is dead.  With these ten cards out of play, the bidding is largely guesswork.  Not to be left “at home” by a bold opponent, a player is bound to be forward in bidding and to speculate on buying just what he needs from the widow.  If one player’s score reaches minus 500, the other wins the game.

The two-hand game may also be played with a 24-card pack, ninespot low;  the widow is four cards, no extra hand is dealt, and the rules otherwise are as in the three-hand.

Five players use the regular 52-card pack, usually with the joker added, so that each plaer receives ten cards and there is a three-card widow as in three-hand.

After the bidding, the high bidder may select any other player to be his partner;  if he bid for eight or more tricks, he may name any two partners.  Some play that the high bidder selects his partner by naming a card, as in Call-Ace Euchre.

For six players there is available a 62 card pack that includes spot cards numbered 11 and 12 in each suit and 13 in each of two suits; the joker may be added, making a 63 card pack and three to the widow.  There are two sides of three partners each, the partners being seated alternatly so that each has an opponent on his right and left.

TWO2SIX Playing Cards
If you are looking for a deck of cards to be able to play Six Hand Five Hundred we invite you to check out our Two2Six deck of cards.  Not only will you be able to play Six Handed Five Hundred, but you will be able to play many other variations as the deck includes not only the 11 and 12’s, but it has ALL FOUR 13’s included in the deck.  This makes it a great deck to play solitaire with a different twist too, we call it SUPERNUS SOLITAIRE (TM).