This is the game of Five Hundred as is mostly played by New Zealand players. This game is quite popular here and these are the rules that we mostly play by. There are some variations in the house rules around the country, but those variations don't deviate much from the game described here. These are the rules as I learnt them from others.


The aim of the game is to gain 500 points, hence its name.


Two partnerships of two, with partners sitting opposite each other at the table. eg North and South are partners and West and East are partners.


In 500, there are 43 cards in play. All twos, threes and the black fours are set aside from a 52 card pack and one joker is added.

Rank (highest to lowest)

Trump Suit: Joker, Right Bower, Left bower, A, K, Q, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, (4).
Off suit: A, K, Q, (J), 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, (4).

The joker always becomes the highest trump. In no trumps, the joker is in a suit all by itself but wins any trick to which it is played (ie Joker is the only 'trump' in no trumps). If the joker is led in no trumps, then the player must name a suit for the others to follow suit. You cannot call a suit in which you have previously shown void. (You can't call diamonds to be played if you discarded on a diamond before in the hand)

The right bower is the Jack of the nominated trump suit. The left bower is the Jack of the same colour as the trump suit. For example, if hearts are trumps, the jack of hearts is the right bower and the left bower is the jack of diamonds. There are no bowers in no trumps.


The dealer starts with the player to his left and goes clockwise. The dealer gives three cards to each player, one card to the middle. Then four cards to each player and one card in the middle and finally three cards to each player and the last card in the middle also. Each player should have ten card and the three cards in the middle form the kitty. The player to the left of the dealer has the deal in the next hand.


After the deal the player to the dealer's left opens the bidding. Bidding rotates clockwise.

  • A bid is a statement of how many tricks a player thinks they can win with a nominated suit as trumps (or no trumps) with help from his or her partner. eg "7 spades" means that the player thinks he can win 7 tricks with spades as the trump suit.
  • A player must at least bid to win at least six tricks
  • A player can either bid or pass.
     TRICKS  6    7     8     9    10
Spades      40  140   240   340   440
   Misere             250  
Clubs       60  160   260   360   460
Diamonds    80  180   280   380   480
Hearts     100  200   300   400   500
No Trumps  120  220   320   420   520
   Open Misere                    520
  • Each successive bid must be higher (more points) than the previous one. 6 spades can be beaten by 6 clubs, which can be beaten by 6 diamonds, which can be beaten by 6 hearts, which can be beaten by 6 no trump, which can be beaten by 7 spades, and so on.
  • If a player passes, they cannot bid again unless another player changes their bidding suit or raises their bid after all the other players have passed.
  • The player that makes the last bid before all the others have passed wins the bid and gets to pick up the three face down cards in the kitty. The player then discards three unwanted cards. The kitty nor the discard is not shown to the other players.

Misere bids

Misere is a special bid. It is a bid to lose every trick. In misere the bidder plays alone against his two opponents.

His or her partner does not play and places his or her cards face down. Misere beats eight spades (or lower) but is beaten by eight clubs (or higher) during bidding. Open Misere and 10 no trumps beat each other, the one that is called first can be outbid by the other. Open Misere is played like Misere, but after the first trick has been played, the player has to play with his or her hand face up on the table so that the opponents can see all the card in their hand as he or she plays.

In Misere and Open Misere, the joker becomes the lowest card. It also can be played at any time and always loses to the trick to which it is played. There is also no trump suit in misere.


  • The winner of the bidding leads the first trick.
  • A trick is won by the highest trump played.
  • If there are no trump cards in a trick the highest card of the suit led wins<./li>
  • You must always follow suit if possible. (Play the same suit as the one led).
  • If you are void of a suit led you may discard any card you choose, or play a trump.
  • The winner of the trick leads the next trick.


At the end of play the tricks taken by each partnership are counted up. If the high bidder and his or her partner won the number of tricks bid or more they gain the points for that bid are added to their score. If they don't the points are subtracted from their score. The opposing partnership get 10 points for each trick they win. If the bid is eight spades or lower and the high bidder and his or her partner win all ten tricks in that hand, they get 250 points added to their score.

The side that reaches 500 points or higher first wins. But only if they make a sucessfully make a bid. The side that reaches -500 points or less loses and the other team wins. This is called going out the back door.

Differing Number of players

Five hundred is best played with four, but can be played with 2-6 players.

Three players (cut-throat)

The pack is pruned down to 33 cards by discarding all cards 6 and below from the four hand five hundred pack. Each player has their own score. Each opponent gets 10 points for each trick they win by themselves. Other rules remain the same, except there is no partner to drop out in Misere calls. Difficult to play as there are no partners and the other two almost always temporarily gang up on the maker. Also all the other cards the caller doesn't have are against him or her. However, sometimes an opponent will help the caller win so they don't go out the back door, so they can keep the game going in order to win. A game of three hand with skilled players is a long game because of this.

Five players

One joker is added to a 52 card pack. Each player has their own score. The high bidder nominates a partner by calling a card, which can't be a card he or she has in his or her hand or discards after picking up the kitty. The card called cannot be a trump. In no trumps, the card called has to be 10 or lower. The identity of the partner may only be revealed when the person plays the nominated card. After play, the partner nominated has the same amount of points added or subtracted from their score depending if the temporary partnership for that hand wins the bid or not. For misere bids, the caller calls two cards which have to be six or higher. If both cards called are held by the same player, the caller must change what card he nominates. The players whose cards are nominated do not play for that hand. Often, misere is not allowed, and open misere is only worth 320 points. Other rules are the same.

Six players

To play six handed five hundred you need a special pack that has elevens, twelves and red thirteens added to a 52 card pack with a joker. Partnerships can either be three versus three (four hand rules for points), or two versus two versus too. (Cut-throat rules for points.) In Misere bids, the partner or partners of the caller drop out and the caller plays alone. Misere may be banned or limited in the same way as it is with five players.

Two players

The cards for four handed are used. The two players sit opposite each other at the table. Each player has a 'dummy' hand as their partner. The cards for the dummy are five cards face down and five cards face up on top of them. The player who leads plays his card, then his or her opponent, then the player plays a face up card from his dummy and then the opponent plays his or her card from his dummy hand. After the trick has been played, the players can flip up one of their facedown cards in their dummy so that there are five cards face up (except when there are less than five tricks left). If a trick is won by a card played from the hand then the winner leads with a card from their hand. If the dummy wins, then the player has to lead a card from the dummy. Misere and Open misere are usually banned.

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