500 is a partnership trick-taking game where players bid to set trump and the number of tricks they expect the partnership to take. The team winning the bid and making their bid earns points based on both the level and suit of the bid. The team not winning the bid earns points at 10 per trick taken. Games are played to ±500 points. The team with the highest score wins.
Trickster 500 offers two popular variations: American and Australian. The primary difference between these two is that the American variation has only one round of bidding. In the Australian version, bidding continues until three of the four players have passed.
Terminology also differs slightly between the two variations. Undealt cards are referred to as the “widow” in the American version, “kitty” in the Australian. Likewise, a bid to take no tricks is called Misère in the Australian variant but Nullo in the American.
500 is commonly played with a 43-card deck: 4–Ace in Hearts and Diamonds (11 cards each), 5–Ace in Spades and Clubs (10 cards each), plus the red Joker. In suits other than trump, ranks are typical with Ace high. In trump, the rank of cards is Joker, Jack of trump, Jack of the other suit the same color of trump (the “off Jack”), Ace, King, Queen, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, and 4 (if trump is Hearts or Diamonds).
Trickster 500 offers a game option to change the deck size to 45 cards (adding the 4s of Spades and Clubs) and 46 cards (adding the black Joker to the 45-card deck).
Ten cards are dealt to each player. The remaining cards are left undealt and comprise the “widow” (“kitty” in the Australian variation). These cards are added to the player’s hand who wins the bid. That player must then discard an equal number of cards.
Based on the deck size, the widow (kitty) will be 3, 5, or 6 cards.
Following the deal, starting with the player left of the dealer, each player may place a bid consisting of a number of tricks and a suit, choose to bid “Nullo” or “Open Nullo” (“Misère” and “Open Misère” in the Australian version, or Pass. Bids must be higher than the previous bid, if any.
In the American version, the 6-level bids of the first two players to bid are special bids called “inkles.” Inkle bids cannot win the bidding; they are used to indicate strength in a suit to the bidder’s partner. Bidding begins at the 7-level for the last two players to bid. American version bidding is just one round. If every passes, the deal advances and the cards are redealt.
Bid choices for American 500 following an i♠ initial bid. The yellow highlight indicates the suggestion.
In the Australian variation, bidding starts at the 6-level for all players and continues around the table until three players have passed following a non-pass bid. Players who pass may not reenter bidding.
Example bids for Australian 500. The yellow highlight indicates the suggestion.
In both variations, a bid of Nullo (Misère) means the player believes he or she can take zero tricks. The partner of the player who wins the bid with Nullo (Misère) does not play. A bid of Open Nullo (Open Misère) is played with the bidder’s cards face-up and the bidder’s partner does not play. As such, Open Nullo is the “Hail Mary” bid of 500. Open Nullo (Open Misère) is the highest possible bid. Bidding ends if it is bid.
In Trickster 500, to place either the Nullo (Misère) or Open Nullo (Open Misère) bid, click or tap the blue Nullo (Misère) button. A popup menu will appear allowing you to choose Nullo (Misère) or Open Nullo (Open Misère).
The player who wins the bid leads the first trick.
Play continues clockwise following the led suit, if possible, or playing any other card if not. When all four players have played, the trick is taken by the player who played the highest trump, if any, or the player who played the highest card of the led suit.
If the bid is no-trump, the joker wins any suit in which it is played. It, however, can only be played when the player is out of the led suit. If there are two jokers in the game and both are played on the same trick, the monochrome (black) joker beats the color (red) joker.
The player who takes the trick leads the next trick. If the bid is no-trump and the player chooses to lead a joker, he or she is asked to choose the suit which other players must follow. The joker is considered the highest-ranked card of that suit and will win the trick.
If the team that won the bid takes at least the number of tricks indicated in the bid, their score is increased by a value based on their bid (see the following table). If they miss their bid, the same value is subtracted from their score.
A bid of Nullo (Misère) is worth 250 points; an Open Nullo (Open Misère) is worth 500. If the team takes all 10 tricks (a slam) with a bid of 8♠ or lower, they earn of 250 points.
The opponents (team that did not take the bid) earn 10 points for each trick taken. When playing with the game option “must bid to win,” these points are awarded only up to when the team’s game score is 490 points.
The game is over when either team exceeds 500 points or a team goes below −500. The team with the higher score wins.
500 House Rules Options
“American” uses one round of bidding with “inkle” bids replacing the 6-level. “Australian” allows multiple rounds of bidding and includes 6-level bids.
Widow (kitty) size:
How many cards will be in the window (or kitty) which affects what cards are in the deck. “3 cards” uses 4–Ace in ♥ & ♦, 5–Ace in ♣ & ♠, and a red Joker. “5 cards” uses 4–Ace in all suits plus red Joker. “6 cards” uses 4–Ace in all suits plus red and black Joker (black is high).
Must bid to win:
“Yes” requires taking the bid to win the game, even if you’re over 500 points (default for Australian). “No” allows winning the game by rolling over 500 points, regardless of who took the bid (default for American).
Raise own bid:
“Yes” allows the high bidder to increase his or her bet after 3 others have passed. Choose “Pass” in the bidding options to keep the same bid. “No” ends bidding when 3 players pass after a bid. (Option available for Australian only).
“Off” means Nullo (Misère) bids are not offered. “After 7” requires that some player bid at the 7-level before a Nullo (Misère) can be bid (Open Nullo (Misère) can be bid anytime). “Anytime” allows Nullo (Misère) or Open Nullo (Misère) to be bid anytime.
Nullo (Misère) plays:
“Own Hand” means a Nullo (Misère) bidder plays only his or her hand and their partner sits out. “Both Hands” requires the Nullo (Misère) bidder to play their hand and their partner’s hand. The partner’s hand is played face-up for all players to see.
Open Nullo (Misère):
“±500” sets the score for Open Nullo (Misère) to be +500 points for success or −500 or failure. “±520” uses 520 points for Open Nullo (Misère), equal to 10NT.
Must be invited:
“Yes” hides this game from other players until they’ve been explicitly invited using the “Invite Friends” form. “No” allows all friends of players in this game to see it. Join games only.
“Yes” to allow players to see bid and card play suggestions, depending on their personal setting. “No” prevents all players from seeing suggestions. Always “Yes” in Play games; “No” in Compete games.
Chat during game:
“None” disables all chat during the game. “Preset” allows only the built-in chat messages to be used. “Text” allows full chat. Full chat is also always available before and after games.
Time to bid:
Specifies an optional time limit for a player to bid. “Off” means there are no time limits on bidding. “7s,” “15s,”, “30s” & “60s” sets a limit to bid of 7, 15, 30 or 60 seconds, respectively. Automatically set in Play games.
Time to play:
Specifies an optional time limit for a player to play a card. “Off” means there are no time limits on card play. “7s,” “15s,”, “30s” & “60s” sets a limit to play a card of 7, 15, 30 or 60 seconds, respectively. Automatically set in Play games.