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500 Basics

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.

The Deck

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).

The Deal

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.

Bidding

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.
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.
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).

Play

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.

Scoring

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.

Bid NT
6 120 100 80 60 40
7 220 200 180 160 140
8 320 300 280 260 240
9 420 400 380 360 340
10 520 500 480 460 440

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.

Options

The following “House Rules” options are available for Play, Practice, and Join games:

Variation

American

One round of bidding; 6-level bids are “inkle”

Australian

Multiple rounds of bidding; 6-level bids available

Deck size

43 cards

Deck consists of 4–Ace in ♥ & ♦, 5–Ace in ♣ & ♠, red Joker; results in a 3-card widow (kitty); this is the default in both variations

45 cards

Deck consists of 4–Ace in all suits plus red Joker; results in a 5-card widow (kitty)

46 cards

Deck consists of 4–Ace in all suits plus red and black Joker (black Joker is high); results in a 6-card widow (kitty)

Must bid to win

Yes

You can’t win the game with the points awarded for taking tricks when you’re not the bid-winning team (default for Australian)

No

Points awarded to opponents of the bid-winning team can win the game (default for American)