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Whist Basics

Trickster Whist offers both Classic Whist and Bid Whist. Classic Whist does not have bidding whereas Bid Whist does. We describe each separately below starting with Classic Whist.

Classic Whist

Whist is a partnership trick-taking game where players strive to win the most tricks possible. It is played with a standard 52-card deck where Ace is high. Trump is chosen randomly to be the suit of the last card dealt.

The team that takes the most tricks each hand is awarded one point for each trick over six. For instance, if a team takes 8 tricks, they score 2 points (8 – 6 = 2).

Classic Whist can be played with an optional honours bonus (see Options, below). If enabled, the team holding 3 of the 4 trump honours (Jack, Queen, King, or Ace) is awarded an extra 2 points. If holding all 4 trump honours, they are awarded 4 points. Note that this bonus is earned based on cards dealt, not cards captured.

The first team to get to the game-over score (5, 7 or 9), wins.

Bid Whist

Bid Whist is a partnership game where players bid to determine trump, specify the number of tricks they expect the partnership to take, and whether high cards or low cards win the trick (“uptown” or “downtown”).

The team winning the bid and making their bid earns one point for each trick over six. Failure to capture the number of tricks indicated by the bid results in the bid level being subtracted from their score.

The game is over when either team reaches the game-over score (5, 7 or 9) or the negative of the game-over score (−5, −7 or −9). The team with the higher score wins.

The Deck

Bid Whist is commonly played with a 54-card deck: the standard 52-card deck plus two Jokers, one red and one black with the red Joker being the highest rank.

Trickster Whist offers a game option to set the number of jokers to 0, 1 or 2 (see Options, below).

The Deal

Twelve cards are dealt to each player. The remaining cards are left undealt and comprise the kitty. These are counted as the first trick taken by the team that wins the bid.

Depending on the number of jokers, the kitty will be 4, 5, or 6 cards.

Bidding

Following the deal, starting with the player left of the dealer, each player has one opportunity to bid. Initial bids consist of a level and an indication of how the hand will be played. These indications are “NT” for a no trump hand or a down-pointing or up-pointing arrow.

The down-pointing arrow indicates a trump bid that will be played “downtown,” meaning the rank of the cards high-to-low will be Red Joker, Black Joker, Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, and King.

The up-pointing arrow indicates a trump bid that will be played “uptown,” meaning the traditional ranking of cards high-to-low: Red Joker, Black Joker, Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2.

The “level” of the bid means the bidder must take 6 + level number of tricks to win the hand. For example, a level 3 bid means that 9 or more tricks must be taken to win the hand (6 + 3 = 9). Note that one trick is awarded “free” for winning the bid, representing the kitty.

Subsequent bids must be higher than previous bids. Higher levels beat lower levels. Within a level, downtown beats uptown and NT beats downtown.

Initial bid options with 4 downtown suggested
Initial bid options with 4 downtown suggested

The winner of the initial round of bidding then has a second choice. If the winning bid was NT, the second choice is whether to play it uptown or downtown. If the winning bid was a level with uptown or downtown, the second choice is the suit to make trump.

2nd choice after a 4NT initial bid
2nd choice after a 4NT initial bid

2nd choice after a 4 downtown initial bid
2nd choice after a 4 downtown initial bid

If, during the initial round of bidding, the first three players pass, the dealer must bid.

Play

After the bid is set, the player left of the dealer 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.

Note that if playing “downtown,” the rank of the cards from high to low is Red Joker, Black Joker, Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, and King.

However, if the bid is no-trump, the jokers have no value and cannot win a suit in which they are played. If a player leads a joker, the suit of the trick is determined by the first non-joker played in that trick. These two rules means that the jokers are worthless in a no-trump contract.

Scoring

The team that won the bid and takes at least the number of tricks implied by the level (6 + level) is awarded points equal to the number of tricks taken over 6. However, if they fail to take the minimum number of tricks required, the level is subtracted from their score.

For example, a team that bids level 4 and takes 11 tricks is awarded 5 points (11 – 6 = 5). However, if they fail to take at least 10 tricks, 4 points are subtracted.

The team that did not win the bid scores nothing.

The game is over when either team reaches the game-over score (5, 7 or 9) or the negative of the game-over score (−5, −7 or −9). The team with the higher score wins.

Whist House Rules Options

When:

“Now” creates a new game that starts immediately. Other options schedule a game for a time in the next 24 hours. Compete and Join games only.

Winnings:

Three levels of winnings based on the buy-in level—30, 110, or 275 Trickster Chips. Compete games only.

Variation:

“Bid Whist” incorporates bidding to determine trump and the rank of cards. “Classic Whist” is always Ace-high with trump determined by the last card dealt.

Play to:

Ends the game when a team reaches the specified score or drops to minus the specified score. Can be “5”, “7”, or “9”.

Honours bonus:

“Yes” awards a bonus when holding 3 or 4 honours. “No” disables this bonus. Classic Whist only.

Jokers:

“None” for no Jokers with a 4-card kitty, “1” for one Joker with a 5-card kitty, and “2” for two Jokers with a 6-card kitty. Bid Whist only.

Bidding

Minimum bid:

Sets the smallest bid allowed to open bidding. Can be “1”, “2”, “3”, or “4”. Bid Whist only.

Low beats high:

“Yes” means a low (downtown) bid beats a high (uptown) bid of the same level. “No” means low and high bids of the same level are considered equal and to bid higher, either NT or the next level must be chosen. Bid Whist only.

Play

Sport the kitty:

“Never” does not reveal the kitty (blind) to anyone but the high bidder. “Trump” reveals the kitty to all players for trump bids only (not for NT bids). “Always” reveals the kitty to all players on every hand. Bid Whist only.

Bidder gets kitty:

“Yes” adds the cards from the kitty to the high bidder’s hand. He or she then discards an equal number of cards. “No” keeps the cards in the kitty out-of-play. Bid Whist only.

Bidder leads:

“Yes” means the high bidder leads the first trick. “No” means the player to the left of the dealer leads the first trick. Bid Whist only.

2x for NT:

“Yes” scores an NT bid at twice the normal value for its level. “No” scores NT bids normally. Bid Whist only.

Defensive scoring:

“Yes” gives the defending team points for tricks they take over 6. “No” only allows the bidding team to earn points. Bid Whist only.

Limits

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.

Allow suggestions:

“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.