Game Rules

500 or Five Hundred is a trick-taking game that was developed in the United States. It remains popular in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where it has been taught in communities for six generations, as well as in other countries: Australia, New Zealand, Canada (especially Ontario and Quebec) and Shetland. Despite its American origin, 500 is the national card game of Australia.

OBJECT: The goal of the game is to reach 500 points as the first team.
MATERIAL: Card deck of 43 cards (5 to 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace of all 4 playing card colours and one Joker)


Each of the four players is dealt one card and three cards are placed face down on the table to form the kitty (also called widow, blind or hole card).

Players play in pairs, usually facing each other. Traditionally, each player receives a bundle of three cards and one in the till.

As with euchre, the order of cards in the non-trump suits is ace, king, queen, jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 from top to bottom. In the trump suit, the highest card is the joker, also called the best bower in reference to the trump jacks, followed by the jack of the trump suit, called the right bower, and the jack of the same suit of the trump suit, called the left bower, which is considered part of the trump suit, followed by ace, king, queen, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5.


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 they and their 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-trump" 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).

A player may elect not to bid, or to "pass". Bidding proceeds clockwise around the table, with each player passing or making a higher-scoring bid. A player who passes cannot subsequently make a bid in that hand.

A player who has bid may only bid again in that hand if there has been an intervening bid by another player.

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 7 club may be outbid by a subsequent bidding player on 7diamond or 7 heart, but not seven spades. A "no-trump" bid beats any suited bid of the same number. Inkles are typically also similarly ranked: If the first player bids 6 heart, the next player cannot inkle spades, clubs, or diamonds. Their only options are to 6 no trump, bid seven or more (of any suit, or no-trump or Misère), or pass. Eventually, all but one player passes and the bid is decided.

If nobody makes a bid, there are multiple variations. Most commonly, the hand is declared dead and a reshuffle and re-deal is made. This can be repeated only twice, after which the deal passes to the next player. Alternatively, the game is played where no bids mean the round is played as no-trump, and scoring is ten points per trick. Other variations include that the deal passes to the next player (no reshuffle); or that if no one else makes a bid, the dealer is required to make a bid.

Special bids:

  • No-trump means that the joker(s) are the only trump card(s).
  • J5 is a special version of no-trump where a jack replaces the ace as the highest card of its respective suit, keeping the rules in line with a suited game. The joker remains the only trump card, and the normal agreed-upon rules of its use still apply. In a J5 game there is no lower bower (e.g., the jack of diamonds is not considered a heart and so on). Other cards follow their typical hierarchy.
  • A Misère  bid means the bidding player is trying to not win any tricks. If playing with a partner, the partner folds their cards and does not participate in the round. Misère is the French word meaning "extreme poverty". It can be bid at any time.
  • 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. Also called Lay Down Misère and may be made at any time.
  • Blind Misère is the same as misère except the bid must be called before the player views their cards.
  • Patastrophe is an Open Misère where both partners on the bidding team play, with both calling partners playing their hand open (after the first trick). Patastrophe is worth 1000 points.
  • Hi/Lo or 5 and 5 bid means one player intends to win 5 tricks and lose 5 tricks in the hand. The game is typically worth 350 points, and therefore outbids a 9 spade or 9 club bid, but not a 9 diamond or 9 heart. The game play is similar to a No-trump game in that the Joker is the only trump card and may only be used if the player cannot otherwise follow suit. When a Hi/Lo call is made the bidder's partner folds their cards and does not participate in the hand. This is also called Even Stevens in Australia.
  • Ralphing is when a person that bids gets set by more than 3 tricks (that is a person wins the bid with 9 heart but only takes 6, or bids Nullo and takes 3 or more tricks). In the event that a person is Ralphed, they are not allowed to bid in the next hand. The name comes from a person that would repeatedly over-bid and lose dreadfully each time. The rule was instituted so others would be allowed to win bids.


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 trump is led). If a player no longer has any cards of the suit that is led, they may play any card in their hand. After all four players have played a card, the highest trump takes the trick. If no trump is 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.

Double nullo may be called by one partner even if the other partner passes. In this instance the player who calls nullo draws in his/her partner and both must play and not take any tricks. The person who calls double nullo picks up the kitty and gives the five cards he/she wants to discard to their partner. Their partner then must take those five cards and pick the ones he/she wants to keep and discard the rest.


End of game

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 8 heart, then the team wins the hand if they take 8, 9, or all 10 tricks and are awarded points according to the table below. There are no bonuses for overtricks (tricks over the number bid) in the original rules. 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 opposing team receives 10 points for each trick they take. A team wins the game by scoring at least 500 points; if two teams score 500 or more in the same hand, one by winning their contracted bid and the opponent by winning some tricks, only the team winning the bid wins the game . A team whose score dips to −500 points or below (referred to as "set back 500 points") loses the game. This is also known as going "out the back door" or "out backwards".

Back to the overview

Contact form