500 is a trick-taking card game for 2 to 6 players and is usually played with a standard deck of 52 cards.
Each round starts with dealing. The first dealer is chosen randomly. Each round, the dealer position rotates clockwise. The dealer deals 11 cards to each player, one at a time. The remaining cards form the kitty. In games with 5 or 6 players, fewer cards are dealt.
The bidding follows: Starting with the player to the dealer’s left, each player must bid or pass. A bid is the number of tricks a player intends to win plus their desired trump suit. The minimum bid is 7, while the maximum is 11. The player making the highest bid becomes the declarer and must play alone against the others, who form a team of defenders. In games with even player numbers, you can also form two teams of equal size playing against each other.
Now, the declarer gets to pick up the entire kitty and discard just as many cards from their hand. This is a chance to improve the strength of their hand.
It’s time to start playing the tricks: The player to the declarer’s left starts the first trick. Each player must follow suit if possible. Otherwise, they must play a trump, or they cannot win the trick. The player contributing the highest card of the leading suit, or the highest trump, wins the trick. Each trick’s winner leads the next trick.
After all cards are played, it is time for the scoring: Depending on the bid, the declarer or their team scores points for each trick won.
- If the declarer wins the exact number of tricks bid, the score is the sum of the bid tricks plus a bonus which can vary.
- If the declarer wins more tricks than the bid, the score is the sum of the tricks won.
- The defenders score for each trick won above the bid of the declarer.
After the scoring, you can play the next hand. Then, the player to the left of the previous dealer becomes the new dealer, and everything starts again. The game continues until one player reaches a predetermined score, such as 500 points. Depending on bonus points during scoring, some might even play until 10,000 points.
These are the basic rules for playing 500. If this game sounds like fun to you, you might want to check out a relative of this game at the Whist Palace!
But back to the card game 500: Regional differences in the rulesets may appear when a card game is known worldwide, which is the case for this one, which is played in many countries around the world, including Australia, Germany, Austria, South Africa, and the United States. Thus, you might know this or a similar card game by other names, such as Pente, Cinc Cinc, Cinco Centavos, and Cinque Cents.