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500 is sort of an expanded version of Euchre (or, as many die-hard 500 players would say, Euchre is a watered down 500). Both have a similar structure of bidding and card order. 500 was invented in the US, copyrighted and marketed in 1904 by the US Playing Card Company. Also popular in Australia, (with slightly different rules) where it is, apparently, the National Card Game.

Players and Cards

There are four players, with partners sitting opposite. A pack of 45 cards is used, consisting of
· A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 in each suit;
· one joker

When there is a trump suit, the highest trump is the joker, followed by the jack of the trump suit (right bower), the other jack of the same colour (left bower), then Ace, King, Queen, 10, 9, etc. down to 5 or 4. The joker and left bower behave in all respects as members of the trump suit. The other three suits rank in the usual order from ace (highest) down to 5 or 4, but the suit that is the same color as trumps has no jack.
When there are no trumps all the suits rank in the usual order from ace (high) down to 4 (low), and there are special rules governing how the joker is played.

Deal

Deal, bidding and play proceed clockwise. The first dealer is chosen at random, and the turn to deal rotates clockwise after each hand. The cards are shuffled and cut and the dealer deals 10 cards to each player and five face down in the middle of the table to form the blind.

Bidding

The bidding begins with the player to dealer's left and continues clockwise. The possible bids are:
1. a number of tricks (minimum six) and a trump suit - for example a bid of "eight diamonds" undertakes that the bidder, with partner's help, will try to win at least eight tricks with diamonds as trumps;
2. a number (minimum six) of "No Trump", offering to win at least that number of tricks without a trump suit;
A player who does not wish to bid can pass. If the first three players pass, The dealer is stuck with the bid.
Once someone has bid, each subsequent bid must be higher than the previous one. Higher means either more tricks, or the same number of tricks in a higher suit. For this purpose No trumps are highest, followed by Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, and Spades (lowest). Thus the lowest possible bid is Six Spades and the highest is Ten No Trump.
Each player may only bid once, or pass.
Play
The contractor begins by picking up the blind (without showing them to the other players), and discarding any 5 cards face down in their place. The cards discarded can include cards which were picked up from the blind.
The contractor leads to the first trick. Players must follow suit if they can. A player with no card of the suit led may play any card. A trick is won by the highest trump in it, or if no trump is played by the highest card of the suit led. The winner of a trick leads to the next.

Play of the joker

If there is a trump suit, the joker counts as the highest trump, as stated above. In No Trump, the joker belongs to no suit. It is the highest card in the pack, and wins the trick to which it is played.

Scoring

A cumulative score is kept for each team, to which the score for each hand is added or subtracted. The scores for the various contracts are as follows:

Tricks       Spades    Clubs    Diamonds   Hearts   No Trumps
Six            40        60        80       100        120
Seven         140       160       180       200        220
Eight         240       260       280       300        320
Nine          340       360       380       400        420
Ten           440       460       480       500        520

In a suit or no trump contract, the contractors win if they take at least as many tricks as they bid. The contractors then score the appropriate amount from the above table, and their opponents score 10 points for each trick they manage to win. There is no extra score for any additional tricks the contractors may make in excess of their bid, except when they win every trick, which is called a slam. If the contractors make a slam, and their bid was worth less than 250 points, they score 250 instead of their bid. If the bid was worth more than 250 (8 clubs or more) there is no special score for a slam - if the contractors win every trick they just win the value of their bid as normal. If the contractors do not take enough tricks for their suit or no trump contract, they score minus the value of the contract, and their opponents still score 10 points for each trick they won.

End of the Game

The game ends when a team wins by reaching a score of 500 points or more. The game also ends if a team reaches minus 500 points or worse, and thus loses the game. This is called "going out backwards".

500 Card Party Rules Modifications

There are modifications to the rules for a card party style game of 500. This assumes you have 8 or more people, in multiples of four, and tables for them to sit at, as well as an appropriately prepared deck of cards for each table.

Each table is an independent game. One table is designated as table one, or the head table. The other tables are then numbered up from there. Each person draws a card that has a table and seat written on it. This paper also doubles as their scorecard. Each table then plays an independent game of 500, with a couple of subtle differences. Play ends when four hands have been completed, regardless of score, at the head table. When the head table has completed four hands, they signal that they are finished (with a small bell or tapping a glass with a spoon, you get the idea). The other tables complete whatever hand they are on. The winning pair from each table except the head table move up a table (ie, the team from table two go to table one, the team from table three go to two, etc.). The winning team at the head table remains there, and the pair that lost go to whatever the lowest table is. Additionally, at all but the head table, one partner moves chairs so that they are partnered with one of the newcomers, and the other newcomer is partnered with the other who was already there. In this way, at all but the head table, the teams are almost never the same. Each player records on their card the score they had at the end of their games. At the end of a set ammount of rounds or time, The party is ended, and scores are totaled. The individual with the most points wins the party, usually receiving some sort of prize/odd gift. Many parties will also give something to the lowest player. Whatever is appropriate for the occasion.


Variations:
No doubt there are many, many variations on the game of 500. The rules noded here might not even be the most common. However, they are the rules taught to me by both sets of my grandparents when I was just a wee lad, and the rules played at every card party in the small town from whence I came. When that many people over 60 agree on a rule set, it can't be too far from the mark. Feel free to send me your variations, and I'll put them up here.

One very common one is having a bid of 6 simply be an indicator, and not a valid bid. Thus, if I'm bidding first, I might indicate hearts (Bid 6) to my partner. This may very well be over bid, or not taken up by your partner, but one cannot take the bid with a six, and if no one else bids, the dealer must bid 7 or higher.


Please note, much of this writeup is from John McLeod's page on Austrailian 500,located at http://www.pagat.com/euchre/500.html With modifications made to match the rules I've seen in the Midwest United States (Mainly northwest Iowa). In any region you play in, YMMV.

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