Players and Cards
From 3 to 7 people can play. The game is best when played with 4 to 6.
A standard 52 card deck is used. The cards in each suit rank (from high to low) A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2.
Sequence of Hands
The game consists of a series of hands. Depending on the settings used, the number of cards dealt per hand will either increase or decrease per hand, and may or may not "rebound" and go the other way afterward. The default is to start high, go to low, and then back to high again. The minimum number of cards defaults to 1 but can be changed to 3, while the maximum number of cards defaults to 10 but can also be changed. (6+ player games, of course, will have a lower default maximum.)
Object of the Game
The object is for each player to bid exactly the number of tricks he thinks he can take from each hand.
The turn to deal rotates clockwise with each hand.
The cards are shuffled and the dealer deals the cards singly until everyone has the appropriate number of cards for the hand being played. The next card is turned face up and the suit of this card is the trump suit for the hand. The trump suit beats any of the other three suits played in that hand. The remaining undealt cards are placed in a face down stack with the turned trump on top of it.
The bidding in each hand begins with the player to the left of the dealer, then continues clockwise, back around to the dealer, who bids last. Each bid is a number representing the number of tricks that player will try to take. Everyone must bid - it is not possible to pass, but you can bid zero, in which case your object is to take no tricks at all.
By default, the hook rule is in effect: the dealer may not bid the number that would cause the total number of tricks bid to equal the number of tricks available; a hand will always be "over-bid" or "under-bid". Keep in mind when bidding that not all cards in the deck are in play in any hand.
The play begins with the player to the dealer's left, who leads the first card. The lead may be any suit (including trump). Play follows clockwise. Each player must follow the suit led, if he can. If not, he may play any other card in his hand, including trump. The player who has played the highest trump card, or if no trump was played, the highest card of the suit led, wins the trick. That player then leads to the next trick. Continue until all tricks have been played and won.
There are a number of different scoring methods available.
- Positive: No matter what, score 1 point for every trick taken. Score an additional 10 points for making your bid.
- Blackout: Successful bids score 10 + the number bid. Unsuccessful bids score 0.
- Negative: Successful bids score 10. Unsuccessful bids lose 10 points times the difference from the bid. Large mistakes are much more costly.
- Balanced: Successful bids score 10. Unsuccessful bids lose 2 points times the difference from bid. A less extreme version of negative.
All methods except Blackout can be also "/Vienna", which alters the scoring for a successful bid of 0. A successful bid of 0 in Vienna is worth the number of cards dealt that round, plus 5.