Ninety-Nine is a 3 player trick taking game. Players bid at the beginning of each hand and are awarded points for each trick they take, plus a bonus for making their bid exactly. The game is named after the maximum number of points which can be earned in one hand.
Bidding in Ninety-Nine is different from other trick taking games. Players bid on how many tricks they think they will win by privately setting aside 3 cards from their initial hand; the bid is based on the suit of those cards. Diamonds are 0, Spades are 1, Hearts are 2, and Clubs are 3. At the end of the hand, each player gets 1 point for each trick they took. If any player takes exactly the number of tricks that they bid, they have made their bid. Bonus points are awarded based on how many players make their bid: 30 points for one player, 20 points for two players, 10 points for 3 players.
Players also have the opportunity at the beginning of each hand to gain bonuses by either declaring their bid publicly (30 points), or revealing their entire hand and bid (60 points). Only one bonus can be taken per hand, and the bonus is only granted if that player makes their bid. If the player misses their bid, the other two players get the bonus instead.
The highest score that can be made in one deal is 99. This occurs when one player wins 9 tricks (9 points), is the only player to succeed (add 30), and played with their cards revealed (add 60).
- If in doubt, bid 3 (the average number of tricks taken in a 3-player game)
- Diamonds and spades (vs. hearts and clubs) are more likely to be used for bidding. Therefore, hearts and clubs are more likely in play, and their Aces and Kings (especially in clubs) more likely to win tricks. Diamonds are especially unreliable trick winners.
- High cards and low cards are more valuable (as trick winners and losers, respectively) than mid-range cards; 9s, 10s, and Jacks tend to make better bid cards.
By default, the trump suit is determined by a random card draw. If the card is a nine or joker, the round has no trump. In the "Junk the Joker" variant, the first deal in every round has diamonds as trump (or optionally no trump), and subsequent trump suits are determined by the number of players who correctly bid the last trick.
BGA offers four scoring systems:
- A game consists of 3 rounds. Rounds end when at least one player reaches 100 points. Bonus points are awarded to the player(s) that reach or pass 100 (30, 20, or 10 points depending on number of players).
- A game consists of 3 rounds. Rounds end when at least one player reaches 100 points. No bonus points are awarded at end of round.
- Rounds end when at least one player reaches 100 points. The first player to win 3 rounds wins.
- A game consists of 9 hands. Highest score at the end wins