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Five Hundred

Five Hundred, a variation of euchre , is one of the best of the very few card games for three players.  It is played with a pack from which the 2s,3s,4s,5s and 6s have been removed and a Joker added.  In all thirty-three cards, which are dealt in bundles of three-two-three-two to the players, and three cards (the widow ) face downwards to the table.
            The rank of the cards in the trump suit is: Joker, Right Bower (Jack), Left Bower (Jack of the suit of the same  color),  A K Q 10 9 8 7.  In the three plain suits the cards rank in the usual order from Ace (high) to 7 (low).

            The player on the left of the dealer bids first.  The auction proceeds clockwise, and a player who has passed cannot make a further bid.
            The denominations rank in the order: No-Trumps (highest), Hearts, Diamonds, clubs, Spades (lowest), and the player nominates the number of tricks (not less than six) that he proposes to win in a specified suit or without a trump suit.  In turn the other players must either pass or name a contract that scores higher.  If all three players pass, the poker hand is played without a trump suit.  No-one may take the widow, the player on the left of the dealer leads to the first trick, and the players score 10 points for each trick won.
            In the trump suit there are ten cards, namely Joker, Right Bower, Left Bower, ace, King, Queen, 10, 9, 8, 7.  In the plain suit of the same color as the trump suit there are only seven cards, because the Jack has been promoted as Left Bower to be third highest trump.  In the other two plain suits there are eight cards in each.  In No-Trumps there are eight cards in each suit, because there are no Bowers, but in practice one suit may consist of nine cards because if the holder of the Joker leads it he chooses the suit it represents (and the Joker wins) though he cannot nominate it to be a suit in which he has previously renounced.  In the same way, the Joker wins if played to the lead of any suit, unless the player playing it has previously renounced the suit.





































            Other scoring poker tables are known, but this one, the Avondale Schedule, is the most satisfactory because the suit values mount by twenties, and for each trick over six ( if one contracts to win it)  an extra 100 .points are added.  It is the least complicated.
            A player may score only for the number of tricks that he has contracted to win, but there is a bonus for winning all ten tricks (the slam) whether contracted for or not.  The bonus varies.  If the contract is worth less than 250 points, the bonus is 250 points; if the contract is worth more than 250 points, the bonus is the value of the contract.  If, therefore, a player bids Eight Spades (240 points) and wins all ten tricks, he scores 490 points (240 + 250) but if he bids Eight Clubs (260 points) and wins all ten tricks, he scores 520 points (260 + 260).  Since the game is won by the player who first reaches 500 points, it is possible for a player to win game in one deal.

            The player who makes the final declaration takes the widow and discards three cards in its place.  He need not show the cards to his opponents.  He then leads to the first trick.  A player must follow suit, if he can, and in a suit declaration, if the Joker or left Bower is led, the other players must playa trump on it, if they hold one. In No-Trumps, if the holder of the Joker leads it, the other players must follow to the suit nominated by the leader. 
            The winner of a trick leads to the next, and all ten tricks must be played, because the opponents of the declarer score 10 points for every trick that they win.
            If a player fails to make his contract, both opponents score the value of the contract.
            If more than one player scores game in the same deal, and one of them is the final declarer he wins if he makes his declaration.  If neither is the final declarer, he who first takes enough tricks to score 500 points wins.
            If a player fails to score 300 points he pays the winner double the face value of his loss; and if a player fails to score 100 points he pays the winner treble.  Doubles and trebles, as they are called, are optional.

FIVE HUNDRED FOR TWO PLAYERS is played in much the same way as the parent game.  The poker players sit facing each other, and, as well as the widow in the center of the table, the dealer deals a hand, face downwards, to his immediate left.  It is known as the dead hand.
            The dead hand must not be looked at nor touched.  The two players play against each other, as in the parent game, but their bids tend to be high, because bidding is largely a speculation on which cards are against the player and which are in the dead hand, and therefore, harmless.

FIVE HUNDRED FOR FOUR PLAYERS is played in the same way as the parent game, but with two playing in partnership against the other two.  In order that every player may have ten cards and the widow three, the 33-card pack as used in the parent game, is increased to forty-three cards by including the 6s, 5s and two 4s.


Knaves, a game for three players, is so called because the four Knaves are penalty cards and the object of the players is to avoid winning tricks that contain them.
            Seventeen cards are dealt to each player and the last card is turned face upwards on the table to denote the trump suit.  It takes no other part in the game.

            The player on the left of the dealer leads to the first trick; thereafter the player who wins a trick leads to the next.  A player must follow suit, if he can, to the card led.  If he cannot he may either trump or discard a card of a plain suit.
            The player who wins a tricks scores 1 point for it, but 4 points are deducted from a player’s score if he wins the Knave of Hearts, 3 points if he wins the Knave of Clubs, and 1 point if he wins the Knave of spades.  The aggregate score for each deal, therefore, is 7 points (i.e. 17 points for tricks minus 10 points for knaves ) unless one of the Knaves is the card turned up to denote the trump suit.  Game is won by the first player to score 20 points.

            The players play all against all, but skilful play introduces temporary partnerships that add much to the interest of the game.  If, for example, one player is in the lead and the other two are trailing behind, they will combine with the aim of preventing the leading player from winning still more, even if they cannot reduce his score by forcing him to win tricks that contain Knaves.  In the same way, if two players have an advanced score, and the third is down the course, the two who are ahead will so play that such points as they cannot themselves win will go to the player with the low score rather than to the one with the high score.
            The game, therefore, gives ample scope for clever play.  Until the last Knave has been played, a player has to strike a balance between the incentive to take a trick, and so score a point, and the fear of being saddled with a Knave, resulting in a loss.
            There is much more in the game than appears on the surface.  Consider the hands on the right.

No score to anyone. East deals and the 7♣ is turned up. With his preponderance of trumps North appears to be in a position to score well.  In reality his hand is far from being a good one, because, though the trumps give him the advantage of winning tricks, this advantage is more than offset by the fact that he is in the dangerous poker position of being forced to take Knaves.  Indeed, North is very likely to come out with a poor score; against good play by West he will be hard put to avoid taking the Knaves of Hearts  and Diamonds for a loss of 7 points and, in any case, he can hardly avoid taking one of them.


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