How to Count Points in a Bridge Hand

By Alan Kirk

Are you interested in learning how to play bridge? Well, one of the first things you will need to learn to do is to evaluate the strength of your hand. Evaluating the strength of your hand is based on a points system. Points are counted for every face card and Ace in your hand. They are also counted for both length and shortness of each suit in your hand.

Learning to count points in poker

The initial point counting you should do with your bridge hand is for face cards and aces. For every Jack in your hand you should count it as one point. Queens in your hand will count as two points. Kings will count as three points, and Aces are worth the most which is four points.

You should also count points for distribution in your bridge hand. Distribution refers to the length or shortness in every suit in your hand. Shortness can actually add the most points to your hand because it increases the value of your hand in a trump contract. If you have zero cards in a particular suit in your bridge hand that is worth four points. Having a single card in a suit is called a singleton and worth three points. Having two cards in a suit is called a doubleton and is worth two points. Distribution points should not be added to your hand until you and your partner agree upon a suit while bidding.

Of course if shortness is counted for points, length will be counted as well. For each suit that you have more than five cards in, you add one point to your hand for each card over the fourth one in each suit. Once again, these points are not added to your hand until you and your partner agree upon a suit during bidding.

The final hand distribution that affects your point count actually deducts points from your point total for evaluating your hand. If your hand has no suit with more than four cards, and no suit with less than three cards you should deduct one point from your hand.

One step many bridge players forget when evaluating the point value of your hand is that you can't count for both card values and either length or shortness in the same suit. If you have an honor card (Jack through Ace) in a suit, you should not count points for distribution in that suit.

Once you have computed your point values of your hand you can decide if you can make a bid in the bridge auction. In general in the first two seats you need 12 points or more to open the bidding. In the third and fourth seat you can open the bidding with 11 points. If an opponent opens the bidding you can bid with 10 or more points. If your partner opens the bidding you only need six points to respond with a bid as a general rule.

About the Author

Alan Kirk has been writing for online publications since 2006. He has more than 15 years' experience in catering, management and government relations. Kirk has a bachelor's degree in business management from the University of Maryland.