How to Play Bid Whist

By Curtis Fease
High card in uptown/downtown games

Bid whist is a variation of the classic game of whist. It is also believed that the card game bridge came from bid whist. The extensive rules scare many people into thinking the game is difficult, but it really isn't. Following the simple steps outlined will ensure that you and your friends are destroying each other at cards in no time.

Learn bid Whist terminology. A "kitty" is a stack of cards that is dealt out along with the four players' cards. No one sees the kitty unless he wins the betting round. The kitty would then become his property. A trump suit is a suit that basically defeats other suits. If someone plays a suit that you do not have, you can play the trump suit to defeat his card. Only a higher trump card will beat it. "Uptown" means a player intends on making higher cards worth more. "Downtown" means a player intends on making lower cards worth more.

Make sure you have 2 distinct jokers. Most decks of cards have 2 jokers. One picture of a joker is usually bigger than the other. The larger joker will be called the Big Joker. Likewise, the smaller pictured joker will be called the Small Joker. Also, understand that both teams start at a score of zero (0). The team that reaches 7 first wins. A team will also win if their opponents reach negative 7 (-7). Now sit at a table directly across from your partner. Your opponents should do the same.

Decide who will be the first dealer. If your group cannot decide, start dealing the cards face-up in a clockwise order. The first player to draw a diamond becomes the first dealer. Reshuffle the deck after this and start dealing the cards (facedown) out in a clockwise order. Each player will receive 12 cards for a total of 48 cards dealt out. The remaining 6 cards will be dealt in the middle. This is called a Kitty. No cards can be added to the Kitty during the first 4 cards dealt or the last 4 cards dealt. Other than those 2 times, the Kitty can be dealt at any time. The Kitty can be dealt one card at a time or multiple cards at the same time. This is true as long as there are six cards in the Kitty by the time the last 4 cards are dealt. Everyone can look at their own cards once the hand is dealt.

The player directly to the left of the dealer will bid first. It is imperative to understand the betting structure. Only one player will win the right to bet. That player must make at least 6 books (wins). Any number of books over 6 counts as a book. This means, if a team wins 7 hands during play, they really only scored 1 book (due to the minimum 6). A bid of 3 books (over 6) must be made. The bidding player decides how many books he thinks his team will take. He must choose Uptown, Downtown or No Trumps.

Decide whose bet wins. This will depend on how many books over 6 someone bets. The person who bids the highest will win the right to bet. Higher bets will take the right to bid. Uptown and Downtown bids are equal if their number is equal, therefore if someone bets "3 Downtown," then a "3 Uptown" cannot be used to beat the initial bid. A bid of No Trump will beat an Uptown or Downtown bet if it is of the same number. Therefore, if someone bids "3 Uptown," someone else can bid "3 No Trump" to take over the right to bet. Go over Step 6 to see the ranks of bets. The lowest bet someone can make is listed first.

Allow the highest bidder to name the trump suit. If the bidder called No Trump, then he decides (aloud) whether high or low cards will be worth more. The highest bidder now takes the Kitty from the center and looks through it. The player then chooses 6 cards (from all of his cards, including the Kitty) and discards them facedown. This counts as the bidder's first book. The high bidder will automatically have one book because of the Kitty, and he can now work at getting the remaining 5 books of the minimum 6.

Allow the high bidder to play his first card. Whatever suit is played, all other players must follow suit (in clockwise direction). Whoever plays the highest card of that suit wins the book. If a player doesn't have a card of that specific suit, he can play a card from whichever suit he wants. If playing with Uptown or Downtown trumps, the player without the specific suit can play a trump card. The lowest card in a trump suit will beat the highest cards of all other suits. The only way to beat a trump card is to play a higher trump card, but this entails the player who plays the second trump card to not have any cards of the first suit either. The winner of each book starts off the next hand. If playing No Trumps, then only a card that is the same as the played suit can win. With No Trumps, the highest card of the suit played wins. Also, in No Trumps, Jokers count for nothing and can be played if you do not have the suit of the card played. Step 9 explains the best cards for each type of game.

Count how many books the team with the winning bidder has won after the hands are all played.

Remember that the team that did not bid will not win or lose any points during that round. It is the group's job to try to stop their opponents from successfully winning their bet. The game is over when a team wins by getting 7 points or loses the game by getting negative 7 points.

About the Author

I am very proficient in literature and the English language. Scored a perfect 600 on the literature portion of Georgia's High School Graduation Test. Was able to exempt the required Regents Exam in college due to high score on literature portion of the S.A.T. I enjoy writing short stories, reviews (book, movie, CD, etc.), poems, blogs, and essays. I wrote reviews, essays, debates, and both investigative and informative articles for the Academy of Richmond County's Musketeer newspaper (one such article is included). No job is too small or too large.