How to Play Bridge Cards

By Samantha Volz
The bridge card game, a regular deck, four players
playing cards image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com

According to the American Contract Bridge League, the card game Bridge can trace its origins to the 16th century British game called "whist." Historians believe that the game was named "bridge" in the 19th century when British soldiers fighting in the Crimean War had to cross a bridge to get to a house at which they played cards every night. Today, bridge professional leagues and amateur games take place in homes around the world. Learning to play can provide you and your friends hours of card entertainment.

Remove the jokers from a regular set of playing cards. Four players should sit in a square or circle. The players sitting across from each other are partners. The goal of the game is for each partnership to win as many "tricks" as possible.

Draw cards to see who deals first; either the lowest or the highest cardholder deals first. The dealer should deal out the cards working clockwise around the table, starting wit the player directly to his left. When all cards are dealt, each player should have 13 cards.

Bid on the cards in your hand, starting with the dealer. Here, players determine if the game is played no-trump or with trump. A trump suit is like a wild suit, besting all other suits. The dealer bids for a particular trump suit. If he has no strong suits or high cards, he can pass to the player on his left.

Bid around the table. Each bid must be higher on the card hierarchy than the previous; for example, if the first bidder bids 2 clubs, the next player must either bid more clubs, or a higher suit. The hierarchy of suits is as follows: clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades and no-trump. This is how partners tell each other how much of each suit they have in their hands. When one partnership decides to pass, the other pair gets to choose the trump suit. This option to choose can also be exchanged for a promise to win a certain number of tricks. One player declares the suit to be trump, or calls no-trump for this round.

The player to the left of the declarer lays a single card of any suit face up on the table. The player to the opener's left is called the dummy. He is the declarer's partner. The dummy lays his hand face-up on the table and the declarer calls what cards he will play for the whole round.

Work clockwise around the table. Each player must follow with a card of the same suit. If a player is unable to match suit, he can either play a trump card, or any card in his hand. Trump will automatically win the trick, while playing an off-suit card will automatically lose the trick.

Evaluate the cards once all four players have played. The player with the highest trump card or the highest on-suit card takes the trick. Play continues with the winning player starting the next trick.

Continue play until all cards have been used. Count the number of tricks won by each partnership to determine the winner. For the next hand, the player to the dealer's left deals.