A single deck of cards holds almost an endless variety of gaming possibilities, including the card game 200. This game is a cooperative trick-taking game where two teams of two players are tasked with bidding their hands and taking tricks. If you’re at all familiar with any game that is played with a trump suit, you should easily pick up the rules for 200. It’s a fairly fast and fun game for four players.
Remove cards from the deck. For the game of 200, you’ll need to bring the deck down to 36 cards by removing the 2s through the 4s as well as the 6s of all suits. Your deck should contain only Aces down to 7s and then 5s.
Determine teams. This is a partner game where teams of two players are tasked with taking tricks. Each trick works to add points to your team’s total score.
Decide the order of play. To decide the order of play, simply deal out the cards one at a time. The first person to receive a Jack is the first dealer and play continues to his left around the table in a clockwise direction.
Deal the cards. Once the first dealer is set, shuffle the 36 cards and deal the entire deck, in increments of three, to all players. Each player should start out with a hand of nine cards.
Bid your hand. Starting with the person to the dealer’s left, begin to bid the hands. Since 200 is a trick taking game, you’ll need to decide how many points you think your team will be able to take in this round of play. The minimum bid is 50 points and can increase around the table as each player takes her turn to bid. Of course, not all cards are worth points. And though the ranking order is A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7 and 5, the only cards that are worth points are the Aces, 10s and 5s, with Aces and 10s worth 10 points and 5s worth 5.
Choose trump. The person who bids the highest points, meaning the person who declares their team will take the most points for this round, chooses trump. This person will then lead the first card of play.
Play your hand. All players will play their hands in order around the table. Like most trick-taking games, you must always follow suit unless none remain in your hand. If a card is led in which you no longer have any of that suit, you may either play a trump card or throw off (play a card of another suit that isn’t trump). The highest card (or highest trump card) takes the trick. This trick is placed in front of the person who has won it and he will then lead the next card.
Tally points. Once all the cards have been played and all the tricks have been taken, it’s time to tally up the points for that round. If your team bid the highest points (and selected trump) for the round, your point cards must add up to at least your bid. These points (plus any additional) are added to your overall score for the game of 200. If you do not get your bid, that bid is then deducted from your overall points. The opposing team collects points only if they attempted to bid during bidding. Even if the other team doesn’t make their bid, the opposing team must have bid something to gain any points for the round.
Continue to play. After the points have been tallied for the round, the cards are passed to the person to the left of the dealer. Play continues around the circle. The first team to accumulate 200 points wins the game. Also, if a team goes “in the hole,” or negative, 200 points, the other team is declared the winner.
Win the game.
A variation on the game of 200 is to place the dealer in the position of deciding trump for each round. In this situation, his team must take more points than the other to add points to the overall score. This isn’t the best variation on the game, but it can be played this way.