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Whist
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Whist

Whist is a simple trick-taking game with several variations. Briefly described here are three popular variations.

Four-handed Whist

This set of rules comes from a variation known as "Minnesota Whist".

The game is relatively simple in that there are no trumps, and the goal of the game is to take 7 of the 13 tricks. Four-handed Whist is played with two teams. The players of each team sit opposite each other at the table. One person is elected to keep score. Typically the scorer's team is labeled as "Us" and the other team labeled as "Them".

Card Rank

A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2

No trump

Order of Play

  1. Everyone cuts the deck and high card is dealer.
  2. Cards are dealt one at a time starting with the person to the left of the dealer and moving clockwise until all cards are dealt. Each person should have 13 cards.
  3. Each person surmises his/her hand and determines whether to go "grand" or not. If you are going to "grand" (play high), you lay down a low black card. Otherwise a low red card.
  4. After all 4 players have laid down their cards, players flip up their cards in turn, starting with the person just left of the dealer.
  5. As soon as a black card is flipped up, no one else has to flip their card up.
  6. If all cards are red, you "play to lose", meaning you want 6 or less tricks.
  7. If any cards are black, you play to win, and you want to take at least 7 tricks.
  8. Play begins with either (1) the person to the left of the person who granded, or (if playing low) (2) player to the left of the dealer.

Taking tricks

Basically, the person who leads lays down a card from his/her hand. Everyone must follow suit if they can. If you don't have the suit, lay down any other card. Highest card of the lead suit takes the trick. Whoever takes the trick leads the next one. Each team pools their tricks, so only one player from each team needs to collect the winning tricks. Play continues until all cards are gone. Dealer moves one to the left.

Example:

Player2 wins the trick and starts the next one!

Scoring

If playing LOW: Get a point for every trick under 7 total. If playing HIGH: Get a point for every trick over 6 total if your team granded. Get 2 points for every trick over 6 total if the opposite team granded.

The game continues until one team reaches a pre-designated point total, typically 13.

Scoring Samples:

Strategy


Three-handed "Widow" Whist

"Widow" whist is named because of an extra hand that is dealt just to the left of the dealer. This extra hand is called the "widow" and players may have a chance to use the widow instead of their own hand.

Card Rank

A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

♣ are trump.

♠, and are not.

Order of Play

  1. Everyone cuts the deck and high card is dealer.
  2. Deal out 4 hands, with the "widow" always being the first hand to the left of the dealer. Each hand should have 13 cards.
  3. Now, the person just to the left of the dealer has first choice at the widow. If the first person to choose has a good hand, he/she just passes it to the next person on their left.
  4. If someone takes the Widow, that person needs to collect 4 tricks total for that round. Otherwise, only 3 tricks are needed to break even.
  5. After taking the widow, that person's hand is passed to the left (unless you are back to the dealer, in which case you are done). If someone else would take that rejected hand, they only have to get 3 tricks. Please note that if someone else rejected that hand, it's doubtful that you would want it. However if you hand is bad enough... :)
  6. Play begins with player to the left of the dealer.

Taking Tricks

Similar to 4 handed, the person who leads lays down a card from his/her hand. Everyone must follow suit if they can (in clockwise motion). If you don't have the suit, lay down any other card. Highest card of the lead suit takes the trick, with the exception of the clubs suit. Clubs are trump and will always take any other suit. Whoever takes the trick leads the next one. Play continues until all cards are gone. Dealer moves one to the left.

Scoring

Strategy


Two-handed Whist

A popular form of two-handed whist is German whist. In this game thirteen cards are dealt to each of the two players. The remaining cards are then cut to determine a trump suit, before being placed face down on the table. The players contest the first thirteen tricks in order to accrue to their hands the cards on the table. Before each trick the top card of those on the table is turned face up. The winner of each of the first thirteen tricks takes the card that is then face up, the loser takes the blind (face down) card. When all the cards have been taken from the table, the final thirteen tricks are played. These latter thirteen tricks are counted for scoring purposes to determine the winner of the game or a cumulative trick total for a succession of games.