I’m always pleasantly shocked at how many people are keen on playing “Five Hundred”, the card game. Last month we got together for a special “Cafe Games 500 Night” …
What makes Five Hundred special ?
- It uses an ordinary pack of cards – no need to visit a special shop – they’re in supermarkets, newsagents and petrol stations too!
- You play in teams – partnerships of two! Most (all?) strategy games have you going it alone – so sad.
- Cards are so small, you can take a pack anywhere with you to play
- It’s a good memory workout
- It’s the “National Card Game” of Australia! (one of the few places you can purchase the freaky 6-handed decks with “11”, “12” and “13” cards)
I used to play social Badminton, and there you’d have to watch out for people who usually played Squash, they’d most likely slaughter you. While playing Five Hundred, you quickly learn to dread those folks who usually play Bridge, a similar card game. From the few of them who admitted it, it seems like some high risk bloodsport, with some of them declaring only a few cards into each game that they’d already calculated the locations of all the other cards!
Five Hundred is a “trick” (point) based game involving “trump” suits. Tarot cards, now thought of almost exclusively as occult mysticism, were originally used to play a similar trick-taking game, with the word “tarot” supposedly meaning “trump” – a reference to the extra “major arcana” picture cards added to ordinary playing cards, and used to “trump” tricks in the same way as Five Hundred’s trumps.
There are ways you can play Five Hundred with only 2 or 3 players, and they mostly involve having dead “dummy” hands. There are also weird versions where you can play with 5 or 6 players … they’re quite different games. In 5-handed Five Hundred, only two people are on a team, with one being the person who won the bid, and the other remaining secret even to their partner until they play a particular card.
Some people apparently play Bridge with a cute rule called the “Beer card“. If you win the last trick with the Seven of Diamonds, then your partner has to buy you a beer. Yep, pretty random, but it sounds like fun 🙂
And last but not least … RULES FOR PLAYING 500 – play it with your family, play it with your friends. It would be UnAustralian to do otherwise 😉