The History and Evolution of Whist: From Trump to Bridge
How to Play Whist: A Guide for Beginners
Whist is a classic card game that has been played for centuries. It originated in England in the 18th century and was popularized by books such as A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist by Edmond Hoyle and The Principles of Whist Stated and Explained by Henry Jones. Whist is a trick-taking game, which means that each player plays a card and the highest card wins the trick. The game can be played by two or four players, using a standard 52-card deck. The goal of the game is to score more points than your opponent by winning more tricks.
Basic Whist Rules
The basic rules of Whist card game for 2 players are:
The dealer is determined by deck splitting. Each player draws a card from the deck and the player with the higher card becomes the dealer.
Each player is dealt 13 cards each, with the remaining cards forming the draw pile. The top card of the draw pile is revealed. The suit of this card (hearts, spades, clubs, or diamonds) is the trump suit for the round. The trump suit can beat any other suit in a trick.
The player to the left of the dealer leads the first trick by playing any card from their hand. The other player must follow suit if possible, meaning they must play a card of the same suit as the lead card. If they cannot follow suit, they can play any card from their hand.
The trick is won by the player who played the highest card of the suit led or by the player who played a trump card if any were played. The winner of the trick takes both cards and places them face down in front of them.
The winner of the trick leads the next trick and so on until all 13 tricks are played.
The player who won more tricks scores one point for each trick over six. For example, if one player won eight tricks and the other won five, the first player scores two points (eight minus six). The first player to reach five points wins the game.
There are many variations of Whist that add more complexity and excitement to the game. Here are some of them:
Bid whist or contract whist: In this variation, each player bids on how many tricks they think they can win before the round begins. The highest bidder chooses the trump suit and must win at least as many tricks as they bid. If they fail, they lose points equal to their bid. If they succeed, they gain points equal to their bid plus one point for each extra trick. The other player gains one point for each trick they win.
Solo whist: In this variation, each player plays for themselves instead of in teams. There are four possible bids: solo (the player tries to win at least five tricks without a trump suit), misere (the player tries to lose every trick), abundance (the player chooses a trump suit and tries to win at least nine tricks), or abundance declared (the player chooses a trump suit and shows their hand to the other players before playing, and tries to win at least nine tricks). The bids are ranked in that order, with solo being the lowest and abundance declared being the highest. The highest bidder plays against the other three players and scores points according to the difficulty of their bid. The other players score points for each trick they win.
Israeli whist: In this variation, each round has a different number of tricks to be played, starting from one and increasing by one until 13. The trump suit is also determined by the number of tricks, starting from hearts and rotating clockwise (hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades, no trump). Each player tries to win exactly as many tricks as the number of the round. If they succeed, they score 10 points plus the number of tricks. If they fail, they lose points equal to the difference between their actual and expected number of tricks.
Minnesota whist: In this variation, there is no trump suit and each player tries to win as few tricks as possible. Each trick won counts as one point against the player. The first player to reach 13 points loses the game.
Knock out whist: In this variation, each player starts with seven lives. The first round is played normally, with the winner scoring one point for each trick over six. The player with the lowest score loses one life and becomes the dealer for the next round. If there is a tie for the lowest score, all tied players lose one life. The game continues until only one player remains, who is the winner.
Whist Strategy Tips
Whist is a game of skill and strategy, where you need to use your memory, logic, and observation skills to outsmart your opponent. Here are some tips to help you improve your whist game:
How to improve your hand in phase 1: In phase 1, you have the opportunity to exchange up to three cards from your hand with the draw pile. This can help you improve your hand by getting rid of low cards or cards that do not match the trump suit. You should also try to balance your hand by having cards from all four suits, so you can follow suit more easily.
How to anticipate your opponent's cards and win tricks: In phase 2, you need to pay attention to what cards have been played and what cards are left in your hand and in the draw pile. This can help you estimate what cards your opponent has and what cards they are likely to play next. You can then use this information to play your cards accordingly, either by playing high cards to win tricks or by playing low cards to avoid winning tricks.
How to play low cards when you can't win tricks: Sometimes, you may find yourself in a situation where you cannot win a trick, either because you do not have a card of the suit led or because you do not have a high enough card or a trump card. In this case, you should try to play low cards that are not likely to be useful later on, such as low cards of the trump suit or low cards of a suit that has already been played a lot.
How to count cards and know when to play trumps: One of the most important skills in whist is counting cards, which means keeping track of how many cards of each suit and rank have been played and how many are left in the game. This can help you plan your strategy and decide when to play your trump cards. You should play your trump cards when you are sure that they will win the trick or when you want to prevent your opponent from winning the trick with their trump cards.
How to bluff by deliberately losing tricks: Sometimes, you may want to lose a trick on purpose, either to save your high cards for later or to deceive your opponent about your hand strength. This is called bluffing, and it can be a very effective strategy if done correctly. You should bluff when you have a good chance of winning later on or when you think your opponent will fall for it. You should also be careful not to bluff too often or too obviously, as your opponent may catch on and exploit your weakness.
Whist is a fun and challenging card game that can be enjoyed by players of all ages and skill levels. It is a game that requires both luck and strategy, where you need to use your cards wisely and adapt to different situations. Whist can also be played in many different ways, with different rules and variations. You can try out whist online or with your friends and see how much fun it is. Whist is a game that will never get old or boring, as there is always something new to learn and discover.
Here are some frequently asked questions about whist and their answers:
How do you win whist?: You win whist by scoring more points than your opponent by winning more tricks. The number of points you score depends on the variation of whist you are playing, but generally, you score one point for each trick over six. The first player to reach a certain number of points, usually five, wins the game.
How many players can play whist?: Whist can be played by two or four players. If four players are playing, they form two teams of two and sit opposite each other. The partners work together to win tricks and score points.
What do you do when you can't follow suit?: If you can't follow suit, meaning you don't have a card of the same suit as the lead card, you can play any card from your hand. If you have a trump card, you can play it to try to win the trick. If you don't have a trump card, you can play a low card that is not likely to be useful later on.
What are the best cards to lead with?: The best cards to lead with depend on your hand and the situation, but generally, you want to lead with high cards of the trump suit or high cards of a suit that you have a lot of. This way, you can either win the trick or force your opponent to play their high cards or trump cards.
How do you play whist with two decks?: You can play whist with two decks by shuffling them together and dealing 13 cards to each player as usual. The trump suit is determined by the top card of the draw pile, which is placed face up on the table. The game is played normally, except that there are two cards of each rank and suit in the game. This makes the game more unpredictable and exciting.
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