Card games (Poker, Bridge, Blackjack, Magic, etc.)

Table of contents

Card games


Learning to play

  • Wikipedia
    • Trick-taking game
      • A trick-taking game is a card game in which play of a "hand" centers on a series of finite rounds or units of play, called tricks, which are each evaluated to determine a winner or "taker" of that trick. The object of such games then may be closely tied to the number of tricks taken or to the value of the cards contained in taken tricks.
      • In games originating in North and West Europe, including England, Russia, and the United States and Canada, the rotation is typically clockwise.
      • In each hand or deal, one player is the dealer.
      • The player sitting one seat after the declarer (one with the highest bid and not the dealer) in normal rotation is known as the eldest hand. The eldest hand leads to the first trick, i.e. places the first card of the trick face up in the middle of all players.
      • The other players each follow with a single card, in the direction of play.
      • When every player has played a card to the trick, the trick is evaluated to determine the winner, who takes the cards, places them face down on a pile, and leads to the next trick. The winner or taker of a trick is usually the player who played the highest-value card of the suit that was led, unless the game uses one or more trump cards (see below).
      • The player who leads to a trick is usually allowed to play an arbitrary card from their hand.
      • In many games, the following players must follow suit if they can, i.e. they must play a card of the same suit if possible. A player who cannot follow suit may sluff a card, i.e. play a card of a different suit. A trick is won by the player who has played the highest-ranked card of the suit led, i.e. of the suit of the first card in the trick (unless the game uses a trump suit; see below).
      • It can be an advantage to lead to a trick, because the player who leads controls the suit that is led and which others must follow; the leading player playing a suit of which he has many, decreases the chance that anyone else would be able to follow suit; while conversely playing a suit of which he has few, allows him to rid his hand of that suit (known as voiding the suit), freeing him from the restriction to follow suit when that suit is led by another player.
      • On the other hand, it can also be advantageous to be the final player who plays to the trick, because at that point one has full information about the other cards played to the trick; the last player to a trick can play a card just slightly higher or lower than the current winning card, guaranteeing they will win or lose it by the minimum amount necessary, saving more valuable high or low value cards for situations where they must guarantee that a card played early to a trick will win or lose.
    • Contract bridge
    • History of contract bridge
      • The history of contract bridge may be dated from the early 16th-century invention of trick-taking games such as whist. Bridge departed from whist with the creation of Biritch (or "Russian Whist") in the 19th century, and evolved through the late 19th and early 20th centuries to form the present game. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word bridge is the English pronunciation of the game called "biritch".
    • Biritch
      • Biritch in Ancient Rus was a herald, an announcer of the will of a knyaz, sometimes kniaz's deputy in police or diplomatic affairs, or tax collector. A birich travelled to settlements, played bugle or horn in the center of a town square or yard to gather people and read the announcement. The word is thought to be derived from a Turkic word for "bugler", "hornist" (in modern Turkish: borucu, borazancı). Other hypotheses try to base the meanings on interpretations of the root bir-, meaning "to take" in Slavic languages, deriving the meaning "tax collector".
    • Duplicate bridge
      • Duplicate bridge is the most widely used variation of contract bridge in club and tournament play. It is called duplicate because the same bridge deal (i.e. the specific arrangement of the 52 cards into the four hands) is played at each table and scoring is based on relative performance. Duplicate bridge stands in contrast to rubber bridge where each hand is freshly dealt and where scores may be more affected by chance in the short run.
    • Glossary of contract bridge terms
  • Bridge Doctor
    • NW: The example games you can play after each lesson are extremely helpful.
    • How to play bridge
      • Bridge is a trick-taking card game for four players.
      • Bridge is played in partnerships.
        • Bridge is played by four players, with partners seated across from each other. In each hand, you and your partner work together to win tricks. The number of tricks you have to win is determined by the auction.
      • There is an auction in which players compete to win the final contract.
        • During the auction, players place bids to tell their partner what kind of cards they are holding. Like any auction, the partnership which bids the highest determines the contract and has to win a certain number of tricks.
      • Players play cards in turn. Each round of four cards is called a trick, won by the best card.
    • Trumps
      • A trump suit is one which outranks all other suits.
        • The trump suit is determined during the auction.
        • A trump may, in certain circumstances, beat any card from the other suits.
      • In the auction, if the final bid is made in a suit, that becomes the trump suit.
      • When can a trump beat a card from another suit?
        • A trick can be won either by the highest card in that suit, or by a trump. You must follow suit if you can, so you can only play a trump if you have no cards left in the suit which was led.
      • Not every hand has a trump suit. Hands played without a trump suit are said to be played in 'notrumps'.
    • The auction
      • The first part of any bridge game consists of an auction, where players compete for the right to choose the final contract.
      • The dealer gets the first chance to bid followed by the other players in clockwise rotation. If you don't want to bid you can pass.
      • Like any auction, you must make a bid which is higher than the previous bid.
      • The first 6 tricks are called the book.The minimum level to start the auction is 1. This means that you contract to make 7 tricks (6 plus the book). [NW: Should it be '6' plus the book or '1' plus the book?]
      • The lowest bid, therefore, is 1♣ and the highest is 7NT, which means you must make all 13 tricks (7+6).

      • The suits in bridge have a rank, which is as follows (highest first):

        1. Notrumps
        2. Spades

        3. Hearts

        4. Diamonds

        5. Clubs

      • You can use a bid to inform your partner if you're strong in a particular suit.
      • The player, who first nominates the trump suit (or notrumps) becomes the declarer.
        • Example: Although North made the last and highest bid you, as South, are the declarer, as you bid spades first. This means that you will play the hand.
    • The play
      • When the auction is finished, the player who first bid the trump suit, or notrumps, becomes the declarer. The declarer plays both hands of the partnership.
      • The player who is on declarer's left plays the first card. This card should be led face down until partner confirms that the correct player has led.
      • Declarer's partner is called the 'dummy'. After the opening lead, dummy spreads their hand face up on the table, with the trump suit on dummy's right. Declarer is in charge of both hands and instructs dummy which card to play.
      • As dummy, you shouldn't go to sleep. You have an important role, which is to make sure that partner plays from the hand where the trick was won. [NW: But this is handled automatically by the computer if you're playing online...]
    • Points
      • The two main sources of strength in a hand of bridge come from high cards and long suits.
      • For High Card Points, look at the top cards in every suit and count them as follows. A = 4 points K = 3 points Q = 2 points J = 1 point
      • Long suits are often as useful as HCP - sometimes more so.
      • To evaluate your length points (LP), add one point for a 5-card suit and one more for every card after that.
      • Total Points(TP) are a combination of HCP and LP.
        • NW: This seems to contradict the definition of Total Points they give in the next lesson.
    • Opener first bid
      • NW: This seems to be all about unofficial rules that indicate to your partner what kind of hand you have.
      • NW: I don't understand these comments that say "Your bidding settings are for 5 card majors. Go to the Profile page to edit." One comment says "4 card majors", the other says "5".
      • An opening bid shows 12 or more High Card Points (HCP) although if you have a long suit you can open with 11 or occasionally 10.
      • The Rule of 20 is a test you can apply to a hand to see if it's worth opening with fewer than 12 HCP. Add your high card points to the number of cards in your 2 longest suits. We call this Total Points (TP). If the result is 20 or more, you can open the bidding.
      • Which suit do you open?
      • If you have the strength to open the bidding, your next decision is which suit to choose. As you will learn, it is important to tell partner as much as possible about the shape of your hand. Therefore, we need some rules, so your bidding makes sense to your partner:
        • If you have a single longest suit, open with that.
        • If you have two four-card suits and no longer suit, the rule is that you should open the lower-ranking 4-card suit.
        • If you have two five card suits, open your higher-ranking 5-card suit.
      • Opening 1♠ or 1♥ promises a 5-card suit. Spades and hearts are called the 'major' suits.This rule specifically applies to these two suits. Opening 1♠ or 1♥ also promises 12+ points.
      • If you don't have a 5 card major then you should open 1♣ or 1♦. Clubs and diamonds are called the 'minor' suits. You don't promise a 5-card suit this time. In fact, sometimes you may only have a 3-card suit.
    • Responders limit bids
    • Responders changes suit
    • Opening 1NT
    • Other NT bids
    • Overcalls
    • Double
    • Strong opening bids
    • Scoring
  • Audrey Grant's Better Bridge
    • This was the way to learn that was recommended at the meetup I went to.
  • A Teacher First
    • Why Play Bridge?
      • It keeps you sharp.
    • Starting the Game – Bidding and Playing
      • The Opening Bid
        • Once the deck of cards has been dealt (13 cards each), players pick up their cards, count them, and sort them into suits, highest to lowest.
        • Players then count the number of "points" in their hand for the purpose of bidding.
          • There are two kinds of points: "High Card Points" (HCP) and points for length.
            • High card points are as follows: Ace gets 4 points, King gets 3, Queen gets 2, and Jack gets 1.
            • Points for length: If you have more than four cards of a single suit, subtract four from the number of cards of that suit that you have and that's your points for length for that suit.
        • Whoever dealt goes first to "make a call": pass or bid.
        • If you don't have at least 12 points in your hand, you should pass.
          • If all four players pass (which is rare), the game is "passed out".
        • It is highly recommended that you use bidding boxes.
          • Players can see all the bids available to them.
          • Players can see all the bids throughout the bidding.
        • Each game has only one Opening Bid.
        • The player who opens with the first bid (does not pass) is called the Opener.
        • The player who bids higher than the Opener is the Overcaller.
        • The player who responds to his partner (the Opener) is the Responder.
        • The player who responds to his partner (the Overcaller) is the Advancer.
        • Note: Sometimes the Overcaller may be in 4th seat after the Responder.
      • The Goal for Bidding
        • The final contract is established after 3 consecutive passes. The last bid becomes the contract.
        • The goal for you and your partner is to find the best contract, which is, in order of preference:
          1. A major suit contract (with 8+ cards in either ♥ or ♠ between you and partner)
          2. A NT (No Trump) contract (somewhat balanced hands with no 8-card fit in a major(?))
          3. A minor suit contract is the least desirable option, but sometimes the only good option.
        • Important: A contract in ♠, ♥ or NT requires fewer tricks and gives a higher score, compared to a minor
          suit contract in ♣ or ♦. This is why it is more beneficial to find a major suit contract or a NT contract,
          whenever it is possible and meets the criteria.
        • Suits are ranked from lowest to highest as follows:
          • Minor Suits (♣Clubs and ♦Diamonds), then Major Suits (♥Hearts and ♠Spades).
        • The highest bid available at each level is NT (No Trump).
      • Starting the Game – First Round
      • Continuing the Game (12 more rounds) and Finishing the Game
    • Step 1 for Beginners
      • The first four lessons cover the 20 opening bids and the fifth lesson will give you recommendations on which card to lead once the bidding has stopped and the play of the cards has started and some help on how high to bid.
      • These lessons are based on the idea that you have played a little bit of bridge or at least watched a few games to see how it goes.
      • When beginning to play bridge, it’s the bidding part that can stump new players.
    • Step 2 for Beginners
    • Pocket Guide for Beginner Bridge
    • Playing of the Hand in a NT Contract
    • Extra Help For Beginning Bridge Players
    • Keeping Score in Bridge
    • Three Beginner Lessons to introduce “2 Over 1” Bidding


Audrey Grant's Bridge Basics 1: An Introduction

  • Amazon
    • This is the book that the leader of the meetup I went to said he could lend to me.
My thoughts
  • I really like how she teaches the game at least partially by explaining the history of the game, and how / why certain rules were added.
  • (I'm just going to list things that I don't already have memorized and would like to be able to review.)
  •  Acknowledgments
    • There is a "Better Bridge Advisory Committee" which is made up of absolute top/world-class players.
  • 1. The Basics
    • When you can't "follow suit" and you play another non-trump-suit card instead, that's called "discarding" ("He discards the five of clubs.").
    • If you can't follow suit and you play a trump-suit card, that's called "trumping" or "ruffing".
    • In whist, a predecessor of bridge, the last card dealt was turned face up and that suit became trumps. The dealer then picked up the card and the deal was played out. The game involved an element of luck because the partnership with the majority of trump cards had an advantage in the play.
      • This reminds me of how one suggestion for making Risk less luck-based is to allow people to bid over continents / territories. That would be the same as what happened with whist.
    • A bid consists of two parts, a 'level' and a 'strain'. The level is the number of tricks the partnership is willing to try to take beyond an initial six tricks, called 'book'. So a bid at the 'one level' is a commitment to take at least seven tricks, six plus one. To start the bidding, therefore, the partnership has to be willing to take the majority of the tricks. The highest bid is seven, a commitment to take all thirteen tricks, six plus seven. The strain is the suggested trump suit or the suggestion to play in notrump.
      • Here's an example of the way the level and strain are referred to: "One Heart", "Two Diamonds", etc.
    • The bidding can result in a tie. One partnership might be willing to take seven tricks with hearts as trumps; the other side might be willing to take seven tricks with spades as trumps. To break ties, the suits are ranked in alphabetical order with clubs as the lowest ranking suit, then diamonds, hearts, and spades. Notrump is ranked higher than any suit.
      • I like how this explains the motivation for ranking the bids by suit (i.e. "It's just to break ties.").
    • On some deals only one side 'competes' during the bidding conversation. On other deals both sides compete for the privilege of naming trumps. This book focuses on bidding without competition, where only one side is bidding.
    • The partnership is ideally searching for an eight-card or longer combined 'trump fit'. If an eight-card fit cannot be found, the partnership will usually settle in a notrump contract. Much of the bidding discussion for the remainder of this book will focus on how the partnership communicates through the auction to uncover a suitable trump fit.
    • Declarer and Dummy: Auction bridge introduced another change from whist. This was the way the deal was played out after the auction. (This concept was originally introduced in dummy whist, a variation of whist that was played before auction bridge.)
      • Very interesting. This seems to be more evidence for the idea that bridge is so complicated to learn because it has rules that were added to solve gameplay problems with simpler versions of the game.
    • The player to the left of declarer makes the 'opening lead' to the first trick. The dummy hand is then placed face up on the table in four columns of suits facing declarer, with the highest cards closest to the edge of the table. If there is a trump suit, it is placed to dummy's right, declarer's left.
      • So, remember that the dummy hand is only shown after the first card is played.
    • In duplicate bridge, declarer names the card to be played from dummy and declarer's partner places it close to the edge of the table.
    • The declarer's side will become the 'offense', with the declarer trying to make the contract during the play. The other side becomes the 'defense', trying to prevent declarer from taking the required number of tricks.
    • Contract bridge: A problem with auction bridge was that the play was not always exciting. To win an auction it was only necessary to outbid the other partnership. If the other side was unwilling to compete, the auction could be won at the one level and declarer was only committed to take seven tricks. To increase the challenge, bonuses were awarded if the partnership was willing to commit, or 'contract', to take a specified number of tricks and was then able to fulfill, or 'make', the contract during play. Auction bridge evolved into 'contract bridge', the form of the game today. This makes the auction and play much more challenging. Even if both sides aren't competing for the privilege of naming the trump suit, one partnership may continue bidding until a bonus level contract is reached. Since the bidding usually goes higher than in auction bridge, there is more chance for the defenders to 'defeat', or 'set', the contract and receive a bonus.
    • Grand slam is if you win all 13 tricks, small slam is if you win 12 of 13. To get the game bonus you either 1) win 9 tricks in notrump (3-level), 2) 10 tricks in spades or hearts (4-level), or 3) 11 tricks in clubs or diamonds (5-level).
    • Because they require fewer tricks for a game bonus, hearts and spades are referred to as the 'major suits'. Clubs and diamonds are the 'minor suits'.
      • NW: Why do hearts and spades require fewer tricks for the game bonus?
    • A contract that does not reach a game or slam bonus level is called a 'partscore', or a 'part game'.
    • Tricks taken beyond those needed to make the contract are 'overtricks'. Tricks by which declarer falls short of making the contract are called 'undertricks'.
    • The 'distribution', or 'shape', of the hand–the number of cards in each suit–also plays a part. A long suit is useful as a potential trump suit and as a source of tricks. There are different ways to value distribution but the most common in today's game is to assign a valuation point, called a 'length point', for each card beyond four in a suit.
    • To take nine tricks in notrump (and get the game bonus) requires about 25 combined points; a game in spades or hearts requires about 26 points; and a game in diamonds or clubs about 29 points.
    • To start the auction, the following guidelines can be used: With fewer than 13 points, pass; With 13 or more points, open the bidding.
    • For now, start with the longest suit, not the strongest, when suggesting a trump suit. With two equal length suits, open the higher-ranking.
    • The partner of the opening bidder is called the 'responder'. The response depends on the opening bid. The general idea is that responder bids to compete if the opponents are also bidding, or to improve the contract.
    • When you bid higher than someone else, that's called an "overcall". "Calling" seems synonymous with "bidding" in bridge.
    • Before choosing the first card to play from dummy, plan how you are going to take enough tricks to make the contract. There are three suggested stages–A, B, and C–in making a plan: A: Assess the situation. B: Browse the Declarer's Checklist to develop extra tricks. C: Consider the order.
      • Assess the situation - This stage can be divided into three steps:
        • Goal. Start by considering the number of tricks required to make the contract.
        • Sure Tricks. Count the 'sure tricks'. Sure tricks, or 'winners', are those that can be taken without giving up the lead. An ace is a sure trick; an ace and a king in the same suit are two sure tricks.
          • NW: What does it mean to "give up the lead"? Doesn't the defense have the lead at first? So does that mean that a sure trick is a trick such that "once you have the lead, you're guaranteed to win these"?
        • Extra Tricks Needed. If you has as many sure tricks as tricks you need to fulfill the contract, move to the third stage; otherwise, go to the second stage.
      • Browse Declarer's Checklist to develop extra tricks
        • There are several techniques used to develop, or 'establish', extra tricks when you don't have enough to make the contract. These are discussed in the upcoming chapters.
      • Consider the order
        • When developing and taking tricks, the order in which the tricks are played is often very important. For now, here are two considerations when you have the tricks you need:
          • Draw trumps. If you have the tricks you need, start by drawing trumps. Now the opponents will not be able to use their trumps to ruff any of your winners in another suit.
          • Take the tricks. If you have the tricks you need, take the tricks and run. Make the contract before anything goes wrong. Extra tricks aren't as important as fulfilling the contract.
    • Defense - Choosing a card
      • Like declarer, the defenders should make a plan, but this is more challenging because they can't see each other's cards and can't even see the dummy until after the opening lead is made. Instead, the defenders usually follow some general guidelines until they can clearly see a way of defeating the contract.
      • Opening lead against notrump
        • When defending against a notrump contract, the partnership usually wants to try to develop winners in its longest combined suit. Because there is no trump suit, declarer can't stop the defenders from taking their established winners once they gain the lead. If partner bid a suit during the auction, lead that suit. Otherwise, the guideline for choosing the suit is:
          • Choose the longest suit.
          • With a choice among suits of equal length, choose the strongest suit.
        • The defenders can exchange information through the card that is led. When the suit has a 'sequence', three or more touching cards, that is headed by an 'honor', the top of the touching high cards is led. An honor is one of the top five cards in the suit–the ace, king, queen, jack, or ten. If the longest suit doesn't have a sequence, the guideline is to pick a low card. From the days of whist, the popular guideline has been: lead fourth highest from the longest and strongest suit. The fourth highest is the fourth down from the top.
          • The top of a broken sequence is also led against a notrump contract: A-K-J-4-3, K-Q-10-7. The top of an interior sequence can also be led: A-J-10-3, K-10-9-5-4.
      • Opening lead against a suit contract
        • When there is a trump suit, the strategy changes. Leading the longest suit has less appeal. Even if winners can be established in the suit, declarer's trump suit can prevent the defenders from taking them. When choosing the suit, it is preferable to pick one with two or more touching cards headed by an honor. On occasion, a short suit can be led with the hope of (NW: later?) trumping declarer's winners in the suit.
        • When choosing the card:
          • Lead the top of two or more touching high cards.
          • Lead the top of a two-card suit, if leading a short suit.
          • Otherwise, lead low, fourth highest from a four-card or longer suit.
            • Note: Against a suit contract, a low card is not usually led if the suit has the ace. Instead, the ace is preferred, or another suit.
      • Leading to Subsequent Tricks
        • Unless there is clearly a better choice, a useful guideline is to return the suit led by partner. The partnership wants to work together to develop tricks.
          • NW: What does it mean to "return the suit"? Does that mean that if my partner opens, and I end up winning the trick, then I should play another card of that suit?
      • Second hand play
        • When the first card to a trick is led by declarer or from dummy and you are next to play, you are referred to as 'second hand'. Here are two useful guidelines:
          • If a low card is led, you generally play a low card, second hand low. Your partner will be playing last to the trick and will be better placed to know what to do.
          • If an honor is led, another guideline is to cover an honor with an honor. If your honor gets beaten itself, you've used up two of your opponents' honors for one of yours.
      • Third hand play
        • If partner leads to a trick, you are 'third hand', playing the third card to the trick. The guidelines are:
          • If partner's card is winning, or likely to win, the trick, play low.
          • Otherwise, play third hand high, attempting to win the trick.
    • My wrong answers to the quiz questions
      • Quiz 2
        • k) 17 (17+0) 1S (Slightly wrong; should have bid notrump)
        • l) 13 (11+2) 1D (Slightly wrong; should have bid 1S because it's a higher-ranking suit than Diamonds. So the high-card points within each of two suits are not to be used as the tie-breaker.)
      • Quiz 3
        • e) KS (I needed to reread to pick an answer)
        • i) KD (Wrong; I misread KJ as a sequence)
    • Things I noted from the example deals:
      • Deal 1: "South accepts North's choice of a trump suit by passing."  ← The way I guess I would read it is, "South doesn't have enough points to go for game, so passes.".  Is that right?
      • Deal 2: "East, the dealer, has 17 high-card points. The longest suit is the weakest four-card diamond suit, so East suggests playing with no trump suit by opening 1NT." I didn't see the extra trick in clubs.
      • Deal 3
        • West has enough to compete for the contract and overcalls 1S.
          • So the two partnerships are *competing* for the right to choose the trump suit. You aren't just bidding because "that's what's done". There is a reason for it.
        • Unwilling to go to the three level, South passes
          • How did South decide that the three level would be too difficult?
        • West has no reason to bid any more since the partnership is already winning the auction.
          • This is very different (and easier to understand) than the complicated "Well we need to see if we can go to game" logic that was presented to me at the meet-up.
        • Deal 3 is a useful one to review for defenders' strategy.
      • Q: *Why* should you play the top of two or more touching high cards when opening against a suit contract?
      • Q: *Why* should you open with the fourth-highest card against a suit contract?
      • Deal 4
        • From the opening lead of J-D, East knows that West doesn't hold the Q-D. Since it isn't in dummy, declarer must hold that card.
          • So *that* is why you lead the top of a three-card sequence that ends with an honor (in this case it was J-10-9 of diamonds).
    • "The first game of contract bridge was played aboard the cruise ship Finland that sailed from San Francisco in October 1925. The brainchild of Harold S. Vanderbilt, the new scoring system was tested by Vanderbilt, Francis M. Bacon II, Dudley Pickman Jr. and Frederic Allen and soon became the rage at such fashionable summer resorts as Newport and Southampton." - American Contract Bridge League Bulletin, December 1975
  • 2. Notrump opening bids and responses
    • Opening with this bid
      • An opening 1NT bid requires two features:
        • 15, 16, or 17 valuation points
        • A balanced hand
      • There are terms for short suits:
        • A void: zero cards in a suit
        • A singleton: one card in a suit
        • A doubleton: two cards in a suit
      • A balanced hand is one that has no void, no singleton, and at most one doubleton.
      • A hand is too strong to open 1NT if it has more than 17 points.
      • If a hand has at least 13 valuation points and does not meet the requirements to bid 1NT, it should instead be bid at the one level in the longest suit.
    • Responding to this opening bid (as the partner of the opening bidder)
      • The partner of the 1NT opening bidder is the responder and is responsible for deciding whether the partnership has enough to go for a bonus level or to be satisfied with a partscore contract.
      • Responder knows more about the combined partnership assets than the 1NT opener. It's the player who knows more who makes the decision, not the player with the strongest hand.
      • Responder makes two decisions:
        • How high the partnership should bid.
        • Where the contract should be played.

Bridge Basics 2: Competitive Bidding



Trainer software

Stepping-stone / Gateway games

  • Minibridge
    • Wikipedia
      • Like other forms of bridge, Minibridge is played by four players in fixed partnerships, sitting crosswise. A full pack of 52 cards is dealt to the players, each receiving 13 cards. As in contract bridge, it is then decided which player becomes declarer, but a key innovation of Minibridge is that this decision is taken out of the players' hands. Declarer's partner then lays open their hand, and declarer announces a contract. This is a trump suit or no trumps, together with an undertaking to win more than half the tricks (partscore) or even to win 100 trick points or more (game). The remainder of the game is very similar to contract bridge. In particular, declarer's partner becomes dummy (i.e., declarer plays both hands).
      • Each player adds all high-card points in their hand and announces the result. The partnership with more combined high-card points then plays the hand. If both partnerships have the same number of high-card points (i.e., 20 each), the hand is redealt. Of this partnership, the partner with more high-card points becomes the declarer.
      • So it seems like it just gets rid of the initial bidding part of the game.
    • Praise
      • Ben Bateson @ BoardGameGeek: I can't think of a better game to teach a range of good skills than bridge. MiniBridge of course, is an easier game to learn, but when I teach bridge, I start with Mini and work upwards in any case. Surprised that not everyone does. (Source)
      • This is what Buffett / Gates are using to teach bridge (Source)
  • Spades
  •  Pinochle
    • Doug Cooley @ BoardGameGeek: while I love Bridge, I think you'd be much better off teaching Pinochle so that kids can get the ideas of bidding and trick-taking in a much easier environment. (Source)

Playing online

Rules for live games that I'm learning from playing in-person

  • Don't put drinks on the table.
  • Don't speak loudly when there are other tables around you (e.g. at a bridge meetup). Use a somewhat-hushed voice.
  • When you are the declarer, you're supposed to thank the dummy when they finish laying out their cards for you.
  • When you lay out your cards as the dummy, the suits should be in this order: Spades, Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, from left-to-right, from the perspective of your partner, the declarer (so from your perspective the order will be reversed, and the cards will be facing away from you).
  • You can't touch your bidding box until it is your turn.
  • Keep the bidding cards on the table until you see the first card, because it helps the person playing the first card to make his decision.
  • It's normal to allow the declarer to have a few minutes to decide on a plan after he sees the dummy's cards.
  • When you lose a round you put the card horizontal, face down in front of you. If you win, put it vertical face-down.
  • Having your partnership's positions (North / East / West / South) with a red background on the plastic hand-container means that your partnership is "vulnerable", which means you lose more points if you lose, and win more points if you win.
  • "Lead" / "leading" is the first person to put a card down.
  • "Ruffing" means to play a trump-suit card in a non-trump-suit trick.
  • The "STOP" card is used to announce when you're jumping / skipping a level when making a bid. For example, if the current bid is One Heart, and you bid Three Diamond, that's a jump.
  • If you win the bid you're supposed to keep the card from the bidding box displayed so people can remember the trump suit and contract.

Names of people I've met at the meet-up

  • Donna - From philadelphia, is totally new to the game, is learning it with her husband Jim, who is from California, IIRC.
  • Wendy - friendly Australian woman
  • Philip - from Ireland, is totally new to the game, seemed a little standoffish.
  • Charles - Was explaining the game the first lesson I went to, overweight, seems knowledgeable, but wasn't explaining the absolute basics very well IMO.

Bridge vs. Chess

My thoughts

  • The calculation of valuation points for a hand, and especially the high-card points, reminds me of the assignment of value to various pieces in chess.
    • One interesting thing is that chess only assigns points to pieces, and doesn't seem to assign points to positional features of the board. (I could be mistaken.) But in bridge you also assign points based on the 'shape' of your hand (which seems somewhat analogous to the shape of your position in chess).

Others' thoughts

    • ThrillerFan: 

      I play both. I'm an Expert in chess, Bronze Life Master in bridge.

      They are 2 completely different games. You screw up in chess, it's your own fault. Bridge requires accurate play by two players. You mess up, your pair messes up. Your partner messes us, your pair messes up.

      Chess, on a loss, loses you rating points. Bridge you either gain points or get nothing. Once you have them, you can't lose them. So some "Life Masters" are only life masters due to frequent play, and aren't very good. I play sparringly, and am still under 200 Master Points away from Silver Life Master.

      In some ways, the games are extremely similar. Chess has opening theory, Bridge has bidding conventions. Chess has simple tactics like the fork and complex tactics like the windmill. Bridge has simple tactics like the finesse and very complex tactics like the squeeze play, or even worse, the double squeeze or triple squeeze. I have only "conciously" executed the simple squeeze, though I may have executed a double or triple squeeze and not even knew it!

      Both involve a ton of deductive reasoning. In bridge, if there are 2 hearts left, and one of them is the Queen, it's doubtful that the odds of one defender having the Queen versus the other is 50/50. If you pay attention to their leads and their conventions (like maybe opening lead of 4th best from longest and strongest suit against No Trump), and with the carding signals from the previous tricks, you might be able to nail with certainty that East has the Queen of hearts rather than West, even though neither East nor West has shown out in Hearts, and trapping that Queen might be necessary to make your Four Spades contract, just like how Yusupov had a game in 1983 where the only winning move was a Queen Sacrifice on move 18 (18.Qxh5).

      You can't say one is better or worse than the other.

    • ponz111

      duplicate bridge is a great game which I have played for 67 years.

      I have noticed many top chess players also play bridge.

      There is luck in both chess and bridge but more luck in bridge. To give one example: In a duplicate bridge tournament my partner and I were winning after 26 boards. Then we were paired against a rather poor mom and pop team. They bid the hand very wrong and ended up in 2 Spades. They should have been in 4 Spades [game] which with normal distrubtion would have about a 77% chance to make. The other pairs were in 4 Spades It just so happened that everything was wrong on the hand. The finesses did not work and spades split 5-zero.

      Mom and Pop were down 1 against us but this was a complete top for them and a bottom board for us and we ended up tied for 2nd place.

      It is not really correct to say you need to look up 3 other players. If you play bridge on the internet there are many players.

      Also, there is a thing called an "Individual" where I do best. In an "Individual" you do not have a regular partner. Your partner changes each hand. A pair does not win an individual, a individual wins an individual. About 4 years ago I won an "Individual" of 1060 players.

      Except for bullet and blitz chess--bridge is the faster game. You are required to make about 25+ decisions for an individual hand. [about 4 minutes for the hand]

Articles / Videos

  • 2011.04.25 - NYT - For Students Raised on iPods, Lessons in Bridge
    • Bill Gates and Warren Buffett were persuaded by their own experience as bridge players to pledge $1 million in 2005 to promote bridge in schools.
    • They are trying to build more comprehensive programs in fewer districts — Lakeland is one — by starting with younger children and a pared-down version of the game, known as mini-bridge.

Buffett and bridge

  • 1998.08.27 - SFGate - Playing Bridge With Buffett / World-class champ from S.F. teams up online with multibillionaire
    • "The approach and strategies are very similar in that you gather all the information you can and then keep adding to that base of information as things develop," Buffett said. "You do whatever the probabilities indicate based on the knowledge that you have at the time, but you are always willing to modify your behavior or your approach as you get new information."

    • "In bridge, you behave in a way that gets the best from your partner. And in business, you behave in the way that gets the best from your managers and your employees."

    • When asked whether his bridge game resembles how he plays the stock market, Buffett said, "I don't play the market. I buy businesses."

Magic: The Gathering


  • Winning Low Limit Hold'em by Lee Jones seems like a great book. But his recommendations could be turned into a checklist, and he never writes one out. I found myself hunting around for specific pieces of advice that I had vaguely remembered him giving.
  • Checklist of Poker Advice
  • Choosing a Table
    • Lee Jones' book focuses on casino games with 9-11 players; if you're playing at a table with fewer players (eg 3-5) I think it affects his recommendations (you need to play more hands and worse hands)
    • Tony Hsieh recommends looking for a table with "mediocre players who are tired and have a lot of chips".
  • Choosing Where To Sit at a Table
    • Jones p25-26: you want the more aggressive raisers to be acting before you as frequently as possible so that you know how much you'll need to bet to see the flop. So you should try to sit to their left (ie after them). But if they ALWAYS bet/raise (90%+ of the time), they're predictable and so you want to sit to their right (before them) so that you can check-raise the table (check-raising is a way of pulling more people into the hand by making them think the price to see the next card is low, and then raising the price at the last second). Basically you want it to be unpredictable-players, then you, then the predictable players.