Oh Hell – 500

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Oh Hell – 500, Oh Hell!, Up and Down or Up and Down the River is a hybrid of the games Oh Hell and 500.


The game is played using a 53-card deck (regular number of cards plus a Joker); the determination of rank of the cards have been borrowed from 500 and is as follows from highest to lowest: Joker, Right Bauer (Jack of trump suit), Left Bauer (Jack of same coloured suit), then Ace, King, Queen, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. On each succeeding deal one more card is dealt out, until all the cards are dealt on the thirteenth hand. After this, a hand of thirteen is dealt again acknowledging the begging of 'going down the river' and the number of cards per player decreases by one every round; the game is complete when the 26th round (with one card per player) has been played.

The dealer (this responsibility may be determined by cutting cards or any other suitable method) deals out the cards one by one, starting with the player on his left, in a clockwise direction, until the required number of cards has been dealt.

After the dealing is complete, the next card is turned face up, the suit of this card being the trump suit for the deal.

Each player is now obliged to bid for the number of tricks he believes he can win; the dealer bids first. The bidding is basically unrestricted, except for one particular rule which may hinder the last bidder colloquially known as the gnome: the number of tricks bid should never equal the number available; a hand must either be overbid or underbid. For example, if five cards are dealt, and the first three bids are two, one, and zero, then the gnome may not bid two. However, if five cards are dealt, and the first three bids are three, one, and two, then the gnome is free to make any bid.

When every player has made a bid, the dealer places the opening lead. Play then proceeds as usual in a trick-taking game: players must follow suit, unless they have no cards of the lead suit, when they may play any card; the highest card of the lead suit wins the trick unless ruffed, when the highest trump card wins.

Determining Trumps[edit]

  • Regular
When the dealer has finished dealing all of the cards to the players, the top card on the deck is then flipped over and the suit of the card is declared the designated Trump suit. If a Joker is turned over as the top card, the hand is then deemed to be played in No-Trumps.
  • Two-Rule (Twos)
As well as having the Joker to declare No-Trumps; 2's are also considered as No-Trump cards if the dealer flips one over. This rule is not as common among regular players; the "two-rule" increases the probability of playing a No-Trumps hand. Another variation plays the same rule with aces representing No-Trumps instead of deuces.


Basic scoring[edit]

Each player bids the number of tricks he or she will win. If a player wins exactly that number of tricks he/she will receive double the points as well as an additional 10 points for making a contract; this encourages higher calling and less calls for winning zero tricks. For example, I bid that I will win 2 tricks. I win those 2 tricks exactly therefore receive 4 points (2 tricks x 2) + 10 points additional therefore I get 14 points.

Negative scoring[edit]

The scoring system is reversed, as in golf, lowest score winning. Satisfying the contract scores zero points; the first undertrick or overtrick costs one point, and each additional undertrick/overtrick costs a point more than the one before it. For instance, 3 overtricks would add 6 points (the sum of 1, 2, and 3) to a player's total; this rewards sacrifices, for it is now often beneficial to risk an overtrick (1 point) to cost a person that is already down to get an additional undertrick (which will cost many more points).

Progressive scoring[edit]

As in normal scoring, a player that fails to make the contract receives a number of points equal to the number of tricks he takes. However, a successful bid is worth the 10-point threshold plus the square of the bid, thereby rewarding a person bidding and making four tricks with 26 (10 plus 16) points; this has the advantage of rewarding riskier bids, and making it possible for someone to catch up from behind more easily.

Norwegian scoring[edit]

An 'all-or-nothing' approach to scoring. Points are only awarded for making the contract exactly; the score is equal to the number of tricks bid for, plus the number of cards in the hand, thereby rewarding the more difficult games with higher cards. An exception is for a bid of nullo, or zero cards, where a successful contract yields 10 points plus the number of cards in the hand.

See also[edit]