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Trick taking

Trick Taking is a game mechanism used in many standard deck playing card games. A "trick" is formed by each player in turn playing one card from their hand to the middle of the play area. The trick is then "won" by one of the players per the rules of the game. Usually tricks are won by being the highest of the suit led, or by one of the players "trumping" the trick.

There are a wide variety of trick taking games with many different features and play styles.

Leading and Following Suit

The first player in any trick (or "lead") may play any card from their hand. In most (though not all) trick taking games, the remaining players in turn order must then add to the trick with a card of the same suit, or "follow suit", if they are able to. If a player cannot follow suit, usually they may play any other card from their hand--though in some games, players must trump or overtrump.

In most trick taking games, the winner of a trick will lead the next.

Trumps and Trumping

In a lot of trick taking games, a subset of the cards are designated as trump, sometimes by the players per hand, such as in Euchre, or are permanently by the rules, such as Spades.

Normally, the highest card in the suit led will win the trick. However, the highest card of the trump suit will win the trick if any were played. Playing a trump card onto an already started non-trump trick is often referred to as "trumping" or "ruffing" the trick.

Object of trick taking games

There are three common objectives in trick taking games:

  • Plain trick games: Where the goal is capture as many tricks (or occasionally a specific number of tricks) as possible. Examples: Bridge, Spades, Euchre, 500, Oh Hell/Wizard, Ninety-Nine, etc.
  • Point Trick Games: Where the goal is capture specific cards within tricks. Examples: Skat, Pinochle, , Jass, etc.
  • Trick Avoidance: To avoid capturing specific cards or tricks. Examples: Hearts, nullo bids in Skat, 500, Sticheln, etc.


Trick taking games are also played with a variety of partnerships:

  • Fixed partnerships: where the same players are always partnered together. (Bridge, Spades, Euchre, 4-handed Pinochle)
  • Nominated partnerships: Where another player in nominated to be a partner for a hand (see Doppelkopf, 5-player French Tarot/500, )
  • Declarer against all: The winning bidder must defeat the others--most common in three handed games. (Skat, 3-handed Pinochle)
  • Each player for himself (Hearts, Oh Hell, etc.)


Some trick taking games, the players will bid for the right to declare the trump suit for the hand. Bids usually involve proposing to win a higher score for the hand (more tricks or points), proposing to play with higher valued suit, or proposing to play a special game (such as a null bid). Bidding in some games is used to communicate information to their partner.

For examples of trick taking games, see their subsection in standard deck playing card game.

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