What are Trick-Taking Games?
Trick-taking games can either be played with cards or tiles where a hand is referred to as a trick. The player who wins a hand or trick is said to take the trick. Ergo, the family of trick-taking games was born.
In trick-taking games, players are traditionally dealt an equal number of cards. A trick consists of each player playing a single card. There are certain variants in which players may play multiple tricks at once, but in general, only one trick is played at a time. The first player to start a trick is leading the trick or plays the lead. Most trick-taking games require you follow suit if possible. To follow suit means to play a card in that trick that is the same suit as the leading card. There is a logical reason for this rule, it is because more often than not the highest value card from the leading suit wins the trick, and the game is won by winning tricks. So, it is in a player’s best interest to play the highest value card that follows suit. This, however, is subject to a particular game’s strategy.
Not all, but many trick-taking games observe trumps. Trumps are cards that belong to the trump suit. The trump suit is chosen in many ways, a common way is the dealer chooses, or the winner of the bid (bidding is discussed below). The cards from the trump suit beat cards of other suits. So, if the trump suit is hearts and the suit lead with is diamonds, a player that plays the 6 of hearts in a trick will win the trick as opposed to the player who played the 6 of diamonds. Trump cards sometimes have limitations on when they may be played. For example, some games require that you may only play trumps if you absolutely cannot follow suit. However, some games have no such restrictions and allow players to play trumps whenever they deem strategically necessary.
Most trick-taking games do not use the entirety of the deck when distributing cards to players. The cards that remain are commonly referred to as the stock. However, the stock bears many regional names; talon, supply, skat, kitty, or nest, for example.
The stock may not play any role in the game whatsoever. However, in two-player games, it can be used as a draw pile after each trick. The game continues until the stock runs dry or no longer has any cards.
The most popular trick-taking game with bidding is likely Contract Bridge, with Pinochle and Skat not far behind. While the mechanism of the bid may differ between games, there is a general thread that unites them all. Players make a contract or players bid against each other (in an auction game) to make a contract. A contract is a fixed obligation players make to either win or lose a certain number of tricks in the game. Generally, the winner of the bid is the person who believes they will win the most number of tricks in the game. That player typically leads the first trick and, if the game uses Trumps, picks the trump suit.
However, if they do not fulfill their contract, each game has specific penalties for that player. Some games are played in partnerships, wherein a single player bids that both players in the partnership combined will win (or lose) a specific number of tricks. This makes both players responsible for doing their part to fulfill the contract.
Plain Trick-Taking Games
- Piquet (No Trumps)
- Euchre (Trumps)
- Five Hundred (Euchre Group)
- Spades (Boston Group/Exact Bidding)
- Oh Hell! (Exact Bidding)
- Contract Bridge (Boston Group)
Point Trick-Taking Games
Point Trick-Taking Games are games which tricks or cards within the tricks have a fixed value. Players typically try to collect points through taking tricks in order to reach a target score and win the game. This may take several deals or only one.
- Troggu (Tarot Group)
- All Fours
- Skat (Schafkopf Group)
- 1000 (Marriage Group)
- Pinochle (Marriage Group)
- Bezique (Marriage Group)
- Twenty Nine (Jass Group)
Quasi Trick-Taking Games
- Burro (Inflation Games)
- Asshole/Scum/President (Climbing Games)
- Shithead (Beating Games)
- Bullshit (Beating Games)