How To Play Bridge (if you've never played bridge before)

Learning Bridge will not only add a new card game to your social repertoire but many of the techniques you learn here can dramatically improve your performance in your other card games.  

Our 'Bridge For Beginners',  'Standard American' and 'Acol' Bridge lessons assume you have already played Euchre, 500, Whist or similar card games that start with a bidding process. 

Much like 500, Euchre or similar games, Bridge consists of a 'Bidding' and a 'Play' sequence. However in Bridge, the Bidding process is very formalised and there are a lot of rules to learn and follow.  These formalised bidding processes (called bidding systems) have been developed over decades by top Bridge players. While there are many Bridge Bidding Systems, the two most common systems are supported here - Acol Bidding (mostly used in UK, Ireland, Australia and new Zealand) and Standard American.

So while you may already know how to play the cards (very similar to 500 or Euchre), first you need to learn how to bid in Bridge. After completing the Beginner Bridge lessons, the bidding rules are introduced one by one and each time you will be presented with Bridge games that require only those rules you have learned at that stage. As you learn more, our guided Bridge practice hands will be expanded to include those rules too.

In the first lessons we will show you how to evaluate your hand. Many of our lessons also include  a practice hand where the computer will bid automatically for the other 3 players. You can click on the bids on the bidding pad to see the rule used to get that bid. In the following lessons we introduce each of the bidding rules one by one, so you won't be overwhelmed by too much information at once.

Here is a quick summary of Bridge and how it differs from games you may be familiar with:

The 'Play'

This segment will be very familiar to you, with each player following suit, or if they don't have that suit, the player can play a 'trump card', or discard a low value card of another suit. 

The 'Bidding'

It is the bidding process that is very different in Bridge. Compared to other card games the bidding is very formalised but also conveys MUCH more information. While the bidding process in other games will provide you with some insight into what cards your partner and opposition have in their hands, during bidding in Bridge you will learn a LOT more about your partner's and opposition hands and this greatly helps you to plan your strategy for the play portion of the game.

A Comparison

As an example, you are playing 500 and you have a good hand of hearts, so you bid 7 hearts, the opposition bids 7 spades, your partner bids 7 clubs and you respond 7 diamonds. After that everyone passes so you have won the bidding and your target is to win 7 rounds (tricks) and the Trump suit is diamonds. After that bidding process you know that your opposition is likely quite strong in hearts but you know little else about the composition of their hands.

An example of Bidding in Five Hundred:

You    Player 2   Your Partner   Player 4  
7 Hearts 7 Spades 8 Clubs Pass
8 Hearts Pass Pass Pass

Now lets see the same bidding process in Bridge:

Bridge Bidding for the same number of tricks:

You    Player 2   Your Partner   Player 4  
1 Heart 1 Spade 2 Clubs Pass
2 Hearts Pass Pass Pass

NOTE: The minimum a player can bid to win in bridge is 7 tricks, so instead of starting at 7 the bidding starts at 1 (a bid of one means you plan to win 7 tricks).
A bid of 2 means you plan to win at least 8 etc. 

After Bridge bidding your partner will know the following information, the total point count range in your hand, the long suit point distribution and short suit distribution of suits in your hand, what suits you probably don't have, and much more.

 How is this possible? Read on to discover the complex but VERY powerful Bridge Bidding rules that make Bridge the ultimate card game.

At the end of the game you'll add up your score. In Bridge the scoring is different depending on whether you won, or didn't win, the number of tricks your bid promised. See our Bridge Score Table (for when you achieved your contract) and our Undertrick Bridge Scoring Table for when you did not.

So lets get started and  learn to play Bridge now  - Enjoy!!!

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