Whist Game Rules

Posted by John Taylor on

(In Whist, tricks are won by having the highest card out of everybody in a round.)

(In Whist, tricks are won by having the highest card out of everybody in a round.)

Card Game Rules

Whist is a trick taking game for either 2 players or 2 teams of 2 players. Whist uses a standard 52 playing card deck with Aces high and 2s low. The trump suit changes with each deal. The objective of whist is to be the first team or player to reach 5 points

For more trick taking games, check out our guides for Euchre and Bridge.

If you are looking for cards to play Whist with, check out a standard deck here or one of our newest arrivals here.

You may find a free online version of Whist here.

Set Up

Before gameplay can begin, a dealer must first be chosen. To do so, each player will draw a random card from a shuffled deck. The player with the lowest card becomes the dealer. The dealer then shuffles the deck and passes out all of the cards one by one to each player. The last card is flipped over to establish the trump suit for the round. The dealer is then given that card.

Teammates sit across from each other if the game is 2 v 2. 

How to Play

Gameplay begins with the player to the left of the dealer, with them laying down a starter card. Going clockwise, players follow suit if possible and try to out rank the cards played. If they cannot follow suit, they then may play any of their cards. The winner of the round lays down the starter card of the next round.    


Points are rewarded after six tricks. For instance, if a team wins 9 tricks, they will receive 3 points. If, however, they only receive 3 tricks, they receive 0 points. The first team or player to gain 5 points wins the game.

For more information about Whist and its rules, check out David Parlett's article here



(Whist has a long history and can be seen played in 18th cartoons such as the one shown above)

(Whist has a long history and can be seen played in 18th cartoons such as the one shown above.)

Under the pseudonym Cavendish, Henry Jones, a games scholar from the 1800s, outlined a comprehensive history of Whist in his 1862 book. The Principles of Whist Stated and Explained, and Its Practice Illustrated on an Original System, by Means of Hands Played Completely ThroughIn the book, Cavendish discusses how 16thcentury Italian Poet Berni mentions a game called Trionfi, which might be an early ancestor of Whist, in his book Capitolo del Gioco della Primera. From renaissance Rome, Jones observes another ancestor of Whist, Trump, found in Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra. Jones then looks at several variations and linguistic evolutions until he gets to his own time in the 19thcentury

For more information on the game of Whist, Check out an excerpt from Jones’ book here.


Knock Out Whist

Knock Out Whist is a 2-7 player variation of Whist, with no teams. After the end of a round, any players who did not win at least 1 trick, are eliminated from play. The objective is to be the last player in.

For more information, check out pagat's article here.

Looking for more card games to play?  Check out this article:

40+ Great Card Games For All Occasions

About the author: John Taylor is a content writer and freelancer through the company Upwork.com. You may view his freelancing profile here. He has a B. A. in English, with a specialty in technical writing, from Texas A&M University and a M. A. in English from the University of Glasgow. You may view his previous articles about card games here and his LinkedIn profile here.

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Last update date: 08/30/20

1 comment

  • I want to know the rules for “Regimental whist”

    John Peter WILLCOCKS on

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