Ninety-Nine is a descendant of the Whist family and unlike many card games, is specifically designed for three players.
Shorten the deck to 6 and up, giving you 36 cards, and add the Joker for 37 cards.
A game consists of nine deals. That means each player deals 3 times. Play and deal are clockwise, and the deal passes to the left.
Each player is dealt twelve cards, one at a time, and the last is turned up to establish trumps. If the upturned card is either the Joker or any 9, the hand is played with no trump.
The Joker has no independent value, but assumes the rank and suit of the upturned card, as if that were now the card in the holder’s hand. For example, if the card turned at the deal was a 6 of Hearts, then Hearts would be trumps, and whoever was holding the Joker would regard it and play it as the 6 of hearts.
Each player now discards 3 cards, face down, and will play out the remaining 9 cards to tricks.
Each player’s objective is to win exactly the number of tricks, no more and no fewer, as are set by the player’s three discards.
Any Club represents 3 tricks
An easy way to remember this, is look at the suit symbols. Clubs has three bumps, Hearts two bumps, Spades a single point and Diamonds, nothing.
So, for example, if you discarded two Spades and a Heart, then you would have to win 4 tricks, no more, no fewer.
Obviously then, you need to make decisions when you discard.
Normally, bid cards remain face down until the end of the round, and are only shown to prove that a bid has been fulfilled. One player, however, may offter to play with his bid cards face up so that others know his/her objective. This is called declaring and carries a bonus score. Only one player may declare. If more than one wish to, priority goes to first left of the dealer.
An offer to declare may be overcalled by an offer to reveal, which means playing with one’s hand of cards face up on the table. This carries yet a higher bonus.
Left of the dealer leads first, and whoever wins the trick leads to the next. Standard trick taking rules apply. You must follow suit. If you can’t follow suit, you can play any card. The trick is won by the highest trump played to it. If no trumps are played, the trick is won by the highest card of the suit led.
At the end of play, any player who reckons they have made their bid, turns their discards face up to show.
Each player scores for the following:
The winner is the player with the highest score after nine deals.