The Rules of Bridge
“Rules of Bridge Playing” by Donald W. Winnicott is a book which has long since held great interest for people of all ages. Even today when I order coffee at my favorite coffee shop, one of the things that they always ask for me is a copy of this classic book. The very title says it all; it is “Rules of Bridge playing.” In this classic little volume, Winnicott brilliantly takes us through the various techniques and strategies that are needed to play the game of bridge better than any one else.
In this volume, Donald Winnicott shows us the various distributional hands that we should play and how to use them to our advantage. For instance, in Texas Hold’em, we have the draw-up or flop; we have the three of a kind or a full house; we have the straight flush or four of a kind; we have the four of a kind plus the high cards; and we have the flush plus the high cards. These distributional hands, as Donald Winnicott shows us, allow you to gain control over the game. For example, if you have a strong hand, you can go after the high cards because with strong hands you have the possibility to attack the flop and take the pot. Also, with distributional hands, such as the draw-up, you have the option to either stay out and wait for other players to call, or you can put pressure on them by having an ace out and a not-so-strong hand.
Let’s look deeper into the rules of bridge. In no limit games, there are seven different types of players. Two of these types, the Two Pair and the Three of a Kind, restrict you to either playing with two or a pair of high cards. The other types, such as the Full House and the Straight, allow you to play with a combination of a high card and either a low card plus a high card. These categories help you see that your ability to make money is not solely based on the strength of your own cards. It also depends on how many others have low cards, called trumps, or how many you have in your hand, known as a trump.
Now, let’s talk about the trumps. A trump is either a high, a low, or a full house in any suit except the diamond, the clubs, and the hearts. Some trumps, like the Ace, Queen, King, Jack and 10 Jacks, are considered to be “flush” meaning they are a mix of a high and a low, making them a good trump. A “notrump” is a high, but not a low, card. A “four pair” or a “10 pair” is a combination of two high cards and a low card.
Most often, the Ace is used as the trumps in a straight or flush game, since it controls the action. However, with other games, such as the four-suit game, the Ace can change roles. In this case, the Ace could be the low card, or the trump, depending on whether there are any others in the deck. The Ace can also be the top card, or the trump, depending on the suit that it is in.
When using the Ace in the trump’s role, it is important to know when to use it and when to fold it. You should always try to control tempo power before using the Ace. Tempo power can be gained by making the right calls and being able to convert the Ace into something else that will allow for a successful call. For example, if your opponent has an open board, and you are at an advanced position, the Ace can be used as a speed trap to gain control power. Once your opponent calls and raises, you can easily convert this to raise into a squeeze play by revealing a straight or flush. If your opponent bets out, you can easily take control with a straight or flush.
The rules of bridge lend themselves to adapting to various situations, including bluffing. By changing up your own tactics and playing certain cards, you can win. For example, you may have realized that your opponent is holding a pair of aces and eights. By making the right hand signals, you can tell your opponents that you hold aces and eights, which will cause them to fold, rather than holding on to their money, which you can call.
Another great way to win is to be the first player to complete all of the small holes. One of the biggest rules of bridge is that you get to choose the hole where your bet will be placed. This rule makes the game exciting because it forces players to think ahead and make decisions based on what they see. The more experienced players tend to wait until the last few seconds before placing their bets, which is when they are most likely to win.