How to play preference: a complete guide for beginners

How to play preference: a complete guide for beginners

Preference is a popular card game played with two to four players and a standard 52-card deck. It is a trick-taking game, which means that players compete to win each round (trick) by playing the highest value card from their hand. Preference has been enjoyed by many for centuries and continues to be a favorite among card game enthusiasts.

The Deck and Objective

In Preference, we use a standard 52-card deck, composed of four suits: hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades. Each suit has thirteen cards: Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, and King.

The main objective of the game is to score the most points by winning tricks. A trick consists of each player playing a card, and the player who plays the highest value card of the leading suit, or a trump card if trumps have been declared, wins the trick.

Game Setup

To set up the game, first, choose a dealer. The dealer shuffles the deck and deals 10 cards to each player in batches of 2 or 3 cards at a time. The remaining cards are placed in the middle of the table, forming the talon (or “widow”). The top card of the talon is flipped and revealed to all players. The first player to the dealer’s left will have the first turn, and play will continue clockwise.

How to Play

  1. Bidding Phase: After observing their hand, the player to the left of the dealer begins the bidding process, declaring how many tricks they believe they can win. Each player can either pass or bid higher, and this process continues until three players have passed. The highest bidder becomes the declarer.
  2. Playing Phase: The declarer plays the first card, and the suit of this card becomes the leading suit. Players must follow the leading suit if possible. If not, they can play any card. The player who plays the highest value card in the leading suit or the highest trump card wins the trick.
  3. Scoring Phase: At the end of the round, the player’s scores are calculated based on the tricks they have won. The declarer scores points if they won the number of tricks they bid for, but loses points if they did not meet their bid.

Winning a Round

Winning a round in Preference is all about strategy and understanding your opponents’ gameplay. The player who successfully wins the highest number of tricks that they bid for in the bidding phase wins the round.

Strategies and Tips

  1. Understand your hand: Analyze your cards well. If you hold high cards or many cards of the same suit, you might consider bidding high.
  2. Observe your opponents: Keep an eye on the cards they play and the bids they make. This can give you valuable insight into their strategies.
  3. Master the art of bluffing: Sometimes, bluffing about your potential tricks can coerce your opponents into passing or bidding lower.
  4. Manage your trump cards wisely: Trump cards can turn the game in your favor. Use them strategically.

Remember, Preference is not just about the luck of the draw. Strategic play, coupled with smart decision-making, largely determines the outcome of the game.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Beginners often make certain common mistakes while playing Preference. Here is a list of these errors and advice on how to avoid them:

  1. Overbidding: New players often overestimate the strength of their hand and place a higher bid than they can fulfill. To avoid this, take a realistic view of your hand and bid accordingly. It’s better to bid low and win more tricks than to bid high and fail to meet it.
  2. Misjudging the Trumps: Many beginners fail to take full advantage of the trump cards in their hand or misjudge the value of trumps in play. It’s crucial to understand the importance of the trump cards and use them wisely to win tricks.
  3. Not Observing Opponents: New players sometimes focus solely on their own hand and ignore the moves of their opponents. Be observant. Noticing which cards are being played can give you valuable insights and help you make smarter moves.
  4. Showing Cards Too Early: Beginners often reveal strong cards too early in the game. Keep your high-value cards hidden as long as possible to surprise your opponents in critical moments.
  5. Ignoring The Bidding Phase: The bidding phase is not just about determining the declarer, but it also provides key information about the strength of players’ hands. Don’t overlook the information gained from the bids your opponents make.
  6. Not Keeping Track of Played Cards: Forgetting which cards have been played can lead to poor decision-making. Keep mental notes of the cards that have been played to strategize better.

By being aware of these common pitfalls and understanding how to avoid them, beginners can quickly improve their game and become more competitive players of Preference.