Oh Hell


card game rules

These are the rules for Oh Hell card game. This is a rather simple trick taking game for 3-7 players. It’s played with a standard 52 card deck. The goal of the game is to take the exact number of tricks. The bidding for the number of tricks is done before the game starts…

The Deal

The number of cards dealt depends on the number of players and also differs in each hand:

  • For 3 to 5 players each player gets 10 cards in the first hand
  • For 6 players each player gets 8 cards in the first hand
  • For 7 players each player gets 7 cards in the first hand

Each further hand each player gets one card less until each player only gets one card. After that the number of cards per player starts increasing by 1 each hand, until players get dealt as many cards as they did in the first hand. After that hand, the game ends.


In a 6 player game, first hand everyone gets dealt 8 cards, second hand 7 cards, third hand 6, fourth 5, fifth hand 4 cards, sixth hand 3 cards, seventh hand 2 cards, eight hand 1 card, ninth hand 2 cards, tenth hand 3 cards, eleventh hand 4 cards, 12th hand 5 cards, 13th hand 6 cards, 14th hand 7 cards, and 15th and final hand 8 cards.

The top card of the deck(after the deal) is turned over and put on top of the deck. The suit of this card is the trump suit for the current hand.

The Bidding

After the cards are dealt, the bidding starts. Each player bids on how many tricks he’s going to take in the current hand. The player to the left of the dealer goes first and then clockwise around till the dealer who goes last.

The total number bid by the players must not be equal to the number of tricks in the hand(so, for example, in the first hand of a 5 player game, the total number can not be equal 10). Since the dealer is last to bid, he is the one that has to bid such a number that this does not happen.

The Gameplay

Play is clockwise. The player left of the dealer leads the first trick, he can lead any card he wants. The other players must follow suit(play the same suit as the leading player), if they can’t, they can play any card they want. The player that takes the trick leads the next one. Hand ends when all players are out of cards.

The strongest trump played in a trick always takes it. If no trump is played, then the strongest card of the leading suit takes the trick. Card strength for all suits is as follows:(strongest to weakest): A,K,Q,J,T,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2


In Oh Hell card game there are a number of different ways you can keep score:

  1. The most popular is to score 1 point for each trick and 10 bonus points to a player that takes the bid number of tricks(example: PlayerA/bid 3/won 5/scores 5, PlayerB/bid 2/won 2/scores 12, PlayerC/bid 4/won 3/scores 3).
  2. You can also only score 10 points to the player that won the exact number of tricks that he bid.
  3. You can give 10 points to the player that won the bid amount of tricks and a negative point difference between the bid and taken tricks to the other players.

There are probably other scoring methods out there, but these are the ones that I’m aware of.

Enjoy playing Oh Hell card game!