German Whist

German Whist is a variation on classic whist for two players. The game is most likely of British origin.

Whist Rules

Players and Cards

German Whist is a two player game using a standard deck of 52 cards ranked A (high) K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 (low) in each suit.

The Deal

The initial dealer is chosen by cutting the deck, and the turn to deal alternates after each hand. Each player is dealt 13 cards, dealt one at a time. The twenty-seventh card is placed face-up on the face-down talon. The suit of this face-up card is the trump suit for the entire hand.

The Play

The non-dealer chooses any card to play for the first trick and the other player must follow suit if he can. If both cards are the same suit then the higher card wins. If they are of different suits the first player wins unless the second player played a trump, in which case the trump wins. The winner of the trick takes the face-up card and adds it to his hand, the loser then takes the face-down card below it without showing it to his opponent. The next card in the talon is then turned over and the winner plays first in the next trick. Each player stays with 13 cards in his hand until the talon is exhausted. After this another 13 tricks are played without replenishment until the cards in both players hands are exhausted.


There are at least two variants on scoring. The winner is the player who wins the most tricks in:

  1. the whole game (26 tricks)
  2. after the talon is exhausted (13 tricks)


The strategy for the two variants, in the first stage, is slightly different. In the first variant the player must balance winning the current trick against the probability of winning future tricks. In the second variant the player must only try to assemble the best possible hand for the second stage.


Downloadable software is available from the following websites:


Hoyle, Edmond (2000). Hoyle's Official Rules of Card Games. Australia: Redwood Editions. ISBN 1-86515-153-X.

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