Deck, Setup, Dealing and Basic Terminology


Four people are needed to play a game of bridge. Each player is designated by his location at the table. These designations are identified as North, East, South and West. In bridge, each player has a partner and they work together as a team against the other team. North and South make one team while East and West make the other team. The team members always sit across from each other.

Bridge uses one deck of cards for each game. However, most players use two decks to speed up the play. While one deck is being dealt, the second deck is being shuffled, ready for the next game.

Bridge cards are slightly narrower than poker cards. A standard deck of 52 cards is used to play bridge. There are four suits in the deck: Spades, Hearts, Diamonds and Clubs. Each suit has 13 cards, making a total of 52 cards. The cards in each suit ranking from highest to lowest are A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2.

There are several ways to identify who deals the first game. The most popular method is to have each player randomly select a card from the face down deck. The person who selects the highest card deals the first hand.

From this point on, the deal passes to the player on the left of the dealer. For example, if North deals the first game, East would deal the next game, followed by South, then West and then back to North and so on and so forth.

Bridge was started as a ‘gentlemen’s game’ and as a result there are rules of etiquette to follow when shuffling and dealing the cards. The person across from the dealer shuffles the cards for the next game. When he is done shuffling, he places the deck of cards face down to his right as a reminder that the next hand will be dealt by the person sitting to the right of the person who shuffled the cards.

The dealer picks up the deck of cards on his left and passes the deck to his right to be cut. This player cuts the deck by removing a contiguous range of cards from the deck, and places them toward the dealer. The simplest form of the cut is done by taking, roughly, the top one-half of the cards, and placing them on the table. The dealer than puts the two halves together.  The cards have been shuffled and cut by the opposing team, thus prevent the dealer from manipulating the cards in any way in his favor.

We are now moving on to the more complicated aspects of the game. Was this post a bit confusing to you? Let me know through Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads so I can improve on writing these guides. You can also consult me directly through those channels.


James Frazee

Author, Beginning Bridge by the Numbers

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