official rules - 52 card bid whist
Learn how to play bid whist (no jokers).

There are four players in two fixed partnerships. Partners sit facing each other. The game is played clockwise.

A standard 52 card pack is used.

The computer randomly chooses the first dealer. Each player is to receive 12 cards for a total of 48 cards. The remaining 4 cards constitute the kitty.

After each hand, the turn to deal is passed to the left

The Bidding
The turn to bid goes around the table only once starting with the player to the left of the dealer. Each bid consists of a number from 1 to 7, and is the number of tricks above six the team promises to take. For example, a bid of 5 is a promise to win at least 11 tricks (6 + 5). As there are 13 tricks in all, 7 is the highest possible bid.

Each player has just one chance to speak, and must either pass or bid a number. For the first three players, each bid must be higher than the previous bid if any. The dealer may take the bid from the highest bidder so far by matching the current high bid; the dealer may even take the bid from their partner in this way. If the first three players pass, the dealer must bid at least 1.

The winner of the bidding names a trump suit or specifies "no trump", and chooses one of the three possibilities for the card ranking:

Uptown, in which every suit ranks from high to low: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.
Downtown, aces good, in which every suit ranks from high to low: A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K.
Downtown, aces bad, in which every suit ranks from high to low: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A.

After choosing trumps and ranking, the bidder takes the four cards from the kitty and discards four cards in their place. The cards thrown away can come from the bidder's dealt hand, the original kitty, or any combination of these. The discarded kitty belongs not to the bidder but to the winner of the first trick. Thus the first trick is worth two tricks.

The Play
The bidder leads the first card. Any card may be led, and the other players must follow the suit led, if they have it in their hand. A player who does not have the led suit in their hand has the option to play a trump or play a different suit. A trump always beats any non-trump cards played in the trick. If there is more than one trump played, then the highest ranking trump based on the type of bid taken will win the trick. If no one plays a trump, then the highest ranking card to the suit led wins the trick. The winner of each trick leads to the next.

There are no negative scores:

If the bidding team makes their bid, they score the number of tricks actually taken less six. Taking 11 tricks on a bid of four would score 5 points.

If the bidding team is stopped, the opposing team scores the amount bid. With a bid of 4, the opposing team only needs to take 4 tricks to stop the bidding team

No trump bids score the same as bids with a trump suit

End of the Game
The partnership which first reaches 21 points wins the game. This takes several deals.

Tactics: The Bid
The lowest bids, 1 and 2, are rather easy to win, and therefore the bidding almost always reaches 3 or more. Therefore it is normal for the first two players to use the low bids as signals:

1 for a mixed hand (some high cards, some low cards)
2 for a 'downtown' hand (mostly low cards)
3 for an 'uptown' hand (mostly high cards)

These rules are a modified version from John McLeod's whist rules page
View them here: