How to Play Whitehouse

How to Play Whitehouse (PDF)

Try the Whitehouse Windows App




Four-player partnership or individual player trick-taking game, similar to Spades


To be the first partnership or individual player to reach 7 points or other score  (e.g., 3, 5, 7, 9, 11), depending on how long you want the game to be.



Use the standard Statehood Play Cards 52-card deck + Jokers. Note: the four wildcards are not used in this game and this game may be played with or without Jokers.


Play with Jokers: Big Joker, Little Joker, A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.  Play without Jokers: A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. See IV.C, "The Jokers", for more information about play with Jokers.    

    C.    THE JOKERS

When play includes Jokers, Jokers are always the highest two trump cards. The Big Joker is always the joker associated with the color of trump, either Red or Blue. For example, if the Red cards (i.e., Hearts or Diamonds) are trump, then the Red Joker is the “Big Joker” and the Blue Joker is the “Little Joker”. Jokers, regardless of color, are always trump. 



To win at least the number of electoral votes bid. Electoral votes are counted by adding the electoral vote numbers on the top right corner of individual playing cards (see Figure 3).

Figure 3 - Card Layout

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    A.    SETUP

Partners sit across the table from each other.

    B.    THE DEAL

The first dealer is chosen by a draw for high card. To set up for the deal, the deck will be shuffled. Each player is to receive 12 cards for a total of 48 cards.  The game may be played with or without the Jokers. When played with Jokers, the remaining six (6) cards are placed into the Kitty. When played without Jokers, the remaining four (4) cards are placed into the Kitty. 

The first four cards and the last four cards dealt cannot be put in the kitty; apart from this the dealer can deal cards into the kitty at any point during the deal, either singly or several at one time.

The entire deck is dealt one at a time, face down, beginning on the dealer's left. The players then pick up their cards and arrange them by suit. Then, the bidding begins.


The player to the dealer's left starts the bidding and, in turn, each player states a bid for their team. Each player decides how many electoral votes their team will be able to take. There is only one round of bidding, and the minimum bid is 270. Players can either raise the highest bid or pass. The dealer must accept the minimum bid of 270 when all the other players pass. 

Players must raise the bid in increments of 10. For example, the first bidder bids 270, second bidder passes, the third bidder bids 300, and then the dealer bids 310.


Trump is declared by the winning bidder before viewing the cards in the kitty. Trump can be any suit. A Blue bid is when trump is Spades() or Clubs (). A Red bid is when trump is Hearts() or Diamonds().

    E.    THE KITTY

After trump is declared, the winning bidder may pick up the kitty and exchange any card in their hand for a card in the kitty. The cards placed in the kitty may come from the bidder’s dealt hand, the original kitty, or any combination of these. Following this exchange, the bidder must still have exactly 12 cards in their hand with six (6) cards in the kitty for play with jokers or four (4) cards in the kitty for play without Jokers.

After the kitty exchange, the kitty is placed face down in front of the bidder and later counted as the first trick won by the bidder’s team. 

If after the start of play, the winning bidder does not have 12 cards in their hand, the winning bidder forfeits the hand and loses the bid.

    F.    THE PLAY

The player on the dealer's left plays first (“leads”). The player may not lead with a trump card unless the player’s hand only includes trump.  Play continues in the clockwise direction.

Players must follow the suit played, if possible. If a player cannot follow the suit, they may play a trump card or discard a card from another suit.  Once any trump card is played, players may lead with a trump card. This is the point at which trump has been “broken”. Players can also break trump by playing a trump card when they have no other option.  

Trump cards always beat any non-trump cards played in the trick. If there is more than one trump played, then the highest-ranking trump will win the trick. If no player plays a trump card, then the highest-ranking card of the suit led wins the trick. The winner of each trick leads the next trick. This continues until all twelve tricks have been played and won.

Renege: If a person fails to follow the suit led when they have a card of that suit in their hand, this is called a renege. A team caught reneging forfeits the hand and the points equivalent to winning the bid are awarded to the other team.

    G.    SCORING

Each team begins with a score of zero. At the end of each hand of play, the bid winner's team either wins or loses some points. After the hand, the bid winner’s team will count the electoral votes captured, including points in the kitty. If the amount captured is greater than or equal to the amount bid, the bid winner's team has won the “White House” and receives 1 point. If the amount captured is less than the amount bid, the bid winner's team loses 2 points. 

When a team reaches the needed score (which can be 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 depending on how long you want the game to be) or the negative equivalent, the game ends and the team with the highest score wins. For example, if the game is played to 7, then a team that reaches 7 wins. If a team reaches -7, then the remaining team with the highest score wins. 

The game can also end in one hand when one team bids a landslide, 500 or more, and wins the bid. Winning the White House with a landslide bid automatically wins the game regardless of the current score. An unsuccessful landslide bid automatically loses the game regardless of the current score. 


For partnership play, the two teams may elect to mutually agree to bid for a particular trump throughout the duration of the game. In other words, Team 1 elects to always bid Red as trump (i.e., Hearts or Diamonds ) while Team 2 elects to always bid Blue as trump (i.e., Spades or Clubs ). This bidding variation sets up a fun competition between Team Red and Team Blue.


    A.    OVERVIEW

Individual trick-taking game means there are four players each playing and scoring for themselves without a partner. Each player will individually compete by bidding and winning tricks. Individual play is the same as partnership play with the following rule changes.


           1. The Bidding

For individual play, after the bid winner is determined and trump is declared, and before the bidder leads the first card into play, the other players can register a challenge to defeat the bid. Any player who challenges the bid will receive 1 point if the bid is defeated or lose 1 point if it is not.

           2. The Play

For individual play, the winning 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. Trump need not be broken.

           3. The Scoring

For individual play, the winning bidder is scored the same as in partnership play. In addition, any individual player that registered a challenge to defeat the bid will be awarded 1 point if the challenge is successful or lose 1 point if it is not.  The game continues until one player reaches at least the needed score (which can be 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 depending on how long you want the game to be) or the negative equivalent, and there is no tie between the highest players.

For individual play, the winning bidder for any hand can automatically win the game by bidding a landslide, 400 or more, and then making the bid.  An unsuccessful landslide bid automatically eliminates a player from the game regardless of the current score. 

Statehood Playing Cards are more than a standard deck of cards. With our patent pending deck you can play your favorite contemporary cards games, teach students about the U.S. States, Territories, and the electoral process, or try out our original card games WHITEHOUSE and STATEHOOD. We created this deck with a mission to educate, advocate, and donate for causes promoting more civil discourse.