High Card Points

Over the years many schemes have been developed to evaluate the strength of your hand. But the one that has endured and is almost universally used today is High Card Points (HCP) sometimes refered to the Milton Work Count. It has the advantage of simplicity, and is quite accurate, especially for No-Trumps.

Ace 4 points
King 3 points
Queen 2 points
Jack 1 point

Using this scheme there are 40 points in total in a deck of cards, and the average hand will hold 10 points (one Ace, one King, one Queen, and one Jack).

Most people add up their HCP and then mentally make adjustments to the count. Aces and Kings are slightly undervalued by the 4-3-2-1 scale; Queens and Jacks overvalued. Tens are also useful especially in No-Trumps when accompanied by other high cards. Generally it is better to have your high cards in your longer suits. You can find more information from these links NZ Bridge Lesson on HCP,  Hand Evaluation on Wikipedia,  Hand Evaluation - not all points are equal.

You can practise counting your high card points below...



A hand with not only zero high card points, but with no honours at all (the 10 is counted as a honour) is called a Yarborough. Named after Charles Anderson Worsley, Second Earl of Yarborough (1809-1897). You will be dealt a Yarborough once every 1,828 hands, on average.

Is this a full Yarborough?

At least it is easy to count all those high card points!

For more info: Wikipedia: Charles Anderson-Pelham, 2nd Earl of Yarborough, New York Times: Betting With the Odds.

Rock Crusher

Massive hands like this are called rock crushers. What are the odds of getting this hand?

Happy counting!
24 hcp  — 1 in every 1,785 hands
25 hcp  — 1 in every 3,846 hands
26 hcp  — 1 in every 8,333 hands
27 hcp  — 1 in every 20,408 hands
28 hcp  — 1 in every 52,631 hands