Nines is a trick-taking game played with a standard deck of 52 playing cards. Nines is played by three people, and the object is to lower your score from 9 to zero.
All of the cards are dealt one at a time into four hands of thirteen cards. One hand is for each player, and the remaining hand is set aside as an extra hand that the players can pick up (Four players can play, but with no option to trade hands, and only three tricks required to 'book', or keep the same score).
After all the cards are dealt, each player can look at his hand and decide if he wants to trade it for the extra hand. The dealer has first choice of taking the hand, and then the choice moves to the left. Players to the left of the dealer may take the hand that someone else has already traded in if they so choose.
The object of game play is to take tricks. Trump goes in the following sequence: Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades, No Trump (the first four are alphabetical). In some circles, the game runs Hearts, Spades, Diamonds, Clubs, No Trump.
Play starts with the player to the left of the dealer. Play always moves to the left around the table. The player who plays the highest card of the suit that was led is awarded the trick. Each player must follow suit if they can. If they are out of the suit that was led, they can either play a card from another suit (not the trump suit) and forfeit the trick, or they can play a trump card which will earn them the trick, provided nobody plays a higher trump. Play continues until 13 tricks are played, at which point all players will be out of cards.
After the four trump hands, there is a hand that is played without trump. In this round, the tricks always go to the person who played the highest card of the same suit that was led. In all other aspects it is the same as regular play. So, for example, if the order of cards played was 10♦, K♠, Q♦, the trick would go to the person who played the queen.
All players start the game with a score of nine, and the object is to bring one's score to zero (or lower). In each hand, the number of tricks a player has collected translates to the change that will happen to their score. If four tricks are collected, the score will remain the same. For each trick there is in excess of four, the player's score will go down by one. For each trick shy of four, the player's score will go up by one. So, three tricks will result in a score increase of one, six tricks will result in a score decrease of two, and it is possible to win the game in one hand by taking all 13 tricks, due to the score decrease of nine. This is quite rare.