Home / The Losing Trick Count in three easy steps

Losing Trick Count

The losing trick count is a hand evaluation technique in bridge that indicates the number of tricks your partnership can expect to make in a suit contract and can be great help when bidding in bridge.

Count your losers plus partner losers then subtract from 24 which equals the tricks you can make

Step 1: Count your losers

1 card suits

A singleton Ace is a winner, every other card is counted as a loser.

♠A = 0 losers.
♠K = 1 loser.
♠7 = 1 loser.

2 card suits

In a 2-card suit, the Ace and King are winners, everything else is counted as a loser.

♠AK = 0 losers.
♠A2 = 1 loser.
♠K2 = 1 loser.
♠Q2 = 2 losers.

3 card suits

In a 3-card suit, the Ace, King and Queen are winners, everything else is counted as a loser.

♠AKQ = 0 losers.
♠A76 = 2 losers.
♠AQ6 = 1 loser
♠KQ6 = 1 loser
♠AK7 = 1 loser

4+ card suits

Only the first three cards in any suit are considered as possible losers.

You can think of

♠AQ9864 = 1 loser
♠KQ653 = 1 loser
♠A875 = 2 losers

Count your losers in all 4 suits

This hand has 1 spade loser, 1 heart loser, 2 diamond losers and 1 club loser.

losing trick count example hand

In total the hand has 5 losers.

Step 2: Add partner's losers

You can make a good estimate of losers based on how many points partner has shown.

For example, an opening bid at the 1-level showing 12 points will have about 7 losers.

6-9 points = 9 losers.
e.g. A simple raise to the 2 level such as 1 - 2

10-11 points = 8 losers.
e.g. A jump raise to the 3 level such as 1 - 3

12-14 points = 7 losers.
e.g. An opening bid at the 1-level.

15-17 points = 6 losers.

18-19 points = 5 losers.

20-22 points = 4 losers.

23 points = 3 losers.

North opens 1 then raises your 1♠ response to 2♠. How many losers can we expect from the North hand?

losing trick count example hand

North has a minimum opening hand so we can estimate 7 losers

Step 3: Subtract from 24

Add your losers to partner's losers.

Subtract the total from 24.

The result equals how many tricks you can make.

losing trick count example hand

Your 5 losers + partner's 7 losers = 12
24 - 12 = 12
Your side can make 12 tricks. 6♠ making 6. Nice!

Trump length adjustment

If your side has a trump fit then the losing trick count is more accurate than counting points. It's most accurate with a 9 card fit. Some players add half a loser if your side only has an 8 card fit and subtract half a loser if your aide has a 10 card fit.

Ace vs Queen adjustment

A32 is obviously stronger than Q32. Adjusting for that will improve your LTC calculations.

Add half a loser for each queen. Subtract half a loser for each ace.

♠A32 is 1 and a half losers

♠Q32 is 2 and a half losers.

losing trick count example hand with adjustments for aces and queens

South's hand isn't so good. Too many Queens!

Jump to game

Here's a hand from a game I played recently. I was South and opened the bidding 1♠. What do you think of my partner's 4♠ response?

Bridge Card Game

I think 4♠ was a great bid! North seems to have eight losers but remember the AQ adjustment. Two aces and no Queens so North can subtract 1 loser bringing the total down to seven losers. That's fine for a jump to game on the first round.

West led the A and immediately switched to a club. I still had a diamond to lose but 10 tricks was easy enough and the contract made.


Even the losing trick count doesn't tell you the full story of a hand. Tens and nines are better than threes and twos, for example. There will still be some close decisions and you've still got to think!

tags: #handevaluation

I hope you enjoyed the lesson.
Updated: 2023-12-04

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