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Distribution points are a corollary to High Card Points. Two methods are available. The first method is to count points for length of 5 cards or more in a suit. The second is to count points for suit shortness, namely any doubleton, singleton, or void.

Length Points

Length points are used for 5-card suits or longer.

  • 5-card suit = 1 point
  • 6-card suit = 2 points
  • 7-card suit = 3 points
  • Etc.

For example:

S AT873
H A93
D 6
C AT43

This hand has 12 HCP (3 aces x 4 points), plus one length point in spades. So the total is 13 points.

What's the purpose? Well, imagine if we change the hand slightly:

S AT87
H A93
D 643

Unlike the first hand, this one lacks a long suit that could be used for trumps, or running tricks in no-trumps. So it has only 12 points, whereas the first hand has 13.

Length points can also be assigned to two suits:

S AT875
H AQ6532
D --
C 54

This hand has 10 HCP, plus 1 length point in spades and 2 length points in hearts. If your criteria for opening the bidding is 13 points, then this hand has just enough.

Short Suit Points

Short suit points are a hand evaluation method when bidding suit contracts. It assigns points to each doubleton, singleton and void:

  • Doubleton = 1 point
  • Singleton = 2 points
  • Void = 3 points

For instance:

S AT87
H A9
D 7643

12 HCP + 1 point for the doubleton = 13 points. If counting length, this would only be a 12-pointer. As another example:

S A654
H AT87
D A764
C 5

12 HCP + 2 points for the singleton = 14 points.

Things to bear in mind:

  • Do not count short suit points in no-trump auctions.
  • Singleton honors should be counted for HCP or shortness, but not both. This rule also applies to doubleton honor holdings like AK, KQ, KJ, QJ, etc.

See also

  • High Card Points
    The basic and original method for evaluating hand strength.

  • The Law of Total Tricks
    A hand evaluation strategy for competitive auctions.

  • Losing Trick Count
    A hand evaluation method used once a trump fit is located.

  • Pearson Points
    A hand evaluation method for deciding whether or not to open the bidding in 4th seat.

  • Rule of 20
    A guideline for opening the bidding which counts high card points + the length of your two longest suits.