Kaiser for the Facebooks

Hi everybody! I’m in the process of building a Kaiser game for Facebook and I could use your help. I realize that Kaiser really only exists in Saskatchewan, but I thought maybe someone else might have some insight into algorithms for these kinds of card games.

Without reading the Wikipedia article I linked to above, Kaiser is a trick-taking card game played with 4 players. What I need to know is a way to introduce some basic intelligence so that the game can be played with less than 4 players. The computer will need to be able to bid, and determine an appropriate bid based on his cards, and then play somewhat intelligently to defend the bid.

My initial idea was to set a point value for each card, then based on the point value in the hand, the computer could make an appropriate bid. At first, I thought the computer could just play the highest point cards first and progress to the lowest point cards, but I realized there would need to be some way to base the next card on the remaining cards to be played.

This is where I’m kinda stumped. I’m not sure where to begin in setting point values for the cards, nor for determining the next card the computer should play. A couple of articles I read seemed to indicate that I should become an expert in the game and document my decision-making method. While that’s a definite possibility, I’m not sure I have that kind of time!

I could always just make it necessary to have 4 players for the game, but I would like to port the game to the iPhone/iTouch at some point, so this will be important to create a single-player game.

Anywho, any help you guys think you can provide will be helpful!