Pinochle is a popular American version of the European games Binokel/Bezique. It uses an unusual deck, including two of every card, and has an emphasis on making melds.
Players 4, in fixed, cross-wise partnership.
Cards Two decks of cards each including 9–10–J–Q–K–A in every suit, 48 cards. The cards are ranked and valued as follows (low to high):
Objective Work with your partner to score at least as many points as bid through melds and point cards.
Deal Standard procedure, dealing 12 cards to each player.
|Family||A-10-K-Q-J in trump||150||1500|
|Royal Marriage||K-Q in trump||40||80|
|Marriage||K-Q in same suit||20||40|
|Aces Around||An ace in each suit||100||1000|
|Kings Around||A king in each suit||80||800|
|Queens Around||A queen in each suit||60||600|
|Jacks Around||A jack in each suit||40||400|
In addition to the card-points, points are scored by making melds. If a player holds any of the above combinations of cards, then they can display them at the appropriate time and score their value.
The same card cannot be used in multiple melds of the same type, but can be used in multiple melds of different types. The exception to this rule is that the Royal Marriage that’s part of a Family is not scored. Some melds score differently when a player holds two complete sets of them, as noted in the table. For example, two ♠Q and two ♦J is a Double Pinochle, scoring 300 points rather than 80.
The forehand opens the bidding. Each player in turn has the opportunity to raise the bid or pass. A player who passes may not bid again later. Once three players have passed, the auction is over and the remaining player is the declarer. If everyone passes without bidding, the hand is thrown in.
A bid represents the minimum number of points (cards and melds) that a player thinks that they can make with the help of their partner. The minimum bid is 250, and each subsequent bid must be at least 10 points higher than the previous bid.
After the auction, the declarer names the trump suit. Then, their partner passes them 4 cards. After taking the cards into their hand, the declarer returns any 4 cards to their partner.
Following the exchange, everyone in turn displays their melds face up on the table. Each team’s meld points are recorded at this time, and then players pickup their cards.
The declarer leads the first trick. The rules for following to a trick deviate from the standard trick-taking rules. When following to a trick, these rules apply:
- Players must follow suit if able, and play a card in that suit that’s higher than any other card that’s been played in the suit. However, if the trick was trumped, any card in the led suit may be played.
- Players must play trump if they cannot follow suit, and must play a trump card that’s higher than any other trump that’s been played, if able.
- Players may play anything if they have no cards in the led suit and no trump.
If two identical cards are played to the same trick, the card that was played first is considered higher.
The team that wins the final trick receives 10 points for winning the trick. Then, each team totals the point values of the cards that they took, and adds this value to the points that they made for melds.
If a team did not take any tricks, then any points that they scored for melds do not count. The exception to this rule is that the points for deece are still scored.
If the declarer’s team did not make at least as many points as they bid, then they lose the value of their bid. Otherwise, they score all of the points that they made. Their opponents always score for all of their points, provided they took at least one trick.
The first team to score 1,500 points wins. If both teams make 1,500 points on the same hand, then the declarer’s team wins.
Here are a few of the many common variants:
Simplified Points Divide all of the point values by 10. For example, aces are now worth 1 point and pinochle 4.
Card Exchange The declarer and their partner exchange 0 to 4 cards, as agreed on prior to starting the game. If no cards are exchanged, the minimum bid is lowered to 100 and game is 1,000.
Heading the Trick Players are only required to head the trick when trump is led.
Deal 15 cards are dealt to each player, and 3 to the stock.
Bidding and Melding The auction works the same. After winning the auction, the declarer exposes the stock face up on the table, declares the trump suit, and displays their melds, using both the cards in their hand and the cards in the stock. After melding, they discard, face down, 3 cards from their hand that they did not use in a meld. These cards count in their tricks at the end of the hand. Finally, the other players display their melds, but may not use the stock.
Play and Scoring The rules are the same, except that each player scores their own melds and tricks individually. Game is 1,000.