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Pinochle Rules




Playing Pinochle
Pinochle Rules






The Cards

Double-deck Pinochle uses a deck of 80 cards, made from two Pinochle decks (or four regular decks) by discarding everything except the Aces, Tens, Kings, Queens, and Jacks. There are four of each card. In other words, there are four Aces of Spades, four Aces of Hearts, 4 queens of spades, 4 jacks of spades, etc....

Each card has a rank. he highest ranking card is an Ace. The rank order of cards is Ace, Ten, King, Queen, Jack. Double-deck pinochle is played by four people, in two sets of partners. It is customary to name the players North, South, East, and West. North and South are partners, as are East and West. A Pinochle hand is one set of 20 cards played by each of the four players. A game consists of several hands, played and scored successively until one team reaches some pre-determined score (350 or 500 points required).


Pinochle is played in tricks, just like Spades, Hearts, and Bridge. A trick consists of one card from each player, played in a clockwise turn. One player leads by playing first. Then the person to his or her left plays, and so on until all four people have played. The highest card played first wins the trick, and its player removes all four cards to be counted later.

Rules of Trumping

The first rule is: You may only trump if you cannot play in the lead suit. In the examples above, if you have a card from Spades, then you cannot play from the trump suit Hearts. You must always follow the lead suit, if possible.

Second Essential Rule of Trumping

The second rule is: You must trump if you can legally do so. In other words, if you cannot follow the lead suit, then you must play a trump, if you have any. Even if you know that your trump card will be beaten by a higher trump, you still must play it. If you cannot follow suit, and you have no trumps, then you may play any card you wish. To break one of the trumping rules is to renege, in pinochle terminology. This is severely penalized in real games, for example, by automatically going set on one's bid, or by forfeiting an entire game. Computer versions usually simply prohibit one from playing this way. The person who leads in each suit determines what card suit the other players must follow. For instance, if the person leads with a Spade, then each player must play a Spade, if possible. If you do not have a Spade, then you must play a Trump (described below) or card from another suit. Finally, you must always play to win the trick, if possible.

Sample Tricks (basic)

First Sample Trick

1. South leads: Ten of Hearts 

2. West: Ace of Hearts

3. North: Queen of Hearts

4. East: Jack of Hearts West wins. His Ace beats all, so West leads next.

Second Sample Trick

1. West leads: 10 of Spades

2. North: Queen of Spades

3. East: Ten of Spades

4. South: King of Spades.

west had played the Ten of Spades First and wins the Trick.


The winners of a Pinochle game are the team who first reach the score of 350 or 500 points. Scoring is composed of two components: Meld and Counters


Meld refers to points you receive based on the cards you are dealt. It is therefore random. Various combinations of cards have various values. For example, if you have a King and Queen in the same suit (e.g., King of Spades and Queen of Spades), that is a marriage. It is worth two points.

Some other combinations include:

Run (Flush): Ace-10-King-Queen-Jack of trumps (15 points)

Aces: Ace in all four suits (Spades, Clubs, etc.) (10 points)

Pinochle: Queen of Spades with Jack of Diamonds (4 points)

Meld Table

  1 set 2 sets 3 sets 4 sets  Notes
A~A~A~A 10 100 200 400 A in all four suits
K~K~K~K 8 80 160 320 K in all four suits
Q~Q~Q~Q 6 60 120 240 Q in all four suits
J~J~J~J 4 40 80 160 J in all four suits
Pinochle 4 30 90 270 Q spade + J diamonds
Marriages 2 4 6 8 K and Q of same suit
Royal Marriages 4 8 12 16 K and Q of trump suit
Runs 15 150 300 600 A-10-K-Q-J of trump

What is a Bid? 

The bid is a promise to score a certain number of points in the hand, both from Meld and from the Counters you win. Bidding starts at 50. This means that if you bid, then your Meld and your Counters (including those of your partner, North) That person may either bid 50 or higher, or may Pass. Once a person has passed, he or she may not bid again. The bid progresses clockwise around the table. As long as people bid, it keeps going around, skipping those who have passed. When three people have passed, the remaining person is said to have won the bid, and he or she picks the Trump suit. After the bidding is over, each team declares its Meld by showing those cards to the others. If a team combines for 20 or more Meld, that is noted to be scored later (if they also take 20 or more Counters). Counters are the following cards: Ace,10, King.  At the end of each hand all pointer cards are added and the amounts of Meld and Counters.  You must get at least 20 points of counters minimum for each hand.

Rules for Bidding 

There are three principal rules that apply to bidding: 

1. Your team must combine for at least 20 meld, if you win the bid. If you do not have 20 meld, you lose the number of points that you bid. (Losing after winning the bid is called going set.) 

2. You must have a marriage in your trump suit, being a king and queen of the suit you wish to be trump. If you win the bid and have no marriages, you are automatically set. 

3. Bidding goes from 50 to 60 by 1s. Above 60, it goes by 5s. Therefore: you can bid 50, 51, 59, 60, 65, 70, etc. You cannot bid 61, 62, etc. 

4. Opening bid meanings: 50 means you have a run , 51 opening means you have aces (called aces around, 1 aces of each suit), 52 means means you have 20 meld , 53 opening bid is 30 points of meld, 54 opening bid is 40 points in meld total. 

Dropping the Bid 

If no one bids, then the bid is dropped on the person who is dealing. This person must then make an automatic bid of 50. If he or she cannot bid in accordance with the requirements above, then his or her team is set, just as if a true bid had been made. For this reason, if your partner is dealing and you have at least one marriage, it is customary for you to bid, so that you can save your partner from having the bid dropped on him or her. 


It is quite all right to Pass when you are asked to bid. However, once you have passed, you cannot bid again later (except to continue passing). There are many good reasons to pass: If you do not have much meld (less than 10 or so) You do not have any marriages (and thus could not pick trumps) Your hand is weak (not many high-ranking cards) The bid is too high for you.  Your partner seems to want the bid 

Playing the Hand 

After someone has won the bid, you will play out the hand, as follows: 

1. The person who won the bid will lead with the first card. Everyone else must follow with the same suit, if possible. 

2. Whoever wins each trick will lead for the next trick 

3. If you are void in the suit that is led, you must trump, if you can. 

4. Remember, you must always play to beat the cards shown, if you can. 


You begin scoring after all cards have been played (after the 20th Trick). The rules for scoring are as follows: 

1. Whoever wins the last trick (20th) gets 2 extra points for counters. 

2. If the bidders do not get at least 20 counters, they are set. The final bid amount is deducted from their score. 

3. If the bidders are set, their opponents still get their meld and counters as usual. 

Advanced Notes on Playing 

Basic Bidding Conventions 

If you have Aces Around (an Ace in every suit), it is customary for you to bid 51 instead of 50, if you make the first bid. This lets your partner know that you have several Aces. 

If you have 20 meld or more, then you should increase the bid by a factor of 1/10 of your meld. For example, if you bid first, and you have a total of 30 meld, then you should bid 53. If someone has already bid 54, for example, then you should bid 57. You only do this the very first time you bid. If you later bid higher, you should bid up by only 1 point. More bidding conventions are described below.

Tips on Playing a Hand 

Once you have mastered the basics, here are some techniques that you may find useful. Examine the Meld of all players when it is shown. This may give you clues about how many Aces, Trumps, etc., that they have. 
If you win the bid, play your Aces first. Play out all of your aces (except in Trumps) as soon as you can. Your partner will put counters on them, and they are unlikely to be trumped early in the hand. An optional strategy could also be not to play all of your Aces, but to hold some in
reserve for later use, if you believe they might win later. Once you have played your Aces, lead with the Queen of Trumps. The idea here is that you probably have more trumps than your opponents (otherwise you would not have picked that suit). If you can fish out one or more of the high trumps, then you will be ahead later in the hand. This is not an absolute rule, but it often works. 

Advanced Bidding Conventions

In addition to the meld bids already described, many players use "jump bids" and various "strength bids". These work as follows.

A "jump bid" is used to force your partner to bid back after the first round of bidding. For example, suppose that you signalled Aces by opening at 51 in the first round of bidding, but you also have 30 meld and little strength. During the second round of bidding, you may wish to increase the bid by +2 or +3 to signal this to your partner, who should then bid back if possible.

A "strength bid" signals a very strong suit and the desire to take the bid. This is shown in "weak" form simply by increasing the bid by +1. However, one may also jump the bid by a large amount in order to demonstrate the same thing. Jumping several points to a bid of "60" is considered to be a very strong "strength bid." One's partner should pass after a very strong bid. (Thus, you should never jump to 60 to show meld; jump to 59 instead.)




Copyright 2000 Intersite Technologies, Inc All Rights Reserved


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Copyright 2000 Intersite Technologies, Inc All Rights Reserved