How to Play Pinochle

Once you learn how to play pinochle, you may become addicted.

How to Play Pinochle
A Pinochle deck consist of 48 cards, two sets of the aces, 10s, kings, jacks and 9s from all four suits, with the ace being high, followed by 10, king, jack and 9 in order. For a four person game, each player is dealt 12 cards in the manner that the dealer chooses. This game is played in couples, with partners sitting across from each other.

Before you start bidding, you should be familiar with melds. There are three types of melds, runs in trump, doubles and singles, and arounds. Runs are as follows:

  • Double run is ace, ace, 10, 10, king, king, queen, queen, jack, jack. A double run is worth 1500 points.
  • A run with an extra marriage is ace, 10, king, king, queen, queen, jack and is worth 230 points.
  • A run with an extra king is ace, 10, king, king, queen, jack. A run with an extra king is worth 190 points.
  • A run with an extra queen, which is also worth 190 points, is ace, 10, king, queen, queen, jack.
  • A bare run is ace, 10, king, queen, jack, with a 150 point value.
  • Marriage is a king and queen in the same suit. A marriage can be either common, or be in non-trump cards, or royal, a marriage in trump cards. A common marriage is worth 20 points while a royal marriage will get you 40 points.

Doubles and singles are:

  • A double, which is worth 300 points, consists of both queens of spades and both jacks of diamonds.
  • A single is a queen of spaces and a jack of diamonds for 40 points.

Arounds consist of:

  • Four aces, one from each suit, will add 100 points to your score while you can add 1000 points if you get all eight aces.
  • One king from each suit earns 80 points. All of the kings will get you 800 points.
  • One queen from all of the suits garners 60 points while all queen will add 600 points to your score
  • One jack from each suit is worth 40 points and all jacks are worth 400 points.

You can use the same card in different melds.

After you evaluate your cards, you start to bid. The first person who can bid sits to the left of the dealer. If this person passes, the bid goes to the next person. The minimum first bid is 250 and can be increased in increments of 10 or 20. Twenty is called a "jump bid." Once you pass, you are "out" and can't bid in that round again.

The player that wins the bid determines the trump card and gets to start the game.

However, before the play actually starts, each player calculates his or her meld and writes the score down. The meld cards, and only the meld cards, are shown face up before being returned to the hand.

Tricks are played as follows:

  • You must play a higher card in the suit being played if you have it, even if it is a card that is higher than your partner's. Otherwise, you should play in the same suit.
  • If you don't have a card in the suit, you must trump using a trump card, even if you have to trump your partner's trump.
  • If you don't have a card in either the suit being played or in trump, you slough the hand, or play any card.
  • If the same card is played during the hand, the person who put the card down first has precedence.

The cards are scored again. Aces, tens and kings are worth 10 points. The final trick is worth an additional 10 points. Total points are a combination of trick scores and meld scores.

If the declaring team, or the team that had the bid, makes more points that their bid, the team can add all of the points accumulated to their score. However, if the team doesn't make bid, they do not get to score any points and must subtract the bid amount from their previous score.

If the team without the bid, or the non-declaring team, fails to make any points from tricks, they can't add their meld score to their previous score. If this team does win points from tricks, both the points and the meld are added to their previous score.

Since there are so many variations of pinochle, make sure that all of the players understand the rules before you start your game.

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