How to Play the Pitch Card Game

The Pitch card game, also called Setback, is a trick-taking game that has bidding and a trump suit. In these ways, it is similar to games such as Bridge or Euchre, although there are differences. Pitch is one of the best card games for learning trick taking and bidding strategies. Pitch is played with three or four players. If three players are in the game, each is for herself. If four players, each player is teamed with the player across from her; thus, two teams of players are competing. A full deck of cards minus the jokers is used for Pitch. Six cards are dealt to each player. The rest of the cards are not used for that round.

The Object Of The Game
Get the highest score (individual or team) based on the most tricks, bidding success and cards taken with the highest point value.

Dealing
Allow the player on the right of the dealer to cut the cards. The dealer deals six cards to each player and puts the rest of the cards aside.

Bidding
Players look at their cards. The player to the dealer's left makes a bid, stating either Pass, 2, 3 or 4. Bidding proceeds to the left, and each player must either bid higher than the current bid or pass. The dealer may match the current bid or pass when it is her turn. If all players before the dealer have passed, the dealer must make a bid. If the dealer matches the highest bid, he wins the bid and plays the first card.

Game Play
The player who won the bid plays a card. This card will establish the trump suit. The trump suit is the suit that has the highest priority over the other suits in that game. Game play proceeds to the left, with each player throwing a card. Cards played must match the suit of the card that was led. If the player does not have the suit that was led, he may play a trump card or another card. The player who throws the card with the highest value takes the trick. Tricks are placed in an individual pile face down in front of the player who won that trick. Cards are valued Aces high, then King down to 2.

Scoring
When all six cards have been played, the scoring begins. Trick points are calculated based on the high card in the trick as follows:

  • Ace=4 trick points
  • King=3 trick points
  • Queen=2 trick points
  • Jack=1 trick point
  • 10=10 trick points

In addition, 1 trick point is awarded for each of these that apply (they may not all apply):

  • The person with the highest trump card
  • The person with the lowest trump card
  • The person with the Jack trump card
  • The person with the most trick points

Finally, the player who won the bid must have won at least as many points as he bid at the start of the game. If he didn't, the number of points he bid are subtracted from his final score. If he won at least as many trick points, he keeps his score.

The Next Round
The player to the dealer's left becomes the dealer and a new game is dealt. The player or team reaching 11 points first wins the game. If there is a tie, the game continues until a clear winner is established.

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