Pinochle is a classic card game that has been played for hundreds of years in Europe and America. There are many versions and variations of this game. In this article, we're going to explain how to play double pinochle, which is played with four players in two teams. We recommend reading over the entire instructions before playing your first round of Pinochle.
- Two decks of Pinochle cards
Pen and paper to keep score, or use our provided score sheet
Goal of the game
Be the first team to get 500 points.
Each pinochle deck contains four aces, kings, queens, jacks, tens, and nines - one of each suit. Two decks are combined to play this version of the game, and the nines and jokers are removed. The cards rank as follows: A (high), K, Q, J, 10 (low).
Overview of earning points
There are two ways to earn points each round:
- Scoring melds (This is done after the bidding phase and before tricks)
- Scoring tricks (This is done after all the tricks are played)
Overview of a round
Each round has the following general pattern:
- 20 cards are dealt to each player
- Each team bids on how many points they think they can win during this round.
- The winner of the bid chooses a suit to be the trump suit
- Teams score points based on the different melds (special combinations of cards) that they have in their hands
- The players play and win tricks (sets of four cards)
- The teams score points based on the cards in the tricks that they won.
Pinochle is a card game played with four people on two teams. Players should be seated across from their partners. Designate one team as “A” and the other team as team “B”.
Step 1: Dealing:
It is recommended to sort your hand by suit with alternating black and red as seen in the picture above before the bidding and again after the meld.
When everyone is seated, one card is dealt to each player. The player with the largest card is the dealer. The dealer deals out the whole deck - 20 cards to each player - beginning with the player on his or her left hand side and continuing clockwise. It is common to deal out 2 or 4 cards at a time, since there are 80 cards in a deck of double pinochle) Players should note how many points they can receive from their melds.
Step 2: Bidding
Players bid on how many points they think their team can win during this round. Bidding can go around as many times as needed until all but one player passes. Bidding higher can give you a better chance to call the trump suit, but if you lose your bid later, your team’s score will be deducted.
- The player to the left of the dealer gets the opportunity to place the first bid.
Instead of bidding, a player may choose to pass. Once a player has passed, he or she cannot bid again later in the same round.
Whoever places the first bid must bid 30
Each bid placed must be at least one point higher than the previous bid.
The bidding continues clockwise until all but one player has passed.
A player cannot bid if they do not have any marriages (a king and queen of the same suit), because they could not choose a trump suit.
Table-talking (talking about the cards in your hand) is not allowed; i.e. players cannot advise their partners how to bid.
Step 3: Bid Strategy (Advanced)
- There are many different strategies you can use during bidding to communicate your hand to your partner.
If your partner has not made their bid yet, it can be advantageous to give a meld bid, where you bid the total value of all melds in your hand.
You can also communicate the value of your hand by increasing the current bid by one point for every ten points that you think you can make. For example, if the current bid is 35, and you think you can make 40 points, you can communicate that by increasing the bid by four points (to 39).
Step 4: Calling Trump
- The player with the last (and highest) bid chooses one of the four suits (hearts, diamonds, spades or clubs) to be the trump suit.
The player who calls trump must call a suit that they have a marriage (a king and queen) in.
The bid is recorded on the score sheet. If using our provided score sheet, check the box next to the team that made the winning bid, and the suit that was selected as trump.
Step 5: Melding
Players score points from special combinations of cards that they have in their hands. After melding, the cards are put back into the player’s hands in preparation for the next step.
- All players reveal their melds to the other players, one type at a time (Type I, Type II, and Type III), and scores them using the table above. Scoring is by team, not by individual player.
- It’s okay to reuse a card in different melds of different types. For example, a card can be used in a Royal Marriage and a Pinochle, because those melds are different types. However, a card cannot be reused for two melds of the same type.
- You do not need to show cards that don't score you points during the meld
- The table above gives different score values for the melds, depending on how many of that meld you have in your hand. For example, if you have two kings and two queens, all in the trump suit, this gives you two royal marriages. This would score a total of 30 points for the two melds.
- Count each player’s meld scores individually, but then add together partners’ scores. For example, if the two partners each had a run in trumps, their 1x scores of 15 each would be added together to give a team score of 30. They would not score the 2x score.
To see Example of Melding go to Step 8-11
Step 6: Tricks
Players play out all their cards during this phase
- A “trick” consists of each player playing one card from their hand onto the table, beginning with the player who “leads” the trick and continuing to go clockwise, for a total of four cards.
The first card of the trick is known as the card that was “led”.
The winner of the bid leads the first trick.
Every player must follow suit if possible, which means that if they have a card that is the same suit as the card led, they must play it.
If the player cannot follow suit, they must play a trump card if they have one and can beat the current high card.
If you are able to beat the highest card played while still following the above rules, you are required to do so.
The winner of a trick is the person who played the highest trump card, or if no trump was played, the highest card of the suit that was let. (See Rank of cards above)
A card that is neither a trump card nor a card of the suit that was led will never win a trick
If there is a tie, the winning team is the one who played the highest card first
The winner of the trick takes all four cards that were played during the trick and places them face down in front of the team member who is collecting the cards(for that team).
The winner of the trick leads the next trick.
Continue to play tricks until everyone has played all their cards (20 tricks).
At the end of the round, points are scored for each ace, king and ten in the tricks that are won by your team.
To see Example of Playing a Trick go to Step 12-16
Step 7: Scoring
- Each team scores one point for each ace, king or ten within the cards from the tricks that they won.
There is a two point bonus for winning the last trick.
Add your melds and the points from the trick to equal the team score for that round.
If the team who places the highest bid doesn’t meet their bid (from their combined scores from their melds and tricks this round), they are set. They lose all points scored this round and their bid is then subtracted from their score.
Add the score and any previous totals to get your new total
If a team gets 500+ points in the game is over
If both teams are over 500 points at the end of the round then the winner goes to the team that won the bid that round.
This completes a round. The player to the dealer’s left becomes the dealer in the next round
Repeat steps 1-7
Step 8: Example of Melding
We'll go through an example on how to score a meld using the hand pictured above. If you can get Spades to be the trump suit, you’ll have a good hand. So you bid up to 112 points, hoping to outbid the other players. You win the bid, and then call spades as the trump.
Step 9: Ex: Meld Type I:
You count up all your runs and marriages for the type I melds. You cannot use your two kings and queens of spades as a royal marriage because they are being used for a 2x “run of trumps” meld but you did get 152 points for type I melds.
Step 10: Ex: Meld Type II:
You count up all Arounds (four different-suited Aces, Kings, Queens, or Jacks) You did not get many points for this type of meld. But at least you got 6 points.
Step 11: Ex: Meld Type III:
You added all your points and you got 152 + 30 + 6 = 188 points by yourself. You add this with your partner’s meld score to get your total meld for this round. You're guaranteed to get your 112 point bid.
Step 12: Example of Playing a Trick
We'll go through a example of a single trick. In our example, we're going be seeing all the cards playable. Normally, the cards are held in hand and only you can see your own cards until played.
Step 13: Ex: Trick - Player 1
He leads with the king of hearts. The other players must now follow suit if they can, meaning that if they have a heart, they must play one.
Step 14: Ex: Trick - Player 2
Since player 1 played the king of hearts, player 2 must play a heart if he has one, which he does. Furthermore, since player 2 must beat the highest played card if he can, he is required to play the Ace of hearts.
Step 15: Ex: Trick - Player 3
Currently, player 2 has the highest card. Player 3 does not have a heart (the suit led) or a spade (the trump suit), so player 3 could choose any of his cards to play. Since team B is going to win this trick, player 3 decides to give team B a Jack because there's no points for taking a Jack.
Step 16: Ex: Trick - Player 4
Team B is going to win this trick. Player 4 decides to play a ten of hearts because it gives a point and is harder to win with. Team B will collect the cards from this trick. During the scoring phase, they will earn three points for this trick - one point each for the King, Ace, and ten (no points for the Jack)