Pinochle: An Overview

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Let's begin with a brief introduction to Pinochle.

Pinochle (pi-noch-le) is a card game played with a unique deck of only 48 cards, which contains two of each suit of the Nines, Tens, Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces, there are no 2 through 8 rank cards. Pinochle can be played with either two, three, or four players. The object of the game is to accumulate points by either winning tricks, or by melding a combination of cards. The meld of the Jack of Diamonds and the Queen of Spades is known as “Pinochle”, and scores 40 points.

History of Pinochle:

Pinochle CardsThe game of Pinochle was brought to the Americas by German immigrants. The immigrants attempted to pronounce the French word “Binochle”, but it came out sounding like “Pinochle”. The game Pinochle was originally structured from the old world game of “Bezique”. The modern two-handed version of Pinochle is a striking knock-off of Bezique. Today's three-handed Auction Pinochle is a derivation of Bezique combined with the German game of “Skat”. During World War I, anti-German sentiment ran high and the town of Syracuse, NY went as far as outlawing the game of Pinochle! We cannot imagine that happening today... can you?

Pinochle Scoring:

Rank of cards: In each suit the rank is (from high to low) A, 10, K, Q, J, 9. When duplicates are played in the same trick (ex: two Ace of Spades), the first played ranks higher.

Original Card Values: Each Ace 11, Each Ten 10, Each King 4, Each Queen 3, Each Jack 2, Each Nine 0.

The Simplified Card Values: Each Ace 10, Each Ten 10, each King 5, Each Queen 5, Each Jack 0, each Nine 0.

Additionally, winning the last trick usually counts for 10 points. Whether using the 'original' or 'simplified' count, there are 250 points in play.


Certain combination of cards have scoring value.
Pinochle Sequences:
A-K-Q-J-10 of trumps = 150 points.
K-Q of trumps (royal marriage) = 40 points.
K-Q non trump suit (simple marriage) = 20 points.

Pinochle Groups:
Four Aces, one each suit = 100 points.
Four Kings, one each suit = 80 points.
Four Queens, one each suit = 60 points.
Four Jacks, one each suit = 40 points.

Pinochle Special: Q of Spades and J of diamonds = 40 points.
9 of trumps (dix, deece) = 10 points.

A card may be used in two or three melds provided they are of different classes. For example, the Queen of Spades may be used in a marriage, sixty queens, and pinochle. But when a flush is melded, the K-Q do not count as a royal marriage too.

Partnership Auction Pinochle
Played with four players, two partnerships of two. The players sitting opposite of each other play as partners.

The cards are a standard 48 card pinochle deck. Each player is dealt twelve cards, dealt in batches of three at a time (unique to Pinochle). each player has one chance to bid or pass. All bids must be multiples of ten, with 100 being the minimum allowed bid. The winner bidder then declares the trump suit for that deal.


Plastic Pinochle CardsThe Meld: All four players may meld. In addition to the basic melds, double melds have extra value. Partners must meld separately; they may not pool their cards to build joint melds. Their separate melds are totaled together, and a memorandum is made of the amount. A side does not get credit for its meld until it wins a trick.

The Play: All players next pick up their melds, and the opponent at the left of the dealer makes the opening lead. A hand must follow suit to a lead if able. When a non trump is led, a hand void of that suit must play a trump, if able. When a trump is led, a hand must if able play a higher trump than already in the trick. A trick is won by the highest trump in it, or by the highest card in the suit which was led. If duplicate cards are in the same trick, the first one played prevails. The winner of a trick leads to the next. The object of play is to win cards of scoring value. Winning the last trick counts for ten points.

Scoring: Each side counts up what it has won in tricks, and to this amount adds the value of its melds (if it has won a trick). If the Bidder's side has won at least the amount of the bid, the number of points bid is added to the running score. If the bid was unsuccessful, the amount of the bid is subtracted from the side's score. The game continues until one side has reached 1,000 points.

Double Deck Pinochle:

This game is now the most popular variant of Partnership Auction Pinochle and follows the same rules except: Double Deck Pinochle is played with 80 cards (Shuffle together two Pinochle decks after removing all the nines). Each player receives 20 cards, dealt five at a time. The minimum bid is 500. The scoring values are: Each Ace, Ten, King = 10. No points for Queens and Jacks. The game typically proceeds until 5,000 points is reached.

Remember, Playing Cards and More is your best source of Pinochle cards!

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