Card Pitch Rules

By Alan Kirk

Pitch is a card game that involves bidding and winning tricks. The game of Pitch is played at a rapid pace as each player only receives six cards per hand. Multiple hands must be played during a game of Pitch before there is a winner of the game. Pitch is also known as Setback, and it has some similarities to Euchre.

Number Of Players

The game of Pitch can be played with anywhere from three to seven players. If playing with four players exactly, Pitch can be played as a partnership game. If playing with any other number of players, Pitch is played as individuals. Some refer to a game where the players are playing as individuals as Cutthroat Pitch, and the partnership game as Partnership Pitch.


When playing Cutthroat Pitch, players can bid between one and four points. If a player bids four points, he is known as the "pitcher" and leads to the first trick. If nobody bids four points, the dealer can match the highest bid and become the "pitcher." The pitcher gets to lead to the first trick and declares trump for the hand.

In Partnership Pitch, each player can bid between one and four points, or bid "smudge." Bidding "smudge" is equivalent to bidding five. The highest bid at the table is how many points that player and his partner must win to make their bid. Once again the dealer can match the highest bid and be the "pitcher" unless someone bids "smudge" in Partnership Pitch.

In both Cutthroat Pitch and Partnership Pitch, the dealer can be stuck with the bid. This happens if all the other players pass, and that requires the dealer to bid two. She can not just bid one.

The Points

The points won in a game of Pitch include winning the trick with the highest trump card in play and a point for winning the trick with the lowest trump card in play. It will not be known what the highest and lowest trump cards in play are until after all six tricks have been played. A point is also awarded for winning the trick with the Jack of trumps.

The fourth point is based on the values of all the cards won. Each Ace is worth four points. The Kings are worth three points, Queens worth two points and Jacks worth one point. Tens are worth 10 points. The player or team with the most total points wins this fourth point commonly known as the game score. In Partnership Pitch there is a fifth point, which is awarded if the team that is the "pitcher" wins all six tricks.

Card Play

Each player receives six cards. The trump suit is determined by the card that is led by the "pitcher." On a player's turn, he may play either a card from the suit led or a trump card--he does not have to be out of the suit led to play a trump card. If a player has no cards in the suit led or in the trump, suit she can play any card she wishes. The winner of the trick is the player that plays the highest trump card to the trick. If no trump cards are played to the trick, the player that played the highest ranking card in the suit led to start the trick wins the trick. Ranks start with the two as the lowest and go up in numerical order with the Ace being the highest card.

Winning In Pitch

It is possible that the winning team will have a lower score than the losing team in Pitch. This is because to win the game of Pitch, you must exceed the agreed upon winning total and have that total after you or your team is the "pitcher." Typical Partnership Pitch games are played to 21 points and Cutthroat Pitch games are played to at least seven points.

If the "pitcher" fails to make her bid, she loses the value of her bid. If she makes her bid, she receives as many points as she takes during the hand (up to five as explained in Section 3). The other players also receive points equal to the number of points he wins during the hand. The advantage of being the "pitcher" is that only the "pitcher" may win at the end of a hand.

About the Author

Alan Kirk has been writing for online publications since 2006. He has more than 15 years' experience in catering, management and government relations. Kirk has a bachelor's degree in business management from the University of Maryland.