How to Play Double Deck Pinochle

By eHow Hobbies, Games & Toys Editor

While a standard Pinochle deck consists of 48 cards, double deck Pinochle expands it to 80, allowing for greater melding possibilities. Double deck Pinochle is generally played in game variants using more than the four standard players, but can also be used to invigorate a normal four-player game.

Know what constitutes a double Pinochle deck. While a standard Pinochle deck uses 2 copies of each card from 9 through Ace, a double Pinochle deck is stripped of the 9. Thus, there are 16 of each of the following card ranks: Jack, Queen, King, 10 and Ace, 4 of each suit. Remember, in Pinochle, the 10 outranks all cards except the Ace. Rankings then follow standard order.

Sit opposite your partner. Determine which player will deal first. Twenty cards are dealt to each player.

Begin the bidding process. In Pinochle, the "bid" is the part of the auction in which players attempt to secure the right to call trump by estimating the number of points their hand is worth. A player must either best the previous bid, or pass. The winner of the bid wins the auction and the right to call the trump suit, and the amount of their bid is called the "contract." That player's team must score, at minimum, a number of points equalling the contract. If they fail to, the difference between the two is subtracted from their overall point score at the end of the hand.

Meld cards as would take place in standard 48-card Pinochle, beginning with the player who won the auction and called the trump suit. Possible melds include "arounds," "marriages," "flushes" and "pinochles."

Know what an "around"' is. An around occurs when a player holds exactly 4 of a card of a single rank, with at least 1 in each suit. For example, the Ace of Spades, Ace of Hearts, Ace of Diamonds and Ace of Clubs make "aces around." Arounds can only be made using face cards (Aces, Kings, Queens and Jacks). They are scored as followed: Aces around is 100 points, Kings around is 80 points, Queens around scores 60 and Jacks around tallies 40 points. "Double arounds," which are more common in double deck Pinochle, occur when a player has 2 complete sets of arounds in a card of a single rank (for example, 2 complete "Kings around" sets). Double arounds score 10 times the value of a single around.

Understand what a "marriage" is in Pinochle play. There are two types: a trump marriage and a non-trump marriage. A trump marriage occurs when a player holds both the King and Queen of a trump suit. A non-trump marriage occurs when a player holds a suited King and Queen which are not trump. Remember that a King and a Queen of differing suits cannot be married. A trump marriage scores 40, while a non-trump marriage scores 20 points.

Remember that a "flush" consists of the Ace, 10, King, Queen and Jack of only the trump suit. Also called a "run," "rope" or "family," a flush is valued at 150 points. A player who has two flushes scores 1,500 points. Three flushes are possible in double deck Pinochle, but it scores only 1,650 points: 1,500 for the double-flush and 150 more for the third. The extremely rare quadruple flush would net a player 3,000 points and certain victory.

Meld any pinochles you have. The namesake of the game, a pinochle is a meld consisting of the Jack of Diamonds and Queen of Spades. A single pinochle nets a player 40 points, while a double pinochle scores 300. Triple and quadruple pinochles increase in value in the same manner flushes do.

Total the melding scores. In a standard four-player game, each individual team member adds his score to his partner's to form a team score.

Play the trick-taking portion of the game. Beginning with the player who won the auction, a card is led. The object is to play a card with a higher rank, thus securing the round of play (called a "trick"). The suit led must be followed by all players, if possible. If not, the player must play a trump card. Note that if trump is played because a player could not follow suit, all subsequent players must play trump regardless of whether or not they could have followed suit. The highest card played wins the trick, and the winner of the trick leads the next. Continue until all cards in all players' hands have been played.

Total the points scored during the trick-taking portion of play. While varying trick-tallying systems exist, classic Pinochle rules dictate the following: a trick won with an Ace wins the player 11 points, a trick won with a 10 scores 10 points, a King winner scores 4, a Queen nets 3 and a Jack grabs 2. As with melding, individual scores are merged between teammates to form a team score.

Continue until 1 team wins by scoring 1,000 points. In some cases, a higher ceiling (point total required to win the game) may be used to reflect the greater scoring potential of double deck Pinochle.