How to Play Five Point Pitch

By Christine Cam
Basic Pitch is played with a 52-card deck of cards.

In addition to being a great family card game, Five Point Pitch is played in pubs and taverns around the world as a money game. This is a fast paced card game so be prepared for the action.

Playing 5 Point Pitch

Shuffle the deck and pass to the left for a cut. Not allowing the player to the left to cut the deck prior to the deal can be cause for a penalty point deduction to the dealer in some tournaments.

Deal six cards, three at a time, to each player in clockwise rotation. Cards must be dealt three at a time to each player or a misdeal is pronounced and a penalty point deduction could be given to the dealer in a tournament. The remainder of the deck is set aside, no longer in use for this hand.

Bidding starts in clockwise rotation with the player on the dealer's immediate left. Bidding starts at two and goes to five. If five is bid, the player is said to "shoot the moon" as that player will need to take every point. If no player bids, the dealer must either bid two points or declare himself 'set' and take a two point penalty. The deal is passed to the left and play starts over. Points are awarded at one point for the following trump cards: Highest played, Lowest played, Jack of trump, Jick, and Game. The Jick point is the fifth point in this version of Pitch. The Jick is the opposite of the Jack of trump. For example, if Hearts is trump then the Jick card is the Jack of Diamonds.

The highest bidder calls the trump suit. This becomes the highest ranked suit in this hand. Any player not having the trump suit is not allowed to play the hand, thus their hand is "pitched."

Play starts with the player who named trump and progresses in clockwise rotation, skipping any pitched players. Strategies can differ at this point, but the object is to take as many points as possible. This is called bringing points home. The highest card played wins the round, and is called "trick." Trump cannot be played unless it is led or a player can't follow the lead suit (if it is, it is called a 're-nig' and the fouling player is usually set back by two points). A trump card can only be beaten by a higher trump card.

After all cards have been played, count the points each player has taken. Aside from the four main points in Pitch (High, Low, Jick, and Jack), all tricks must be counted to see who wins the point for Game. Counting is as follows: Ace=4, King=3, Queen=2, Jack=1, and 10=10 points each. The winner of the point for Game is the player who took the most points altogether. One variation in the game is that some play that the Low trump must be brought home, others give the point automatically to the player dealt the low trump card no matter what.

Keep track of the points and sets after each hand. A 'set' occurs if the bidder does not earn at least the number of points they bid. For example, if a player bids four points and only earns two, they receive negative four for their score.

Win the Pitch game by being the first player to score eleven or more points.

Count the number of sets for each player and pay the winner accordingly. Most Pitch games are played for $2 per player and $1 per set per player, but check to make sure of the stakes prior to playing any money game.

Tip

Watch and learn from older Pitch players, there is always a method to their madness. You may wonder, at first, why a dealer would take a set rather than play the hand and try to make the minimum two points, but remember all other players will get any points that they earn whether the dealer makes the bid or not. There will be hands where no Jick or Jack points are awarded if no player owns these cards.

Warning

Always ask before the game for any rule variations. Always ask what the stakes are for the game prior to playing. Payment will be expected following every game and games are fast.