Rules for Playing Pinochle Card Game

By Chris Moore

There are many variations of the game of pinochle, but the standard is usually called single-deck pinochle. Single-deck pinochle uses a 48-card deck and four players split in teams of two. It is a combination of two basic card game premises, using both a melding phase and a trick-playing phase.

Cards and Dealing

Pinochle is played by four people, who split into partners. You need two standard decks to create the pinochle deck: Take all the cards 9 through Ace from each deck and shuffle them together; the deck now has two of each of these cards. The pinochle deck should consist of 12 cards in each suit. The 10 is higher than any other card except the Ace. (Chant "Ace, Ten, King" before playing to help you remember this.) The dealer passes 12 cards to each player.

Bidding

Following the deal, the two teams bid for the number of points they must win, opening with at least 250 points. Other players can bid 10 points higher, make a jump bid of at least 20 more points (in increments of 10), or pass. If you win the bid (once everyone else has passed), your team is the "declaring team" and you must win that number of points; the other team must stop you. You get to choose the trump suit for this round. Your partner then gives you four cards from his hand that you can add to yours and you give four cards (including any you just received) back to your partner. Choosing which cards to take and give improves both your hands. The declaring team also leads the first trick.

Melding Phase

In this stage, you get points for specific melds, or combinations of cards, in your hand. You get 150 points if you have Ace, 10, King, Queen and Jack of the trump suit; 190 if you also have an extra King or Queen; 230 if you have both the extra King and Queen; and 1500 if you have both of all those cards. The 9 of the trump suit adds 10 points. You get 40 points for a Jack of Diamonds and Queen of Spades combined and 300 for all four Jacks of Diamonds and Queens of Spades combined. You get 100 points for an Ace of each suit, 80 for Kings, 60 for Queens and 40 for Jacks; multiply these points by 10 if you have every card of that rank. The non-declaring team should try to make the declaring team fall 250 points short of their bid, because they then won't be able to reach it in the trick phase. In that situation, the non-declaring team then wins the hand without the trick phase being played.

Trick Phase

Tricks are played in standard form--the leader lays down a card, and the other players must play the same suit or a trump if they can. The highest card of the original suit or the highest trump wins. After playing all tricks, teams get 10 points for every Ace, 10 and King in their tricks plus 10 points for winning the last trick. The declaring team should know how many points they need to win the bid--and the other team should know how much they need to stop them.

Scoring

If the declaring team wins at least their bid amount, they get those points. If not, the bid amount is subtracted from their previous score. The non-declaring team gets the points they won from melding if the trick phase wasn't played; if it was, they get the melding points only if they also win points during the trick phase. Keep playing hands until one team reaches a set amount of points; 1500 is a good mark to set.

About the Author

Chris Moore has been contributing to eHow since 2007 and is a member of the DFW Writers' Workshop. He received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Texas-Arlington.