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Five Player Pinochle Rules

Five-player Pinochle engages players in a bigger version of the original game.
cards image by Edvin selimovic from Fotolia.com

A "trick-taking" card game designed for play with up to five players (in two teams) and an 80-card deck, Pinochle lets players score points by "trick-taking," or stacking cards into a pile during a "play phase" where the player with the highest-ranked suit takes the pile of cards. Pinochle players also score points by building "melds," or sets of cards matching by suit. Five-player Pinochle adjusts the usual set of Pinochle rules by allowing two decks and a different "card hierarchy" in game play.

Pinochle Setup

A five-player Pinochle deck contains around 80 cards, consisting of four copies of the numbered (minus nine) and face value cards. Pinochle's card hierarchy is ace, 10, king, queen and jack. One player deals the entire deck to all players in sets of three, leaving five random cards face-down in the middle of the playing table. The highest bidder gets these cards, or "the widow," if he or she wins the current bid. After the cards are dealt, each player may "bid," or state the number of points they wish to score during game play. Opening bids should reach a minimum of 40 and a maximum of 60.

Playing The Game

The highest bidder names the "trump," or dominant suit after bidding. He or she may choose the "trump suit" from a suit with the most cards in their hand. After choosing the trump suit, the person to the bidder's left becomes their teammate, if they hold the ace or next lower ranked card of that suit; the other players become the opposite team. The bidder takes the remaining five cards (the widow) and places them into their hand. Each player puts their "melds," or card combinations, on the playing table to count and score each set.

Creating Melds

A meld combines a single group of a player's cards in hand. Before the start of a play, each player reveals their "melds" to the other players. A group of melds score according to the number of copies of a card in hand: single (one card); double (two cards); triple (three cards); quadruple (four cards). Melds come in four types: "runs," "marriages," "pinochles" and "arounds." Runs contain a combination of aces, 10s, kings and queens in a trump, or higher ranked, suit. Marriages combine kings and queens; a royal marriage combines a king and queen in a trump suit. Pinochles contain a combination of the jack of diamonds and queen of spades. Arounds contain a straight combination of any ace, king, queen and jack in each suit.

Scoring Points

After each player gathers their melds, they may count their points. The melds of runs, marriages, pinochles and arounds each give a varying amount of points to each player. Marriages give two points, while royal marriages give four. Pinochles and jack arounds award four points each; queen arounds give six points, king arounds eight points and ace arounds 10 points. Roundhouses, or a set of an ace, king, queen and jack in each suit, award 28 points. Runs, in the trump suit, give 15 points.

Continuing The Game

The highest bidder discards five cards after scoring the melds. He or she leads the first trick, or cards from each player played during the round. Each player may play a card with the same suit as the first played card or the trump suit; if a player doesn't have a matching suit, he may use any card. The player with the highest-ranked card takes the current trick. If more than one player plays a trump suit, the player with the highest rank beats the others. The current round continues until each player uses up their cards. After the round ends, each player totals every counter, the ace, king and 10 in hand from the last round; the last trick won from any team gets awarded two points.

Determining Bids

Each player adds counter, meld and trick points to determine their total score; the points won by each team member count as their entire score. The team who doesn't fulfill their bid must subtract their bid from their overall score; players who didn't bid keep their points. Bidding players can "forfeit" their bid, before beginning a play, by calling a trump and discarding their hand. These players won't score anything from their melds and tricks, and other players will collect their points. The game continues until one player has at least 240 points.

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