Pinochle Rules
Copyright (c) 2008 David S. Peterson


Deal passes around table for each hand, to the left. After shuffling, the dealer allows the player to his right to cut the deck. The dealer typically deals three cards to each player at a time.

No. of
No. of
Each player gets this many cards Special rules
3 1 15 3 card kitty, no partners
4 1 12 2 teams
5 2 16 9s are removed, bidder's partner chosen randomly after bidding
6 2 16 3 teams

If you have seven players, play either a table of 3 and a table of 4, or play 6-handed rotating one player out each hand (and keep individual scores).

Optional rule: If a player is dealt five 9s and has no meld, he can throw in the hand before bidding begins.

Bidding: Players bid to see how many total points their team can make from the melding and playing of their cards. In a four-handed game, first player to dealer's left is "in" for 250 points, and bidding proceeds to the left, usually in 10 point increments. Once a player has passed, he is out of the bidding.

Bidder bunch!!

In a four-handed game, the average high bid is between 350 and 450 points. A typical bid for a hand with all but one card for a run and all but one card for 100 Aces is 380 points. A typical bid for a hand with three legs of pinochle (all but one card for a double pinochle) is 350 points (or more, depending on your other cards).

In a three-handed game (single deck with a three card kitty), the opening bid is 150, and a typical high bid is between 200 and 250.

In a five-handed game (double deck with no nines), the opening bid is 450, and the typical high bid is between 550 and 650.

If a player's partner has passed, he may want to continue bidding even if he doesn't intend to take the bid, just to prevent the opponents' getting the bid for a low amount.

The high bidder names the trump suit for the hand and is passed four cards by his partner.

Passing cards: If your partner receives the bid, he will name the trump suit and you will pass four cards to him. Typically, you pass trump cards, Aces and, if your partner named spades or diamonds trump, pinochle cards. If your partner names clubs or hearts trump, never pass him pinochle cards -- he'll pass you back for pinochle. The reason is that the high bidder may want to empty his hand of non-trump suits so that when other cards are led, he can immediately trump those tricks.


After receiving the four cards from his partner, the high bidder shows his meld (see below for scoring) and, keeping the melded cards face up in front of him on the table, passes four cards remaining in his hand back to his partner. All the players can then show their meld.

  Name Points Odds
1 each of A-10-K-Q-J in trump run 150 pts 1 : 2
Extra King or Queen in trump
(only for players with a run)
extra King/Queen 20 pts 1 : 3
2 each of A-10-K-Q-J in trump suit double run 1500 pts 1 : 100
1 Ace in all four suits, 100 aces 100 pts 1 : 4
2 Aces in all four suits, 1000 aces 1000 pts 1 : 100
1 King in all four suits, 80 kings 80 pts 1 : 20
2 Kings in all four suits, 800 kings 800 pts 1 : 300
1 Queen in all four suits, 60 queens 60 pts 1 : 20
2 Queens in all four suits, 600 queens 600 pts 1 : 500
1 Jack in all four suits, 40 jacks 40 pts 1 : 20
2 Jacks in all four suits, 400 jacks 400 pts 1 : 1000
Queen of and Jack of pinochle 40 pts 1 : 4
2 Queens of and 2 Jacks of double pinochle 300 pts 1 : 20
3 Queens of and 3 Jacks of triple pinochle* 600 pts 1 : 100
King and Queen in non-trump suit marriage 20 pts 3 to 5 each hand
King and Queen in trump suit marriage 40 pts About 1 each hand
Marriage in all four suits** roundhouse 240 pts 1 : 30
9 in trump suit 9 of trump 10 pts 2 each hand

*only in double-deck pinochle
**kings and queens around is not counted additional

Optional rule: If the high bidder believes he can get every point of every trick, he announces he is "playing 1000." He shows no meld and passes four cards back to his partner, who also shows no meld. The opposing team may show meld, although their points count only if the bidding team does not get every point of every trick. Play continues as usual except that the high bidder's partner does not play; he merely pulls in the tricks and adds them to the pile of his own cards. If the team playing 1000 wins all the counting cards, they score 1000 points and their opponents lose their meld. If the team does not win every counting card, it loses 1000 points and the opponents' meld counts, as well as the points from the tricks they won.

The Play: All cards are picked up and the play begins. The high bidder leads (usually with an Ace). Play continues to the left until everyone has played a card. Players must follow suit unless they are out of that suit, in which case they must trump. If a player cannot follow suit and has no trump, any card may be played.

A player must also "beat" the previous high card if he can. For instance, if the first player leads a 10 of , the second player must beat it with an A of if he has it. If he cannot beat the 10, he must at least follow suit. If he has no s, he must trump (unless s is trump). If the second player trumps with a Queen of trump, the third player would still need to follow suit and play a if he has one, although he would not need to beat the 10 (since the 10 had already been beaten with a trump card). If the third player has no s and must trump, he must beat the trump card the second player played. If the fourth player cannot follow suit either, he must beat the highest trump card if he can.

If there were no trump cards played on the trick, high card in the suit that was led wins the trick. If trump cards were played on the trick, the highest trump card wins the trick. The order of cards is Ace-10-King-Queen-Jack-9. If two of the same high card were played, the first player that played the card takes the trick.

After the play, both teams count the cards from the tricks they've pulled in for counters: Aces, 10s and Kings. Each counter card is worth one point. Queens, Jacks and 9s count nothing. If a team does not pull in any tricks with counter cards, it loses any meld it had that hand. If a team that took no counters melded 9s in trump, the points from the 9s can be counted.

Download rules.pdf (requires Acrobat Reader)