Game Rules Idaho Good Sam Organization


Pinochle is played with a 48 card deck. The deck consists of twelve cards in each of four suits, two in each of the ranks, Ace, Ten, King, Queen, Jack and Nine. Note that the rank of cards differs from standard usage: the Ten outranks everything (within its suit) except the Ace.

In the trick-taking phase of the game, the Aces, Tens, and Kings are worth points, and thus are called "counters". Queens, Jacks and Nines are not worth points (although they can win tricks), so they are called "non-counters".

DEAL: To begin play a starting dealer is selected. A "round" refers to the entire sequence from one deal to the next; the set of cards dealt to an individual player is a hand.

The dealer shuffles the cards and places the deck on the table to the dealer's right to be cut. All 48 cards are dealt evenly to the players. The cards are then picked up and sorted.

BIDDING: The winner of the bid, "declarer", acquires three rights; the right to trump, the right to receive cards from his/her partner; and the right to lead the first trick.

The minimum opening bid is 250 points with the first player to the dealer's left opening the bid. Bids are in increments of 10, or multiples of 10, points. Bid passes to the left.

There are four options to bid: A normal bid by announcing a number 10 points higher than the last bid; A "jump" bid by saying a number at least 20 points higher than the last bid; Pass; or Pass with help which removes the player from the bidding but can be used to convey extra information to their partner.

When only one person has not said "pass" or "pass with help", that person has won the bid and becomes the declarer. The amount bid is recorded. The winner of the bidding names the trump suit.

PASSING CARDS: After the declarer names trump, the bidder's partner selects four cards from his hand to pass across the table to the declarer. The declarer passes four cards back to his partner. These may include some cards just received.

MELDING: All players lay down their meld. There are three types of meld and an individual card may belong to several different pieces of the meld types. Each player places face up only those cards necessary to show the value of their meld.

Type I
Runs (all cards must be in trump)
Bare Run (A,T,K,Q,J) 150 points
Run with Extra King (A,T,KK,Q,J) 170 points
Run with Extra Queen (A,T,K,QQ,J)170 points
Run with Extra Marriage (A,T,KK,QQ,J)190 points
Double Run (AA,TT,KK,QQ,JJ)

1,500 points

Nine of Trump (called the Deece)

10 points

Marriages (K and Q of the same suit)
Royal Marriage (Trump) 40 points
Common Marriage (non-Trump)20 points
Type II
Single (one J-Diamonds/Q- Spades) 40 points
Double (both J-Diamonds/Q-Spades) 300 points
Type III
AroundsOne of each suitBoth of each suit
Aces100 points1000 points
Kings80 points800 points
Queens60 points600 points
Jacks40 points400 points

Points are counted and recorded. There are only a total of 250 points available during the trick-taking phase of the game. If the amount that was bid is more than 250 points above the amount melded by the declarer's team, there is no way that team can make their bid. They will go set for this hand.

If the difference between the amount bid and the amount the declarer's team has melded is 250 points or less, the hand can be played out. However, if the declarer feels there is absolutely no chance of making the required points, he or she can "throw in the hand" and the consequences are the same.

TAKING TRICKS: Once all players have picked up their melded cards, the declarer leads the first trick. Proceeding to the left, each player plays a card on the trick (following the rules outlined below). When four cards have been played to the trick, the highest-ranking card of trump, or if there is no trump in the trick, the highest-ranking card of the suit led, wins. The player who played the winning card leads to the next trick, and so on until twelve tricks have been played.

There are some rules about what must be played on the trick. The first, or lead card may be anything in the leader's hand. The basic rules of engagement are as follows:

  • If you have a card of the same suit as the lead card, you must play it. If possible, you must play a card that beats the card that currently controls the trick.
  • If you do not have any cards in the suit led, but you have a card in trump, you must play it, thereby trumping the trick. If the trick is already trumped, you must beat it with a higher trump card if you can.
  • If you cannot follow suit and you cannot trump the trick, you may play any other card.
  • The first played of two identical cards beats the second.
  • The rule obliging you to beat the card currently winning the trick applies even if the card you are obliged to beat is your partner's.
  • If you have no card of the suit led, you must play a trump if you can, even if someone before you has already played a higher trump than yours. The only case in which you are allowed to throw a card of a non-trump suit different from the lead suit is when you have no cards of the suit led and no trumps.
  • The obligation to play higher only applies if you are able to beat the card that is currently winning the trick. If you are unable to do this, you may play any card, subject always to the necessity to follow suit and to play a trump if you have no card o f the suit led. For example, if the non-trump lead has already been trumped, and you have cards in the suit led, you cannot beat the trump that is currently winning the trick (since you have to follow suit), so you may play any card of the suit that was led.

Once all four cards have been played to a trick, it should be clear which player has won the trick. Each team should designate one partner to "pull" the tricks or gather them from the center of the table, usually the non-declarer of the declarer team, turning them face down in front of him.

When all twelve tricks have been played, both teams count the Aces, Tens and Kings. Each counter is worth 10 points. The final trick is worth an additional 10 points. This totals 250 points. Scores are recorded.

If the declaring team has "made its bid" (earns enough points, through melding and trick-taking combined to meet or exceed the amount bid), all earned points are added to the previous score. If not, they "go set". This means they do not score any points melded or taken in the tricks and their previous score is reduced by the amount bid.

If the non-declaring team fails to earn points while taking tricks (that is, they pulled no counters and failed to capture the final trick), they do not score any points that were melded (they failed to save their meld). The exception is that if their only meld was one or both the deeces, the points are scored. Nines of trump save themselves. If the non-declaring team does capture points in tricks, the meld is added to their previous score, along with any points earned in tricks.

If the declaring team were not "on the board" with a score (their meld fell short of their bid by more than 250 points) or they decided to throw in the hand without play, they lose the amount of their bid, and the opponents score their own meld. The cards are not played, so there is no score for cards won in tricks. Note that if the declaring side have no chance of making their bid, it is advantageous for the to throw in the hand, as this prevents the opponents from scoring for cards taken in the play.

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