OBJECTIVE OF CUTTHROAT PITCH: The objective of Cutthroat Pitch is to reach a score of 21.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 or More Players

MATERIALS: A Standard 52-card deck, a way to keep score, and a flat surface.

TYPE OF GAME: Trick-Taking Card Game



Cutthroat Pitch is a trick-taking card game for 2 or more players. The goal is for you to reach a score of 21 before your opponents.


The first dealer is chosen at random and passes to the left for each new deal.

This deck is shuffled and dealt out each player receiving 6 cards.

Card Rankings and Point Values

The suits are ranked Ace (high), King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2 (low).

For bidding, there are points awarded to players who win certain cards or meet certain criteria during the game

There is scoring for high, low, game, and jack. High means the team that holds the highest trump in play scores 1 point. Low means the team that wins in a trick the lowest trump in play scores 1 point. The game point is awarded to whichever team scores the most points (discussed more below). Finally, the jack point is awarded to the team that wins the jack of trumps in a trick. There is a total of 4 possible points to be won in a round.

For the game, point players tally their score based on the cards they won in tricks. Each ace is worth 4 points, each king is worth 3, each queen is worth 2, each jack is worth 1, and each 10 is worth 10 points.


Once all players have received their hands the round of bidding can begin. The player on the dealer’s left will start and in turn, each player will bid higher than the previous or pass. Players bid on how many of the above points they must win in a round.

The minimum bid is 2 and the maximum bid is a bid of Smudge (or 5). Smudge requires that all four points above are won along with all 6 tricks as well.

If all other players pass the dealer must bid 2. The dealer may also steal the high bid by bidding the same as the highest current bid.

The bidding ends once all but one player passes, or a bid of smudge is made. The winner becomes the pitcher.

It’s typical for the remaining players to temporarily team up to prevent the pitcher from making their bid.


The pitcher will lead to the first trick, and the suit of the card led will determine trump for the round. The following players may follow suit or play a trump. If they cannot follow suit, they may play a trump or any other card from their hand. 

The trick is won by the highest-ranked trump, or if no trumps were played, the highest card of the suit led. The winner collects the cards from the trick and leads to the next trick a card of their choosing.

The round ends once all 6 tricks are played.


Scoring happens after each round.

The pitcher will determine if they were successful in completing their bid. If they were successful, they score the number of points earned during the round (this may be more than they bid). If they were not successful, then the number bid is subtracted from their score. It is possible to have a negative score. The opposing players each score any points earned to their individual scores as well.

It is only possible to win a bid of smudge if you receive all 4 points and win all 6 tricks, otherwise, the bid fails. You also cannot score 5 points for smudge unless you bid it, even if you complete all the needed criteria.

If the Jack of the trump suit was not dealt, then the point cannot be won.


The game is played until a player reaches a score of 21 or more in a round where they successfully completed their bid. This player wins.

Amber Crook
Latest posts by Amber Crook (see all)