OBJECTIVE OF PINOCHLE: Win tricks and collect the most points.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-4 Players (4 players play with partners)

NUMBER OF CARDS: 48 card deck

RANK OF CARDS: A (high), 10, K, Q, J, 9

TYPE OF GAME: Trick-Taking



Pinochle is a trick-taking and melding card game with components similar to Bridge, Euchre, Spades, and Hearts. Unexpectedly, it also has similarities to the popular kid’s game War. The game’s origin is from the French game Bezique. Non-French speakers adopted the name ‘Binocle’ for the game, which means eyeglasses in French. German immigrants who adopted the game mispronounced it as “pinochle” and brought that name with them to America where the game subsequently spread.


The Pinochle deck has 48 cards. In each of the four suits, the deck has two of each: A, K, Q, J, 10, and 9. These cards, however, do not follow the traditional ranking. Ace is high, followed by 10, and K, and are often referred to as counters. Meaning these cards are always worth points. There are several methods of scoring which will be outlined below in the scoring section, some of which include Q, J, 9 as both being worth points and as NOT being worth points. When these cards are valued at 0 points, they are referred to as noncounters. The mechanism of scoring must be mutually agreed upon before the deal and the play.


A dealer may be chosen by whatever method players wish. They then will shuffle the cards thoroughly and distribute 12 cards to each player, 3 or 4 cards at a time. The deal starts to the left of the dealer and moves clockwise, ending with their own set of cards.

Once each player has their hand, they examine their cards and prepare for the auction or bidding phase. 

*If playing without bidding, after the deal, the dealer flips over the top card of the deck and places it face-up on the table. The suit of this card is the trump suit and all cards of that suit beat cards of all other suits. High ranking trump cards beat other trump cards. The remainder of the deck is placed face-down on the table and is the stockpile. 


bid is a prediction of the number of points your hand might earn. The player who bids the highest, or the winner of the bid, has the following perks:

  • declare trump suit
  • receive cards from their partner
  • lead the first trick

The minimum bid players must make is 250 points. Bids increase by factors of 10 and consist only of a number. The bid goes around the table until each player passes and a winner is declared. Starting to the left of the dealer, and moving clockwise, player’s have the following options during bidding:

  • bid normally, by bidding 10 points higher than the previous bid
  • give a jump bid, and bid 20 points higher than the previous bid
  • pass and leave the bidding
  • OR pass with help, which means you pass but you are giving extra information to your partner.

After the winner emerges, they announce the trump suit.

Passing Cards

The winner of the bid and their partner have the right to exchange cards. The winner’s partner selects exactly four cards to pass to their partner. The declarer (winner of the bid) adds those four cards to hand and examines them. After, they send back four cards to their partner, which can include sending back some cards they just received.


Pinochle is an iconic 2 player card game that can get competitive quickly! After the passing of cards, all players can place their melds on the table. Melds are made of particular card combinations, each combination having its own point value. There are various types of melds which players can create including arounds, flushes, marriages, and pinochle. 


Aces around (100 Aces) – four Aces, different suits – 10 or 100 points

Kings around (80 Kings) – four Kings, different suits  – 8 or 80 points

Queens around (60 Queens) – four Queens, different suits – 6 or 60 points

Jacks around (40 Jacks) – four Jacks, different suits – 4 or 40 points

Aces abound (1000 Aces) – eight Aces – 100 or 1000 points

Kings abound (800 Kings) – eight Kings – 80 or 800 points

Queens abound (600 Queens) – eight Queens – 60 or 600 points

Jacks abound (400 Jacks) – eight Jacks – 40 or 400 points

“Marriages & Flushes”

Marriages and Flushes are the sequence combinations.

Trump Marriage – K and Q of Trump suit – 4 or 40 points, 8 or 80 points if double

Marriage – K and Q of any suit – 2 or 20 points, 4 or 40 points if double

Marriages around – K and Q in each suit – 24 or 240 points

Flush (run) – A, 10, K, Q, J in trump suit – 15 or 150 points, 150 or 1500 if double


Pinochle – J of diamonds and Q of spades – 4 or 40 points

Double Pinochle – both J of diamonds and Q of spades – 30 or 300 points

Dix – 9 in trump suit – 1 or 10 points

Once each player sets their melds out they are scored and recorded on the scoring pad.

Since there are a maximum of 250 points available in the trick-taking phase of the game, if the declarer is 250+ points under their bid after melding they may throw in their cards and not participate in the trick-taking whatsoever.

If their bid is within 250 points after melding they may play their hand in the trick-taking.


After the melds have been scored players pick up their hands and prepare for the trick-taking portion of the game. The declarer leads the initial trick by playing any card they wish. A trick is won by playing either the highest ranking trump card or, if there are no trumps, the highest ranking card that follows the suit led with. During a trick, each player plays exactly one card. This continues until all 12 tricks have been played. Each trick after the first trick is led by the winner of the previous trick. Trick-taking follows the rules below:

  • When you can follow suit you must. If you have a card in hand the matches the suit lead with you must play it. Play a higher ranking card than the lead if possible.
  • If you are unable to follow suit, but a have a card in hand from the trump suit, you must play that card. This is called trumping the trick. If the suit led with was a trump play a higher ranking trump card if possible.
  • In the event you can neither follow suit or play a trump, you may slough. This means playing any card at all.

Each team should designate a puller. This player will collect the cards from tricks won in a face-down pile in front of them for scoring later in the game.


After all twelve tricks are played players score the cards collected. Aces, 10s, and Kings are worth 10 points each. Winning the final trick is also worth 10 points. This gives a total of 250 points players can collect during trick taking.

If the declarer matches or exceeds their bid, their total score (melds + tricks) is added to their running total. If they are unable to match their bid, the amount of the bid is subtracted from their running total.

When declarers ‘throw in’ their opponents score their melds. Tricks are not scored as no tricks are played. The declarer loses the amount they bid.

The game continues until a team scores 1500+ points. If both teams hit 1500 points in the same round the declarer’s team automatically wins.

Nakoa Davis