PINOCHLE (Dominos)



OBJECTIVE OF PINOCHLE: The objective of Pinochle is to be the first player with 250 points.  

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3 players 

MATERIALS: A double-6 domino set, chips for scoring, and a flat surface. 

TYPE OF GAME: Trick-Taking Domino Game 

AUDIENCE: Adults 


OVERVIEW OF PINOCHLE 

Pinochle is a trick-taking domino game for 3 players. The goal is for you to reach 250 points before your opponents.  

SETUP 

The dealer first dealer is chosen at random and passes to the left for each new deal. The dealer will shuffle the tiles and deals each player 9 dominoes 3 at a time. There will be 1 tile left, this is the widow.  

Tile Rankings and Melds 

The tiles’ rank changes slightly depending on if you are in the melding or trick-taking phase of the game. For the melding phase, the doubles of each suit are either separated into their own suit or ranked within their suit in numerical order. If in their own suit, they rank with [6,6] being the highest and [0,0] being the lowest.  

For the trick-taking phase of the game, the ranking is standard with doubles being the highest-ranked tile of their suit. A tiles suit is determined by the highest number on the tile. The other number determines the placement of the tile in the rank of the suit.  The double being the highest down to the 0 being the lowest.  

GAMEPLAY 

The gameplay is separated into two phases. There is the melding phase and the trick-taking phase.  

Melding 

For the melding phase, the dealer will flip and reveal the widow. They will announce the two suits, or if it’s a double, the one suit the widow belongs to. Then starting with the player to the dealer’s left players will show any melds they hold in their hands by placing them face-up on the table.  A player may choose to show all, some, or none of their melds. If they wish to show none or do not have any to show they simply say “no melds” when their turn comes around.  

 The widow can be used by any player to form melds from their hand. Two types of melds can be made.  

The first type is 3 consecutively numbered tiles of the same suit. You can either have 3 tiles of consecutive order or two tiles and use the widow as the 3rd.  

The second type of meld is 3 consecutively numbered doubles. If the widow is a double, it may be used as part of your meld, in which case you would only need two tiles from your hand. Otherwise, three tiles are used from your hand to make the meld.  

After all players lay down their melds, the dealer will pay each player based on the melds made (discussed in scoring).  

All melds remain exposed on the table for the next phase of play.  

Trick-Taking 

The next phase begins with the player left of the dealer. They may lead any tile to start the trick. The following player must follow suit if able. The highest-ranked tile of the suit lead wins the trick and leads the next one.  

The player who wins the last trick is also given the widow for scoring.  

SCORING 

After the melding phase, the dealer gives each player chips based on the melds they made.

For sequence melds, if the meld consisted of two tiles from their hand and the widow, the player is given two chips. If the meld consisted of 3 tiles from their hand, they are given 3 chips. If the meld consists of 3 tiles from their hand, and they are of the same suit as the widow, then the player is given 4 chips. Finally, if the meld consisted of 3 tiles and the widow is of the same suit and continues the sequence the player is given 5 chips.

For double melds, if the meld consisted of two doubles from hand and the widow the player is given two chips. If the meld consisted of 3 doubles from their hand, they are given 3 chips. If the meld consists of 3 doubles from their hand, and one is of the same suit as the widow, then the player is given 4 chips. Finally, if the meld consisted of 3 doubles and the widow is also a double the player is given 5 chips. 

For trick-taking, a player is given one chip per trick won. A player also receives 5 chips for each tile they won that’s pips total to 5 ([0,5], [4,1], [2,3]), and 10 chips for each tile they won that’s pips total to 10 ([4,6], [5,5]).  

END OF GAME 

The first person to reach 250 points is the winner. It is possible to win during the melding phase. If two or more players tie during the melding phase then the trick-taking phase is played. If there is a tie during the trick-taking phase an additional round is played.  

Amber Crook
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