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How to Play Pinochle - Deal, Meld, Bid, Trump, and Score!

Medha Godbole Apr 19, 2019
Pinochle is a game with a lot of fun. It requires a bit of strategic thinking. Know how to get your cards right.
The Europeans introduced the world to this interesting card game―Pinochle. It has been inspired and has evolved from a card game called 'Bezique'. It is basically a trick-taking game, best played when there are between two to 4 players involved. The most common form of pinochle is the 'Auction' Pinochle.


Every player gets 15 cards. The tradition is to deal in groups of 3 or a single bunch of 3, followed by sets of 4.
The dealer needs to deal 3 cards to a face-down window, or kity. The deck must have 48 cards, having Aces, Tens, Kings, Queens, and Nines, from two decks of playing cards.

Let's Meld

Okay, you are settled with your cards. Now, the next step is to do some melding. Melding refers to a particular combination of cards.
Those who have played rummy might know melding. If you have same ranked cards for 4 different suits, it is called 'Around'. In addition to that, you should know that a run is an Ace, Ten, King, Queen, Jack, and it is worth 15 points. Nine gives you an additional point. Four Aces constitutes 10, four Kings 8, four Queens 6, and four Jacks 4.
A nine in the trump suit always has a value of 1, A marriage (King and Queen of the same suit) counts as 2. If it is the trump suit, then it counts as 4 points. Last but not the least, a Jack of Diamonds and Queen of Spades is worth 4 points.

It is Tricky

The next step before bidding is to learn trick taking. The person who wins the bid declares the trump suit. The rank of cards in Pinochle though, is the same as most other card games. For instance, the Ace is the most powerful card.
Any card in the trump suit will beat any other card, unless it is a higher card in the trump suit. Subsequently, a Nine in a trump will beat an Ace in a non trump. Trick taking is a must when you play Pinochle.

Bidding Time

We have checked now what all precedes bidding, so let's take a look at actual bidding. To start off, determine what your trump will be, after taking stock of your cards.
An ace accompanied by a few other strong cards of the same suit will immediately put you in a good position. You can perform a quick calculation of your probable score by way of melding and trick taking. Get these 2 figures together, and use this as a bid, if you are conservative.
You can ask your partner for 4 cards after you win the bid. Also, calculate your score considering that you get those 4 cards and complete your hand perfectly. Bid somewhere in between this number, and the number you got from melding and trick taking, or if you are a dare devil, bid using the former.


When scoring points, the Ace, Ten, and King are worth ten points. The Queen, Jack, and Nine are worth zero points. There are a total of twelve Aces, Tens, and Kings, accounting for a total of 240 points that can be scored in the trick-taking phase.
Sometimes, players skip the redundant zero, as all points in another of scoring method are multiples of 10. If Aces, Tens and Kings are won in tricks, they are worth 1 point. To illustrate, say you bid 370 and make 405 in spades. Then you receive 30 from each opponent. But, if you bid 400 and made 405 in spades, the opponents would need to give you 50 each.
That was one way of playing―there are variations in the game involving differences in the way bidding is done and the number of players. Like, a 4-player Pinochle is called 'Racehorse Pinochle', or 'Partnership Pinochle'.