Pinochle, as a card game, has its origins in the game called Bezique, played in France. It is a trick-taking type of game, which is played throughout Europe and North America. The game has developed into many variations, in the regions where it is played. A rich variation in the way a game is played is testimony to its popularity.
The rules were modified and new ones were added, as the game spread throughout USA. It was brought to the country by German immigrants, among whom the game was already popular. Three requirements to play this game and win are astute judgment, a calculating mind, and an excellent memory.
Pinochle has many unique rules as a card game, which are quite different from most. It takes some time to master the intricacies. Here are the basic rules of play for the auction version.
The maximum number of players that can play the game are six and the minimum number is three. In the auction version, the number of players is three.
The deck used for pinochle is unique and different from a standard deck of card play. It contains 48 cards, as against the standard 52 cards per deck. These 48 cards consist of two identical copies of a 9, 10, ace, king, queen, and jack for each suit. Initially, you had to use two standard decks to create a pinochle deck by taking out the cards, not required in play. However, with the popularity of the game, decks specifically designed for it are available.
Deciding the Dealer Through Draw
The first thing, which is standard practice in any card game, is to choose the dealer. Each player chooses a card from the deck. After choosing, each one reveals his card. The one with the lowest card, becomes the dealer. There is no set method for choosing one. You can simply decide who would be the dealer, by mutual agreement, or use another method of election.
There is a choice in how a dealer may hand out cards. Each player can be dealt 15 cards, three at a time, or four rounds of three, followed by the last dealing of three cards. After the first round is dealt, a three-card widow must be presented by the dealer.
Bidding and Melding
Starting with the person on the dealer's left, bidding must begin after the cards are dealt. After having a look at the cards, every player must bid for the points he could score, with a minimum bid to be set of 200, 250, or 300. Every player must either better the previous bid by at least 10 points or just pass the turn.
The number of points that may be earned is largely decided by melding. Melding is announcing a specific combination of cards like an Ace-King-Queen-Jack combination, that can earn points directly for the highest bidder, when he announces and reveals them.
The highest bidder, decides the trump for the game. To win, he must score points equal to or higher than the amount he has bid. If he scores lower than that, the score is subtracted from his total score. The total score is a combination of points won through melding and tricks. The bidder needs to bury three cards that he hasn't melded. That means, he must place them face down on the table.
There are elaborate scores for every type of meld or combination of cards that a bidder may have. These have to be decided before play. The play begins with bidding, then melds are revealed, and finally the game goes through the 'tricks' phase. The bidder with the most astute judgment, wins and scores are added up for successive games played, to decide the overall winner.
The rules of the game, are so designed, that only the players with a good judgment have a high possibility of winning. It is a fun game to try out on weekends with your friends, who are really into playing cards.