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Pinochle

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Pinochle Rules

Pinochle is a trick-taking and melding game popular in the United States. The game is derived from a variation of Bezaique and was brought to America by German immigrants. The name "Pinochle" is a misspelling of the french word "binochle" which means "eyeglasses" or "Two-eyes", referring to the meld "Pinochle" which consists of a queen and a jack. Allegedly this refers to the fact that the game was originally played with a deck of cards where the queen of spades and jack of diamonds were depicted in profile, together showing two eyes. There are multiple variations of Pinochle in existence, each with differing rules and traditions, but the one on this site is a single-deck four handed partnership Pinochle. Pinochle is played with 4 players and a deck of 48 cards. The cards have two copies of each card rank and suit of ace (high), tens, king, queen, jack, and nines (low). note that unlike standard card games in Pinochle the tens are a high card, and will outrank the kings, queens, and jacks in trick taking. A single round in Pinochle consists of 6 phases.

  1. Dealing
  2. Bidding
  3. Exchanging
  4. Melding
  5. Trick-taking
  6. Scoring

Dealing

Pinochle is played in partnerships, with partners sitting opposite each other at the table. The first dealer is chosen at random, but then dealership passes clockwise around the table. At the start of each round every player is dealt 12 cards. The player to the left of the dealer has first bid (see below).

Bidding

Once every player has been dealt 12 cards the auction begins. Here players bid the minimum number of points they believe their team can get during that round. The minimum bid is 250 points, and starts with the player to the left of the dealer. A player can either bid 10 or 20 points over the current bid, or pass. Once a player either passses or raises the bid the player on his left bids. A player that has passed on a bid is skipped and the player on his left bids instead. The last player not to pass wins the bid with the amount he last bid. If all players pass without bidding then the dealer makes the default bid of 250 points, and automatically wins the contract.

The winner of the bid has now won the right to:

  • Declare the trump of the round
  • Exchange 4 cards with his partner
  • Lead the first trick

Winning the auction

The player who won the auction must declare the trump for that round.

Next, the partner of the winning player must select and pass over exactly 4 cards from his hand to the winning player. The winner must then pass 4 cards back to his partner. There is no restriction on which cards are passed, but partners cannot communicate or consult with each other when selecting cards to pass. Passing cards is not optional, and each player must pass 4 cards. However the winning player can give back the cards his partner passed to him if he so chooses. The team that lost the auction cannot exchange any cards that round.

Melding

All players will form melds from their hand for points. There are three classes of melds. A single card can be part of multiple melds in different classes, but can only be a member of a single meld in a given class. For example a queen of hearts can be a member of a "Hearts marriage" (Class 1 meld), and a member of "Queens around" (Class 3 meld), but cannot also be a member of "Run" (Class 1 meld) since it already appears in the hearts marriage. The points for the melds presented are tallied up and added to the score of that team for the round. The game will automatically form the highest scoring combination of melds from your hand and present those.

Valid Melds

The following are valid melds in Pinochle, and their respective point values:

Class 1 melds:
  • Run: Ten to Ace, all 5 cards in the current trump suit (H11 H12 H13 H10 H14). Worth 150 points.
  • Run + King: A run with an extra king in the trump suit. (H11 H12 H13 H13 H10 H14). Worth 190 points.
  • Run + Queen: A run with an extra queen in the trump suit. (H11 H12 H12 H13 H10 H14). Worth 190 points.
  • Run + Marriage: A run with an extra royal marriage. (H11 H12 H12 H13 H13 H10 H14). Worth 230 points.
  • Double run: Two runs in the trump suit. (H11 H11 H12 H12 H13 H13 H10 H10 H14 H14). Worth 1500 points.
  • Dix: The nine of a trump. (H9). Worth 10 points.
  • Royal marriage: King and queen of the trump suit. (H12 H13). Worth 40 points.
  • Common marriage (or [suit] marriage): King and queen out of trump. (S12 S13). Worth 20 points.
Class 2 melds:
  • Pinochle: Jack of diamonds and queen of spades. (D11 S12). Worth 40 points.
  • Double pinochle: Both jacks of diamonds and both queens of spades. (D11 D11 S12 S12). Worth 300 points.
Class 3 melds:
  • Aces around: One ace of each suit. (H14 S14 D14 C14). Worth 100 points.
  • Aces abound: All 8 aces. (H14 H14 S14 S14 D14 D14 C14 C14). Worth 1000 points.
  • Kings around: One king of each suit. (H13 S13 D13 C13). Worth 80 points.
  • Kings abound: All 8 kings. (H13 H13 S13 S13 D13 D13 C13 C13). Worth 800 points.
  • Queens around: One queen of each suit. (H12 S12 D12 C12). Worth 60 points.
  • Queens abound: All 8 queens. (H12 H12 S12 S12 D12 D12 C12 C12). Worth 600 points.
  • Jacks around: One jack of each suit. (H11 S11 D11 C11). Worth 40 points.
  • Jacks abound: All 8 jacks. (H11 H11 S11 S11 D11 D11 C11 C11). Worth 400 points.

Trick taking

Once melding concludes trick taking starts. The player who won the auction leads the first trick, and then the winner of each trick leads the next one. The player leading the trick can play any card they wish, but other players must follow the restrictions below:

  • You must play a card in the same suit as the lead card.
  • If you cannot play a card in suit, you must play a trump.
  • If you can neither follow suit or play a trump then you can play any card you wish
  • You must take the trick if doing so does not violate the above rules.
Example: The trump is spades. Bill leads the trick with the queen of hearts H12. Lisa has neither hearts nor spades and so can play any card from her hand. You have the ace of hearts and ten of hearts H9 H10 H14. You must play either the Ten of hearts or the ace of hearts as they are both in suit and can beat the queen of hearts. Note that you must take the trick if you can even if your partner is currently winning the trick. John has no hearts but has a queen of spades S12. He must trump if able and thus takes the trick with his queen.

The round ends when all 12 tricks have been taken.

Scoring

At the end of the round the players tally up their scores. Every ten (10), king, and ace collected in the round as part of tricks is worth 10 points. The last trick is worth 10 points regardless of contents. Thus a team can get a maximum of 250 points in the trick taking phase by getting all 8 tens, all 8 kings, all 8 aces, and the last trick of the round.

If a team is unable to get any points during the trick taking phase then they get no points that round, regardless of how many points they earned during melding. If the non bidding team gets at least 10 points during trick taking then their meld points and trick points are addded to their total score from previous rounds.

If the bidding team earns enough points from their melds and trick taking to match or exceed their bid then all their points are added to the total score. If they fail to meet their bid then they have "gone set" and earn no points that round. In addition their bid is subtracted from their total score.

Voluntarily going set

If, after melding, the bidding team's bid is more than 250 points higher than their combined score they have gone set. The player who won the bid can at this moment throw in the hand. Doing this will cause them to go set, have their bid subtracted from their total score, the opposing team gets their melds added to their score, and the next round begins. The bidding team however can also choose to play the hand in the hopes of getting all 250 points avalible and causing their opponents to get 0 points for the round, somewhat lessening the damage. Teams can not throw in the hand under other conditions, if their bid is 250 points higher than their score or less they must play the hand.

Example: Bill won the bid at 330 points. After melding it is revealed that you and Bob only managed to get a combined 60 points. Since you can only get 250 points from the trick taking phase your team can never meet the 330 point bid, falling just short at 310 even if you get all the tricks. Bob decides that you cannot get all possible 250 points and throws in the hand. Your team loses 330 points and John and Lisa get whatever their melds are worth added to their total. The next round then begins. If Bill had so preferred he could have led the first trick and the round would have continued as normal.

Winning the game

The game is won when either team has a total score of 1500 or greater at the end of a round. If both teams cross the finish line in the same round then the team who currently holds the bid wins regardless of the actual point values.

Example 1: You and Bill end the round with 1500 points, while John and Lisa only have 1200 points. You and Bill win the game.

Example 2: You and Bill end the round with 1700 points, while John and Lisa have 1600 points. John is the bidding player this round. John and Lisa thus win the game.

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About Pinochle

Pinochle is the fourth game on CardGames.io that is fully developed by Magnús, one of our part-time employees. Other games that Magnús has made are Manni, Canfield Solitaire and Scorpion Solitaire. Pinochle has been the most requested game on CardGames.io for the last year, ever since we made Cribbage, which used to be the most requested game. We hope you enjoy it :)

The game is made using html+javascript+css with jQuery used for the animations. All the graphics used for the game come from OpenClipArt, a great site with free graphics. The excellent playing card images were made by Nicu Buculei, and the player images were made by Gerald G.

Any comments, questions, ideas for other games or anything else can be sent to admin@cardgames.io.

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This is version 1612 of Pinochle.

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