- 2-4 (best if played with two people or two teams of two)
- Pinochle deck (or create one with two identical card decks)
- Pen and paper
Additional Setup Notes
- If you choose to design your own Pinochle deck, select 2 decks of cards that have the same design on the back, and remove the 2s–8s of each suit. Keep each set of aces, kings, queens, jacks, 10s, and 9s so you have a 48-card Pinochle deck for the game.
- Select who will deal first by flipping a coin.
- After shuffling the deck, deal 12 cards to each player or team. Any remaining cards should be placed face-down in the middle of the playing area. Even while playing on a team, players shouldn’t ever see their teammate’s cards.
- Players will keep track of their own points using the provided pen and paper.
The objective of Pinochle is to collect and win “tricks” to score the value of cards taken in on tricks while simultaneously building card combinations, called “melds.” With countless card combination possibilities, there are infinite avenues to possible victory in the game of Pinochle. The player who earns the most points by playing melds throughout the game wins.
Individual Card Scoring
- Each Ace: 11 pts
- Each Ten: 10 pts
- Each King: 4 pts
- Each Queen: 3 pts
- Each Jack: 2 pts
- Last Trick: 10 pts
- All Nines have no point value.
Card Combination Scoring
First Tier Melds
- A,10, K, Q, J of the trump suit (flush, or sequence): 150
- K, Q of Trump (royal marriage:) 40
- K, Q of any other suit (marriage): 20
- Dix: 10
Second Tier Melds
- A♠, A♥, A♦, A♣ (100 aces): 100
- K♠, K♥, K♦, K♣ (80 kings): 80
- Q♠, Q♥, Q♦, Q♣ (60 queens): 60
- J♠, J♥, J♦, J♣ (40 jacks): 40
Top Tier Melds
- Q♠, J♦ (pinochle): 40
- Q♠, J♦ Q♠, J♦ (double pinochle): 300
Beginning with the player from the left, deal 12 cards to each player. Once everyone has their cards, flip over the top card of the deck. This is the “trump” suit for the round, a.k.a the most powerful suit for that round. Every card of that suit is now a trump card, with the remaining cards within the deck forming the “stock” while being placed face down.
A “trick” is a single turn during a round of Pinochle. Each trick consists of two steps: a lead and a play. The non-dealer will always lead first, but after this, the winner of each trick will lead the next round. If a trump card is led, it wins the trick as long as the opposing player doesn’t play a higher trump card somehow. If any alternative suit is chosen for the lead, the card led wins unless the opponent can trump or a higher card of the same suit is played.
After each trick, every player will draw a card from the top of the stock to guarantee their hand has 12 cards. Whichever player wins the last trick draws first.
Upon winning a trick and before replenishing their hand from the stock cards, the player can check their cards and meld a point-winning combination. Players form melds by placing cards face up on the table in front of them, where they will hang out until the player chooses to play them, or when the stock has run out.
Note: There is a restriction of one meld per turn. For each meld, at least one card must be taken from the hand and placed on the table. Cards can be melded multiple times, but only in a different tier of melds or a higher-scoring meld combination. After a card has been melded, it may be played to a trick as if it was in a hand. But be careful: once it has been played, it’s not eligible for use on a new meld.
The Dix: The dix, pronounced “deece,” works slightly differently than other Pinochle cards. If the dealer flips over the dix as the trump card, they automatically earn 10 points. After, any player holding a dix can count it by simply showing it upon winning a trick. A dix can be counted and make a meld in the same turn. Upon winning a trick, the player with the dix can exchange the card for the trump card.
Once the game heats up, the winner of the twelfth trick can attempt to meld a combination and then draw the final face-down stock card. This card is then shown to their opponent, who draws either the trump (or dix, if exchanged).
The winner of the previous trick will then lead. If possible, each player must follow suit to the leading card card. They’ll also try to win after a trump is led by playing a higher trump. The player who cannot follow the suit must then trump if possible. The final 12 tricks, or cards in each person’s hand, are played in this fashion. Whichever player wins the final trick earns an additional 10 points.
The end of Pinochle can be won in two ways depending on the player’s preferences.
One way is that each deal represents a game. In this case, the player who scores the most points by the end of the deck wins. Hooray!
Another beloved way to play Pinochle is by playing to 1000 points through a sequence of deals. The player who reaches 1000 points first, wins! With this variation, a fun way to up the ante when playing Pinochle is by allowing players to “declare themselves out.” If a player chooses to “declare out,” the play stops, and they must count all of their tricks and tally their points. If they manage to earn 1000, they win the game automatically, even if their opponent has a higher score.
What happens if both players have 1000 points or more?
If the game ends and each player has 1000 or more, the play should continue for another game until someone gets to 1250. This is even the case if one player has more points than the other because they both succeeded in the 1000 milestone. If both players exceed 1250 points at the end of the next hand, the game will extend until someone wins 1500 points before their opponent. But don’t forget about the “declaring out” option!
How can Pinochle be played with 3 players?
While the best games of Pinochle are played with two people, a three-player game can be accommodated with some slight tweaking. For three players, deal 18 cards to each player instead of the standard 12. Set three cards face-down in the middle of the table to be potentially won by a player during the game’s next stage.