Pinochle Rules

Pinochle is a trick-taking melding game. It became popular in America but it is derived from a variation of Bezaique and was brought to America by immigrants of German origin. It is believed that Pinochle is the misspelling of the french word “binochle” which means “eyeglasses” or “two-eyes”. According to meld, “Pinochle” consists of a queen and a jack. Allegedly the game refers to the fact that, originally it was played with a deck of cards where queen of hearts and jack of spade together showing two eyes, these were illustrated in profile.

Pinochle which is here is a single-deck four handed partnership, though there are many variations of it that exist. Multiple variants of Pinochle differ by rules and tradition. It is played with four players and a deck of 48 cards. In the deck is the card suit of ace(high), tens, king, queen, jack and nines(low). The cards have 2 copies of each ranked card and remember that, unlike other defined games in Pinochle, the tens are a high ranked card then king, queen, and jacks in the trick taking. A single round consists of 6 phases in Pinochle.

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


Pinochle is played with the person sitting opposite of each other in partnership, at the table. Any random player can initiate the game, but later then dealerships will be passed clockwise around the table. At the beginning of each round all the players deal with 12 cards. The player to the dealer’s left has the first bid(refer below).


Once all the players have dealt with 12 cards then the auction begins. Here players try to fetch the minimum number of points during that round. The minimum number of bid points are 250, and it starts with the left side player of the dealer. On a current bid, a player can bid 10 or 20 points or pass. Once the player raises the bid or passes, the player on his left bids next. In case the player has passed the bid and skipped then the player on his left will bid instead.

The last player has not to pass the wins, he bids with the amount he last  bid. If no player makes a bid and passes the bid then the dealer will make the default bid of 250 points, and automatically wins the contract.

The winner of the contract has now right to:

  • To declare the trump of the round
  • Can exchange 4 cards with his partner
  • Will lead the first trick

Winning the auction

The winner of the last contract must declare the trump of the next round.

Partner of the winner must select and pass exactly 4 cards from his hand to the winning player. The winner must pass back the 4 cards to his partner. There is no specification on passing the cards, but yes the partners must not communicate or consult with each other during selecting and exchanging the cards. Passing the cards is mandatory, and each player passes 4 cards. However the winning player has the choice to pass back the cards passed by his partner to him. If he chooses to do so, then the team that lost the auction cannot exchange any cards in that round.


Melding is the combination of specific cards in the hands for the points by the players. The meld are classified into three. One card can be part of multiple melds in different classes, but it can be a member of a single meld in a class.

For example, a queen of diamond can be a member of a “diamond marriage”(Class 1 meld), and a member of “Queens around”(class 3 meld), but it cannot be a member of “Run”(Class of 1 meld) too, as it already appears for the hearts marriage.

The points of the melds would be tallied up and round up the scores with the last round. The game will automatically round up the score of the melds from your hands, and will declare the highest score player.

Valid Melds

The following are the valid melds in Pinochle, with their respective points values:

Class 1 melds:

  • Run: Current trump suit with, Ten to Ace all 5 cards (♥J♥Q♥K♥10♥A
    ). Worth 150 points.
  • Run + King: A run with an extra king in the trump suit with all 6 cards (♥J♥Q♥K♥K♥10♥A). Worth 190 points.
  • Run + Queen: A run with an extra queen in the trump suit with all 6 cards (♥J♥Q♥Q♥K♥10♥A). Worth 190 points.
  • Run + Marriage: A run with an extra royal marriage with all 7 cards (♥J♥Q♥Q♥K♥K♥10♥A). Worth 230 points.
  • Double run: Two runs in the trump suit with 10 cards (♥J♥J♥Q♥Q♥K♥K♥10♥10♥A♥A). Worth 1500 points.
  • Dix: The nine of a trump. (♥9). Worth 10 points.
  • Royal marriage: King and queen of the trump suit heart (♥Q♥K). Worth 40 points.
  • Common marriage (or suit marriage): King and queen out of trump with the same suit. (♠Q♠K). Worth 20 points.

Class 2 melds:

  • Pinochle: Queen of spades and Jack of diamonds (♠Q♦J). Worth 40 points.
  • Double pinochle: Both queens of spades and both  jacks of diamonds (♦J♦J♠Q♠Q). Worth 300 points.

Class 3 melds:

  • Aces around: One ace of each suit. (♥A♠A♦A♣A). Worth 100 points.
  • Aces abound: All 8 aces. (♥A♥A♠A♠A♦A♦A♣A♣A). Worth 1000 points.
  • Kings around: One king of each suit. (♥K♠K♦K♣K). Worth 80 points.
  • Kings abound: All 8 kings. (♥K♥K♠K♠K♦K♦K♣K♣K). Worth 800 points.
  • Queens around: One queen of each suit. (♥Q♠Q♦Q♣Q). Worth 60 points.
  • Queens abound: All 8 queens. (♥Q♥Q♠Q♠Q♦Q♦Q♣Q♣Q). Worth 600 points.
  • Jacks around: One jack of each suit. (♥J♠J♦J♣J). Worth 40 points.
  • Jacks abound: All 8 jacks. (♥J♥J♠J♠J♦J♦J♣J♣J). Worth 400 points.

Trick taking

Once the melds get concluded then the Trick Taking starts. The winner of the auction will lead the first trick, then the winner of each trick will lead the next trick. The leading player of the trick can play any card as per wish, but rest of the players must follow the rules stated below:

  • Must play the card from the suit of the lead card
  • If player cannot play the card from the same suit then he must play the trump
  • If player can neither play from suit nor the trump then he can play his wished card
  • If you want to take the trick then do not violate the rules mentioned above.

For example:

The trump is spade. Sam leads the trick with the queen of hearts
♥Q. Anna has neither hearts nor spades so she can play any card from her hand.

If you have an ace of heart ten of heart
. You must play either ace of heart or ten of heart, as they are from the same suit and can beat the heart of queen.

Note you must take the trick, even if your partner is winning the  trick.

Mike has no card with heart, so he plates with a spade of queen
♠Q and takes the trick.

Once all 12 tricks are taken then the round ends. 


Players tally up their scores at the end of the round. Every ten, king, and ace collected while taking the tricks is worth 10 points each, as well as counting up the last trick of the round. The maximum points 250 can be collected by a team by having all 8 tens, kings and aces in the last trick of the trick.

If a team is not able to get any points during the trick taking phase then they get no points, no matter how many points they collected in the previous round of melding. If the non bidding team scores at least 10 points by a king or a ten or an ace or by winning the last trick, then their meld points and trick points are added up to their total score from the previous round.

If the total score of the bidding team, trick taking phase and melding rounds match or exceed the bid then all their points are added to the total score. If they fail to meet their bid score then they have “gone set” and earn no points from that round. In fact their bid score will be subtracted from the total score.

Voluntarily going set

They have gone set, if after melding the bidding team’s bid is more than 250 points that is higher than their combined score, they have gone set. The player who won the bid can throw in the hand at this moment. Others will cause to go set by this, have their bid subtracted from the total score, the opposite team will get their score with addition of their melds, and the next round begins.

The bidding team however can try their luck by choosing to play the hand in the hope of getting all 250 points available which cause their opponents to get 0 points for the round, kind of lessening the damage. Teams must play the hand if their bid score is 250 points or higher then that.


Sam won the bid at 340 points. After melding it is disclosed that you and Sam could manage to get only a combined 70 points, since you can get the highest 250 points from the trick taking phase your team can never meet the bid points 340, falling just short at 320 even if you manage to win all the tricks. Sam decides that you cannot get all 250 points so he throws in the hand. Your team loses all 340 points and Peter and Anna get the total worth of their melds added to their total score. Then the next round begins. If Sam had so preferred he could have led the trick and the round would have continued as normal.

Winning the game

The winner of the game is the team with the score of 1500 or greater at the end of the round. If both the teams cross the finish line in the same round then the team with the higher bid of the current round wins regardless of the actual value points.

Example 1: 

You and Sam end the round with 1500 points, while Peter and Anna have only 1300 points, ultimately you and Sam win the game.

Example 2: 

You and Sam end up the round with 1800 points, while Peter and Anna have 1700 points, but Peter is the bidding player of this round so Peter and Anna win the game.