Double deck Pinochle is a 4 player card game. There are two teams of two players, with partners sitting across from each other. Points are scored in two ways: via "melding" and "trick taking".
After cards are dealt, players combine their cards into particular patterns - called "meld" - to earn points. All players display their meld, and points are recorded.
Next, each person plays a card into a "trick". The highest ranking card wins the trick for the person who played it. The Ace card has the highest rank, meaning it is the most powerful card. Next highest is the 10, followed by King, Queen, and Jack (lowest). Cards in the "trump" suit outrank all other cards.
The only cards in a trick that score points are the Ace, 10, and King - each is worth 1 point.
The objective is to be the first team to reach 500 points.
A random player is chosen to be the dealer.
Each player is dealt a hand of 20 cards from a deck of cards containing four A, 10, K, Q, J cards of each suit (a total of 80 cards).
Starting with the player to the dealer's left, and proceeding clockwise around the table, each player places a bid. The player who wins the bid gets to choose the trump suit, which can help to win their team meld points and trick points. This makes choosing trump valuable!
However, there are costs to winning the bid. First, you can only choose a trump suit if you have a "marriage" (King and Queen) in that suit. So make sure that you have a marriage when deciding what to bid. Second, in placing a bid, you assert that your team will win at least the number of points bid. For example, if you bid 65, then you pledge that your team will win 65 points. If your team fails to do this, then you lose the number of points bid!
Players may choose to pass instead of bidding. If not passing, they must bid at least 50.
Each player must bid higher than the previous bid made, or pass. Each player may bid more than once, as long as they continue to bid higher than the previous bid.
Bidding continues until 3 consecutive players pass. If no one has placed a bid, the dealer is forced to bid 50. Otherwise, the player with the highest bid wins the bidding war.
Note that if the dealer is forced to bid 50, but has no marriages at all, then their team will lose 50 points automatically.
The player who bid highest now chooses the "trump suit." Cards with the trump suit outrank cards of all other suits.
Choices for trump suit are restricted to suits in which you have a "marriage". If you are choosing trump, but have no marriages at all, your team forfeits and your bid is subtracted from your score!
After the trump suit is chosen, players show any "meld" in their hands. A "meld" is a group of cards in a specific pattern. For example, the Jack of Diamonds and Queen of Spades form a "pinochle" meld, which is worth 4 points. Two pinochle melds in your hand are worth 30 points.
During the meld phase, the total meld points for each team are computed. If a team does not have at least 20 meld points, they will not earn any meld points at all! Also, if the bidding team does not have 20 meld, they forfeit the hand, and their bid is subtracted from their score! Regardless, their opponents will earn their meld, provided it is worth at least 20 points.
Meld patterns are given in the following table:
|Type I - Runs|
|Run - A, 10, K, Q, J|
K, Q of trumps
K, Q not trumps
|Type II - Pinochles||Pinochle - J Diamond ♦ & Q Spade ♠||4||30||60||90|
|Type III - Arounds||Aces around - A in each suit||10||100||150||200|
|Kings around - K in each suit||8||80||120||160|
|Queens around - Q in each suit||6||60||90||120|
|Jacks around - J in each suit||4||40||60||80|
A specific card in your hand may belong to more than one meld of different meld types, but it cannot belong to more than one meld within a meld type. For example, if you have Kings around - K♦, K♠, K♥, K♣ - and also a Q♣ card, the K♣ in your Kings around meld will be paired with the Q♣ in a Marriage meld. However, if you have a Run in Clubs - A♣, 10♣, K♣, Q♣, J♣ - the King and Queen in that meld cannot count towards a Royal Marriage. You must have an extra King and Queen of that suit to make up a Royal Marriage meld.
Do not be too concerned about computing melds. Use the "Show Meld" button to show all melds in your hand that do not require a trump suit. The only melds that you will need to find on your own are Runs and Royal Marriages.
The player who won the bid starts the trick by playing any card, the lead card, from their hand. Play continues in clockwise order.
When following with a card, you must play a card that outranks the highest ranking card in the trick. This is called "crawling".
For example, if the trick started with a King of Diamonds, and you have an A♦, 10♦, and Q♦, then you cannot play the Queen; you must play either the Ace or the 10.
If you do not have any Diamonds, but do have a card in the trump suit, you must play a trump card. If there are any trump cards in the trick already, you must play a trump card that outranks that card, if possible. Otherwise you must play some other trump card.
If you have no cards that outrank cards in the trick, you may play any card in your hand.
After all 4 players have played a card, the trick is taken by whomever played the highest ranking card. Remember that trump cards outrank all other suits.
The trick-taker is awarded 1 point for each Ace, 10, or King in the trick. Other cards are not counted. For example, if there is 1 Jack in the pile, and 2 Aces, and a Queen, then the trick-taker is awarded 2 points.
The trick winner starts the next trick.
The team which takes the last trick gets 2 bonus points, so that the total of both team's trick points always sums to 50.
After each hand, scores are calculated for each team by adding up the teammate's meld points and trick-taking points.
Rule of 20
A team with less than 20 meld does not score any meld points.
If the bid-winner's team does not have at least 20 meld points, their bid is subtracted from their score! In this case, their opponent will score meld points, but only if they have 20 meld points or more.
A team that does not take at least 20 points during the trick-taking portion of the game cannot take any points at all; even their meld points are not counted.
If the bid-winner's team does not take at least 20 points during the trick-taking portion of the game, their bid is subtracted from their score!
If the bid-winner's opponents did not have 20 meld points, they may still score points during the trick-taking part of the game. They are only awarded trick points if they score 20 or more points from their tricks.
The first team to reach 500 points wins!.
If both teams reach 500 points on the same hand, then the winner is the high-scoring team. If they are tied, the winner is the bidding team.
However, if the "bidder out" option was chosen, and both teams reach 500 on the same hand, then the bidding side wins, even if their score is lower than their opponents. For example if the bidding side has 510 points and the other team has 540, then the bidding side still wins.
Signalling via a "meld" bid
In Pinochle, it is a valid strategy to use your bid to signal something about your hand to your partner.
Partners often develop unique systems for signalling via bidding, but a commonly used pattern works as follows:
If a player opens with a bid of 50, it usually means they want to choose trump. If their partner is the dealer, it may also mean that they have a marriage, and are offering to choose trump in order to save their partner from being forced to choose trump. Remember that if the dealer is forced to choose trump but does not have a marriage, their team immediately gets 50 points deducted from their score!
An opening bid of 51 means you want to choose trump in a specific suit and also have some Aces in other suits (so the hand is reasonably strong).
An opening bid of 52 or more is an indication of the "trumpless" meld points in the player's hand (i.e. all meld except Runs or Royal Marriages). It indicates 20 meld points of this type (2 x 10 = 20). Similarly, 53 bid indicates 30 meld, etc.
If a player bids 1 more than the previous bidder, it indicates a desire to choose trump.
If a player bids 2, 3, 4, ... more points than the previous bidder, they are telling their partner how many "trumpless meld points" they have. For example, suppose the first player bid 53 to show they have 30 meld. If you have 40 trumpless meld, you then bid 57 (4 extra points indicates 40 meld).
Bids of 60 or more are usually made to force other players out of the bidding. Remember that you are required to score your bid in meld and trick points, so bid wisely! If you bid 60, and only take 20 points in tricks, you must have 40 meld points between you and your partner to make up the difference.
General Bidding Strategy:
- When thinking about whether to bid or pass, use the "Show Meld" button to look for Marriages. Then, check to see whether you can get Runs in the suit of any Marriages. Runs will yield more meld points (see the meld table).
- Don't bid unless you have at least one Marriage!
- You will probably have more success winning trick points if you have a relatively large number of cards in the trump suit.
General Playing Strategy:
- It's usually best to play your Aces first. It gives your partner an opportunity to feed you lower point cards.
- If your partner played a high card that is likely to win, you may want to slough your lowest ranking point cards so that they take as many points as possible, assuming that they win the trick.
- Try to keep track of which cards are played, especially the high cards (Ace, 10). If you notice all Aces in a suit have been played, you may be safe leading with a 10 of that suit (unless it is likely to be trumped).
Double deck Pinochle is derived from Pinochle, which comes from a 19th-century French card game called Bezique.