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Pinochle Basics

Trickster Pinochle is an implementation of single-deck partnership auction pinochle (a game option offers single round bidding). It is a trick taking and melding game where players score points by capturing cards worth points (“counters”) and by forming combinations of cards into meld. The game has three phases: bidding, melding, and trick taking.

Trickster Pinochle offers two scoring styles we call “Classic” and “Modern.” In classic scoring, bids are multiples of 10 and meld such as Aces Around are worth 100 points (often called “100 Aces”). In modern scoring, bids increment by 1 and all the classic meld values are divided by 10. (More on meld values and card point values below.)

The Deck

Pinochle is played with a 48-card deck consisting of 2 cards per rank of ranks 9 through Ace. The order of ranks from top to bottom are A, 10, K, Q, J, and 9. Note that the 10 is elevated to a position just below the Ace.

Double deck Pinochle uses an 80-card deck consisting of 4 cards per rank of rank 10 through Ace.

The Deal

When playing without a kitty, all 48 cards are dealt: 12 cards to each of 4 players (or 16 cards to each of 3 players in the 3-player game). In the 4-player double deck game, 20 cards are dealt to each player.

Trickster Pinochle offers an option to play with a kitty (single deck only). If playing with this option, 11 cards are dealt to each player and 4 cards are placed in the kitty (15 cards dealt and a 3-card kitty in the 3-player game). The kitty is added to the high bidder’s hand before he or she declares trump. The high bidder (“declarer”) must discard an equal number of cards before trick taking starts so all players have the same number.


Following the deal, starting with the player left of the dealer, players bid to become the player who declares trump (the “declarer”). Player must bid higher than the previous bidder or Pass. Once a player has passed, he or she is out of the bidding. When all but one player has passed, the remaining high bidder becomes the declarer.

At this point, the declarer chooses the trump suit. If playing with a kitty, the kitty is revealed to all players and then added to the declarer’s hand prior to choosing trump.

As an aid to bidding, Trickster Pinochle displays a meld summary bar over the player’s hand. This bar shows meld points by suit. By clicking on a suit/number pair, we display the meld if that suit was trump.

Meld if diamonds were trump shown by clicking “110♦” in the meld summary bar.
Meld if diamonds were trump shown by clicking “110♦” in the meld summary bar.


Trickster Pinochle offers an option offers an option for the declaring team to pass cards. If playing with this option, following the choice of trump, the declarer’s partner passes 2, 3, or 4 cards to the declarer (the number of cards passed is a game option). The declarer then passes the same number of cards back to their partner.

The purpose of the pass is to improve the declarer’s hand – either their meld or their trick-taking ability.

Passing is not available in the 3-player game.

Shoot the Moon

If the game rule option “Ask to shoot” is on and after the bid is set and players have passed (if enabled), we ask the declarer if they want to Shoot the Moon. If they choose to shoot, they must take all tricks to succeed. When shooting, the declarer’s partner does not play. If they succeed shooting, they are credited with the game over score. This means the game will be over unless their score before shooting was negative. If they fail shooting, the game is immediately over, and the opponents of the shooter win the game.


After the bid is set and the declarers have passed (if enabled), players reveal their meld. Trickster Pinochle does this automatically starting with the declarer and going around the table clockwise.

Meld is not displayed if the declarer chooses to Shoot the Moon.

Trump in Double Deck

In double deck, the suit chosen as trump must contain a marriage or better. If not, your team will automatically fail the bid at the first card play. Because of passing, you may choose a suit without a marriage or better but unless you end up with a marriage or better, you will fail the bid.

This rule can be turned off by setting “Marriage+ in trump” to “No” (see Pinochle House Rules Options, below).

Trick Taking

After meld are revealed, trick taking starts with the declarer. Play continues clockwise following the led suit, if possible, or playing another legal card if not. Play continues until all cards have been played.

Note that cards are not all the same point value. Some cards are “counters” and other are not. Depending on the game options, even counters may have different values. This can be important when sloughing cards on a trick being taken by your partner or the other team.

Pinochle has specific rules regarding when a player must “head” a trick, that is, when a player must play a card better than the others already in the trick. Trickster Pinochle offers two popular versions of this rule: “must head trick always” or “must head trick if trump led.” These options result in the following behavior:

Must Head Trick Always

This rule requires a player to always beat the winning card in the trick, if possible. If the winning card in the trick is non-trump and the player has higher cards of that suit, they must play a higher card. If they have no cards of the led suit but have trump, they must trump in. If a trump card is currently winning the suit, they must beat that card, if possible.

Must Head Trick If Trump Led

This rule requires that you to beat the high trump card in the suit only if trump was led. You do not have to beat non-trump cards and you don’t have to beat trump cards played when the led suit was non-trump.


Following trick play, the points of the teams’ meld and taken cards are added. If the declaring team’s points exceeded their bid and they captured at least one counter, they score all their meld and taken points. If they fail to make the bid or capture no counters, the value of their bid is subtracted from their game score.

The defending team is credited with all their meld and taken points regardless.

Trickster Pinochle does all this computation for you and displays the results in a summary on the scorecard. You can view each teams’ score details by clicking on the “Details” link next to their score summary.

An end-of-hand scorecard showing the score details of the declaring team.
An end-of-hand scorecard showing the score details of the declaring team.

Meld Values

The following table shows Trickster Pinochle’s meld and their point values in the two scoring styles.






A,10,K,Q,J of trump



Double Run

2 runs



Royal Marriage

K,Q of trump



Nine of Trump

9 of trump



Aces Around

1 ace in each suit



Double Aces Around

2 aces in each suit



Kings Around

1 king in each suit



Double Kings Around

2 kings in each suit



Queens Around

1 queen in each suit



Double Queens Around

2 queens in each suit



Jacks Around

1 jack in each suit



Double Jacks Around

2 jacks in each suit



Common Marriage

K,Q of same non-trump suit







Double Pinochle

J♦Q♠ J♦Q♠



Meld may share cards between them except for a Run or Double Run and a Royal Marriage.

Double deck play adds triple and quadruple runs, aces, kings, queens, jacks, and pinochle.

Optional Meld Values

Four additional meld types are available as options (see Pinochle House Rules Options, below):





Run with extra King

A,10,K,K,Q,J of trump



Run with extra Queen

A,10,K,Q,Q,J of trump



Run with extra Marriage

A,10,K,K,Q,Q,J of trump



Double Royal Marriage

K,K,Q,Q of trump



If both options “Double royal marriage” and “Run with extra K/Q/KQ” are enabled, Double Royal Marriage beats Run with extra Marriage because of its higher point value.

Card Values

Trickster Pinochle supports three ways of scoring counters in the Classic scoring style. We identify these by the cards which count. In the Modern scoring style, only A, 10, and K count and they count 1 point each. The following table shows the point values per card rank for each set of counters.


A 10 K

A 10 K Q

A 10 K Q J



























Regardless of which cards are counters, there are 30 points per rank. With 8 cards of each rank in the deck, that’s 240 points. An additional 10 points are credited for taking the last trick resulting in 250 capturable points per hand (25 for modern scoring).

Pinochle House Rules Options


“Now” creates a new game that starts immediately. Other options schedule a game for a time in the next 24 hours. Compete and Join games only.


Four levels of winnings based on the buy-in level—30, 110, 275 or 550 Trickster Chips. Compete games only.


“Single Deck” is played with a 48-card deck. “Double Deck” is played with an 80-card deck.

Scoring style:

“Classic” uses bids and point values which are multiples of 10. “Modern” uses 1-point increments.


“To score” plays the game until one team achieves the score set in “Play to score.” When “# of hands” is selected, the game is played only for the number of hands selected in the “Play # of hands” option.

Play to score:

Sets the game over score when the “Play” option is set to “To score.” For single deck, “1000”, “1200” or “1500” ends the game when a team reaches that number of points (“100”, “120” and “150” for Modern scoring). For double deck, the options are “3000” and “5000” (“300” and “500” for Modern scoring).

Play # of hands:

Sets the number of hands to be played when the “Play” option is set to “# of hands.” When the number of hands is completed, the highest score wins.

Mercy rule:

Ends the game if anyone is losing too badly. “None” means no mercy; game continues to the game over score. The other options allow you to end the game if anyone if negative half the game over score, negative the game over score, or the spread between the low and high score equals or exceeds the game over score. Applies only when “Play” is set to “To score.”


“3” for a 3-player individual game or “4” for a 4-player partnership game. Single deck only; double deck is always 4 players in partnership.


Minimum bid:

Sets the minimum opening bid to “150”, “200” or “250” (“15”, “20” or “25” for Modern scoring). Single deck only; double deck is always minimum bid 500.

Bid style:

“Auction” for multiple round bidding. Bidding continues until only one has not passed. “Single” offers only single round of bidding.

Declarers pass:

“2,” “3,” or “4” indicates that the declarer and his or her partner exchange that number of cards after trump is declared. “None” means there is no passing of cards. 4-player games only.


“Yes” places the number of cards equal to the number of players in a kitty which is added to the high bidder’s hand. “No” deals all cards to the players.

Stick the dealer:

“Yes” means the dealer must bid if the other three players passed during the first round of bidding. “No” allows the dealer to pass; cards are redealt if all players pass during the first round of bidding.

Marriage+ in trump:

“Yes” means the declarer must have a marriage or better in trump or they automatically fold following melding. “No” removes this requirement. Double deck only.

Minimum 20/200 in meld:

“Yes” means the declaring team must have at least 20 points (200 in classic scoring) in meld or they automatically fold following melding. It also requires that the defenders have 200 in meld or their meld is not scored. “No” imposes no such restrictions. Double deck only.

Allow misdeal:

“Yes” means a player with 5 or more 9s can call a misdeal as their first bid. Single deck only.

Ask throw in:

“Yes” means we ask the declarer on their first lead if they want to throw in their hand. “No” means we do not. Default is yes.

Ask to shoot:

“Yes” means we ask the declarer just before meld display if they want to shoot the moon, meaning they will take all the tricks. If they succeed, they are awarded the game over score, frequently ending the game. If they fail, the game is immediately ended, and they lose. Applies only when “Play” is set to “To score.”

Meld Options

No double pinochle:

Two pinochles score 80 points (8 for modern scoring) instead of 300 (30 for modern) for a double pinochle. Single deck only.

Double royal marriage:

Adds a 300-point (30 for modern scoring) meld for having 2 kings and 2 queens of trump but not having a double run. In double deck, this also enables Triple Royal Marriage for 600/60 and Quadruple for 900/90.

Run with extra K/Q/KQ:

Add three more meld types: a 190-point “Run With Extra King,” a 190-point “Run With Extra Queen,” and a 230-point “Run With Extra Marriage.” If you have one of these, you do not get credit for a simple run. Also, if both this option and “Double Royal Marriage” is on, “Double Royal Marriage” beats “Run With Extra Marriage.” Single deck only.


Must head trick:

“Always” means a player who can follow suit must play higher than the currently winning card (if possible) or trump in if they are out of the led suit but still have trump. “Trump Led” means a player must play higher trump (if possible) on a trick where trump was led. “Never” means heading the trick is not required.

Must trump if void:

“Yes” means that a player void in the led non-trump suit, must play trump if they have any. “No” means a player may slough even when holding trump. Applies to “Must head trick” options “Trump Led” and “Never.”


“A 10 K” means that the Ace, 10, and King are each worth 10 points. “A 10 K Q” means the Ace and 10 are each worth 10 and the King and Queen are worth 5 each. “A 10 K Q J” means the Ace is worth 11, 10 worth 10, King worth 4, Queen worth 3, and Jack worth 2. In Modern scoring, only “A 10 K” is allowed and each is worth 1 point.

Minimum 20/200 in tricks:

“Yes” means a team must take at least 20 points (200 in classic scoring) during trick-taking or the declaring team loses their bid; the defenders score zero. “No” imposes no such requirement. Double deck only.

Must bid/set to win:

“Yes” requires the winner(s) to be either the bidder(s) who made their bid or the opponents who set the bidder(s). “No” means the player(s) with the highest score over the play to score wins. Applies only when “Play” is set to “To score.”

Bidder goes out:

“Yes” means that if both teams go over the game over score, the bidding team wins. “No” means that the team with the highest score wins. Only applies when “Must bid/set to win” is “No” and “Play” is set to “To score.”

Review last deal:

“Yes” displays the cards and bids of all players after each deal. All players must explicitly continue to the next deal. “No” means the game progresses to the next deal immediately. Join and Practice games only.

Meld display speed:

Let’s you set the speed of the meld display to one of 5 values ranging from very fast to very slow. Join, Practice, and Compete games only; speed in Play games is medium.


Must be invited:

“Yes” hides this game from other players until they’ve been explicitly invited using the “Invite Friends” form. “No” allows all friends of players in this game to see it. Join and Compete games only.

Allow suggestions:

“Yes” to allow players to see bid and card play suggestions, depending on their personal setting. “No” prevents all players from seeing suggestions. Always “Yes” in Play games; “No” in Compete games.

Show all hands:

“Yes” shows all players’ hands face up during the game. “No” keeps other players’ hands face down. Join and Practice games only.

Hide player points:

“Yes” hides the points taken during the hand displayed next to each player’s name.

Allow watching:

“No” prevents anyone from watching the game. “Face Down” allows up to 10 additional players to watch the game with all players’ hands face down. “Face Up” allows watching with players’ hands face up. Join games only.

Chat during game:

“None” disables all chat during the game. “Preset” allows only the built-in chat messages to be used. “Text” allows full chat. Full chat is also always available before and after games. Always “Preset” in Play games; “None” in Practice games.

Time to bid:

Specifies an optional time limit for a player to bid. “Off” means there are no time limits on bidding. “7s,” “15s,”, “30s” & “60s” sets a limit to bid of 7, 15, 30 or 60 seconds, respectively. Automatically set in Play games.

Time to play:

Specifies an optional time limit for a player to play a card. “Off” means there are no time limits on card play. “7s,” “15s,”, “30s” & “60s” sets a limit to play a card of 7, 15, 30 or 60 seconds, respectively. Automatically set in Play games.