How to Play Pinochle

Pinochle is a card game with complex rules, strategies, and tactics. Here’s a game overview for new players.

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Got a deck of cards? Play one of these popular card games; the rules are all here in this Howcast video series.

You Will Need

  • Two 24-card pinochle decks
  • Two players
  • A score sheet
  • A pen or pencil
  • Three or four players or two two-player teams

Steps

  1. Step 1

    Deal

    Deal 12 cards face down to each player. After a deal, the remaining cards are the "stock."

  2. Ace is high, then 10, King, Queen, and Jack. Nines have no value.

  3. Step 2

    Name trump suit

    Pick the top card from the stock and turn it face up. This will be the trump suit, or the suit designated a higher rank than any other suit.

  4. Step 3

    Meld your hand

    Arrange your hand into melds; three or more cards of one suit in a sequence, or three or more cards of the same rank and different suits. Place melds face up on a table.

  5. The highest value meld is the "run," or the Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and 10 in the trump suit worth 15 points. One ace in each suit is 10 points.

  6. Step 4

    Play lead card in trick

    Pick one of your cards to play as lead card in the first trick of the game. A trick is a pinochle round played one card at a time from each player’s hand.

  7. Step 5

    Win first trick

    Win your first trick. After the lead card is played, an opponent tries to pick a card from the hand with a higher meld value than your lead card.

  8. Step 6

    Score the game

    Mark card values taken in tricks on a score sheet. The last trick taken in the game is worth 10 points. Add card values together to determine the game winner.

  9. German immigrants popularized pinochle – from the German dialect word Binokel – in the U.S. in the late 1800s.

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