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How to Play Pinochle

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


  • Step 1: Deal Deal 12 cards face down to each player. After a deal, the remaining cards are the "stock."
  • TIP: Ace is high, then 10, King, Queen, and Jack. Nines have no value.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • TIP: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • FACT: German immigrants popularized pinochle – from the German dialect word Binokel – in the U.S. in the late 1800s.

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

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