Double-Deck Pinochle

Learn the rules and strategies for winning at the card game called Double-Deck Pinochle.
Table of contents

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Rules and play

Double-Deck Pinochle

Double-Deck Pinochle requires at least four players in teams of two. You use a deck of 80 cards, made up of 4 cards of each rank in every suit in the following order: A, 10, K, Q, and J. You can make this deck by combining two Pinochle decks and removing all the nines. This game involves bidding, drawing, trick-taking, and melding.

High Score

When your partner leads a winning card (such as an Ace of trumps) throw off a high card—such as a 10—to ensure your team the most points!

All cards are dealt out to each player—at least four cards at a time. Each player should wind up with 20 cards. After the deal the bidding begins.

Let's Bid

The bidding begins to the dealer's left. Players bid the number of points that their team will attempt to win. Whoever wins the bid gets to choose the trump suit and leads the first trick. You score points by declaring and melding, and by winning Aces, 10s, and Kings during tricks. The goal is to achieve a score of 500 or more points.

You can make a bid, announce a meld, or pass. If you pass, you may not re-enter the bidding.

Here's a sample bidding hand:

If you had a Royal Marriage and a Run, you have a meld of eight points. Because you have a strong trump suit you are likely to win many of the points on the play. There are 50 points available during play so you can take many of those points into account when you bid. Also remember: your partner will most likely have something to meld to add to your points system!

The minimum bid is 50 (some people start the bidding at 500), so the first bidder must bid that amount or higher. Each subsequent bid—until you reach 60 (or in 10s until you reach 600)—can be made in increments of one. Bids over 60 should be made in multiples of 5. Each bid must be higher than the previous bid. If you don't wish to bid, you can pass. If the first three players pass, the dealer must bid 50. When you pass you cannot re-enter the bidding on a later turn. The bidding continues until three players have passed. The winner of the bid gets to call the trump suit and lead the first trick.

Trumps and Melding

The winner of the bid announces the trump suit. The bidder must hold at least a Marriage in his or her hand in order to call that particular suit. If the bidder does not have a Marriage, the hand cannot be played and the bidder loses the amount of his or her bid.

Once the trump suit is called, players lay their melds face-up on the table.

You can count the same card in melds of different types. For example, a Queen of Spades can be used in a Marriage, a Pinochle, and a Set of Queens. However, the same card cannot be used in more than one meld of the same type. For example, a King and two Queens do not count as two Marriages. Partners should add the total of their melds and mark them on a score sheet.

Play Day

The person who won the bid leads the first trick. Then the play rotates to the left. Each player lays down a card. Trumps beats every other suit. If there is no trump, then the highest card of the lead suit wins the trick. If there are two or more identical cards played to the trick, the first card played to the trick wins. The winner of the trick leads the next trick.

It's in the Cards

Crawling is a term used in Pinochle. It means to play a card higher in rank than the highest card played so far.

Any card may be played when leading a trick. Each player may follow suit if possible and must attempt to play a card that is higher in rank than the last highest card played. If you cannot crawl (you don't have a high enough card) you must still attempt to follow suit—even if the card will not win the trick.

If you don't have a card in the suit that was led, you must play a trump card if you have one. If someone has already placed a trump card, you must try and beat that trump card with a higher trump card. A player who cannot follow suit or play the highest trump must still play a trump even if it means losing the trick. If you have no lead suit card and no trump card, you may play any card—but you'll most likely lose the trick.