Last updated: May 11, 2010

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Learn the Rules of Auction Pinochle Game

The game may be played by three, four, or five players, only three of whom participate in any one hand. A deck consisting of two aces, kings, queens, jacks, tens, and nines of each suit is employed. Each player is dealt fifteen cards with three cards dealt in the center of the table to form the "widow." Various procedures are followed in dealing the cards; the most common is to deal in groups of three.

Bidding Each player in turn must make a bid or pass. Bids are expressed in terms of points in multiples of ten. The first player must bid at least 300. Each player is dealt fifteen cards with three cards dealt in the center of the table to form the "widow." Various procedures are followed in dealing the cards; the most common is to deal in groups of three.

The Widow If the contract is 300, the bidder may choose to throw in his hand without examining the widow, in which case he must only pay the kitty. With any higher bid, the bidder must expose the widow to all the players and then add it to his hand. At this point the bidder may claim the hand as the obvious winner with his melds, concede (go "bete"), or opt to play out his hand.

Melding Only the bidder may meld. This is done by displaying meld combinations before beginning the play of the hand. Melds score as follows: A-K-Q-J-10 in the trump suit (flush): 150 points Nine of trumps (dix): 10 points K-Q of trumps (royal marriage): 40 points. K-Q of the same suit other than trump (marriage): 20 points Four aces of four different suits (100 aces): 100 points. Four kings of four different suits (80 kings): 80 points. Four queens of four different suits (40 jacks): 40 points. Queen of spades and jack of diamonds (pinochle): 40 points.

The same card may be counted as part of more than one meld. (However, a card melded in a flush may not be used to meld a royal marriage.)

Value of Cards Although simpler-value counts are employed in some circles, the count used by all expert players is as follows: 11 points for each ace, 10 points for each ten, 4 points for each king, 3 points for each queen, 2 points for each jack, no points for nines. In addition, 10 points are awarded to the player taking the last trick. Thus, the total number of points available from play is 250.

Burying After melding, the bidder collects all his cards and places aside face down any three cards that were not employed in melding. At the end of the hand, these three cards will be counted as part of the bidder's score.

The Play With each player now holding 15 cards, the hands are played. The bidder announces the trump suit and leads the first trick. Each player must, when able, follow suit on each trick. If void in that suit he must play a trump if he can. Otherwise he may play any card. If a trump is led, each player must, if possible, "play over"; that is, play a higher trump than any previously played to that trick. Any trick containing a trump is won by the highest trump played. Any other trick is won by the highest card of the suit led. If two identical cards are played in a trick, the first one played is considered higher. The winner of the previous trick leads to the next.

Scoring The standard payoffs for a successful bid are as follows: one unit for 300, two units for 350, four units for 400, eight units for 450. For each additional 50 points above 450 the payoff is doubled. (Different payoff schedules are used in some games.) Payoffs are doubled if the trump suit is spades. If the bidder concedes, he must pay the above amount to each of the other players. If he plays out his hand and fails to make the contract ("double bete") he must pay off double to each player.

The Kitty The kitty is, in effect, a score maintained as if for an imaginary player. It is played and pays off, as do the other players and at the end of the game is divided equally among all players.

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