UPDATE: New and improved Double-Pinochle Guide and Score Cards for quick, compact reference you can fold up and tuck with your cards.
Check out this Pinochle Guide (PDF) – print it out and fold it into fourths for a handy reference and scorecard during the game.
To play Pinochle, you need 2 teams of 2 that sit across each other, and the goal is to be the first team to 150 points. If both teams reach 150 in the same round, the bidding team wins the game. Here is the basic flow of a round:
- Deal & Bid. All cards go to all players, in set of 3 at a time. Dealer is required to start bidding with minimum bid of 25.
- Pass Cards. Bid winner declares trump. Their partner passes them 3 cards. The bid-winner then passes 3 back. The non-bidding team does not pass any cards.
- Meld. Show your cards that create melds. See the scoring guide linked above for a list of possible meld points. Record the totals of both teams’ meld points. Put your cards back into your hand — they should not be shown during play.
- Play. Bid winner leads the first trick. Cards are ranked in value A, 10, K, Q, J, 9. You must play-to-kill. If possible, you must follow lead suit, then trump, before a non-trump off-suit. Each A, 10, & K card is worth 1 point. Another 1 point is given to the team that takes the final trick, for a total of 25 points in play. Record the totals of both teams’ play points.
- Score. Add points from melds and play to both teams’s scores. Instead of adding any points, both teams may have a “set” penalty conditions:
- If the bid-winning team did not make their bid with the total of the meld and play points in the round, they have “set” and must subtract their bid from their current score.
- If the other team did not take any tricks in the round, they have “set” and receive a score of 0 for the round (they do not get their meld points).
The quickest way to learn pinochle is to play using an app that provides hints. The app developer FishDog makes one for iTunes and Android. This app has a light-bulb icon for hints during play, and you can adjust the game settings with lots of variants. Double-check the scoring guide against the settings of the game.