Two-Handed Pinochle

Two-Handed Pinochle is the original version of the game. It is—like the name suggests—played by two people. The card ranking is different than in other card games: Ace (high), 10, King, Queen, Jack, and 9.

This game is a trick-taking, meld-making, draw game. This means that you score your points by winning tricks and by laying your cards down in sets (melds).

Here's the Deal

Pick the dealer by cutting cards. You each draw a card from the deck and the highest card deals first. The nondealer shuffles and cuts the cards; the dealer may give the deck one last shuffle before the deal. The winner of each hand gets to deal the next game. When playing to 1,000, the deal alternates between players.

The dealer deals 12 cards to each player—three at a time and face-down. When the cards are dealt, the dealer turns up the next card on the top of the deck and that card becomes the “trump” card. The trump card is a card whose suit must be followed in trick-taking during the game. The trump card is face-up on the table and the remaining deck is placed on the table, partly covering the trump card. This stack of undealt cards becomes the stock pile.

Melds and Tricks

The object of the game is to score points by melding cards or winning tricks. You meld your cards in sequences or groups immediately after winning a trick and before drawing from the stock pile. Melds are still considered part of your hand, but as you construct them, you lay the cards face-up on the table for all other players to see.

Here are the point values of different types of melds:

  • Run: A-10-K-Q-J of trump suit = 150 points.
  • Marriage: K-Q of the same suit = 20 points.
  • Royal Marriage: K-Q of trump suit = 40 points.
  • Aces Around: One Ace of each suit = 100 points.
  • Kings Around: One King of each suit = 80 points.
  • Queens Around: One Queen of each suit = 60 points.
  • Jacks Around: One Jack of each suit = 40 points.
  • Pinochle: Jack of Diamonds and Queen of Spades = 40 points.
  • It's in the Cards

    The dix in Pinochle is the 10. Dix (pronounced “deece”) is French for the number 10.

  • Double Pinochle: Two Pinochles = 300 points (This is the only meld that gives you a bonus for having more than one. All other “double” melds simply count twice. For example: Double Kings Around = 160 points.)
  • Dix: 10 of trumps = 10 points.

The Rules of Melding

Here are some tips to better explain the rules of melding:

  • You can only meld after winning a trick.
  • You can use a card in more than one meld as long as it is used to make a different kind of meld. For example: If a player melds a marriage in Hearts, he can later add three Kings for Kings Around; or three Queens for Queens Around. You cannot, however, add another King of Hearts to make a second Marriage.
  • You don't score the same number of points for adding to a meld to create a new meld as you would if the original meld was made to begin with. For example, if you meld a Royal Marriage and later add the Ace, 10, and Jack or trumps for a Run, you only score an additional 110 points instead of 150.
  • If a player melds a Pinochle and later adds on to make a Double Pinochle, they only score an additional 260 points instead of 300. If the first Pinochle has been broken to use the cards for tricks, then the second Pinochle only scores 40 points.

More on: Games


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Family Games © 2002 by BookEnds, LLC. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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