Two-Handed Pinochle

High Score

There is a special rule concerning the dix. The first dix to be melded must be done so by exchanging it for the face-up trump card (the card the dealer turns up at the beginning of the game). Even if the card is the other dix, it must still be exchanged. The dix may immediately be used in the meld after the exchange.

Tricks and Play

In Two-Handed Pinochle, there are basically two phases of the game. The game is in the first phase as long as there are still cards in the stock pile. When the stock pile is exhausted the game moves into its second phase.

Phase 1: After the cards are dealt, the game begins. There is no bidding in Two-Handed Pinochle. The nondealer leads the first trick and the dealer lays down a card to the trick. The dealer is not required to follow suit or trump. The winner of the trick is the person who lays down the highest-ranking card. The trump suit beats every other suit.

The person who wins the trick takes the top card from the stock pile and places it in his or her hand. The loser of the trick takes the next card from the stock pile and places it in his or her hand. The winner of the trick may now meld if he or she chooses. The winner of the trick leads the next trick. The person who leads the trick can either take a card from his or her hand or use a card from his or her melds on the table. Phase 1 continues until there are no cards remaining in the stock pile.

Three Strikes

Remember there are two identical cards of each rank and suit. If one of them has been used in a meld, the other one may be used in an identical meld—but it must be composed of cards not used in the first meld.

When there is just one card left in the stock pile, plus the face-up trump card that was placed on the table at the beginning of the game, the winner of the trick may choose to take either card. After these last two cards are picked up, the winner of that trick may also meld. When you meld in phase 1, you score points and you should write the points down immediately on a score sheet.

Phase 2 begins at this point. There are no cards left in the stock pile and now the rules have to change a little bit. Each player picks up any meld they've made and places it in his or her hand. The winner of the last trick from phase 1 leads the next trick. The second player must follow suit if possible. If not, he or she must play a trump card if possible. If the player doesn't have a trump card, he or she may play any card. The winner of this trick leads the next trick and players keep playing until all the cards have been played.

Here is a trick taking example: If hearts is trumps, and the lead card is a Queen of Hearts and you lay down a King of Hearts, you win the trick and lead the next trick.

Card Values

You must mark down your scores on a score sheet as you go along in order to keep track. Both melds and tricks score points right away. Here are the values for the tricks:

  • Each Ace taken = 11 points
  • Each 10 taken = 10 points
  • Each King taken = 4 points
  • Each Queen taken = 3 points
  • Each Jack taken = 2 points

The winner of the last trick scores another 10 points.

If the dealer turns up the dix as the first trump card, he or she immediately scores 10 points.

Point-Scoring Rules

Here are some basic scoring rules you'll need to know:

  • You can play the game to 1,000, 1,200, or even 1,500 points.
  • You can try a simplified scoring method by counting every Ace, 10, and King as 10 points. This way all your scores will end in a zero.
  • Points for taking tricks are added after the last trick is won.

Declaring Out

Let's say you're playing for 1,000 points. If you feel you have scored 1,000 points at any point in the game, you can “declare yourself out.” This includes melded cards as well as tricks taken. When you declare yourself out, play stops and cards are counted. The new count is added to your previous score. If you have 1,000 points, you win the game. If you don't have 1,000 points, you lose.

If no one declares him or herself out, you count up your totals after the last trick is taken. If you both score 1,000 then the game is undecided and play continues until either one of you reaches 1,250 points. You can declare yourself out at 1,250 as per the rules previously indicated. You can keep going like this by raising the amount of points. The next score would be 1,500 and then 1,750. In other words, you just keep adding 250 points to the total until you have a winner.

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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.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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