I need to thank George Klemic, David Sedgwick, David Dailey, Monte Benson, and Richard Dunlap for the contributions they have made to the rules below.


Number of Players: 4 playing as partners

Object of game: To score 150 points.

Deck: A 48 card deck made up of 2 each of all cards 9 and above (including Aces).

Rank of Cards: A, 10, K, Q, J, 9 in all suits.

Preliminaries: The players are seated so that partners are non-adjacent. Deal progresses clockwise.

The Deal: All the cards are dealt out so that each player receives 12 cards.

Bidding: The person to the left of the dealer starts the bidding and the bidding proceeds clockwise. The minimum bid is 15. Each player may bid an amount higher than the previous highest bid or pass. Once a player passes they may not bid again during that hand. When everyone but one player has passed, the highest bidder is the Declarer.

Note: If the first three bidders all pass, the dealer is the declarer with a mandatory bid of 15.

The Meld: When bidding is finished, the Declarer names a trump suit. Each player then places face up on the table any meld that they have. Combinations that a player may meld and their point values are:

Run: A,K,Q,J,10 in trumps - 15 points (2 runs - 150 points)

Royal Marriage: K, Q in trumps - 4 points (2 RM's - 8 points)

Marriage: K, Q not in trumps - 2 points (2 Marriages - 4 points)

Aces around: 1 ace in each suit - 10 points (2 Aces around - 100 points)

Kings around - 8 points (Double - 80 points)

Queens around - 6 points (Double - 60 points)

Jacks around - 4 points (Double - 40 points)

Pinochle: Jack of Diamonds and Queen of Spades - 4 points (2 Pinochles are worth 30 points)

Dix: 9 of trumps - 1 point (Both 9 of trumps - 2 points)

Note: A run is 15 points. Do not count an additional 4 points for the Royal Marriage it contains.

A "round house" or a "round robin" is a marriage in every suit. It is worth 24 points, which is the total you get if you add up all the marriages, kings around, and queens around. Some people do play, however, that if you have a round house and a run, they are worth a total of 39 points instead of 35.

A card may be used in more than one meld, but may not be used in more than one meld of the same type (e.g. A single Jack of Diamonds could be used in a Pinochle and Jacks around but a single Jack of Diamonds could not be paired with 2 Queen of Spades for 2 pinochles).

After all meld has been laid down, count each players meld points, adding the two players on a team's points together. Write this total below each teams score on the scoresheet. Each player then picks up their meld and places it back in their hand.

The Play of the Hand: The Declarer leads to the table any card they choose from their hand. Each player in turn clockwise then plays a card to the trick. The player who plays the highest trump (or if no trumps are played, then the highest card of the suit led) places the cards in the trick face down in front of them and then leads to the next trick. Play continues until all cards have been played. When playing to a trick there are very strict rules as to what cards may be played. These rules are listed below in order of precedence (highest precedence first).

A player must play a card of the suit led if possible.

A player must play a card that will beat the highest card played if possible.

If a player does not have any cards in the suit led, they must play trumps if possible.

If a player plays trumps, they must play a card higher than the highest trump played if possible.

If a player has no cards in the suit led and no trumps, they may play any card.

(Clarification: If a player has a higher card of the suit led, but trumps have already been played, they may play any card of the suit led.)

Scoring: The last trick taken counts one point for the team taking it. Each Ace, King, and Ten counts one point for the team that captured it in play. The number of points the Declarer's team takes in play plus the amount of their meld must be greater than or equal to the amount of their final bid. If it is not (called "going set"), the amount of their meld (and the points they took during the hand) are disregarded and their score is reduced by the amount of their bid. If their meld was more than the amount of their bid, they only need to take one trick to keep from going set. If the Declaring team does not go set, the amount of their meld plus the points they took in play are added to their score. If the non-Declaring team took a trick, the amount of their meld plus the points they took in play are added to their score. If a team exceeds 150 points at the end of a hand they win the game. If both teams exceed 150 points, the Declaring team on the final hand wins the game regardless of which team had the most points.

Note: In some cases, a player's bid may be more than 25 points greater than the teams meld (e.g. Player bids 40, team has 12 meld). In this case it is impossible for the declaring team to make their bid. The hand is still played, though, to determine the amount of points the defending team gets.

General Variations:

Some people play with everything counting 10 times what I have given the value as (e.g. Pinochle is 40, Double pinochle is 300, Run is 150, etc.). In this case, the Ace, Ten, and King are each 10 points and the last trick is 10 points. Game is 1500 points. This is the original scoring system because it was once commonly played that Aces counted 11 points, Tens 10, Kings 4, Queens 3, and Jacks 2. (Does anyone still play this way?)

After the bid has been decided, but before melding the declaring team (or both teams) may pass from 1 to 4 cards (exact number to be decided before game starts) to each other face down. A player may not look at the cards they have been passed until the passing is complete. (If only the declaring team is passing, it may be played that the declarer's partner passes cards, the declarer puts these in their hand, then passes back an equal number of cards.)

A player who is dealt 5 or more nines may ask for a redeal (by the same dealer).

Specific Variations:

Iowa State Bidding Conventions This game is played with the same rules as above except for a couple. There is a special meaning to the bidding however:

A bid of 15 opens the bidding.

A bid of 17 or 2 above the current bid means you have 1 leg of a Pinochle (J of Diamond or Q of Spades).

A bid of 19 means you have 2 legs of Pinochle (doesn't have to be a matched set).

A bid of 24, 26, or 28 means you need one card to have a run.

A bid of 25 or 27 means you have a run.

A bid of 29 means you have 3 legs of Pinochle.

A bid of 30 means you have Double Pinochle.

A bid of 45 means you have Double Pinochle and a run.

A bid of 1 above the current bid means you like one ace having aces around.

A bid of "by me" (meaning pass) means you have aces around.

Here is an example of bidding:

Player 1 has one leg of a pinochle, so he bids 17.

Player 2 needs one card for a run, so he bids 24.

Player 3 has all the other legs of pinochles, so he bids 30 (since team definitely has Double Pinochle).

Player 4 has aces around, so he passes by saying "by me".

Player 1 also has a run, so he bids 45 (since team has double pinochle).

Player 2 and 3 pass letting player 1 call trump.

After trump has been called the team that took the bid pass three cards to each other. They may not look at the passed cards until they have passed themselves. After the pass the melding takes place.

If a player is dealt 5 nines without any meld, or 6 nines with meld they may call a misdeal. A misdeal may be called anytime before that players first bid (even after other players have bid). The player may ask their partner if they can call a misdeal.

Race Horse: Race Horse is played as the regular game above with the following differences:

The scoring used is the "Ten times as much" scoring described in the general variations above.

Bidding starts at 250. If no one bids, person left of the dealer must bid 250.

A player may meld an extra king or queen of trumps with a run and count it as an extra trump marriage. (Bigamist marriage)

The team that takes the bid passes 4 cards to each other. They may not look at the cards they have been passed until after they have passed. This is done before melding.

A player may declare a "sweep" when bidding. This is a declaration that their team will win all the tricks. Nobody melds. If the sweep is made the team scores 1000 pts plus the 25 points taken in play. If the sweep fails, the defending team scores 1000 pts plus the points they took during the play of the hand.

Optional scoring method: IF the bidding team goes set, the defending team takes the bidding teams meld and bid in points.

Another variation for which I have no specific name:

This variation differs from the basic rules above as follows:

Game is to 100 points.

The minimum bid is 20. If no one bids, dealer must take bid at 19.

A double run only counts 30 (not 150). Also, double aces around only count 20, kings 16, queens, 12, jacks 8.

Pass Pinochle:

Pass pinochle is played the same as the general game above with the following differences:

Minimum bid is 25.

If a player bid more than 25 points more than the team melds, they may choose not to play the hand. The defending team simply gets to add the meld they had to their score but do not get any points from the play of the hand.

The declaring team passes each other 3 cards face down before melding. They may not look at the cards they have been passed until passing is complete.

3 player pinochle: Pinochle may be played by 3 players by making the following modifications to any of the rules above (except there will be no passing).

Each player plays for themselves (no partners).

Each player is dealt 15 cards. 3 cards are dealt to the center of the table. These cards are called the "kitty" or "widow".

Minimum bid is 25. If no one bids, dealer must bid 25 (or optionally 24).

The declarer takes the 3 cards in the kitty and places them in their hand. They then discard three cards from their hand to their discard pile. The cards are counted towards points for the declarer at the end of the hand, but declarer must still take a trick to save their bid. Cards discarded may not be used for melds.

These options may be played with the 3-player game:

Minimum bid of 20, if no one bids the dealer must take bid at 15.

After player picks up the widow, they may choose to go set without hand being played. Defending team gets to count their meld, but they get no score from playing the hand.

Bidding may be limited to going around the table twice. If a player passed the first time around, they may not bid the second time around.