Pedro / Cinch / 63 / 83

This page is partly based on postings to rec.games.playing-cards by Richard Irving, Lindsey Smith and Roberto Montesi, and information from Jeannine Webb, Jacques Berry, Mark Given, Linda Moran, David Wuori and Olga Prebushewski.

Introduction

Pedro (pronounced "peedro") was developed in the United States in the nineteenth century as a variation of Pitch. The Pedro is the trump 5, which is worth five points. In the first game described on this page, which is strictly known as Double Pedro, Cinch or High Five, the other 5 of the same colour as trumps is also a trump worth 5.

Pedro was extremely widely played in the US at the end of the nineteenth century, but during the twentieth century it gradually declined in popularity. Nevertheless it is still extensively played in the southern USA and on the West Coast. Jacques Berry of Thibodaux, Louisiana reports that Pedro is extremely popular in Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes in southern Louisiana, almost to the exclusion of other card games. Roberto Montesi reports that Pedro is also very well known on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. Surprisingly, a very similar game is played under the name Pidro in Österbotten, which is a Swedish speaking region in the west of Finland. Pedro or Pidro is also played in parts of Italy and in the Azores. It seems likely that the game originated in America and travelled from there to parts of Europe rather than vice versa.

The US version of Pedro will be described first, then the Nicaraguan and Finnish versions, and then some other games based on Pedro in which further scoring cards are added: Pedro Sancho, Dom Pedro and Snoozer (which are probably no longer much played), and King Pedro, 63 and 83, which seem to be mostly played in the north-east USA and Canada.

Players and Cards

There are four players in fixed partnerships, partners sitting opposite. A standard 52 card pack is used. In each hand one suit will be chosen by the high bidder as trumps. The five of the other suit of the same colour also becomes a trump, known as the low pedro, or left pedro. The rank of the cards in the trump suit from high to low is:

A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 (pedro), the other 5 (low pedro), 4, 3, 2.

In the other suits the ranking is:

A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, (5 if not the same colour as trump), 4, 3, 2.

Some of the trumps have a value as follows:

trump ace ("high") ... 1 point
trump jack ... 1 point
trump ten (sometimes called "game") ... 1 point
trump five ("pedro") ... 5 points
other five of same colour ("low pedro") ... 5 points
trump two ("low") ... 1 point

There are 14 points in the pack altogether. The points for the trump ace, jack, ten and pedros are won by the team that wins them in their tricks, but the point for the trump two is won by the team of the player who was dealt this card.

Deal and Bidding

Deal and play are clockwise. The dealer deals the cards out 3 at a time until each player has 9 cards. The turn to deal passes to the left after each hand.

Starting with the player to dealer's left, each player has just one chance to bid or pass. A bid is a number, claiming that the if the bidder is allowed to choose trumps, the bidder's team will win at least that number of points on a hand. The minimum allowed bid is 7 and the maximum is 14. Each player in turn must bid higher than the previous bid if any or pass. If the first three players pass the dealer is forced to bid 7.

The highest bidder announces what suit will be trumps. Then everyone discards face down all their non-trump cards. The dealer deals sufficient cards to the other three players to bring fill their hands out to 6 cards (unless they already have 6 or more cards, which must all be trumps). The dealer then looks through the remaining undealt cards and picks out all the trumps plus sufficient other cards to make the dealer's hand up to six cards. The dealer must take all the trumps from the remaining deck, and in this case may have more than six cards in hand.

Play

The object of the play is for your team to win tricks containing the valuable trumps.

The high bidder leads to the first trick. Any card may be led - it does not have to be a trump. If a trump is led, everyone must play a trump if they can - otherwise they may discard anything. If a card which is not a trump is led, players who have cards of this suit must either follow suit or trump. Players who have no cards of the led suit may play anything. The trick is won by the highest trump in it. If no trumps are played to a trick it is won by the highest card of the suit that was led. The winner of a trick leads to the next.

Note that the low pedro - the 5 of the same colour as trumps - counts for all purposes as a card of the trump suit ranking between the four and the five.

A player who starts the play with more than six cards (which must all be trumps) has to play more than one card to the first trick, so that after the first trick everyone has 5 cards left in their hands. When playing two or more cards together, they are played in a face-up stack. The card on top counts as the card played to the trick, and the others are "buried". It is illegal to bury any of the scoring trumps.

Scoring

Each team keeps a cumulative score. The opponents of the bidder always add the points that they win to their total. The bidder's team do the same if they score at least as many points as they bid. If the bidders win fewer points than they bid, they subtract the amount that they bid from their cumulative score.

The winners are the first team to reach 62 or more points.

If both teams have 55 points or more (i.e. both are within 7 points of winning), the situation is called "bidder goes out". On the next hand the bidding side wins if they make their bid. If the bidding team does not make its bid, the hand is scored normally (which will quite often result in their opponents winning the game).

If both teams reach 62 or more points when the situation at the start of the hand was not "bidder goes out", a further "bidder goes out" hand is played to determine the winner.

Variations

Some play that the minimum bid is 6, and that the dealer must bid 6 if the first three player's pass. Some play with a minimum bid of 6, but if the first three players pass the dealer is forced to bid 7.

Some play that a bid of 14 (called a slam or shooting the moon) scores 28 points if successful, but loses only 14 if it fails.

Some also play with a "28-56" bid. This can only be bid by the dealer, and is only allowed if the dealer holds the ace, king and deuce of trumps. If the dealer's team take all the points they score 56; if they are set they lose only 28.

There are several slightly different ways of organising the discarding and replenishing of hands. Some allow players to keep non-trumps (there is no practical way to stop people doing this, anyway). Some play that if you have more than 6 trumps you must still reduce your hand to six cards, which will involve discarding trumps. It is normally illegal to discard scoring trumps in this situation. Some play that if you do discard any scoring trumps, they count for the other team.

Some play that the dealer may go through not only the undealt cards but also the other players' discards looking for trumps. However, this gives rise to the possibility that dealer's partner, holding ace-king-pedro-pedro might cheat by throwing both pedros for dealer to pick up and then leading the ace-king for a quick 11 points. To avoid this abuse, some play that discards are made face up. If anyone accidentally (or purposely) discards a trump, an opponent can add it to their hand, discarding a non-trump in exchange.

Some play that the bidder must begin by leading a trump, as in Pitch.

Some play that suit must always be followed, even if a non-trump is led. This makes a considerable difference to the play. For example in the standard game, when a plain suit is led, it is usual for the third player to trump with a trump higher than the five to stop the fourth player getting home a pedro. This technique is known as cinching. If you play the rule that suit must be followed, the outcome of the trick is more a matter of chance. The third player may have the led suit and not be allowed to trump, and if the third player follows suit the fourth player may also have to follow and thus be unable to save a pedro.

Others have gone in the opposite direction and relaxed the rules so that when a non-trump is led, any card may be played. This change makes less practical difference: 14 of the 24 cards in play are trumps, so most tricks will be won by a trump; in any case, tricks which contain no trumps have no value, since all the scoring cards are trumps.

Most of the books describe an alternative method of scoring, with no negative scores:

  • if the bid is made, the team which won more points scores the difference between the numbers of point won by the two teams (so if a team bids 7 and wins 9, the other team winning 5 points, the bidding team scores 4 (that is 9 - 5));
  • if the bid fails, the opposing team scores the bid plus the number of points they take (so if a team bids 7 and wins 6, the other team winning 8, the non-bidders score 15 (that is 7 + 8)).

The target score varies. Some play that the first team to 51 or more points wins. Some play with a different target score, for example 52, 56 or 61. If both teams reach or pass the target score on the same hand, the bidding team wins. It is possible for the non-bidding team to win the game if they reach the target whereas the bidders are still below it.

Pedro in Nicaragua

The ranking and values of the cards is as described above. The dealer deals seven cards per player. Each player has one chance to bid. The minimum bid is seven; if the first three players pass the dealer must automatically bid six.

The highest bidder declares the trump suit. The players then discard face-down any cards they do not want, and the dealer replenishes the hands of the other three players from the undealt cards still in the deck. To replenish his own hand, the dealer can pick any cards from the remaining in the undealt deck and may also look at and take cards from the other players' discards.

The highest bidder leads any card to the first trick (not necessarily a trump) and the other players must follow suit if they can; otherwise they may play any card. Each trick is won by the highest trump in it or, if no trumps were played, by the highest card of the suit led. The winner of each trick leads to the next trick.

The game is won by the first team to reach 52 or more points.

Pidro in Österbotten, Finland

Pidro is reportedly played in every village of this region, and tournaments and an annual championship are also held. As in the US form, 9 cards each are dealt, in packets of 3. There is just a single round of bidding, beginning to dealer's left and ending with the dealer. The minimum bid is 6 and the maximum is 14. After the bidding, the high bidder names the trump suit; players discard all non-trump cards and are dealt replacements from the deck, to bring their hands up to 6 cards. The dealer takes any remaining undealt cards and discards down to 6 cards. A player who has more than 6 trumps must discard trumps, but is not allowed to discard scoring trumps.

>As usual the bidder leads, but the game differs from the US form of Pedro in that only trumps are played. When you run out of trumps, you lay your cards face down and take no further part in the play of that hand. If you win a trick with your last trump, the lead passes to the next player in clockwise rotation who still has trumps. When only one player has trumps left, that player wins all the remaining tricks.

As usual, the bidding team score the points they take unless this is less than their bid, in which case they lose what they bid. The bidders' opponents always score the points they take. The first team to score 62 or more points wins. If both teams reach 62 or more in the same deal the bidding team wins.

The Pidro Online site provides a server through which you can play Pidro online against live opponents.

A freeware Finnish Pidro program in English or Swedish is available from www.pidrochallenge.com. The authors are Patrik and Niklas Indola.

Pitch with Fives

Pedro originally was played with only one scoring five of trumps, so that there were only 9 points in the game. The other five of the same colour is not a trump - it belongs to its own suit. This game still exists. Here is a description of it contributed by Judd A. Schorr under the name Pitch with Fives; I am told it is also called Catch Five in some places.

Each of the four players is dealt 6 cards from a 52 card deck, and each has one opportunity to bid. The minimum bid is two, and dealer is forced to bid the minimum if everyone else passes. Dealer can always steal the bid by bidding equal to the highest other bid. Whomever wins the bid calls trump, and all players throw out their non-trump. The hand full of aces that you thought you could screw people with is suddenly gone. This purging process lets the bidder know how many trump each player has as a minimum number. The dealer fills everyone's hand back to 6, and play resumes as normal.

There are nine points to be had (potentially) per hand: high, low, jack, game, and five. The "five" point is the five of trumps, which is worth 5 points on the score sheet to the side that takes it in a trick. A game is 31 points.

In this variant, you must follow suit if possible - you cannot trump in any time you want to. For example, if spades are trump and diamonds led, you can save your 5 of spades only if you have no diamonds - if you have diamonds, you have to follow suit.

This variant is fun, because you can have no trump to start with, and then pick up 3 or 4 or 5 trump in the replenish (the odds are low for 5, but it does happen!). And, of course, people tend to save trump towards the end, to try to capture the 5 that they think their opponents couldn't save.

Pedro Sancho; Dom Pedro; Snoozer

Pedro Sancho
This game, also known as Nine-Five can be played by from 4 to 7 players. Four could play individually or as partners. The sancho is the nine of trumps, an extra scoring card worth 9 points. There is only one pedro, the five of trumps - the other five of the same colour is not a trump. So there is one point each for high (trump ace), low (trump two), jack (trump jack), game (trump ten), 5 points for pedro (trump five) and 9 points for sancho (trump nine), making a maximum of 18 points. All these (including low) count for the player that wins the card in a trick.
Most sources say that six cards are dealt to each player. Some say that the cards are dealt as far as they will go around evenly. There is a single round of bidding: apparently there is no minimum bid; the maximum bid is obviously 18. The dealer can take the bid by equalling the highest number bid by the other players. There is no mention of discarding unwanted cards and replenishing the hands, though this could clearly be incorporated.
It seems that the bidders first lead must be a trump. Players must follow suit if a trump is led; if a non-trump is led they can follow suit or trump. If the bid is made, everyone scores the points they made. If the bid fails, the bidder loses the number of points bid. The first player or team to 100 points wins. To decide who is first, the points are counted in the order: high, low, jack, game, pedro, sancho.
Dom Pedro; Snoozer
This game appears sometimes in American card game books, but I have not yet come across any players. The joker (called snoozer or dom) is added to the pack, and is always the lowest card of the trump suit. The game is similar to Pedro Sancho, except that the trump three counts 3 points and the joker counts 15, making a total of 36 points available. The winner is the first to reach 100 points. To decide who is first the cards are counted in the order: high, low, jack, game, three, pedro, sancho, snoozer.

King Pedro

In this variation of Pedro, the king of trumps scores 30 points. This increases the number of points available from 14 to 44, the scoring trumps being ace (1), king (30), jack (1), ten (1), right pedro (5), left pedro (5), two (1). The right pedro is the five of the trump suit, and the left pedro is the other five of the same colour, which counts as a trump ranking immediately below the right pedro. The two of trumps scores for the player who plays it; the other trumps score for the team that wins the trick in which they are played.

As usual there are four players, partners sitting opposite. From a standard 52 card deck, 12 cards are dealt to each player, and 4 cards are dealt face down to the table to form a kitty.

The player to dealer's left bids first, and the bidding goes around the table as many times as necessary. At your turn you can pass or bid a number. The minimum bid is 30, and each subsequent number bid must be higher than the previous bid. If you pass, you are out of the auction; you cannot bid in later rounds. When three players have passed, the highest bidder names the trump trump suit and takes the four kitty cards. It is very unusual for all four players to pass, but if it happens the cards are thrown in without play and the next dealer deals.

All players must then reduce their hands to six cards if possible, by discarding non-trump cards. A player who has more than six trumps discards all their non-trumps and must play more than one card to the first trick, so as to have only five cards left at the start of the second trick. If you have to play more than one trump to the first trick only one of these cards can be a scoring trump. If you are lucky enough to have all seven scoring trumps you can play the two and one other scoring trump in the first trick.

If a trump is led, the other players must play trumps if possible. If a non-trump is led, the other players can play any card they wish. A trick is won by the highest trump in it. If no trumps were played, the leader wins, irrespective of the rank and suit of the cards played. The winner of a trick leads to the next. A player who has no trumps left must announce "I'm up!", and throw in the rest of their cards. This player takes no further part until the next hand.

When all six tricks have been played, the teams count the scoring cards they have taken. If the bidder's team have at least as many points as the bid, they score these points; otherwise they lose the amount of the bid. The bidder's opponents always score the points they make. To win the game you have to reach a cumulative score of 200 or more points as a result of a successful bid. If you do this you win even if the non-bidding team has more points at the time. You cannot win the game by reaching 200 or more on a hand where the other team were the bidders, nor on a hand where you are set but your score remains over 200. However, if a team reaches minus 100 points they lose the game, no matter what the other team have scored.

Mark Given has written a shareware King Pedro computer program.

Canadian / Ukrainian King Pedro

Olga Prebushewski reports a different version of King Pedro, played by Ukrainians in Canada. In this version the points are:

ace ("high") ... 1 point
king ... 30 points
jack ... 1 point
ten ... 10 point
nine ... 9 points
five ... 5 points
other five of same colour ... 5 points
two ("low") ... 1 point
The point for the two is won by the team that held the card; the other points are won by the team that won the trick containing the card. Thus there are a total of 62 points available. As usual the other five of the same colour as trumps counts as a trump ranking between the 5 and the 4.

Nine cards are dealt to each player. The minimum bid is 30; the maximum 62. The bidding goes around the table as many times as necessary until one player makes a bid that the other three players pass. Then the high bidder chooses trumps, another four cards each are dealt and each player discards seven non-trump cards, keeping a hand of six.

If you have no trumps at all among your 13 cards you "fold your hand" - place your cards face down and take no part in the play. If you have only one trump, or two trumps one of which is the two, you may pass these to partner and then fold. If you have more than six trumps then you may discard non-scoring trumps, but they must be discarded face up, so that everyone knows what trumps are in play. If you have all seven scoring trumps you may discard the two.

The high bidder must start by leading a trump. Thereafter the winner of a trick may lead anything to the next. If a trump is led the other players must play trumps if they can. If a non-trump is led the other players must play non-trumps (of any suit) if possible; only a player who has nothing but trumps can play one. A trick is won by the highest trump played to it; if no trumps are played it is won by the player who led to the trick, irrespective of the other cards played.

If the bidders take at least as many points as they bid they win the points they made; if not they lose the amount they bid. The opposing team always score the points they make. The game is won by the first team who achieve a score of 262 points at the end of a hand on which they made a successful bid.

Sixty-Three

The process of adding further scoring trumps to Pedro is further continued in this game. Not only the nine (as in Pedro Sancho) and the king (as in King Pedro) but also the three of trumps is a scoring card.

There are four players in fixed partnerships, and a standard 52 card pack is used. The ranking of the cards is as in Pedro, with the other five as the same color as trumps (the left Pedro) counting as a trump ranking immediately below the five. Points are scored for winning scoring trumps in tricks, the scores being as follows:

ace ("high") ... 1 point
king ... 25 points
jack ... 1 point
ten (sometimes called "game") ... 1 point
nine ... 9 points
five ("right pedro") ... 5 points
other five of same colour ("left pedro") ... 5 points
three ... 15 points
two ("low") ... 1 point
This makes 63 points altogether - hence the name of the game.

Nine cards are dealt to each player, in threes. The bidding is by numbers, the maximum being 63 and the minimum (presumably) 1. Players bid in rotation, starting at dealer's left and going around the table as many times as necessary until the highest bid is passed by the other three players. After the bidding each player is dealt four more cards (which uses up the whole pack) discards seven cards, so that everyone has a 6 card hand.

The rules of play are as in Pedro. The high bidder leads. Players must who can follow suit must either do so or trump. Players who cannot follow suit can play anything.

The whole game is won by the first team to 152 points.

Eighty-Three

This game seems to be confined to Maine, USA. The following description is based on a contribution from Linda Moran. Jason Breton and David Wuori have provided some further details and variations.

83 is a four player game with partners sitting opposite each other. It is played with 53 cards - a standard deck with one joker.

It is called 83 because that is the number of possible points. Points are scored for winning cards of the trump suit in tricks. Trumps are chosen by the high bidder and the trump suit consists of 15 cards: all cards of the named suit, the other five of the same color, and the joker. The ranking (from high to low) and values of the trumps are as follows:

Trump cardacekingqueenjack1098765other 5432joker
Point value125201190005500115

The cards in the other suits rank from ace (high) to two (low) - missing the five in the suit of the same color as trump - and have no point value.

The game is played clockwise. Each person is dealt 12 cards and five cards go face down in the center as the "kitty".

The bidding begins with the player to dealer's left, and each person in turn can pass or bid a number, which must be higher than the previous bid (if any). The bid is the number of points you and your partner contract to take in tricks. The minimum bid is 30 and highest normal bid is 83 - the total number of points in the pack. However, a higher bid of "83 double" is also allowed: like a normal 83, this is also a contract for you and your partner to take all the points, but it scores 166 if successful (and you lose 166 if you fail).

The bidding continues for as many rounds as necessary until all of the players except one has passed. The high bidder then takes the five card kitty and announces a suit of their choice which will be trumps. All players must then reduce their hands to six cards, discarding any excess. A player who has more than 6 trumps may keep a hand of six trumps and pass any excess to partner. If two partners have more than 12 trumps between them, they will have to discard suficient non-scoring trumps to bring their hands down to six trumps each. It is always illegal to discard scoring trumps, and thus there are always 83 points in play.

The bidder leads to the first trick. Any card may be led - there is no compulsion to lead a trump if you see an advantage in doing otherwise. If a trump is led, the other players must play trumps if they have them; if not they may throw any card. If a non-trump is led, the other players have a choice of playing a card of the led suit or a trump. It is always legal to play a trump, even if you have cards of the led suit, but you are not allowed to throw a card of a different non-trump suit unless you have no card of the suit that was led.

When all six tricks have been played, each team counts the value of the scoring trumps they have won in the tricks. If the bidding team won at least as many points as the bid, they score the points they won. If they have not taken enough points to fulfil their bid they are 'set', and they lose the number of points that they bid. In either case, the opposing team score the points they won in their tricks.

The first team to reach an agreed target score (for example 200 points) wins the game.

63 and 83 variations

I have described 63 played with 52 cards and 83 played with 53 including a joker. It is possible to play either game with or without the joker. If the joker is used, it is the lowest trump, worth 15 and the trump three is worth nothing. When playing without a joker the trump three is worth 15 points.

Linda Moran reports that in their group 83 used to be played with a minimum bid of 40, but nowadays the minimum is 1. This allows low bids to be used to exchange information between partners.

In either game the deal may be 9 cards to each player, in threes. After the bidding, all players discard their non-trumps and the dealer deals sufficient replacement cards to the other players so that they each have a six card hand. Anyone who had more than six trumps passes any excess trumps to their partner before the dealer replenishes the hands. The dealer takes all the undealt cards and discards down to six cards.

Other WWW sites and software

The Pidro Online site provides a server through which you can play Finnish Pidro online against live opponents.

Pidro Challenge is a freeware Finnish Pidro program in English or Swedish, by Patrik and Niklas Indola. The site also contains rules and some history of the game.

Here is Mark Given's King Pedro program.