Contributed by John Sroufe (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Years ago while in college in Aberdeen, Washington USA, my older brother came to visit. As 'baby-boomers' we had been playing all types of card games since our childhood, so getting out a deck of cards was quite normal. Our natural tendency was toward Cribbage or Gin Rummy but he had grabbed the Pinochle deck, saying here's a new one. Well I've played several versions of 2-handed Pinochle and found none to my liking so I was skeptical to say the least. He removed the "9's" from the standard 48 card deck leaving just 40 cards. Then he proceeded to deal 5 cards only to each of us! Thus the name 5-Card Pinochle.
Bidding begins with the dealer being under for 3 (dropping the 0 from 30) and the opponent getting one bid only, then the dealer can opt to bid more. The winner of the bid leads out. Meld is the same as normal 'racehorse'. In the play, you always have to (head) beat the highest played card on the trick, if possible, no matter what the lead. Points are counted as in normal pinochle to determine if the bidder 'made' his bid (one point for each ace, ten and king; one for the last trick: total 25). The deal alternates and the game is played to 50. The game is very fast.
Variations: I have played this game with up to 5 players, in all cases it's been cut-throat (every man for himself or all against the bidder).