Double Deck Pinochle

This page has been put together from various sources, including information collected by John Hay, and contributions from Toby Thomas and Jim Davis.

Players and Cards

There are four players; partners sit across from each other.

The deck consists of 80 cards, containing A 10 K Q J in each of the four suits, and with four identical copies of each card. This deck can be formed by mixing together two normal Pinochle decks, having thrown out the nines, or from four regular 52 card decks from which you throw out all the numerals 2 to 9.

Idea of the Game

After the deal there is an auction in which players bid the number of points their team will try to win. Whoever bids highest has the privilege of choosing trumps and leading to the first trick. The object of the high bidder's team is to win at least as many points as the amount they bid. Points can be scored in two ways:

  1. by declaring and showing (melding) combinations of cards held in a players hand;
  2. by winning aces, tens and kings in tricks
The game is won by the first partnership to achieve a score of 500 or more. If both sides reach 500 on the same hand, the bidding side wins.

Deal

Deal and play are clockwise. All the cards are dealt to the players, so that everyone has 20. Dealing practice varies; common methods are 4 cards at a time, 5 cards at a time, or 2 cards to each player, and the remainder 3 at a time.

Rank and Value of Cards

In each suit the cards rank, from highest to lowest, Ace, Ten, King, Queen, Jack. At the end of the play, each side counts the points they have taken in tricks. Each Ace, Ten and King is worth one point, and the team who win the last trick get an extra 2 points. Hence there are a total of 50 points available for tricks.

Meld

Points can be scored for certain combinations of cards in hand of one player. These combinations are called meld; they are displayed to the other players before the start of the trick play. Any meld can be single (just one of each card), double (two identical copies of each card), triple (three of each card) or quadruple (all four of each card).

There are three types of meld. Any particular card can only belong to one meld of each type. The point scores for meld are given in the following table:

TypeCombinationSingleDoubleTripleQuadruple

Type I

Runs and Marriages

Run - Ace, Ten, King, Queen, Jack of trumps15150225300
Royal Marriage - King and Queen of trumps481216
Marriage - Kings and Queen of the same suit, not trumps2468
Note: A run in a suit other than trumps is not worth anything more than the marriage score for the king and queen.
Type II - Pinochles Pinochle - Jack of diamonds & Queen of spades4306090

Type III

Arounds

Aces around - An Ace in each suit10100150200
Kings around - A King in each suit880120160
Queens around - A Queen in each suit66090120
Jacks around - A Jack in each suit4406080
Note: A set of tens is not worth anything in meld.

Example: with hearts as trump, the following hand:

heartA 10 K K K Q Q J
diamondQ Q J
clubQ Q
spadeA K K Q Q J J
scores 87 for meld: a run (15), a royal marriage (4), a double marriage in spades (4), a pinochle (4) and double queens around (60). There is only one royal marriage as one king and one queen of hearts are already used for the run, and the remaining queen can only marry one of the remaining kings. Notice, however, that one of the queens of spades is simultaneously used in the spade marriage, the pinochle and the around - this is allowed because these melds are all of different types.

The Bidding

The person to the left of the dealer bids first. The opening bid must be at least 50, but may be higher. You may bid by ones until you reach 60; bids above 60 must be multiples of 5 (65, 70, 75 etc.). Turn to bid proceeds clockwise. Each bid must be higher than the previous one, but a player who does not wish to bid can pass. If the first three players all pass, the dealer is forced to bid 50. Once you pass you cannot re-enter the bidding on a later turn. The bidding continues for as many rounds as necessary until three players have passed. Whoever wins the bid (bids highest) has the right to call trump and lead.

Calling Trump and Melding

The bidder now chooses the trump suit and announces what it is. It must be a suit in which the bidder holds at least a marriage. If the bidder does not have a marriage, the hand is not played; in this case the bidding side automatically lose the amount of their bid and neither side counts anything for meld.

Once trump is called all of the players lay their meld face up on the table. A combination must be entirely within one player's hand to count. Note also that you can count the same card in melds of different types (for example a queen of spades could be part of a marriage, a pinochle and a set of queens), but not in more than one meld of the same type (so a king and two queens does not count as two marriages). Partners add together the scores for their meld and this is written down on the score sheet.

The Play

The person who won the bid begins the play by leading to the first trick, and the others play in turn, clockwise. A trick consists of one card from each player and if it contains no trumps it is won by the highest card played of the suit led. If any trumps are played to the trick, then the highest trump wins, irrespective of any other cards in the trick. If there are two or more identical cards in a trick, the first of these cards which was played beats the others. The winner of a trick leads to the next.

When leading to a trick any card may be played. Each subsequent players must follow suit if they can and must crawl (this means that each player must play a card which is higher in rank than the winning card that has been played to the trick so far). A player who cannot crawl (i.e. does not have a high enough card of the suit led to beat the highest so far played to the trick) must follow suit in any case, with a card that will not win the trick.

Any player who does not have any cards of the suit that was led must trump. If someone has already trumped then later players who can follow suit may play any card of the suit led (no card of the led suit can beat a trump). If a trick has been trumped, subsequent players who do not have the led suit either must crawl in trump, that is beat the highest trump so far played. A player who cannot follow suit and cannot beat the highest trump so far played must still play a trump, even though this trump will not be high enough to win the trick.

A player who has no card of the suit led and no trumps may play any card.

Scoring

When all the cards have been played, each team counts the points in the tricks they have won. If the bidding side took in meld and tricks at least as many points as they bid, then both teams add the points they made to their cumulative score.

If the bidding partnership does not "make" the bid (i.e. their meld and trick points do not equal or surpass their bid), they have been "set". In this case they score nothing for their meld and tricks, and instead the amount of their bid is subtracted from their score. The non-bidding partners get to keep their meld and trick points.

If the bidding partners know that they cannot make the bid before play begins, they may call trump and throw in their hand. In this case they score nothing for their meld and their bid is subtracted from their score. The non-bidding partners add their meld points to their score. This allows the bidding partners to avoid losing the trick points to their opponents.

Bidding Systems

It is sensible to use the bids to convey information about what melds are held. In variations with card passing, bids can also be used to indicate what cards you would like your partner to pass. Details of bidding systems vary greatly, and there is no standard that I know of, so the systems below should be taken only as examples. If anyone would like to let me know about their preferred bidding systems, or systems that they regard as standard in some way, I would be happy to add them to this page.

The systems that are possible or sensible are clearly affected by the version of the rules that is in operation. For example some groups do not require the bids to be in multiples of 5 above 60. Some allow extra information to be given with the bid, not just a number. Some play with with exchanging of cards between partners (see below).

A common system, at least for bids up to 60, is to use skip bids to indicate meld and encourage your partner to make trumps. An opening bid of 50 shows a desire to make trumps. Opening 51 indicates that some aces are held in other suits. Opening 52 or more shows meld: 10 points for each point over 50 - so 52 shows 20 meld, 53 shows 30 meld, etc. Subsequent bidders can show meld by the number of points they skip. Bidding just 1 more than the previous bidder indicates that you want to make trump. Increasing the bid by 2 or more shows 10 meld for each point of increase. So if a player opens 52 (indicating 20 meld), the next player might bid 55 - 3 more than 52 showing 30 meld - and so on.

Here is another system, contributed by Jim Davis. This is for use in a game where any number from 50 up can be bid, and in which four cards are passed:

    50 ... Opening Bid
    51 ... Not yet ready to "Pass"
    52 ... I have some meld
    53 ... I have several parts of Pinochle (diamondJ's or spadeQ's)
    55 ... I need Jacks of all suits
    54, 64, 74, etc. ... I need a Jack
    56, 66, 76, etc. ... I need a Queen
    58, 68, 78, etc. ... I need a King
    59, 69, 79, etc. ... I need a Ten
    60, 70, 80, etc. ... I need an Ace
    Jump ahead to 66 ... I need Queens of all suits
    Jump ahead to 80 or 88 ... I need Kings of all suits
    Jump ahead to 100 ... I need Aces of all suits

    During the bidding process jump ahead to the next appropriate number that will give your partner a necessary clue as to what to pass if you were to win the bid. Notice that you have to be careful about the possible confusion between (say) 80 asking for an ace and 80 asking for all kings. If the bidding is in the low 70's and you want to ask for all kings, you should jump to 88 to make this clear. In this case 80, being the next available bid ending in '0', would be a request for an ace.

Variations

Double Deck Pinochle has apparently been played since the 1940's. Many different versions have developed, and there is no universally accepted standard. Here are some fairly widespread variations.

Variations in Bidding Procedure

Some players allow any number to be bid from 50 up. Some play that bids above 100 must be in multiples of 10.

Some play that the bidding goes around once only - each player has just one chance to speak. Some play that it goes around twice only (but if you pass the first time you cannot bid the second time).

Some players allow extra information to be given during the bidding - not just the numbers. This normally takes the form of information about meld held. It is generally agreed that it is illegal to direct attention to any particular suit.

Exchanging Cards and Choosing Trumps

A common variation allows cards to be exchanged between the partners on the bidding side. This usually happens immediately after the dealer has chosen trumps. It has the general effect of leading to higher melds and therefore higher bidding. The high bidder and partner must simultaneously pass three cards to each other face down across the table. They are not allowed to look at the cards passed to them before they have chosen and placed on the table the cards they are going to pass.

The rule requiring the bidder to have at least a marriage in the trump suit is not always followed. Some do not require a trump marriage at all. Some play that it is sufficient for the bidder to have a marriage after the exchange of cards.

Some play that other numbers of cards are passed - the number ranging from one to four depending on the variation.

Some play that the bidder's partner passes cards first. The bidder looks at these and then passes back an equal number of cards (possibly including some of the cards just received).

Some play that the exchange of cards occurs before the trump suit is announced. In that case the bidder may be allowed to suggest a suit in which she would like to receive cards (possibly different from the eventual trump suit).

Variations in scoring

Multiple meld scores
These vary quite a lot. Many books give a lower score of 45 for triple pinochle but a higher score of 300 for quadruple pinochle (instead of 60 and 90). I have been told that some of the on-line Pinochle servers, such as Yahoo, also follow this system. Book versions also tend to give no bonus for a multiple run, so that a double run counts 30, a triple run 45, and a quadruple run 60. On the other hand some players increase the scores for all triple and quadruple melds. Toby Thomas's variation (below) is an example of this.
Pinochle 14
Some players score 14 instead of 4 for a single Pinochle. Double, triple and quadruple pinochle are still 30, 60 and 90 (information posted by Kit McCormick to rec.games.playing-cards)
Roundhouse
This consists of a king and a queen of each suit. It normally scores 24: royal marriage + 3 marriages + kings around + queens around. However some players give a roundhouse a higher score of 32. Some score a roundhouse with a run as 39 (24 + 15, allowing the royal marriage to contribute to the roundhouse as well as being part of the run). Some score a double roundhouse as 240 (it should normally be 160 = 8 + 3*4 + 80 + 60).
NPA meld scores
The NPA has adopted higher scores for certain melds - notably 25 instead of 15 for a run and 15 instead of 4 for a single Pinochle. Details can be found on their Tournament Rules web page.
Minimum 20 to score
Some play that meld can only be scored by a side whose meld is worth at least 20 points. Before laying down their meld each player announces its value, and if the total for a team is less than 20, they cannot lay down or score any meld for that hand. Furthermore, a team that does not take at least 20 points in the play cannot score anything for the hand - their meld is disregarded.
If the bidding side fails to reach 20 in meld they automatically lose the bid without playing, but the bidder must still name a trump suit and in this case the opposing team score their meld provided that it is worth at least 20, without the requirement to take at least 20 in tricks. If the bidding team takes less than 20 points in tricks, the bid automatically fails (however much meld they had) and their bid is subtracted from their score.
Opponents' score when bidder surrenders
If it is evident before play begins that the bidding side cannot make their bid, either because the bidder does not have a marriage and so cannot make trumps, or because having made trumps, the bidding side has less than 20 meld (if playing that at least 20 is needed to score), or because their meld is more than 50 short of their bid. The bidding side just subtracts the value bid from their score, but their are several variations on what the opponents score:
  • The cards are not played and the opponents score nothing.
  • The cards are not played and the opponents score their meld (if it is at least 20).
  • The cards are not played and the opponents score 25 for cards, plus their meld (if at least 20).
  • The cards are not played and the opponents score 50 for cards, plus their meld (if at least 20).
  • If trumps have been made, the cards are played and the opponents score as usual according to the tricks they win.
100 aces
Some players multiply all the scores given above by 10 (so single aces around is worth 100). This is in fact the older way of scoring, but most people now use the lower scores given above. According to a post to rec.games.playing-cards by Mike Kelly, 100 aces scoring is found East of the Hudson River, and 10 aces elsewhere.

Variation contributed by Toby Thomas

Toby Thomas writes: "My father-in-law, Clare Masek is 81 (Oct 96) and has played pinochle for over 70 years. It seems that he lives for pinochle and as of late we have been playing his brand of double partnership pinochle."

The differences from the versions described above are as follows:

Meld
Values for certain double, triple and quadruple melds are increased as follows:
CombinationSingleDoubleTripleQuadruple
Type I - runs and marriages
Run in trumps15150500---
Royal Marriage43060240
Ordinary Marriage2468
Type II - pinochles
Pinochle43090360
Type III - arounds
Aces around10100500---
Kings around880400---
Queens around660300---
Jacks around440200---
The treatment of Royal Marriages is a little unusual. If you have an extra Royal Marriage alongside a trump run, you are allowed to count the multiple marriage in addition to the run. For example:
  • A-10-K-K-Q-Q-J is worth 45 points (15 + 30)
  • A-10-K-K-K-Q-Q-Q-J is worth 75 points (15 + 60)
  • A-A-10-10-K-K-K-Q-Q-Q-J-J is worth 210 points (150 + 60)
Bidding
The opening bid must be at least 25. You may bid by ones until you reach 50; bids above 50 must be multiples of 5 (55, 60, 65 etc.).
Card Exchange
Before choosing the trump suit, the high bidder receives three cards from his partner. The bidder must name a suit he would like to receive and his partner must give him 3 cards of that suit if he has them. If the partner has fewer than 3 cards of the suit requested, he must pass any cards he has in the requested suit, plus other card(s) of his choice to complete the 3 card pass. The partner passes the three cards face down to the bidder, who looks at them, adds them to his hand, and then passes any three cards back to his partner, also face down.
When choosing trumps, the bidder will often name the suit he asked to be passed, but it does not have to be the same - for example the bidder may have requested a suit he needed to complete a combination, such as double aces, but intend to have a different suit as trump.
Bidding System
Bids between 25 and 49 are used to suggest what cards should be passed. A bid ending in 6 means you would like queens, a bid ending in 8 asks for kings, a bid ending in 0 asks for tens, and a bid ending in 1 asks for aces. Other bids suggest that you want a standard book (set of cards passed) - such as a marriage and an ace. Therefore if you want the standard book you can begin by bidding 50 and shut else everyone out.

Other Double Deck Pinochle Web Sites

John Hay's Double Pinochle page contains rules and variations, and provided a lot of the source information for this page.

The National Pinochle Association publishes Tournament Rules and a list of Pinochle Clubs in the USA.

Here is an archive copy of Brad Wilson's former Double Pinochle page.

Double Deck Pinochle Software and On Line Games

Free Canasis.com is an online pinochle site that offers the most variations of pinochle including both single deck and double deck styles, many of the variations described above, and the ability to customize rules. With a pleasing wooden theme and many other features, it is recommended you give Canasis a try.

The collection HOYLE Card Games for Windows or Mac OS X includes a Double Deck Pinochle program, along with many other popular card games.

Archive copy of Chris Chapman's site which included his Double Deck Pinochle computer program plus other Pinochle information and links.

Larry W. Nicholas has published the Pinochle 97 computer program.

The following sites offer on-line double deck Pinochle games:

WWW pages for other types of Pinochle

There are separate pages on this site for: