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How to Play Pinochle

Cut-Throat Pinochle

In Cut-Throat Pinochle, the action is more intense -- and it's every man for himself. Here's how to play:

Number of players: Three

Object: To reach 1,000 points in
tricks and melds. (See the sidebars in the first section of this article to find out how scoring works.)

The cards: The deck can be made up from two standard 52-card decks by removing all twos through eights. Remember to use decks that look the same on the back. Cards are ranked from Ace (high)-10-K-Q-J-9 (low).

Dealing: Cards are
dealt, in groups of four, sixteen to a player. All play is clockwise from the dealer.

Setting trump: The last card dealt, which is always to the dealer, is dealt faceup. The suit of this card determines

Point Values for Cards
Each trick can be scored differently, depending on the rank of the cards. Here's how the rankings work:

Aces, 10s: 10 points

Kings, Queens: 5 points

Jacks, 9s: 0 points

The last trick of a hand: 10 points

Playing: The player to the dealer's left begins play. You may lead any card in your hand. In three-handed Pinochle, you must either follow suit or play a trump if you are void in that suit and have a trump. You must always play to win if able. The winner of a trick always leads to the next trick. When two players put down the same card to take a trick, the first player to lay down the card wins the trick. The hand is over when no more tricks can be taken. Count the value of tricks, and sort cards into melds and tally your total score.

Scoring: Cut-Throat Pinochle follows the same scoring for melds as regular Pinochle, except that melds are counted after the tricks have been played and for the use of a different point value assigned to each card rank.

Now that you know about Pinochle and its many variations, you can join the legions of people who have already made Pinochle a lifelong hobby.