In Bruce's 5 card (and 7 card) pinochle you use the standard 48 card pinochle deck. The cards rank as A (highest), 10, K, Q, J, and 9 (lowest). The A, 10, and K count as 1 point each during 'the play' or 'taking tricks', and are known as 'counters'. The Q, J, and 9 are known as 'non-counters' or 'losers'.
Each player cuts for the right to be the first dealer of the game, highest card wins the deal. If there is a tie, only the tying players cut again, until only 1 player remains.
The dealer shuffles the cards, then the player to the right cuts the deck. Dealer deals 1 card at a time, starting on his left. Each player receives 5 cards in 5 card pinochle, or 7 cards each in 7 card pinochle. After each hand is finished, the next player to the left becomes the dealer for the next hand.
Starting with the player immediately to the left of the dealer and going clockwise, each player gets (only) 1 chance to bid. A player can pass if he does not desire to place a bid. A player bid depends on the number of points he thinks he can take from counting meld and taking tricks. Bidding can start as low as 1. The next player must beat the previous bid or pass. A player can bid as high as he desires. The winner of the bid gets to decide which suit will be trump for that hand. If everyone passes (highly unlikely), the dealer wins the bid for 1 point.
If the winning bidder does not make his bid at the end of the hand, he gets the bid subtracted from his score (goes back). He loses any points gained during the hand, either from counting meld or taking tricks. However, he does get to keep any points taken by 9's of trump that he scored during the meld count.
THE DISCARD AND DRAW
After bidding is finished, the players then must decide which cards to discard, if any. . A player can discard as many cards as he desires, except in 5 card pinochle when there is more than 4 players, and in 7 card pinochle when there is more than 3 players. For example, in 7 card pinochle with 4 players, each player is only allowed to discard up to 5 cards. This is because you only have 48 total cards in the deck.
The dealer starts dealing out the replacement cards after the discard by starting with the player who won the bid, and then works clockwise. Each player receives (draws) the same number of cards as he discarded, so each player ends up with 5 cards when playing 5 card pinochle, and 7 cards if playing 7 card pinochle.
The next step is for each player to count his meld. Each player must lay down his meld on the table for all to see. Here is the meld scoring chart:
The 15 point run of trump includes the marriage within the run. The same card can be counted more than once for different types of meld, but not for the same type. For example, a single Q of spades can be counted in both a pinochle with the J of diamonds, and again in a marriage with the K of spades, but the same single Q of spades cannot be counted twice in two marriages with 2 K's of spades, since marriages are of the same type of meld.
For a player to keep his meld, he must take at least 1 point during trick taking. The exception to this rule is the 9's of trump. A player does not lose any points gained in counting 9's in meld, even if he does not make his bid at the end of the hand. Thus 9's of trump should be marked down separately on the score sheet from the rest of the meld.
TAKING TRICKS OR PLAYING OUT THE HAND
The winner of the bid plays the first card. He can lead any card he likes except trump, unless trump is all he has in his hand. Trump must not be led until it is 'broken'. The next player to the left then plays 1 card. Then the next player to the left plays 1 card, and so on, until each player has played a card, and the 'round' is complete. Each player must follow the suit led, and must beat the card(s) that have been played previously in the round if possible. If he cannot follow suit, then he must play trump. At this point, trump is 'broken'. If he cannot follow suit nor play trump, then he can play any card he desires. He must always try and take the trick if possible. In other words, he must play a higher card in the suit that has been led and have been played, or if a player cannot follow suit, and trump has already been played, then he must try to beat the trump. However, a player must always play the suit that was led, if he has it, even if a previous player has played trump. The 'round' ends when each player has played 1 card. The 'trick' is taken by the player who first played the highest ranking card of the suit that has been led, or if trump has been played, the highest trump that was played first takes the trick. The player who takes the 'trick' then leads in the next 'round'.
To clarify the above paragraph here's an example. Let's say there are 4 players, and the winning bidder has declared diamonds as trump for this hand. Trump has not been broken yet, so player 1 who has the lead in this round plays a 10 of clubs. Going clockwise, it is player 2's turn. Player 2 has a Q and A of clubs. Player 2 has to play his A of clubs, since he must try and take the trick. Player 3 does not have clubs, so he has to play trump, if he has any. Player 3 plays a K of diamonds. It is now player 4's turn. If player 4 has clubs, he must follow the suit that was led and play clubs. He can play any club he wants at this point, since the trump played by player 3 will take the trick, therefore player 4 can't beat it. If player 4 has no clubs, then he must play trump. If he can beat player 3's K of diamonds, he must do so. If player 4 has neither clubs nor diamonds, he can play any card he wants. In this example, player 4 does not have clubs, and only has one trump, the other K of diamonds, so he has to play it. Since player 3 played the first K of diamonds, he wins the round and takes the trick. Player 3 then leads the next round. Player 3 can lead with trump if he desires, because trump has now been broken.
When the rounds end or all cards have been played out, then each player counts his points taken. Only A's, 10's, and K's count as 1 point each. Q's, J's, and 9's have no value when counting up the points from taking tricks. The player who takes the 'last trick' also receives 1 additional point. The game then continues with the dealing of the next new hand.
ENDING OF THE GAME
The game ends when a player reaches 50 or more points at the end of a hand. If more than 1 player reaches 50 or more points, and 1 of those players was the winning bidder, then the game goes to the winning bidder of that hand, no matter if the other player's) have more points. This can make bidding quite aggressive near the end of the game. If none of the players with 50 or more points were the winning bidder, then the game goes to the player with the highest points. If there is a tie, then the game continues on only with the tying players until there is a winner.
If a player reneges, by drawing a different amount of cards than he discarded, or by not following the rules for taking tricks, then he has reneged, and ruined the hand. For example, if a player does not beat a card that has been played in a round when he could have, or played trump when he didn't have to, etc, he has reneged. At this point the hand is over. The player who caused the renege loses all points for that hand, including all his meld (9's of trump too), and goes back whatever the bid was for that hand. All other players get to keep their meld, but not any points taken during the taking of tricks.
Rules of Bruce's 5 Card Pinochle and 7 Card Pinochle written by
Curtis Lee Hall.
This article is dedicated to the memory of
Bruce Alan Hall (1953 - 1989).
Bruce introduced the game of 5 Card Pinochle to our Hall family many years ago. I later introduced the 7 Card Pinochle variation. This increases the possibilities for scoring meld. Both games are a fast paced and exciting way of playing pinochle.