Double Deck Pinochle, also called Marriage, is a trick-taking partnership game, in which four Players form two teams of two.
Double Deck Pinochle is very similar rules to the traditional game of Pinochle. However, in this variation, an additional deck and a partner for each Player are added.
Double Deck Pinochle Rules
Double Deck Pinochle is played using two decks. One can buy a proprietary Pinochle deck, but it is also easy enough to convert the Anglo-American standard deck into a Pinochle deck.
To create a Double Deck Pinochle deck, simply take four copies of the 52-card Anglo-American deck and remove all of the cards ranked 2-9 from all four decks.
This will leave four decks composed of 20 cards each, with the 10s, Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces. These four decks should then be combined and shuffled, to form a single game deck.
Each Player should sit opposite of their partner, with each Player sitting around the table in a square formation.
Each Player should assume a cardinal direction, such that North and South are partners, and East and West are partners. This ensures that the turn order is evenly distributed among both partnerships.
Once the partnerships have been determined, and the Pinochle deck is created, a Dealer should be chosen by whatever random means the Players wish.
Once a Dealer has been chosen, the deck should be reshuffled and cards dealt to each Player in a clockwise fashion.
Traditionally, the Dealer should deal cards in packets of 4 or 5 to each Player, until each Player has 20 total cards in their hand.
Cards are dealt face-down, and should be kept hidden from other Players, even partners.
Once each card has been dealt, Players should inspect their hands for melds. Melds should be declared immediately after the deal, before the bidding phase. Melds are combinations of specific cards, that award points immediately.
The specific point values and composition of these melds will be given in the “Scoring” section below. For now, be aware of the three types of melds:
- Runs and Marriages
- The Pinochle
Players may not form two different melds from the same card, each card may only be used once for melding.
All melds must be declared, and shown face-up to the whole table before their points may be tallied. The points are scored immediately, but are not officially added to the final total.
In Double Deck Pinochle, points can be granted positively, or negatively. It is possible to assume a negative score, and as such, points are not officially placed into the final total until the round ends. This way, Players will know if their score will be negative or positive.
Once the melds have been tallied, the bidding phase begins.
- The Player to the immediate clockwise of the Dealer takes the first bid.
- Players bid on the number of points they believe that they will win in a round.
- Players must bid a minimum of 50 points, up to the maximum possible score in a round of 500.
- Players may pass on bidding if they wish.
- Bidding continues until three Players pass bidding.
- If no Players bid at all, the Dealer is forced to be the winning bidder with a bid of 50 points.
The Player that wins the bid earns the right to declare the Trump suit for the round and lead the first trick. In order to declare a Trump suit, the bidding Player must have at least a marriage meld formed from their desired suit.
Once the bidding phase has ended, normal Trick-taking gameplay proceeds.
- The Player who leads the trick places the first card into the trick.
- Subsequent Players will follow, placing their own cards into the trick.
- Players must follow suit if they are able, meaning their card must match the suit of the leading card into the trick.
Players are not required to follow suit if they play a Trump card. Trump cards outrank all non-Trumps, and can only be beaten by a higher-ranking Trump.
If a Player cannot follow suit, and does not have a Trump, they may play any card from their deck of their choosing but cannot win that trick.
Winning and Ending
The highest-ranking card played into a trick is the winner, with the Player of that card taking the trick.
Card points are awarded for each Ace, 10, and King that are in their taken tricks. Players are also awarded two additional points for taking the last trick.
The winner of the previous trick will lead the next trick, with all other Players forced to follow suit. Gameplay continues until 20 tricks have been played, and the hand of every Player has been emptied.
The scores are determined, with each Partnership combining their scores. The Game will end when one partnership achieves 500 positive or negative points. If neither team has reached this scoring threshold, a new round will begin, with the dealing position moving clockwise around the table.
Double Deck Pinochle is scored both through:
- Card-points from taken tricks.
- Meld points accumulated from melds at the start of the round.
Whether these points are positive or negative determines on the bidding Player.
The partnership which won the bidding phase contracted to win a specific number of points, based on their bid. Partnerships that fail to meet their bid have their points subtracted, rather than added, to their final score.
If the bidding partnership fails to meet their bid, then the opposing partnership is also able to add their own melding and card score as positive points to their final total.
When the bidding partnership successfully meets or surpasses their bid, they are instead able to add those points to their score. Furthermore, the opposing partnership is not allowed to add their own points if the bidding partnership successfully makes their contract.
If the Bidding Partnership does not believe they will be able to meet their contract, or if they cannot form a marriage for their Trump suit, they can forfeit.
By forfeiting, the bidding partnership will only take negative points for their melds, but will not lose any trick-taking card-points.
If forfeiting with no melds, the forfeiting partnership loses no points.
Below is a scoring table for each meld in Double Deck Pinochle.
Each meld in Pinochle can be formed as a single, double, triple, or quadruple. In order to qualify for doubles, triples, or quadruples, Players must have the same meld, of the same suit, multiple times in their hand.
For example, to get a Triple Royal Marriage, a Player would need three copies of the King of Trump, and three copies of the Queen of Trump.
|Run (10, A, J, Q, K)
|Royal Marriage (QK of Trump)
|Marriage (Suited, Non-Trump QK)
|Aces Around (A♦A♣A♠A♥)
|Kings Around (K♦K♣K♠K♥)
|Queens Around (Q♦Q♣Q♠Q♥)
|Jacks Around (J♦J♣J♠J♥)
Runs are only scored as a meld if they are a run of Trump, and all composed of the Trump Suit. To be an Around meld, each component must be a different suit, and one of each suit must be represented.
- Player 1 leads the trick with a Q♦.
- The Trump suit for the round is ♣.
- Player 2, your partner, Plays a 3♣.
Even though they have played a lower-ranking card, and have not followed suit, their 3 is a Trump card. As such, they have beaten the leading Player, and are already set to win the trick.
Suppose Player 3, Player 1s partner, is unable to follow suit and is forced to play a 7♥. This means that Player 2, your partner, is still the highest ranking Player in the trick.
You do have a 5♣ in your hand, but there is no reason to play it. You and your partner are already guaranteed to win the card points for this trick.
As such, simply follow suit if you are able. If you are able, play any 10, King, or Ace, as that will award your partnership with guaranteed card points for taking the trick.
Strategy and Tips
It is impossible to know for certain the contents of your partner’s hand, as you are unable to show each other your cards.
However, through observation, a good Pinochle player can gauge the relative strength of their partner’s hand, based on their bidding.
If your partner bid moderately highly on their bidding phase, they are somewhat confident in their ability to win the game. Since they do not know your hand, for your partner to bid highly means their hand must be strong.
If your hand is also strong, leverage this knowledge on your turn in the bidding phase. Bet even higher, signaling to your partner that your hand is strong.
Remember that melds can come back to haunt you if you are unable to meet your contracted number of points. Since the Trump suit must have a marriage, suppose the following.
You and your partner wagered 200 points, but do not believe you will be able to meet that goal based on card points. Since you have won the bid, and earned the right to declare the trump suit, simply declare Trump for a suit that does not have many melds in your hand.
If you have a Triple Run in ♦, simply do not declare ♦ as the Trump suit and forfeit. In this way, you will take a smaller point penalty, and can be dealt a fresh hand of cards.