How To Bid In Pinochle

roy court
July 17, 2023
How To Bid In Pinochle


How To Bid In Pinochle: Mastering the art of bidding is a key aspect of playing Pinochle, a captivating card game that combines strategy and skill. Bidding in Pinochle allows players to assess the strength of their hand, determine the potential point value they can achieve, and compete for the right to choose the trump suit. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player looking to refine your bidding techniques, understanding the process is essential.

The fundamentals of bidding in Pinochle and provide you with valuable tips to enhance your bidding strategy. We’ll cover the different types of bids, the factors to consider when making a bid, and the importance of meld combinations and point calculations. By mastering the art of bidding, you can gain an edge over your opponents and increase your chances of success in each round.

Whether you prefer single-deck or double-deck Pinochle, the principles of bidding remain the same. So, if you’re ready to elevate your gameplay and become a more formidable Pinochle player, let’s delve into the world of bidding and discover how to maximize your potential in this exciting card game.

What is Pinochle?

Pinochle is a popular card game played with a special deck of 48 cards. It is usually played by two to four players, and the objective is to score points by forming combinations of cards and winning tricks.

Pinochle is a classic card game that originated in the United States during the 19th century. It is typically played by two to four players using a 48-card deck consisting of two sets of cards from 9 to Ace in each suit, with the cards ranked differently than in traditional decks. Pinochle combines elements of trick-taking and melding games, making it a unique and strategic game that has captivated players for generations.

The objective of Pinochle is to score points by capturing valuable cards in tricks and forming specific combinations called “melds.” The game is played in rounds, with players taking turns to lead a card and others following suit if possible. 

Pinochle offers a range of gameplay variations, including single-deck and double-deck versions, as well as different bidding systems to determine the trump suit for each round. It requires strategic decision-making, card counting, and memory skills to succeed. Pinochle is often played socially among family and friends, but it has also been embraced in competitive circles with organized tournaments and online platforms available for enthusiasts.

How To Bid In Pinochle

What are the mandatory bids in pinochle?

The Bidding

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.

In Pinochle, there are specific bids that players must make during the bidding phase of the game. The mandatory bids ensure that every player has a fair chance to contribute to the final score and prevent players from simply passing on every round. Here are the essential mandatory bids in Pinochle:

  • Pass: The pass bid is the most basic bid in Pinochle. It indicates that the player does not wish to make a bid for that round. However, players cannot pass indefinitely and must make a bid if they have not passed twice in a row.
  • Bid: A bid is a commitment to win a specific number of points in the current round. The minimum bid is 250 points, and players must increase the bid in increments of 10 or more. The bid reflects the player’s confidence in their hand and their ability to achieve the declared points.
  • Double: If a player believes they have a strong enough hand, they can double the bid made by the previous player. This action increases the stakes and the potential points to be won or lost in the round.

How do I give a meld bid in Pinochle?

The rule for giving a meld bid is: Divide your hand’s meld by 10, and add the result to the current bid. Exception #1: do not give a meld bid of +1. It will confuse your partner, as a +1 bid means “I want to make trump” in Pinochle!

In Pinochle, a meld bid allows players to declare the point value of specific meld combinations in their hand. Meld bids provide an opportunity for players to showcase the strength of their hand and potentially earn additional points. Here’s how you can give a meld bid in Pinochle:

  • Evaluate your hand: Before giving a meld bid, carefully assess the meld combinations in your hand. Melds typically consist of pairs, marriages (King-Queen of the same suit), and sets of cards of the same rank. Assign a point value to each meld combination based on its worth.
  • Determine the bid: Once you have evaluated your meld combinations, decide on the point value you want to bid. The bid should reflect the total point value of the melds in your hand. Remember that the minimum bid is typically 20 points.
  • Announce your bid: When it is your turn to bid, clearly state your meld bid to the other players. For example, if you have a King-Queen marriage worth 4 points and a set of Aces worth 10 points, you could announce a meld bid of 14 points.
  • Count the meld points: After the meld bids are complete, players will proceed to the bidding phase where they declare their intentions to win a certain number of points in the round. The meld points are added to the final score of the bidding player if they successfully achieve their bid.

Do you have to take the bid to win in Pinochle?

Both teams add up their total score from the melding and trick taking phases on a scoring board. If the team that made the contract failed to reach the total points bid, it is called “going set” and the number of points bid is subtracted from the team’s score. The first team to reach 150 points wins the game.

In Pinochle, taking the bid is not a requirement to win the game. The primary objective of Pinochle is to accumulate the highest total score by the end of the game, which is typically played to a predetermined point threshold. While winning a bid can contribute significantly to your score, it is not the sole determinant of victory.

During the bidding phase, players compete to declare the highest bid, indicating their confidence in winning a specific number of points in the round. However, if a player realizes that they may not be able to achieve their bid during gameplay, they can “meld out” and announce it to the other players. Melding out means the player declares their meld combinations and immediately ends the round, earning the meld points but forfeiting any additional points from capturing tricks.

If a player successfully completes their bid by capturing the necessary points in tricks, they earn the bid points in addition to any meld points. However, failing to reach the bid results in penalty points being subtracted from the player’s score. Therefore, while taking the bid can potentially lead to higher scores, it also carries the risk of losing points if unsuccessful.

How To Bid In Pinochle

What is opening bid in Pinochle?

Four-handed pinochle, or “partnership pinochle” is played with two teams of two players each. Partners are seated opposite from each other. Each player is dealt 12 cards. The opening bid is typically 150, but can be a higher agreed on value.

In Pinochle, the opening bid refers to the first bid made by a player during the bidding phase of the game. It sets the initial point threshold that other players must either match or surpass in order to compete for the right to choose the trump suit and lead the first trick. Here’s what you need to know about the opening bid in Pinochle:

  • Starting the bidding: The player to the left of the dealer has the privilege of making the opening bid. They evaluate their hand and decide on the minimum point value they believe they can achieve. The minimum bid is typically 250 points, but players can open with higher bids if they have a strong hand.
  • Suit selection: When making the opening bid, the player also announces the trump suit for the round. The trump suit has the highest value in terms of card rankings, surpassing other suits. The selection of the trump suit can greatly influence gameplay and strategy.
  • Increasing the bid: Once the opening bid is made, subsequent players have the option to either pass, increase the bid, or double/redouble the bid if it has already been raised. Players must increase the bid in increments of 10 or more.

How do I determine my bid in Pinochle?

When bidding in Pinochle, you should consider the strength of your hand, the number of meld (combinations) you can form, and the potential to win tricks. Evaluate your hand’s point value and assess your ability to achieve your bid through melds and trick-taking.

Determining your bid in Pinochle involves evaluating the strength and potential of your hand to win a specific number of points during the round. Here are some key factors to consider when deciding on your bid:

  • Meld Combinations: Assess the meld combinations in your hand, such as pairs, marriages (King-Queen of the same suit), and sets of cards of the same rank. Calculate the point value of your melds and consider their significance in achieving your bid.
  • Trump Suit: Evaluate the strength of your cards in the potential trump suit. Trump cards have higher value and can help you win tricks. If you have a strong trump suit, it increases your bid potential.
  • High-Value Cards: Take note of high-value cards in non-trump suits, such as Aces and 10s. These cards can help you capture tricks and secure additional points.
  • Card Counting: Keep track of the cards that have been played to estimate the remaining cards in the deck. This can help you gauge the likelihood of capturing specific cards and winning tricks.
  • Risk Assessment: Consider the bidding of other players and their potential strengths. Assess the risks involved in bidding higher and evaluate your confidence in achieving your desired bid.
  • Table Position: Take into account your position at the table and the order of bidding. If you are one of the last to bid, you may have more information about the strength of other players’ hands, which can influence your bid.

How can I count the points in my hand to determine my bid?

Each card in Pinochle has a specific point value: Aces (11), Tens (10), Kings (4), Queens (3), Jacks (2), and Nines (0). Count the point values of the cards in your hand, including any melds, to assess the strength of your bid.

Counting the points in your hand is an essential step in determining your bid in Pinochle. Here’s a guide to help you count the points effectively:

  • Meld Points: Identify the meld combinations in your hand, such as pairs, marriages, and sets. Assign the appropriate point value to each meld. For example, a marriage is typically worth 2 points, while a set of Aces is worth 10 points.
  • Trump Suit Points: Evaluate the point value of the trump suit cards in your hand. In Pinochle, the Jack of the trump suit (known as the “Right Bower”) is worth 4 points, and the Jack of the same color suit (known as the “Left Bower”) is worth 3 points. Additionally, Aces and 10s of the trump suit usually carry extra point values.
  • Non-Trump Suit Points: Consider the point value of high-ranking cards in non-trump suits, particularly Aces and 10s. These cards can contribute to your bid by capturing tricks and earning points.
  • Deduct Penalty Points: Be aware of any penalty points in your hand. In Pinochle, the Queen of Spades (known as the “Pinochle”) and the 10 of Diamonds are penalty cards that carry negative point values (-25 and -10, respectively).
  • Total the Points: Add up the points from your meld combinations, trump suit cards, non-trump suit cards, and deduct any penalty points. The resulting total will help you determine a suitable bid based on the point value you believe you can achieve.

What is the role of the declarer in Pinochle?

The declarer is the player who wins the bidding process and makes the highest bid. They become the declarer and have the privilege of declaring the trump suit for that round. The declarer’s goal is to achieve their bid or surpass it by winning tricks.

In Pinochle, the declarer plays a pivotal role in leading the round and determining the trump suit. Here’s an explanation of the role and responsibilities of the declarer:

  1. Winning the Bid: The declarer is the player who wins the bidding process by making the highest bid. They commit to achieving a specific number of points during the round.
  1. Leading the First Trick: As the declarer, you have the privilege of leading the first trick. You choose which card to play, setting the tone for the round. The other players must follow suit if possible or play a trump card if they cannot follow suit.
  1. Setting the Trump Suit: The declarer also has the authority to declare the trump suit for the round. The trump suit outranks other suits, giving its cards higher value. The choice of trump suit significantly influences gameplay and strategy.
  1. Collecting Meld Points: The declarer receives points for the meld combinations they have announced during the bidding phase. These meld points contribute to the declarer’s score, regardless of whether they succeed in achieving their bid.
  1. Capturing Points in Tricks: Throughout the round, the declarer aims to win tricks by playing higher-ranking cards. Successfully capturing points in tricks contributes to the declarer’s bid points and overall score.
How To Bid In Pinochle


Mastering the art of bidding in Pinochle is an important skill that can greatly enhance your Pinochle game play and increase your chances of success. By understanding the different types of bids, considering the strength of your hand, and strategically evaluating meld combinations and point values, you can make informed decisions during the bidding phase.

Bidding in Pinochle involves a balance of risk and reward. While it’s important to be confident in your abilities, it’s equally vital to assess the bidding of other players and adjust your strategy accordingly. Adapting to the unique circumstances of each round and staying flexible can lead to better outcomes.

Through practice and experience, you can refine your bidding techniques and develop your own personal style. With time, you’ll become more adept at accurately evaluating your hand and making calculated bids that align with your capabilities.

Author roy court