Notes on Other Pinochle Pages

Did the web really need another page with rules for Pinochle? Yea, I think it did.


Unfortunately, Wikipedia's entry for Pinochle is a textbook example of what's good and what's bad about Wikipedia in general. On the one hand, you can feel fairly sure that just about every version and variation of the game known to humankind is probably mentioned there, since most everybody is going to want their version of the rules validated. If you're wondering which variation you should play with, too bad. What should you use for a minimum bid? Should you shuffle or not? Wikipedia won't tell you; if anybody has the temereity to say "This is a dumb rule, let's cut it," or even, "let's tell people to not play this way," somebody else will come along and edit it back to its comprehensive blandness. And the scoring table, with both the "by one" and "by ten" scores mixed together! What an unhelpful mess.

Of course, that's just what it looks like today. Tomorrow, it might be different. Not an ideal situation when the point of a set of rules is to provide something that all the players can agree on. Sometimes, having one single editor who's authoritatively responsible for the content is a better solution. (October 29, 2010)


The Pagat site is as close as the web gets to a definitive source for rules for card games, and the Pinochle rules are a good example. Although the author goes to great pains to make it clear that these are just A way to play Pinochle, they are nevertheless very close to the way I, and everybody I know, actually learned the game.

Still, I think there are a couple of ways I manage to improve upon this page. One is just a bit more readability. Another, and the thing I think most distinguishes my site, is that, especially when I cover optional variants, I explain why you might prefer to use one over the other; which rules will improve game play over others. Still, it's a pretty good page. (January 15, 2009)

Rules Central

I can't even check this site anymore to find out what their rules are like, since their site seems quite broken. (January 15, 2009)

Herbison (at Sun Microsystems)

Another good site, despite the disclaimer that they're just a 'sketch' of the rules. There are a couple of curiosities, though. "To prevent a team from endlessly prolonging a game by taking every bid, we declare the team with the most points the winner if either team reaches negative 120 points or when the difference in scores between the teams reaches 150 points." Why do they need this rule? If somebody's deliberately bidding to go set, that would be "poor sportsmanship." If somebody's a poor sport, then you quit playing games with them. You shouldn't need to come up with a special rule for every different way somebody can be a jerk.

The other notable variation in these rules is the elaborate table of bid signals. Again, this seems like a massive pile of unnecessary rules to me. If you want to play Pinochle where one person can provide information about what they've got in their hand, why make it so complicated?

"I'll bid 250."

"I'll bid 260, and I've got one of the cards in a Pinochle."

"I'll bid 300, and I've got a run minus one card and two aces."

Personally, I'm fine with it just being a mystery.

(January 15, 2009)

How Stuff Works

This is not a good site for learning how to play Pinochle. "Let's get started with basic Pinochle" are actually the rules for three-handed Pinochle, but with some arcane scoring rules, including the archaic point values for the cards. Then they offer "Partnership Pinochle" which is actually Racehorse, skipping over the 'standard' Pinochle rules without passing. (Those are offered as variant at the bottom of the page.) These rules don't require anybody to bid, so there'll be unnecessary re-deals, and they say 'pass 4' instead of three. There are other anomalies as well.

(October 29, 2010)

National Pinochle Association

Doesn't this sound like a great place to get some nice, standard, 'official' rules? In fact, it's even part of their charter: "..adapting and implementing uniform playing rules and regulations...." Sadly, their standardized rules are the weirdest rules I've ever seen, even if you skip over things like "the deck must be shuffled at least three times" and all the rules that are there to explicitly deal with mistakes or cheating. ("If you bid out of turn, then your partner may no longer bid.") They're tournament rules, after all.

They're also very poorly written. "If a player bids out of turn, his/her bid remains unless an opponent bids 50 or more." Um, but the very next paragraph says "The lowest bid is 50...", so I guess what they really meant was "If a player bids out of turn, his/her bid remains unless an opponent bids, period." Each player is responsible for making sure they have a complete hand of 20 cards. Er, 20 cards? Apparently their rules are for some version of double-deck Pinochle. The rules fail to mention this fact, though.

(October 29, 2010)

Playing Cards and More

I think I learned all I needed to know from the first words of the second paragraph:

Pinochle (pi-noch-le) is a card game played with a unique deck...

Really? You're trying to tell me how to pronounce "Pinochle" by sticking hyphens into the word? Anyway, the rules are actually fairly standard, but they're really really short, and missing a lot of important details.

(October 29, 2010)