Pinochle Glossary

Pinochle Glossary

Aces Around
A meld combination consisting of one ace from each of the four suits; worth 10 points. Also called Aces.

Refers to having a card rank in every suit. Aces around, Kings around, Queens around, and Jacks around are worth points. Tens around are worth nothing, and seem to occur infuriatingly often. Sometimes called Rounds.

Bare Run
When all you have in a suit is the 5 cards necessary to make it a run.

To offer a point value as the target to be reached, combining points from melding and pulling in counters in tricks; also, the amoun offered.

Bid Up (or “Run Up the Bid”)
To continue bidding against an opponent even though your hand is not worth the amount you are bidding, generally for the sole purpose of inflating the bid in an effort to better the chance of setting the other team. Caution: use of this tactic can result in the bid being dumped on you.

A By-Me bid that indicates Aces around in the player’s hand.

A Pass bid that indicates a small, but potentially useful (8 to 14 points) of meld in the passer’s hand. A player with less meld should say pass instead.

The cards which score points when pulled during the trick taking phase of the round (Aces, Tens, and Kings).

The process by which the 80 cards are evenly distributed to the four players. Often done five cards at a time, or alternatively, four cards at a a time. Deal passes clockwise with subsequent rounds.

Double Run
A meld combination consisting of two Aces, two Tens, Two Kings, Two Queens, and two Jacks of trump; worth 150 points (very rare).

To force the winning bid onto the dealer because all other players passed in the first round of bidding. Sometimes also used when a player offers a meld bid and then all remaining players pass. Can also happen if one player is running up the bid, and the person they are running it up against backs out. In all cases, an unwilling player is forced to win the bid, and may not be in a position to make a good hand of it.

Follow Suit
To play a card of the suit led to the trick. Each player is required to do this if able. If unable, they must play trump. Only when out of the suit led and trump may a player play anything they choose.

Get Set
The team that won the bid failed to earn enough points to make the bid. Getting set results in a loss of points equal to the bid, and should be avoided.

The twenty cards dealt to an individual player. Sometimes used to mean a round of play (You play out the hand; all twenty cards).

Jacks Around
A meld combination consisting of one Jack from each of the four suits; worth 4 points. Also called Jacks.

Kings Around
A meld combination consisting of one King from each of the four suits; worth 8 points. Also called Kings.

To play the first card to a trick. Also, the first card played to a trick, or the right to play the first card to a trick (as in “Whose lead is it?”).

Lone Ace
An Ace in a hand which contains no other cards of the same suit; such a card is liable to be pulled if another Ace of that suit is led.

A card which is not likely to win a trick. Generally, a non-Ace outside of trump is considered likely to be a loser.

Make the Bid
To earn enough combined points from meld and counters to meet or exceed the amount of the winning bid. The team that wins the bid is required to make the bid.

A King and Queen of the same suit. Usually refers to a pairing not in trump. Worth 2 points. Also called a Common Marriage.

Marriage in Trump
A King and Queen of the same suit, when that suit has been named trump. Worth 4 points. Also called a Royal Marriage.

Combinations of cards which score points after the Bidding and before the trick taking portion of play (the Meld phase). Also a verb, meaning “to display and disclose meld”. Sometimes used in ‘Meld Bid’ in reference to a bid that communicates information about the bidders meld.

Said when the right to bid comes to a player to indicate that the player forfeits the right to bid on this and all subsequant rounds of bidding for the hand.

A Queen of Spades and a Jack of Diamonds (:Qs :Jd). The only unintuitive meld combination, it is the source of the game’s name. Worth 4 points. Double (two pinochles) is worth 30 points.

Queens Around
A meld combination consisting of one Queen from each of the four suits; worth 8 points. Also called Queens.

Shorthand to refer to the meld combination of having a king and a queen in every suit. Worth 24 points (Kings Around + Queen’s Around + One Marriage in Trump + Three Marriages).

A meld combination made up of one card of each rank in the same suit (Ace, Ten, King, Queen, Jack). Sometimes called a Run in Trump, because it has no value if it is not in the suit called as trump. When in trump, it is worth 16 points. A Run contains a marriage, so the marriage is not scored outside of the run.

Run and a Roundhouse
A meld combination of a Run and a Roundhouse. Worth 36 points (Run + Kings Around + Queens Around + Three Marriages).

Indicates a conditional pass. This is exactly the same as a pass, unless the player’s partner has the bid dumped on them, in which case the partner can hand it back to the passer. An emergency case only, and the bid taker should only hand it back to the passer if they have no marriages. Save also increases the bid to the next increment.

A single turn of play where each player plays one card into the center, clockwise from the person who starts the trick. In almost all trick-taking games, the highest card played wins the trick (the player takes the cards and puts them into a scoring pile), and the player of that card then leads the next trick. In games with Trump, cards in the trump suit supercede all other suits, even if they are of a lower rank than the highest card played.

A suit chosen by the player that wins the bid. In normal legal play, it can only be played as the lead to a trick, or when someone cannot follow suit.

A meld combination consisting of a Run, with a King and Queen in the same suit, not already part of the Run. Worth 20 points. A 10 K K Q Q J is a Twenty-Pounder.

Win the Bid
Term used to indicate making the successful bid in the bidding auction phase. The person who wins the bid has the right to declare the trump suit for that hand, and the right to lead the first trick.

Please see the Rules page and the Advanced Strategy page for more information.

26 thoughts on “Pinochle Glossary”

  1. What are the odds of getting a double run in trump in a game of four people ( partners) passing three cards

    1. Wow Kelly, I really couldn’t say. I don’t play the variation with card passing, but I would have to imagine that it improves the odds greatly. I know that it is pretty rare for me, and I only see one every 50 games or so at best. With card passing, I’d imagine it could easily happen twice as often. That would probably depend on a team that was good at reading each others needs.

      1. Last night while playing pinochle with friends, I had consecutive hands with double runs in each. How rare is this?

        1. Wow. The way I play, I think two in a row would be a once in a lifetime occurrence. With the card passing you mentioned, the odds go up by quite a bit, but it would still be a rare circumstance, one that sticks in the memory.

  2. Just wondering if there is some good information on web or in book about stratagies for play? I’ve been playing a while now, and am good at bidding, running a good hand, pretty good at partnering a good hand, counting trump, aces, watching the board for passing and things. I tend to have a hard time when i’ve got a not so great hand and the other team takes the bid. When I get in, im not sure how to play the hand. push trump, try to make the bid taker cut etc. Same goes if my partner takes the bid, and im weak in all suits. I then don’t have a clue what stratagie to use. Any suggestions?

    1. Andrew, it’s not easy, is it? That’s what keeps the game challenging. Sometimes, though, you’re just dealt a bad hand. A weak hand without much trump just isn’t going to go very far. In my experience, all you can really do at that point is stick to the basics. Points to your partner, junk to the other team. If you see an opportunity, you might use one of the few good cards to steal the lead and pass it to your partner, but otherwise you really can’t do much if you aren’t in control and can’t take or keep control.

  3. I have had a triple royal sequence in the past (KKK, QQQ, JJJ all is same suit) but tonight while playing double deck pinochle, my mom got a quadruple royal sequence after I passed her the K, Q, and J in the suit she had the triple royal/double run in. Any idea how we should score that? I searched the web – but its hard to find scoring guides on a triple royal (we go with 300 points for that) – letalone a quadruple royal. We want to frame the score sheet since it’s so rare 🙂 Thanks for any guidance you can offer.

  4. when bidding simply to run the opposing player up – in hopes of setting them, i’ve had the bid dumped in my lap. however, after adding up my meld after my partner has passed cards to me, upon seeing that i would have to take every trick in order to meet my bid, rather than playing out the round i have dumped my meld when passing back to my partner. in other words i might break up ‘jacks around’ or pass back a king or queen of trump knowing that my partner won’t have the other half just so we won’t have enough total meld where we would be forced to play out the hand.

    while we will be set back by the amount of my bid, by dumping my meld it makes it so that i will get set while not being forced to play the round – which could allow the opposing team to earn additional points beyond their original meld.

    i’ve been using this strategy with great success, but i’ve been questioned as to whether or not such a move is legal in pinochle? i contend that it is a good strategy on par with running the bid up even when you don’t have a good hand.

    any thoughts on this?

    1. KMann,

      I don’t play a passing variant, so I can’t say for sure, but that sounds like a pretty sound tactic. If you know you;re going to lose it anyway, might as well skip the round and deny the other team a fistful of points.

      Of course, it might be better to avoid running it up just to see if they’ll take it at a higher bid. Better to let them take it at a lower bid and let your team score some positive points. Better for them to get, say, 100 points, and your team to get 40 points (meld and tricks in both numbers) than for your team to lose 80 points while they get 0. In the first case you only fall 60 points behind where in the second you fall 80 behind.

    1. Incredibly rare. I don’t know what the exact odds are, but it’s pretty much the dream hand. Getting those exact 16 cards is stunning. Congrats!

  5. we play double deck pinochle with friends. We are new at it and they are seasoned old times players. He makes what he calls a “meld bid”. I can not find reference to it in any rules. What is that?

  6. I was just dealt back to back hands with a double run in each! One in diamonds, one in hearts. Meld was 156 each time and took the 207 each hand. Double deck, military. The thing is… My birthday is 2/07. Year 1956. Ha! OH, AND ON 12/22/12 — My late mom’s 86th birthday!

    1. A Roundhouse is a shorthand way of referring to all the meld received if you add up Kings around and Queens around. So you’d add the extra marriage on top of that as you would any other time you are counting meld. In this case, 28 — 24 for the kings around, queens around, and the marriages that result from that, and an extra 4 for the second marriage in trump.

    1. Joanne,
      Besides ‘lucky’, and ‘congratulations’, there’s no specific defined term. In my family we use the term ‘Boston’, which comes from Bid Whist (although there is an old trick taking game called Boston as well). Hearts calls it ‘Shooting the Moon’, so you could use that as well. I’ve also seen references to ‘Running the Cards’ or similar phrases.

  7. Chad,

    Thanks for the reply. There was a term that was used by others that I played pinochle with but the ones I have asked can’t remember it. I don’t know if it was a regional slang or something that was well known. We were playing recently and my partner and I took every trick and and our opponents lost their meld and I was trying to recall the word.

  8. If your hand has a run and you have n additional K or Q in the same suit are you able to use the K or Q from the run to make a marriage wi th the extra K or Q ??

  9. I have heard it called a sisimo(spelling?) Anyone else heard this phrase and is this the correct spelling???

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