BicycleCards.com offers a beginner's guide for playing pinochle. The game starts with a 48-card pinochle deck and two players, though there are variations for three and four players.
The game starts with the pinochle deck face down. Each player draws a card, with the highest draw dictating who deals first. The nondealer shuffles, the dealer shuffles, and then the nondealer cuts the deck. At least five cards must be left in both sections. The dealer completes the cut and deals.
The deal consists of 12 cards to each player starting with the nondealer. The dealers hands out three to four cards at a time. The dealer turns the next card up, which determines the trump card and trump suit. The remaining cards should cover half the trump card.
The object of the game is to win tricks, with the score being determined by the value of the cards. Aces are worth 11 points, 10-cards are worth 10 points, kings four points, queens three points and jacks two points. Nine-cards have no value. The player who takes the last trick earns 10 points.
Winning a trick requires matching the suit of a led card and playing a higher point value card. Melding tricks are another possibility for earning points. Some variations of pinochle also have players bidding on tricks.