Basic pinochle requires at least two players and at least two standard decks of cards. The objective of the game is to win tricks and score points based on the card value taken in the trick.
The two standard decks of cards are used to make a special pinochle deck, which consists only of aces through nines in each of the four suits. Two of each of these cards are included. Aces are high, and nines are low.
Games begin with the pinochle deck being shuffled and spread on the table face-down. Each player draws a card. The player with the highest card deals first. If there is a tie, the shuffle and draw is repeated.
The dealer then deals 12 cards to each player. The next card after the deal is turned up and becomes the trump card. Every card belonging to that suit becomes a trump. The remainder of the card stock is placed facedown partially covering the trump card.
The dealer leads last. Trumps that are led win the trick unless someone plays a higher trump. After each trick, players replenish their hand from the stock, with the trick winner going first. After winning a trick, a player may also meld one combination per turn.