How to Play the Card Game Pitch

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Pitch is a lot like many of the trick-taking partner games played today, except that you are not actually bidding on the number of tricks, but the type of tricks you plan to take. There are four types of tricks--high, low, jack and game--but not all tricks may be possible based on the cards dealt for the hand. The highest bid selects trump, and each team is tasked with either winning its bid or setting the opposing team. Once you have figured out the rules, the game play of Pitch can be fast, fun and easy.

Things You'll Need

  • Deck of cards
  • Pad of paper
  • Pen or pencil
  • Determine the teams by having partners sit across from one another on opposite sides of a table.

  • Deal out the deck until each player has a total of six cards in his hand. For the game of Pitch, you’ll typically deal out the cards in increments of three.

  • Call your hand, starting with the person to the left of the dealer, by either passing on bid or bidding two, three, four or smudge (all six). Each subsequent bid must be higher than the next to count, except in the case of the dealer. The dealer may choose to bid the exact same bid as the highest previous bid and “steal” it from that team or player.

  • Choose trump when you have won the bid. You may select any suit you wish as trump--hearts, diamonds, spades or clubs. The option of “no trump” is not available in the game of Pitch.

  • Play your hand, with the goal of trying to either take the correct tricks called for your team or setting the other team by stealing its tricks. Unlike most trick-taking games, you may play trump even if you have the led-suit in hand. Highest trump card takes the trick. If you don’t play trump, you must follow suit. Highest card takes the trick. In both scenarios, the winner of that trick will lead the next card.

  • Aim to take specific tricks. Your bid is based on certain types of tricks that are categorized as high, low, jack and game. Each category is worth one point. For the sake of example, let’s say you bid three and took that exact number of tricks; you still may not have gotten your bid if you didn’t “win” at least three of the categories. To win a category, you must fulfill a certain requirement. See the Tips section for further information on these requirements.

  • Continue to play until all tricks are taken. Once no cards remain to be played, it is time to check for the winner of each category--high, low, jack and game. Add or deduct the amount scored or lost by the winning bid team. The opposing team doesn't score points for the hand.

  • Win the game of Pitch by being the first team to hit 21 points in total.

Tips & Warnings

  • For the game of Pitch, each round must contain a bid. If all three players opt to pass, the dealer is forced to bid at least two tricks.
  • Winning a bid means you have bid the highest for that round. In the case of Pitch, your winning of bid allows you to call trump.
  • In some trick-taking games, a player may opt to call “no trump.” This means that hands are played as usual without the addition of a trump suit. All tricks will be taken, or won, by highest suited card. This is not an option in Pitch.
  • For the category of high, you must win the trick containing the highest trump card in play--not necessarily the ace or even the king.
  • For the category of low, you must win the trick containing the lowest trump card in play.
  • For the category of jack, you must win the trick containing the jack of trump.
  • For the category of game, you must have the higher value of points within your tricks taken. Not all cards are worth points. Aces are worth four points, kings are worth three points, queens are worth two points, jacks are worth one point and tens are worth 10 points.
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