Rules of 3 hand Cut Throat Pinochle

3 Players play the game. Each player is on his own to win or lose his money.

Cut Throat is played with Pinochle deck of 48 cards. The four traditional suits of Spades, Diamonds, Clubs and Hearts are represented with 2 each of the following cards in each of the four suits.


The ACE is the Highest ranking card followed by the TEN, etc., to the NINE, the lowest card in the deck.

------------------------ The Deal

It is typical for each player to draw a card from the deck to determine the first dealer of the game. Highest card drawn wins the deal.

After shuffling, dealer must offer the player on the right a chance to cut the deal. The cut is not mandatory. Player on the right can decline the cut.

Each player receives 15 cards. The dealer has the option to deal the cards 1, 2 or 3 at a time, starting with the player on his left in a clockwise rotation until all hands are dealt. The dealer cannot change the starting number of cards dealt per player once established. i.e., start with one card to player on left, all players get 1 card at a time until the deck is dealt. Start with 3 cards at a time, all players get 3 cards at a time until the deck is dealt.

Three cards are also dealt to the Widow face down. These cards can be placed in the Widow at any time during the deal, one, two or three at a time but must be in rotation with the other players as if it were a fourth hand.

Each player should arrange their hand according to suit and rank of cards within the suit. (It is helpful to alternate the suits black, red, black, red for easy identification in your hand. I like to start with Spades, Diamonds, Clubs and then Hearts. This is only to arrange your hand in an easily recognized order and has nothing to do with the rules of the game.)

----------------- Scoring the game:

In our computer game, each player receives $150 in chips. White = $1.00, Red = $5.00 and Blue = $10.00. $25.00 of each player's purse is put in the kitty. If any player runs short of $1.00 (white) chips, the computer will cash a blue or red chip of theirs with the player holding the most white chips. If they are out of chips and can't pay off a bid, the game will end.

Dollar values of each hand are determined by the bid.

Bids of:
20 to 24 = base value 1
25 to 29 = base value 2
30 to 34 = base value 4
35 to 39 = base value 7
40 to 44 = base value 10
45 to 49 = base value 13
50 to 54 = base value 16
55 and over = base value 20

When spades are named trump, the base value is doubled.

------------------------ The Bid

Bidding (some times referred to as the auction) begins with the player to the left of the dealer. This player is "under" and must assume the bid of 20 or make a stronger bid.

Subsequent bids are then raised by 1 or more points. The bids are made in a clockwise rotation around the table until only one bidder remains and the other two players have passed.

Players determine how high to bid their hand by estimating the combined total of how many points they think they can make during the meld and the total counters they think can take during the play of the hands. Failure to make their bid at the end of the hand results in a DOUBLE SET. When a DOUBLE SET occurs the set player must payoff the other players and in some cases the Kitty as well. This is the most difficult part of the game for most players. Unlike the four handed game, it is to your advantage to take the bid for as high a figure as possible. This increases the value of the hand.

The last remaining bidder owns the bid and then picks up the Widow. The cards in the Widow can be used to improve the bid winners hand. After evaluating the hand with the Widow the bid winner then discards three cards from his hand, face down. The discards will be counted with the tricks taken by the bid winner after play of the hands has completed. The bid winner then declares a Trump suit. This is usually the strongest suit in the hand but doesn't have to be. Nor does it have to be the same suit the player was considering as trump before picking up the Widow. Strength being measured by which suit will not only produce the most meld but also capture the most tricks during play of the hands.

Bid winners can concede the bid before picking up the widow and owe only the kitty the base value of the bid. They may also concede the bid after picking up the Widow. In this case the player is SINGLE SET and owes all players and sometimes the kitty the base value of the bid.

----------------- Melds

Only the bid winner melds in the 3 handed game. If he makes his bid with the meld, he wins the hand. Play for tricks is not made. Each player pays him the base value (in dollars) of the bid made. The kitty also pays the bid winner if the bid is equal to or exceeds 35.

Meld combinations and values:

RUN: = 15
ACE, TEN, KING, QUEEN, JACK of the suit declared as Trump.

2 each of the cards listed under RUN. Suit must all be Trump.


2 of each, JACK of DIAMONDS and QUEEN of SPADES

1 ACE from every suit, 4 in total

2 ACES from every suit, 8 in total

1 KING from every suit, 4 in total

2 KINGS from every suit, 8 in total

1 QUEEN from every suit, 4 in total

2 QUEENS from every suit, 8 in total

1 JACK from every suit, 4 in total

2 JACKS from every suit, 8 in total

1 KING and 1 QUEEN of the same suit, Non-Trump suits only

1 KING and 1 QUEEN of Trump
(This meld is not counted if any of the cards are used to make a RUN) Extra marriages in trump can be meld if not used to make a RUN

NINE of TRUMP: = 1
For each NINE of Trump melded

1 MARRIAGE in every suit. This is a convenient way to add the sums of KINGS and QUEENS around plus the values of the MARRIAGES.

----------------------- The Play

After melding, the Bid Winner still needs to take one trick to save his meld. Play of the hands is continued until he takes enough counters to reach his bid or he sets. The two remaining players try to set the bid winner if possible and play together as an opposing team.

The bid winner starts play of the hand by placing a "lead" card in the center of the table. The player to the left of the Bid Winner plays 1 card on the "lead" and in a clockwise rotation the remaining player plays 1 card on the "lead". NO player is allowed to play "out of turn". The 3 cards played are called a "Trick".

RULES of PLAY are as follows:

Players must Follow the Suit of the "lead" card if they can.

If they can Follow suit:
They must try to beat the highest card played thus far in the "lead" suit of this Trick. If they cannot beat the highest card played in the "lead" suit they must play any lesser card of the "lead" suit.

If they can't Follow suit but have Trump:
They must Trump the Trick if they hold Trump in their hand. They must beat any other Trump card played in this Trick if they can. If they can't beat the highest Trump card played they must play a lesser trump card.

If they can't Follow suit OR Trump:
They may play any card

The player who plays the highest card in the "lead" suit takes the Trick if it was NOT Trumped ... OR ....If the Trick was Trumped, the player who plays the highest Trump card takes the Trick.

In the case of ties the first highest card played takes the trick.

The bid winner collects his own tricks and stacks them face down on the table out of the way of remaining plays. Tricks taken by the remaining players are consolidated to try for a set.

The player who took the last Trick becomes the Leader of the next round of play and continues as before starting with the player on the new Leaders left.

Play continues until all cards have been played or the bid winner has enough counters to cover his bid.

----------------------- The Count

The bid winner counts the number of "counters" taken in his Tricks. "Counters" are any ACE, TEN or KING. All other cards count nothing. There is a total of 24 points in the deck. 1 extra point is awarded the player taking the last Trick making a total possible points of 25.

Play of the hand stops if the bid winner has taken enough counters to make his bid and the payoff is made.

----------------------- New Hand

The new dealer is the player to the left of the last dealer.

The game continues until one player is broke or a preset number of hands have been played or a time deadline has been met.

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