Game Rules

The rules provided on this page are known as the pitchcardtournament.com Game Rules and they apply to two types of card play: Non-tournament and tournament.

  1. Non-Tournament Game Play (see middle column below) - informal, recreational, friends playing the game to pass time, socialize, etc.
  2. Tournament Game Play (see column at the right below) - formal, elimination rounds, championships, etc. 

The "Tournament Game Play" rules that appear in the third column (below, right)
apply to the Darrtown Bicentennial Pitch Card Tournament.

The pitchcardtournament.com Game Rules 

Hereafter, the letters "PCT" denote this website: pitchcardtournament.com

TOPIC

NON-TOURNAMENT GAME PLAY

TOURNAMENT GAME PLAY

1. Object of the game

Players may choose to play as teams or as individuals.

Players may choose to keep score or not keep score.

If the players choose to keep score, then there are two options:

(a) Be the first player (or team) to accumulate the number of points established, by the players, to be the winning total.

(b) Be the first player (or team) to accumulate the greatest number of points, after a specified number of hands have been played (for example, after each player has dealt two times, or three times, etc.)

1. Object of Game: To win the game by being the individual player (no team play permitted) who has accumulated the most points, after all the players in the game have dealt twice. 

 If, after all players have dealt twice, two or more players have the same highest number of points, then the players with the same highest number of points must play additional hands, until one player accumulates more points than the other player(s) 


2. Number of players per table

Two to six players

Two to four players


3. Type of play

Individual or teams (team play may include two teams of three players each or three teams of two players each).

Individual players only


4. Cards per table

One deck of standard-issue playing cards – no Jokers (PCT.com recommends cards printed by the United States Playing Card Company of Erlanger, Kentucky, U.S.A.)

One deck of standard-issue playing cards – no Jokers (PCT.com recommends cards printed by the United States Playing Card Company of Erlanger, Kentucky, U.S.A.)


5. Number of points or number of hands required to win the game

If the players agree to keep score, then they should, before starting the game, agree on the number of points required to win the game. Informal games are commonly played to 11 or 15 points.

The individual player (no team play permitted) who has accumulated the most points, after all the players in the game have dealt twice, is the winner. 

 If, after all players have dealt twice, two or more players have the same highest number of points, then the players with the same highest number of points must play additional hands, until one player accumulates more points than the other player(s).


6. Dealer

For the first hand, the dealer may be identified by the mutual agreement of the players; there after, the deal rotates clockwise among the players.

For the first hand, the dealer MUST be determined by cutting the deck; high card wins the deal (if there is a tie, re-cut the deck, until a high card is determined). After the first hand, the deal rotates clockwise, among all players.


7. Shuffle

All cards should be shuffled, before each hand is dealt.

All cards MUST be shuffled and cut, before each hand is dealt.


8. "Cut" of the cards

The dealer may offer a “cut” of the cards, to any player, prior to dealing the cards.

The dealer MUST offer a “cut” of the cards, to the player on her/his right, prior to dealing the cards.


9. Dealing the cards

The dealer deals six cards (three at a time) to each player in a clock-wise order, starting with the player on the dealer’s left and ending with the dealer.

The dealer deals six cards (three at a time) to each player in a clock-wise order, starting with the player on the dealer’s left and ending with the dealer.


10. "Misdeal," definition of...

A misdeal occurs when a player receives the wrong number of cards.

A misdeal occurs when a player receives the wrong number of cards.


11. "Misdeal," correction of...

If there is a misdeal, such as a player receiving the wrong number of cards, the dealer collects the cards from all players, re-shuffles, and re-deals the cards.

If a misdeal is…

(a) …discovered before any cards are played, the dealer collects the cards, shuffles them, offers the “cut” to the player at her/his right, and re-deals the cards.

(b) …discovered during play, or after the hand is completed, the entire hand is voided. No points are awarded and the dealer FORFEITS the deal. The player to the left of the dealer collects the cards from all players, re-shuffles, offers a “cut” of the cards to the player to her/his right, and re-deals the cards.


12. The "hand," definition of...

The “hand” is the term applied to the cards held by each player.

The “hand” is the term applied to the cards held by each player.


13. Bidding, order of...

Bidding occurs in a clock-wise order, starting with the player to the left of the dealer and ending with the dealer.

Bidding occurs in a clock-wise order, starting with the player to the left of the dealer and ending with the dealer.


14. Bidding, with a "pass"

Any player may decline to bid, which is known as a “pass.”

Any player may decline to bid, which is known as a “pass.”


15. Bidding, hierarchy of...

Players may bid two, three, or four points; players may not bid one point.

Players may bid two, three, or four points; players may not bid one point.


16. Bidding, winner of...

The player, who bids the highest, wins the bid and establishes the trump suit, UNLESS the players agree to a “stealing” option, in which the dealer may “take it for same” or “take it for one more” (see “stealing the bid” options below).

The player, who bids the highest, wins the bid and establishes the trump suit, UNLESS the TOURNAMENT RULES stipulate a “steal the bid” option, in which the dealer may “take it for same” or “take it for one more” (see “steal the bid” options below). NOTE: The Darrtown Bicentennial Pitch Card Tournament is played with the "steal the bid" option.


17. Bidding, with "steal the bid" options, for the dealer...

Depending on the agreement of the players, the dealer may “steal the bid” and establish the trump suit, by either:

(1) “Taking it for the same” – which means that the dealer equals/assumes the highest bid placed, prior to the dealer.

(2) “Taking for one more” – which means the dealer assumes a bid that is one point greater than the highest bid placed, prior to the dealer.

Depending on the RULES OF THE TOURNAMENT, the dealer may “steal the bid” and establish the trump suit, by either declaring that she/he will either:

(1) “Take it for the same” – which means that the dealer equals/assumes the highest bid placed, prior to the dealer.

(2) “Take it for one more” – which means the dealer assumes a bid that is one point greater than the highest bid placed, prior to the dealer.

NOTE: The Darrtown Bicentennial Pitch Card Tournament is played with the "take it for one more" option.


18. Bidding, with all players passing (i.e., no player makes a bid, after being dealt six cards)

If no player, prior to the dealer, makes a bid (i.e., all players “pass”), then the dealer must either:

(1) “Take it” for two points (assume a bid of two and play the first card, thus establishing the trump suit), or...

(2) “Run it” for two points (assume a bid of two points and deal all players additional cards, in the same way that the first six cards were dealt). NOTE: If the game includes four players, each player receives three additional cards. If the game includes six players, each player receives two additional cards.

If no player, prior to the dealer, makes a bid (i.e., all players “pass”), then the dealer must either:

(1) “Take it” for two points (assume a bid of two points and play the first card, thus establishing the trump suit), or...

(2) “Run it” for two points (assume a bid of two points and deal all players three additional cards, in the same way that the first six cards were dealt).


19. Bidding, after all players are dealt three additional cards

Bidding again occurs in a clock-wise order, starting with the player to the left of the dealer and ending with the dealer. Since the dealer “ran it” for two points, bids from other players, in this round, must be for three or four points (or “pass”). 

Bidding again occurs in a clock-wise order, starting with the player to the left of the dealer and ending with the dealer. Since the dealer “ran it” for two points, bids from other players, in this round, must be for three or four points.


20. “Selling” the bid, after three additional cards are dealt.

After additional cards are dealt, if a player outbids the dealer (by bidding more than two points), the dealer may “sell” the bid to that player – who then plays the first card and establishes the trump suit.

After three additional cards are dealt, if a player outbids the dealer (by bidding more than two points), the dealer may “sell” the bid to that player – who then plays the first card and establishes the trump suit.


21. “Stealing” the bid, after three additional cards are dealt.

After additional cards are dealt, if a player outbids the dealer (by bidding more than two points), the dealer may (depending upon the rules agreed to by the players) “steal” the bid from that player, by either:

(1) Taking it for the same or

(2) Taking it for one more.

After three additional cards are dealt, if a player outbids the dealer (by bidding more than two points), the dealer may (depending upon the tournaments rules) “steal” the bid from that player, by either declaring that she/he will:

(1) Take it for the same

(2) Take it for one more.

NOTE: The Darrtown Bicentennial Pitch Card Tournament is played with the "take it for one more" option.


22. The "pitcher"

The player who wins the bid is known as the “pitcher” and plays the first card – which establishes the trump suit.

The player who wins the bid is known as the “pitcher” and plays the first card – which establishes the trump suit.


23. The "trump" suit of each hand

The first card played by the pitcher establishes the trump suit of each hand. The trump suit is stronger than (wins out, trumps over, defeats) all other suits in a particular hand.

The first card played by the pitcher establishes the trump suit of each hand. The trump suit is stronger than (wins out, trumps over, defeats) all other suits in a particular hand.


24. Playing the cards - the "trick"

Each time that all players play one card is known as a “trick.” The player who plays the best card in each trick:

  • Wins that trick 
  • Collects the cards played in that trick 
  • Places the trick cards face down near the spot where the player is seated
  • Wins the point value of all cards collected in that trick.

Each time that all players play one card is known as a “trick.” The player who plays the best card in each trick:

  • Wins that trick 
  • Collects the cards played in that trick 
  • Places the trick cards face down near the spot where the player is seated
  • Wins the point value of all cards collected in that trick.


25. Playing the cards - "follow suit"

Players must play the same suit of cards that was led (first played) – unless:

  1. The player does not have a card in the same suit as was led. In that event, the player may play a card of any suit. 
  2. The play plays a trump card (see “Trump in” below).

Players must play the same suit of cards that was led (first played) – unless:

  1. The player does not have a card in the same suit as was led. In that event, the player may play a card of any suit. 
  2. The play plays a trump card (see “Trump in” below).


26. Playing the cards - "Trump in"

A player may, when it is her/his turn to play a card, play a trump card - regardless of the suit that was led (first played); hence, the player is said to have "trumped in." A trump card defeats ALL cards, except for a higher trump.

A player may, when it is her/his turn to play a card, play a trump card - regardless of the suit that was "led" (first played); hence, the player is said to have "trumped in." A trump card defeats ALL cards, except for a higher trump. 


27. Bid Points - four per game

There are four “bid” points in each game (high, low, Jack, and “game”). The first three “bid points” are awarded for the:

  • Highest trump card played 
  • Lowest trump card played 
  • Jack of trump card played

The fourth “bid point” (known as “game”) is awarded for the total number of “game” points accumulated within all tricks won by each player (see “Game points” below).

NOTE: It is possible, but highly unlikely, for the Jack of trump to also be the highest trump card played. In that event, the Jack of trump would count as two bid points (high and Jack).

There are four “bid” points in each game (high, low, Jack, and “game”). The first three “bid points” are awarded for the:

  • Highest trump card played 
  • Lowest trump card played 
  • Jack of trump card played

The fourth “bid point” (known as “game”) is awarded for the total number of “game” points accumulated within all tricks won by each player (see “Game points” below).

NOTE: It is possible, but highly unlikely, for the Jack of trump to also be the highest trump card played. In that event, the Jack of trump would count as two bid points (high and Jack).


28. Bid points – three per game, when the Jack of the trump suit is “buried” in the deck

NOTE: It is possible for the Jack of trump to be buried in the deck (not dealt) – thus; no Jack of trump is played. In such a hand, only three bid points can be won.

It is possible for the Jack of trump to be buried in the deck (not dealt) – thus; no Jack of trump is played. In such a hand, only three bid points can be won. 


29. Bid points – five per game (with the “off Jack”)

Some people play with an “off Jack” as a fifth bid point. The pitchcardtournament Game Rules prohibit the use of the “off Jack.” 

The pitchcardtournament Game Rules prohibit the use of the “off Jack.” 


30. Game points, determination of...

Game points (used to identify the winner of the fourth of the four bid points) are determined from the total value of all the cards in all the tricks that a player (or team) wins during the game. All cards in all suits have these values: 

  • All Aces = 4 points 
  • All Kings = 3 points
  • All Queens = 2 points
  • All Jacks = 1 point
  • All “tens” = 10 points

NOTE: If two or more players to have the same number of game points no game point is awarded.

Game points (used to identify the winner of the fourth of the four bid points) are determined from the total value of all the cards in all the tricks that a player wins during the game. All cards in all suits have these values: 

  • All Aces = 4 points 
  • All Kings = 3 points
  • All Queens = 2 points
  • All Jacks = 1 point
  • All “tens” = 10 points

NOTE: If two or more players to have the same number of game points, then no game point is awarded.


31. Game points, counting of...

At the end of each hand, each player displays (turns face up) all the cards in all the tricks that she/he won, counts the value of those cards, and announces her/his total to the other players. The player (or team) with the highest number of game points wins the fourth bid point, called "game."

In tournament play, at the end of each hand, the dealer signals to/calls for a tournament judge to:

  1. Observe the cards in the tricks won by each player and confirm that each player has accurately counted the value of the cards in her/his tricks. 
  2. Identify/confirm the winner of the game point.


32. Game points, winner of...

The player (or team) with the greater or greatest number of points accumulated (in the tricks won during a hand) wins the fourth bid point, known as the “game” point.

The player with the greater or greatest number of points accumulated (in the tricks won during a hand) wins the fourth bid point, known as the “game” point.


33. Game points, equal number of...

If, at the end of a hand, two, or more, players have the same number of game points, a “tie” is declared and no game point is awarded for that hand.

If, at the end of a hand, two, or more, players have the same number of game points, a “tie” is declared and no game point is awarded for that hand.


34. Score, determination of...

At the end each hand, a point is awarded to the player(s) who: 

  • Played the high trump card 
  • Played the low trump card 
  • Played (or captured) the Jack of trump card 
  • Accumulated the most “Game” points (see definition of Game points above).

NOTE: If the “pitcher” (the player who determined the trump suit of a hand) does not capture the number of points that she/he bid, then, the number of points that the pitcher bid (and failed to capture) is deducted from her/his score. Thus, the pitcher is said to be “set back” in points. It is mathematically possible for a player to have a negative score. 

At the end each hand, a point is awarded to the player(s) who: 

  • Played the high trump card 
  • Played the low trump card 
  • Played (or captured) the Jack of trump card 
  • Accumulated the most “Game” points (see definition of Game points above).

NOTE: If the “pitcher” (the player who determined the trump suit of a hand) does not capture the number of points that she/he bid, then, the number of points that the pitcher bid (and failed to capture) is deducted from her/his score. Thus, the pitcher is said to be “set back” in points. It is mathematically possible for a player to have a negative score.


35. Score, keeping of...

Pitch may be played “just for fun,” without keeping score. 

If the players choose to keep score, then they may do so, in a variety of ways: pencil and paper, poker chips, etc.

In tournament play:

  1. A score pad, or sheet, is provided at each table. 
  2. At the conclusion of each hand, the dealer of the hand, signals for/calls to a tournament judge to (a) observe the cards in the tricks that were won by each player, (b) verify the number of game points won by each player, (c) observe the dealer, as she/he records the bid scores on the score pad, and (d) record her/his initials on the score pad, as verification of the updated scores.


36. "Misplay," definition of...

misplay occurs when a player fails to play her/his cards in compliance with the rules of the game. For example, failing to follow suit.

misplay occurs when a player fails to play her/his cards in compliance with the rules of the game. For example, failing to follow suit.


37. "Misplay," correction of...

When a player or players recognize(s) a misplay, the players may, by mutual agreement, decide to:  

  1. Correct the error and continue playing the hand.
  2. Collect the cards, shuffle the cards, and deal a new hand.

In tournament play, when a player, and/or opponents of a player, recognize(s) a misplay, the player and/or opponents must appeal to a tournament judge for a ruling. If the judge decides that the misplay is correctable (i.e., the cards can be replayed, as they should have been played), then the judge shall rule that the players replay the misplayed cards and continue the game from that point. If the judge decides that the misplay is not correctable, then the judge shall rule that:

  1. The player who committed the misplay "sit out" (not participate in) the next hand.
  2. A number of points, equal to the highest bid made in the misplayed hand be deducted from the score of the player who committed the misplay.
  3. The cards be collected, shuffled, and re-dealt to the remaining players.

The tournament judge must report the name of the player who committed the misplay to the tournament manager, who shall keep a record of the incident for the duration of the tournament.


38. "Misplay," second occurrence...


If/when a player misplays more than once, the other players must decide how to respond to such behavior. 

In tournament play, misplays are cumulative in a single event, from the beginning to the conclusion of a Go-Round. Any player who commits two misplays in the same Go-Round will be immediately disqualified from the tournament.