Pedro is an American card game that dates back as far as the 19th century and was at one time all the rage. However, in recent years, it seems to have lost its popularity for unknown reasons.
I still love this card game, and I believe it’s still favored in the South, especially in districts such as Louisiana, where I am told it’s still one of the most favored card games to play.
This old-time card game also goes by other names, such as Cinch or Pidro, and the correct way to pronounce it, contrary to popular belief, is actually “Peedro.”
Although this game stands alone in terms of its rules and general gameplay, personally, it does remind me slightly of a card game called Pitch. I also recommend checking out if you love the trick-taking style of card games.
What I loved the most about the Pedro card game is that it’s simple enough to learn while still putting your strategic skills to the test. The idea is to collect points throughout the game by taking as many tricks as possible, consisting of the highest-value cards.
So, now that you know a little bit more about the game in general, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the rules, strategies, and gameplay of Pedro.
What You’ll Need to Play Pedro Card Game
For starters, to play Pedro, you’ll need four players. The game is typically played with two teams of two sitting opposite each other around the playing area. It’s recommended for players aged eight and above, but this depends on the skill set of the child. (Some kids in my family are better at card games than me, so I’ll let you be the judge of that).
Next, you’ll need to attain a standard deck of 52 cards, which you can pick up on Amazon if you don’t already have some in your games cupboard. I recently bought these black and silver skull-embellished cards, and I love them. They make a great talking piece on game night and are waterproof, so they are excellent for camping trips.
It’s up to you whether you want to include the jokers in the game, as some people like to play with them. However, I was only taught to play without the jokers, so for this guide, I’ll stick to the version I know best so as not to cause any confusion.
Of course, as with any old card game, over the years, as the game has spread across the world, different variations now exist. Once again, I will give you the rules for the most typically played version.
Okay, that’s it. You’re now set to play.
As I mentioned previously, Pedro requires two teams of two players. First, pick your partner and seat yourselves across the table from the opposing pair.
The first thing you’ll need to do is select one player to be the dealer. You can do this however you like, one good way is by each person choosing a card, and the person with the lowest or highest card is the dealer. From here, the person seated to the dealer’s left takes the first turn.
Each player is then dealt nine cards, which are dealt face-down so the other players can’t see. Players should now examine their cards and each place a bid on who will decide the trump suit. This is determined by how many points you think you can win in the first round, a minimum of seven and a maximum of fourteen. Everyone can bid what they like at this point; however, the dealer has to bid seven.
Next, players must attempt to place a higher bid than the one before; if you’re unable to do this, you can pass, but you do forfeit your place in the round at this point.
Whoever has placed the highest bid gets the right to determine the trump suits, so the game begins.
Now that you’re ready to begin the game, I will tell you about the card ranking before I go into more details about the gameplay. This way, you’ll understand what’s what before you get started. It’s best to familiarize yourself with these card rankings before you get started to avoid pausing the game to read the rules.
However, keep this guide handy, at least for your first few games, so you can refer to it when needed.
The cards rank from two (the lowest) to ace (the highest). However, it’s the trump suit that’s the primary influence, and the five of the trump suit is what is known as the Pedro. A slight twist in this rule is that the five of the same color suit as trump are also called Pedro. So, let’s say, for instance, that the trump suit is clubs, then the five of spades will also be a trump card.
The point-scoring system is as follows:
- Trump Five & Off Trump Five – 5 points
- Two, Ten, Jack & Ace – 1 point
Still with me? Great!
Okay, so you’re ready to play.
First, each player must discard at least three cards from their hand. These should be placed in the middle of the playing area, face up, for the other players to see. The dealer will then top up their cards with up to six fresh ones from the draw deck. (The dealer gets to choose which card they give to that player).
Any trumps discarded worth any points count towards the highest bid, thus leading to the first trick.
From here, everyone takes turns playing down cards to try and win a trick. The good thing about this is you don’t have to follow suit. Instead, you may play a trump card despite what other cards you have in your hand.
The trick is won by the highest played card of the trump suit, not the leading suit, and whoever wins this round gets to lead the next trick. The game continues in this fashion until all the tricks have been played.
Scoring the Game
Throughout the game, you’ll need to keep track of the points you score after each trick. At the end of the game, anyone who did not meet their bid will win the points they’ve acquired, even if the opposing team hasn’t completed their bid.
If you’re on the bidding team and didn’t complete your bid, you’ll lose the equivalent amount of points won during the tricks.
How to Win?
The game continues until one team reaches 62 points, which wins the game. But, if both teams have 55 points at the start of a new round, this is known as “the bidder goes out,” which means the bin winner wins the game as long as they’ve completed their initial bid.
If you fail to do this, the opposing team wins the game.
In the case of a draw, meaning both teams have reached 62 points, another round must be played to determine a final winner.
Now that you know how to play Pedro, would you like to learn some other classic card games? If so, check out my guide to playing cribbage, a game that never goes out of style, and if you want to learn more about trick-taking card games, The Fox in the Forest is an excellent place to start.