With our Pitch card game rules guide, you’ll be able to dramatically increase your chances of winning! Pitch is considered quite a complicated card game by some. But this is likely due to the many different variants of it.
Many people get these mixed up with one another. But we’ll be focusing on the classic Pitch card game rules. These are best suited to casual play with friends and family at home. Before we look at the rules, let’s explore a bit more about how the game works.
What is The Pitch Card Game?
Pitch is described as a “trick-taking” card game. Games like Whist, Pinochle and Spades also fall into this category. The game is quite strategic and the gameplay takes numerous phases including a bidding phase.
During this phase, players will try to take control of the game by becoming the pitcher. The pitcher will lead the game and whatever suit they play will become trump. This will give them an advantage if they play strategically. But it does come with some potential risks as well.
The game consists of 6 rounds (or tricks if you want to use the proper term). During each round players will need to choose a card from their hand carefully. The more rounds you win the better you are likely to score. We’ll talk more about this in the gameplay section below.
Pitch is based on the English game of All Fours. Over time the game has seen many different versions, each with its own similarities and differences. It remains a very popular game in the United States. And while it does have a bit of a learning curve to it, it’s sure to be a fun game for anyone.
What You’ll Need
While Pitch can seem a little complicated for beginners, it’s actually got a very simple setup. All you need to play the Pitch card game is a deck of playing cards. You simply remove the Joker cards and use the standard deck of 52 cards.
Playing cards can be found in many shops and online. We particularly like these cards from Bicycle. Once you have your cards ready you can begin playing. But make sure you check out the rest of our Pitch card game rules guide first!
The Pitch Card Game Rules and Gameplay
The Aim of The Game
The aim of Pitch is to win tricks. You do this by scoring the most points in each round. In classic Pitch rules, you need to be the first player to score 7 points to win the game. You are unlikely to do this in one game though. Many people do lower the winning point requirement so the game is more likely to finish with just 6 tricks/ rounds.
This means most games of Pitch will have multiple rounds especially if you are playing with 4 players. Pitch can be played with 2 or 3 players as well. But it works best with a group of 4 in our opinion. So, if you’re ready to start read-on and check out the rest of our guide.
While Pitch is played with your standard 52 card deck, at most only 24 cards will be used during each round. Choose one player to deal, they will then shuffle the deck and give out cards to each player.
Under traditional Pitch card game rules, cards should be given 3 at a time. Each player should receive 6 cards in total. The player to the left of the dealer should be dealt first. Once all players have their cards you can start the bid phase.
Players bid to become the pitcher, like we mentioned earlier this is a very advantageous position. The player to the left of the dealer will bid first. The lowest bid a player can make is 2 and the highest is Ace.
The cards follow the standard ranking when it comes to their value. With numbered cards being ranked 2 – 10, followed by the Jack, Queen, King, and finally the Ace cards. Every successive bid must be higher than the one that preceded it.
Although the dealer can bid the same amount as the preceding bid and win with it. Giving them a slight advantage in some cases. However, if a player plays a 4 card then they can “smudge” this means they have the winning bid and become the Pitcher.
Players can only bid once so you need to think carefully about what you do. Players can also pass on the bidding altogether. This can be risky but can pay off in the long run.
When the bidding phase is over the pitcher will lead the play by choosing a card. For example, if the Pitcher plays the 10 of Hearts the trump suit will be Hearts. Heart cards then become the most valuable cards in the game, outranking the other suits. Each turn players must put down a card, you must follow the trump suit if you can.
If you are unable to follow the suit then you can play any card. Once every player has played one card you will need to decide who has won the trick. Tricks are won by playing the highest value trump card.
Or if no trumps are played during the round the highest value lead card will win. The winner of the previous trick will then start the next one. Remember the player who wins each trick should collect the cards that were played during it.
Play continues till players have played all their cards and all 6 tricks have been played. All you need to do then is check what cards you have left and tally up your score. You should try to tally scores as you play to make things easier.
Scoring in Pitch is where people can get confused. But it’s easier than you might think, there can just be a lot to remember at first. The player with the highest trump card will score 1 point. The player with the lowest trump card will also score 1 point.
The player who won the trick when the Jack of the trump suit was played will also score 1 point. Finally, there is the game point as well. The game point is awarded to the player who has the highest value of cards.
However, this is decided using a slightly different setup. When it comes to the game point only the aces, face cards, and number 10 cards count. Aces count as 4, Kings count as 3, Queens count as 2, Jacks count as 1, and finally, number 10 cards count as 10.
However, things aren’t finished just yet. The pitcher who won the bid must score at least the amount they bid at the start of the game. If they fail to at least equal their bid then their points will be deducted by the amount they bid. This is known as being set-back.
However, if the pitcher and another player both exceed 7 points (or whatever the agreed-upon amount was) after a game then the pitcher will automatically win. This rule counts even if the other player scored more points! So, being the pitcher does come with some risks, but does offer some advantages as well.
Pitch – A Game of Twists and Turns
So, that is everything you need to know about the Pitch card game rules. When you know how to play, Pitch is a fast and fun game of strategy. You need to think things through at every stage to ensure you have the best chance of winning. If you’re a fan of trick-taking card games like Euchre, give Pitch a try!