Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Big Night at the Pinochle Table

by Pa Rock
Card Playing Fool

I have been playing pinochle each Wednesday evening at the local senior citizen's center for over a year now, and while I am a fairly competent player who usually manages to win as many as I lose, last night proved to be my best night ever.

We play pinochle with a double deck minus the nines.  That means each table plays with four aces, four kings, four queens, four jacks, and four tens - of each suit - or a big deck of eighty cards with each player receiving twenty cards with each deal.  A hand of pinochle is played in two stages.  First the players bid and meld - or lay down cards from their hands that meet certain points criteria.  In order for a team's meld to be recorded it much reach or exceed twenty points.  Then the cards are picked back up and played.  At the end of the hand points are again tallied from the tricks that each team took (with aces, kings, and tens each counting for one point).  If a team makes twenty or more points during the playing portion of the game, they get to keep those points as well as the points that they laid down as part of their meld.

Yes, it does sound a bit complicated, but pinochle is a game that is usually learned very quickly - by playing.

One of the best hands that a person can be dealt is called a "double run," or two of each denomination for one particular suit:  two aces, two kings, two queens, two jacks, and two tens.  This combination of cards, which is worth 150 points, does not occur often, and our group may go several weeks at a time without one being dealt.  Last night we had a total of three, which in itself is rather astounding.

One of those double runs came to me, in clubs.  In addition to the ten correct cards in the suit, I had the two additional kings of clubs and one ace in another suit.  I, of course, took the bid for 150, expecting to pull it off (make the needed twenty for it to count) regardless of what my partner had or did not have in his hand.  But, as luck would have it, my partner had a hot hand also, including seven aces - and further including the two aces of clubs that I didn't have.  It was obvious from the get-go that we would make thirty or forty points out of the fifty possible during the playing portion of the game.  (Fifty = 48 actual points plus 2 for taking the last trick of the hand.)

The cards, though, fell surprisingly well and he and I managed to take all of the tricks - something some of the other players present referred to as "shooting the moon."  The old timers said that was the first time in memory that it had happened at Wednesday night pinochle.  We scored 500 points for that master stroke and won the game automatically without having to play the remaining three hands. 

The thing that made the hand even sweeter was that it was dealt by one of our opponents - the Chairman of the Howell County Republican Central Committee!

Yes, Virginia, there is a God, and She has a wicked sense of humor!

(And then I rushed home expecting my luck to carry over into winning the billion-and-a half dollar Powerball jackpot with my one ticket - but that didn't happen.)

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