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Wanted Cards out of number in the widow

Chances of finding it in the widow

Odds on finding That card

1 of 1

961 in 5,456

1 in 5.67

1 of 2

1,802 in 5,456

1 in 3.02

1 of 3

2,531 in 5,456

1 in 2.11

1 of 4

3,156 in 5,456

1 in 1.72

1 of 5

3,685 in 5,456

1 in 1.47

1 of 6

4,125 in 5,456

1 in 1.31

            In a word, a player has a better than even chance of finding in the widow a valuable card that will help him only when he has four or more openings in the hand.  I concede cheerfully that in every player’s experience there has occurred the widow that gave him two or three cards he needed and a cinch hand; but the Pinochle player who consistently relies on this fantastic improbability is not a good player.  The sound bidder rarely expects to find an additional meld in the widow.  He anticipates improving his playing hand with the three widow cards, but that’s all.  A player who says the widow ruined his hand is not telling the truth.  The widow can’t under the rules of the game, hurt your hand.  you can always   bury the three widow cards   and still have the same  (unruined) hand with which you started.  The best Pinochle players I know calculate the average value of the widow cards.  I agree with them.  If in your bidding you give a tentative value of 30 to the widow you’ll have a soundly conservative bidding technique
            When to Play or Concede the Hand.  Having examined the widow and decided  he can’t meld enough points to make his bid a cinch hand, the bidder must make up his bid a cinch hand, the bidder must make up his mind then whether to concede the hand or play it out.  If he plays and wins, all very well!  If he concedes and throws in the cards, he must pay his opponents but a single unit each.  But if he elects to play the hand and then fails to make his bid he must pay each opponent at least two units.  It is not uncommon that he is compelled to pay each four units if spades were trump and six units if hearts were trump.  Hence the hesitant bidder, calculating the tricks it may win!), is confronted with a situation not quite comparable to anything else in cards.
            He must reckon the number of trump cards held by his opponents (and the cards in the other suits) and he must decide under what distributional conditions it’s possible for him to make them break favorably.  It is quite a delicate calculation.  If some crucial suit breaks unfavorably (that is, if the cards in one opponent’s hand total more than the cards in the other’s), then he can’t break the suit, and he can’t possibly make the bid.
            Master Contract Bridge players have been through some of this, but theirs is quite different kettle of fish.  Our Pinochle bidder, for example, holds six trump cards.  six trumps are out against him in the other hands.  If those six are distributed between his opponents evenly, three and three, he can break the suit, control the other suits, and bring home his bid.  If they’re five to one or four to two or six to zero he hasn’t a chance.
            It is impossible to decide on this problem by reliance on card sense.  card sense is too variable, if it is really anything at all.  The variable, if it is really anything at all.  The player who depends on what he thinks is some abstruse instinct at cards is a player generally headed straight for the cleaners! You need something more tangible, something based more on demonstrable reality, to estimate the probable distribution of cards between your opponents.  Again, since it’s your bank account, I must petition you to stay with me.  Let’s say a player has to decide on the distribution of the missing ace and then of diamonds.  If he’s an average player, he concludes there are four ways in which these cards can fall:

  1. Opponent A holds the ace of diamonds, opponent B holds the ten of diamonds.
  2. Opponent A holds the ten of diamonds, opponent B holds the ace of diamonds.
  3. Opponent A holds the ace and ten, opponent B holds neither.
  4. Opponent A holds neither, opponent B holds both ace and ten.

Hence, our average player decides, the ace and the ten can be divided two ways so as to fall on a single lead; also, they can be divided two ways so as to and ten can be divided two ways so that they won’t  fall on a single lead .  there are two ways either can happen. Thus the chances that either will happen are exactly even.  But it doesn’t work out that way.  As you’ll note  below, the correct casino percentages are 48 percent in favour of the 2-0 distributions and 52 percent  in favour of the 1-1 distribution.  The mistake our average player made was to consider only the two crucial cards, whereas he should have taken  also into consideration the 28 other cards that made up the hands.  Here’s a table of the suit distribution that will help any player:


Bidder holds

Distribution of Missing cards

Approximate probability (percent)

10 of one suit






9 of one suit






8 of one suit









7 of one suit









6 of one suit












5 of one suit












4 of one suit















Be sure you’re Right, then Don’t Go Ahead.  Conceding the hand, unless it is a cinch, is in the long run a costly habit.  How you manage yourself at this critical state of the game is decisive as to whether you can win or must lose.  Before deciding whether to play it out or throw it in, the bidder of any hand should refer mentally to the above table of suit distribution.  If the probability is 33.3 percent or more that suits will fall in the bidder’s favor, he should play out the hand.  another way of saying it: He should not concede unless the probability is 66.7 percent that the cards will fall adversely.  I select the 33.3 percent figure since at that level the bidder has the same mathematical case whether he concedes or plays; in the act of deciding to play it out he neither gains nor loses; he is no worse off playing than he is conceding.  Let’s break down three theoretical hands:

  1. If the bidder concedes all three hands he must pay each opponent three units, one for each hand.
  2. If he plays out the three poker card hands and the probabilities turn out as predicted by the mathematics, he must lose two hands and pay each opponent four units, two for each hand. Meanwhile, the bidder wins one hand and collects one unit from each opponent. So far our man’s even: He loses three units by conceding; he loses three by playing.

Thus, if the probabilities are any better than 33.3 percent in the bidder’s favor, he must play out the hand, and he must win in the long run. Example: The bid is 470 points. You have melded 220 points. There are two trumps out against you: the ace and the ten. You need 250 points to make your bid. If the ace and ten are divided between your opponents, you make all the tricks and win the hand. If one opponent holds both ace and ten, you lose a trick and fail to make the hand. Question: Should you elect to play the hand? Answer: Absolutely yes; you must play it out. You have a 48 percent chance to win, which is much higher than the 33.3 percent chance that is our minimum. But note this well: When spades are double or hearts are triple, this 33.3 percent rule is out. I recommend that you do not play out a spade hand unless you have at least a 50 percent chance to break your suit and that you do not play ‘,q a heart hand without a 56 percent chance. I

Cash Value of Your Opponent’s Incompetence.  It is not generally sound to assume that one of your opponents will make a feeble minded mistake favorable to you, and to then play out a squeaker hand. You can’t build a good game of any kind on the assumption that the adversary will drop the ball or will consistently behave himself like a fool. It is obviously better-so obviously that I hesitate to state it-to build up your game in the expectation that your opponent will play or defend his hand like a master. But…

There is always a “but.” If you know your opponent’s game, if you are sure he’s bound to make a mistake and you know what kind of mistake it’s apt to be, and if you can maneuver the play so as to enhance the odds he’ll make it, then you’re entitled to take account of that consistent margin of error in: your bidding and play. Don’t forget, though, that for every weakness in your opponent’s card games there’s very likely to be one in yours. Maybe you have little consistent flaws of which other people are aware. Maybe you regularly overbid or underbid; maybe you, play the hand like a butcher; maybe you lose track of trumps and make a practice of trying to break unbreakable suits. When you undertake to play mistakes for profit, you’re assuming risks.
Count Tricks as They Are Won. The most common fault I find in the majority of Pinochle players is a peculiar hoggishness. The player isn’t satisfied to make his bid and rack it up. He takes it for granted, at a certain stage of the game, that he’ll of course make his bid, and he proceeds to concentrate on running up a count higher than his contract.
Don’t do it. Make your bid. The player who does this is not a losing player. But the player who concentrates all his faculties on amassing a high count is almost invariably a loser. The play of the hand for a high count is radically different from the play for a low or modest count. It is necessary to take long chances, to risk adverse suit breaks, to neglect safety plays. It is even sometimes necessary to set up good tricks for the opponent in side suits. The risks are never commensurate with the potential gain. They are a bad bet. Play for your bid.
The player should always count, as they are made, the points taken in tricks so that he will have an accurate calculation on his hand as it goes along. Often a player neglects an opportunity to put on a trick a high-ranking card that would win the hand for him; not having counted his points, he thinks he needs more points than he in fact does need. By failing to play the high-ranking card at the right time, he never gets another chance to take a trick.
Count your valuable cards won in tricks, whether you’re the bidder or his opponent. It pays off. And-while I’ve said this before, it’s worth repeating-by all means train yourself to count the trump cards as they’re played. Once you’ve mastered that, you’ll find it’s not so hard to keep track of the cards played in the side suits, too.

New England Pinochle

This game, also known as Hartford Pinochle, is played in the same manner as Auction Pinochle with Widow each hand a complete game, except as follows:

  1. When and if the bidding reaches 300, one card of the widow is exposed to all players as the bidding continues. The choice of this card is left to the dealer.
  2. When and if the bidding reaches 350, another card of the widow is exposed by the dealer. The third card of the widow is not exposed until the bidding has stopped. The three cards of widow, of course, belong to the highest bidder as in all Auction Pinochle games .

Auction Pinochle with Widow: Game-1,000 points

This game is essentially the same as the one just described (Auction Pinochle with Widow: Each Hand a Complete Game), except that the object is to score, before any other player does so, 1,000 points by totaling the value of melded cards and of cards taken in tricks during successive hands.
Basically, the difference in this game lies in the counting of tricks and in the fact that all hands, when there is a bid, must be played to completion. (There is no conceding of a hand.) In counting tricks, remember:

  1. The bidder counts is tricks. If he has scored enough points in his melds and tricks to equal or exceed his bid, he enters the total on his score. The other player’s points in tricks and melds are scored for each, in his own respective column. (In this game, after the bidder has announced trump, the other two players put down their melds.) A player must win at least one trick to score his melds.
  2. If the bidder fails to make his bid he loses the melds previously credited to him on his hand, gets no credit for the number of points won in tricks, and he is holed for the amount of the bid. This amount is subtracted from his total score. If that (his total score) is less than the amount he is holed for, his deficit is entered on the score sheet with a minus sign. The other players get credit for their tricks scored.

This scoring goes on until one or more player scores 1,000 points or more. If one player alone scores 1,000 points, he is the winner. If two players have 1,000 points or more and neither is the bidder, the player with the higher score wins. If two players, excepting the bidder, are tied with 1,000 or more points, they both are declared winners and share equally in the stakes. If the player who won the bidding is one of two players to score 1,000 or more points, he wins the poker game, even if another player (or players) has a higher score.

Optional Rule for Holed Payoff. Often players collect an amount (in addition to the penalty detailed above) from a bidder who is holed. Generally, the additional penalty is one- fourth of the stakes for the game. If, for example, it is stipulated that each loser shall pay the winner $1 per game, a player going into the hole would have to pay each opponent one-fourth of $1, or 25 cents. But this rule must be expressly agreed upon before the start of the game.



Pinochle many Variations

Pinochle many Variations
Two-Handed Pinochle
Two-Handed Doubling Redoubling
Auction pinochle
Strategy at Auction
CAD found
Partnership Auction
Auction pinochle without wido Individual play
Partnership Aeroplane Pinochle
Radio Partnership Pinochle

Other Members of the Bezique Family

The Bezique Family
Rubicon bezique
Two-handed sixty-six
Two-handed piquet
Boo-Ray or BOURÉ

The Big Euchre Family

The big euchre family
Strategy of euchre
Auction euchre
Table of scoring points
Spoil five
Double hasenpfeffer
Three-card loo

The Heart Group

Heart Group
Spot Hearts
Black Widow Hearts

The All-Fours Group

All-Fours Group
Shasta Sam
Auction Pitch Joker

Banking Card Games

Banking Card Games
Black Jack, casino Style
Black Jack Strategy
CHEMIN DE PER must play
Baccarat Banque
Faro or farobank
Banker and broker
Red Dogs

Card craps

The Stops Games

Stops Game

Skarney® and How It Is Played

Skarney® and How It Is Played
Alternate Skarney
Skarney Singles
Skarney Gin Doubles

Cheating at Card Games

Cheating at Card Games
Professional Card Cheats
Nullifying the Cut
The Peek
How to Shuffle Cards

Dice and their Many Games

Dice and their Many Games
The Casino Game: Bank Craps
English Hazard
Double Cameroon
Partnership Straight scarney Dice
Scarney Duplicate Jackpots
Scarney Chemin de Fer
Applying All Card Games Poker

Games Requiring Special Equipment

Hasami Shogi
Follow The Arrow

Lottery and Guessing Games

Lottery guessing game
Tossing Game
Race Horse Keno
The match Game

Glossary of Game Terms


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