Although other interesting variations follow this description, Partnership Auction Pinochle for four players is considered the classic form of the game.
Twelve cards are dealt to each player, but a trump card is not turned.
Each player in turn, beginning on the dealer's left, may either bid or pass. The lowest bid is 100. When a player has passed, he may no longer bid; however, until then, he may bid each time it is his turn, provided the bid is higher than the last previous bid. Bids are made in multiples of 10 points.
The highest bidder names any suit as trump, and the players meld. Play then proceeds as in Partnership Pinochle, with the player on the dealer's left leading first, no matter who made the highest bid. A side that wins any trick may count the melds of both partners.
If the bidding side, in melds and cards, scores at least the amount of its bid, it scores all the points it has made. If it scores less than its bid, the amount of the bid is deducted from its score, even if it causes that side to have a net minus score. The non-bidding side always scores all the points it makes. The first side to reach 1,000 points wins the game. There is no declaring out, since the score of the bidding side is always counted first, and both sides cannot reach 1,000 on the same hand.
A variation is to deal only 11 cards to each player with a widow of four cards. The widow goes to the highest bidder, who looks at it, but does not show it. He then keeps one card and gives one card each, face down, to the other players.