The 48-card Pinochle pack is used.
A (high), 10, K, Q, J, 9. If duplicate cards are played to the same trick, the one played first ranks higher.
The two players drawing the highest cards play as partners against the other two. If two players cut cards of identical rank, they draw again.
Any player may shuffle the cards, and the dealer shuffles last. The player to the dealer's right cuts.
The dealer distributes the entire deck, three cards at a time to each player in rotation, except that the last card is turned up to indicate the trump card. Every card of that suit is a trump for the current deal.
Each player in turn, beginning with the player on the dealer's left, has the right to exchange the dix (nine of trumps) for the trump card. The trump card, or the dix exchanged for it, then becomes part of the dealer's hand, so that each player has 12 cards. If the dealer turns a dix as the trump card, he scores 10 points for it; each original holder of a dix scores 10, whether or not it was exchanged.
Following the exchange for the trump card, each player shows on the table any melding combinations he holds, and scores them in accordance with the tables and rules for basic Two-hand Pinochle. Instead of doubling the value of a single combination, the following scores are counted for double combinations:
Double pinochle 300
All 8 jacks 400
All 8 queens 600
All 8 kings 800
All 8 aces 1,000
Double flush 1,500
Having shown and scored their melds, all players pick up their hands. No meld finally counts unless the side making it wins at least one trick. If either member of that partnership wins a trick, both members score their melds.
The player on the dealer's left leads first and may lead any card. Each player in turn must follow suit if possible. Otherwise, he must play a trump. If a trump is led, each player must beat the highest card previously played. If a player is unable to play according to these requirements, he may play any card. The winner of each trick leads next. (Variation: In some games, each player in turn must try to win every trick, whether a trump trick or not, and must play a card higher than any previously played, even if the highest card so far was played by his partner.)
A single score is kept for each partnership. The partnership is credited with the points both partners score in melds (provided the side wins at least one trick), plus the value of cards they have taken in tricks. Cards may be counted as in Two-Hand Pinochle (Aces, 11 points; tens, 10; kings, 4; queens, 3, and jacks, 2). However, most players simplify the count by scoring 10 for each ace or ten taken in, and 5 points for each king or queen, with jacks and nines counting nothing. Other players simplify still further by counting 10 points each for ace, ten or king and nothing for any lower card. In any of these methods, the winner of the last trick always scores 10 points, and the total points by cards are 250.
The first side to score 1,000 points, in melds and cards, wins the game. Any player may claim the game ("declare out," as described for Two-Hand Pinochle) at any time he believes that his side has scored 1000 points or more. Play then stops, and the cards are counted to verify the claim. If the claimant's side has 1,000 points or more, it wins the game regardless of how many points the other side has. If the claimant's side has fewer than 1,000 points, it loses the game. The claimant's side may not count its melds in the current deal as part of its total unless it has won a trick after melding. If at the end of play in any deal, both sides have reached 1,000 or more, play continues to 1,250. If the same thing happens again, play continues to 1,500, and so on.