Introduction to Pitch, Trick-Taking Card Game of the Midwest

    Tired of euchre or spades and looking for a new card game of the midwest with an opportunity to team up and score big? Check out pitch – easy to learn and fun to boot. It is fund playing with friends, family and relatives.

    Pitch is a trick-taking card game related to spades, euchre, and bridge (though much simpler than bridge). Many may know this. It tends to be most popular in the area around Kansas and Oklahoma (especially with the older folks, the big brother type of guys). It’s easy to learn the rules, but strategy comes with experience and it can become quite addicting. Beginners need to gain ample experience before making the moves right. They need to learn various strategies and apply the best one based on circumstances. There are many rule variations, but in Kansas the most common version is 4-person 10-point pitch. The 4 players are divided into 2 teams that sit across from each other as in bridge.

    Setup and Important Cards

    Each player is dealt nine cards to start out. From these nine a player can decide whether or not to make a bid for the hand based on one particular suit that they believe they are strong in (the would-be trump suit). A bid is equal to the number of points that the player believes she and her partner can take in the hand. Point cards (in order) are: Ace, Jack, Off-Jack, Joker, Joker, Ten, Three, Two. A few of these merit explanation. The Off-Jack, also known as the “jick,” is the jack of the suit that is the same color as the trump suit. It can vary by house rules, but usually the first joker played is the highest. The three is worth 3 points, making it the most prized possession in the hand. The two is worth one point, but is an automatic point for whoever plays it–it cannot be taken. Notice the king and queen are not worth points–noteworthy, but because cards are taken in the traditional high-low order, they are still valuable cards to have in hand.

    It is believed the setting up is now clear. Let us move to the next steps – the bids, the tricks and the scoring part.

    The Bid

    Each player has a turn to make a bid (with a minimum of perhaps 5) or pass. If everyone passes, the dealer must take the bid at the minimum. But it is better to make a bid. This is a bold decision.

    According to online-betting.ph, whoever wins the bid declares the trump suit and everyone throws away, face up, all other cards (if any trump card mistakenly lands on the table face-up, it’s fair game for anyone to snatch). Everyone is dealt back up to 6 cards except for the bid winner, who receives the rest of the deck to look through one card at a time. If he fills up with a full 6 card hand, he can pass the rest to his partner to look through. Once everyone is ready, the round begins. The process is repeated again and again.

    Now let us have a look to the tricks implemented in the game. This is an important part and one learns with an experience. Beginners may find tough to use tricks effectively.

    Trick-Taking

    The bid winner leads off with the trump card of her choosing. If she has the ace, that’s the usual opener, as it begs her partner to give her the three if he has it, or at least another point card. The other team will respond by “sluffing,” or playing rather useless cards like the 5 or 6 that aren’t worth points. If the bid winner lacks the ace or other suitable first lead, she may “fish” for it, by which she plays some low sluff card in the hopes of drawing out high cards to find out where they are. Each player has to play one trump card per trick until they run out, and whoever plays the highest card takes the trick and earns however many points were played in that trick for their team. The trick winner leads off the next trick, and play continues until every player is out of trump cards. Points are counted, and if the team that won the bid got that many points, they earn their bid plus any more points they got. If they fail to make their bid, they go “set” and lose however many points their bid was. The non-bidding team wins however many points they received in the hand, regardless of whether the bidding team went set or not (naturally, if they did go set, the nonbidding team could gain substantially).

    Scoring in Pitch

    The final point total required to win the game varies by house rules, a sample number is 52. A standard game will probably take 10-12 hands and last about 45 minutes. If the no-coattailing rule is employed, a team either has to win the bid and go over 52 to win the game or, conversely, make the other team go set while going over 52 themselves. They cannot win by letting the other team win the bid and earning a few points themselves to go over 52. A team in dire straits can attempt to “shoot the moon” by bidding 10–if they manage to get all 10, it’s 20 points for them. Miss one and it’s minus 10 (these numbers change by house rules too).

    Pitch is a really fun, social game. At times it seems almost like partners employ telepathy to pull off their moves. And it’s always enjoyable to steal the three from opponents with that hidden queen and make them go set. There’s a lot more to be said about strategy, but the best way to learn is to play. All one needs is a standard deck and three willing players, and a great time can be had with this classic trick-taking card game.

    It is hoped the guide was helpful and readers have understood the features required while playing.

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