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How to Play the Pitch Card Game

Omkar Phatak
If you are looking for information on playing pitch, this story is just for you. As you will discover in this write-up, playing this game is all about astute judgment.
Playing cards is my personal favorite, when it comes to indoor games. All you need is a deck of 52 cards and your buddies. Pitch is one of the most popular card games, which is played all over the United States and even Europe.


Pitch is also known by the name of 'Setback' and 'Auction Pitch'. It has its origin in the European game called All Four's, played in post-medieval times. Since then, the game has spread worldwide and countless variations exist. The one that I discuss here is the most popular American version and the simplest. It can be a nice party game for a small group.

Playing the Game

Playing pitch is quite simple, as you will discover while going through the explanation. You need to have a standard 52 card deck for the game. The objective is to win maximum hands and score the highest. To play this game, you need at least three to four people. You could play amongst yourselves individually or make teams.
In case of a team, the points will be added up. The game begins with a chosen dealer among you dealing the cards, such that every player gets six of them. If there are four players, only twenty four of the fifty two cards will be in play. The beauty of having lesser cards in play is that it increases the uncertainty, mystery, and the fun.
Next part of the game is to select the most confident player, who gets to choose the trump. The process of choosing is through bidding. All players have a look at their cards and bid a number between one to four, according to their judgment. The number has to be decided according to the hands you could win with your cards. Bidding usually begins from the left of the dealer. Like bidding in an auction, unless you can better the last bid, you pass the bidding chance.
The person who wins and makes the highest bid has the advantage of being able to choose the trump for the game. This way, confidence is rewarded in this game. Of course, your judgment has to be accurate. If you do not score as much as you bid, you lose points. If nobody bids, then by default, the dealer has to make a bid of at least two and start with the game by selecting the trump suit.
An important part of strategy is choosing the trump. Select the suit for which you have a maximum probability of winning a hand. That is, select the suit for which, you have the highest cards. The one who selects the trump, the highest bidder, must play first and open the trump. Thus, the game begins with the highest bidder playing the first trump card.
Then, others must follow in turn by following the suit or playing a trump. In case, a player neither has a trump, nor a card of the suit being played, he can play any other card. The trick is won by the one who has the highest trump.
If the highest bidder was lucky and a card, higher than his trump card, is not in the game, he will win the trick. Otherwise, he'll lose the game. That way, to play pitch and win, you need to be cunning and lucky, at the same time.
Once a trick is played out, scoring must be done. It goes in the following manner. The one who came up with the highest trump, gets a point and the one who comes up with the lowest one, also gains a point. Another point is given to the player who came up with the jack of trump suit. In case, the jack of the trump suit was not in play, that point is not awarded.
The rest of the trick points are awarded according to the value of the cards that are won. A ten gets ten points, a jack gets 1, queen gets 2, while kings earn you 3 trick points. The ones who come up with the aces, earn the highest, as they get 4 points for an ace won.
Last thing in the scoring is to check if the highest bidder or bidding team has scored as much as they bid. They are only awarded points if they scored those points or else those points are subtracted from the overall total.
The game goes on till any team or player reaches 11 points and wins. In case of a tie in final scores, the player or team which was leading before, wins.
The rules are quite simple and straightforward which is the feature of a good card game. You can also play some of its other variations, as per your liking.