How to Play Pitch (Card Game Rules)

Playing cards are often the perfect way to pass the time, and if you learn the Pitch card game rules, you’ll have a quick game you can whip out at any moment’s notice with your pals.

Pitch uses the concepts of tricks, betting, and trumps which are also found in other games such as Tarneeb (see Tarneeb rules), among others, and is a game that rewards those who are brave enough to back their luck and skills.

If you’re not already familiar with these concepts or just looking for a refresher, then you’re in luck. 

Read on to learn how to play the Pitch card game, including setup instructions and scoring.

What Is Pitch the Card Game?

Also known by its alternative names All Fours, Auction Pitch, Cinch, and Seven-Up, Pitch is a trick-taking card game where players compete against one another.

This makes it different from other trick games such as Tarneeb, which gets played in 2 pairs of 2 instead.

Allegedly the origins of the game are from the 17th century, and although rules have been slightly adjusted over the years, the core gameplay still applies.

Number of Players Required: Either 2, 3, or 4 players.

Who Can Play It: Best suited for Teens and Adults.

Difficulty: Medium difficulty.

Length of Play: 5 – 10 minutes

Similar to: Pinochle; Tarneeb; Conquian; Hand Knee & Foot; Bezique

Main Objective: Become the first player to either score 7 points, or manage to score a Smudge.

Why We Love It: Slightly tricky to get the hang of the less than straightforward tactics, but once you’ve got to grips with the game, you’ll see why it’s such a classic. Competing against everyone to score that elusive smudge never gets old or tiresome either in the ultimate ‘risk vs. reward’ gambit.

Playing Pitch – What You’ll Need.

Just like games such as the Horse Race card game and Palace, all you’ll need to begin playing is a deck of cards.

If you don’t have a deck or 2 lying around, then pick yourself up a large pack of playing cards to ensure you never go without again.

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Consider getting a whiteboard too. Pitch requires players to keep score throughout the game, and the easiest way to do this is by recording the figures on a whiteboard.

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How To Set Up Pitch

In Pitch, it’s important to be aware that the Ace is high, so is the highest value card, followed by King, Queen, etc.

Grab a deck of cards and give them a good shuffle. Then, starting with the player to the dealer’s left, deal out 3 cards to each player until everyone has 6 cards each.

Use whichever method you would like to decide on who the starting dealer is. After each round, the player to the left becomes the new dealer and repeats the same shuffle and deal.

Pitch Card Game Rules

Pitch is best played with either 2, 3, or 4 players. If you would like to play with more, consider upping to another deck per 4 additional players.

Starting the Game.

Like other trick-taking games, Pitch requires players to bid first.

Starting with the player to the dealer’s left, each player bids on how many tricks they think they’ll get with the highest bidder beginning the game.

Any player who bids 4 smudges. This means they immediately become the highest bidder, and nobody can outbid or match the bid.

How to Play Pitch

After bidding gets sorted, the actual gameplay part of Pitch can begin.

The highest bidder, or pitcher, starts leading by picking a card from their hand that other players must attempt to outrank.

They do this by playing a higher card of the same suit. This is the trump suit.

The player who plays the highest-ranking card that matches the trump suit wins the trick. Or the player who played the trump card wins if nobody else can outrank the trump.

Whoever wins the trick leads the next hand, and this gets repeated until all players use all 6 cards that they were initially dealt.

Scoring In Pitch

Once all 6 tricks get played, players who weren’t the highest bidder receive a score based on the number of tricks they won.

However, the highest bidder only receives a score if they successfully managed to win the same number of tricks as their winning bid.

If they do not win the same number of tricks as their bid, then the bidding number gets deducted from that player’s score instead.

The first player to score 7 points wins the game, but if a player goes for a smudge and is successful, the game ends there with that player winning instead.

The one exception to this is if a player smudges while being in the hole, scoring the 4 points, but the game continues as normal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does it state what to do in the Pitch rules if a player has no cards that match the Trump Suit?

Players must always play at least 1 of the cards in their hands in every trick, even if they don’t have a card that matches the trump suit.

It can actually occasionally be tactically beneficial not to play a trump card, and there’s nothing in the rules that state any particular card must get played at any time.

What happens if a player goes ‘in the hole’ as a result of an unsuccessful bid?

Players can have negative points in a trick. If this does happen, be sure to mark it by circling the score to denote that it is a negative score.

This is also known as being ‘in the hole,’ hence why a circle gets used to symbolize this.

Alternative Games to Pitch

If you choose to buy our recommended stack of playing cards, you’re probably hoping that we have more game guides to give you more of an excuse to use them.

Fortunately, that’s exactly what we have. So be sure to check out other guides such as Horse Race or Go Fish for easy to play games that are great fun.

Your turn to host card games night?

Then presuming you’re both the correct age and not easily offended, take a look at the Exploding Kittens rules and Disturbed Friends rules for card games that should keep everyone laughing.

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