Pitch Card Game – Rules, How to Play & Points (2024)


Pitch Card Game – Rules, How to Play & Points (1)

Pitch or Setback is a trick-taking card game that was particularly popular in England and the American colonies during the Pre-Revolutionary period of the North American East Coast, widely referred to as New England.

Pitch exists in the “All Fours Group” of card games. These are all derivatives with similar rules to All Fours. Each game builds upon the same foundation, with slightly different rules and regulations for each game.

How to Play Pitch

Pitch, as an English game, is naturally played using the standard 52-card Anglo-American deck. The Jokers should be omitted from the deck, if they are present.

Shuffle & Deal

A round of Auction Pitch begins with shuffling the deck, and dealing each Player six cards in two “packets” of three. This means each Player will be given three cards at a time.

Pitch can be played in two-, three-, or four-player versions. Regardless of the number of Players, each Player will always be dealt six cards.

Once each Player has had their cards distributed, and they have seen their cards, the “auction” begins.

The Auction

The Auction begins with the Player sitting to the left of the Dealer. That Player may either bid or Pass, as can all Players. It is possible to begin a round of Pitch without a single Player bidding for a contract.

If a Player does begin bidding by attempting a contract, the lowest possible bid they may put forward is 2. These bids are an attempt to achieve the “contract”.

Normally, there will only be one contract in each game. This is why this portion of the game is called the Auction. If Players want to enter the game with the contract, they must put forward the highest bid.

These bids are essentially a declaration that a Player will take a certain amount of tricks in the upcoming round.

For example, if Player 1 bids 2, and all other Players pass, Player 1 wins the contract. In the coming round, Player 1 has declared with their contract that they will win at least 2 tricks. If the Player does take the requisite amount of tricks, they will be awarded with Victory Points that match their contract.

A contract of 2 will reward the Player with 2 Victory Points if that Player took at least 2 tricks. However, be wary. If a Player does not meet their contractual obligation of tricks, their score will be deducted that number of Victory Points. If Player 1 has a contract for 3 tricks, but only took 2 tricks in the round, Player 1’s score will be reduced by 3 Victory Points.

As there is only one normal contract, Players must bid more than the previously highest bid in order to take the contract. If Player 1 bids 2, then Played 2 must bid 3 if they want to take the Contract.

The only Player that does not have to increase the bid is the Dealer. The Dealer may accept a contract at its “going rate.” For example:

  1. Player 2 bids 3
  2. Dealer (Player 4) bids 3 as well, taking the contract for its going rate.
  3. Only the Dealer may take a contract at its going rate.


There is also a special contract, known as the “Smudge”. If a Player declares Smudge, they automatically declare that they will win exactly 4 tricks, no more and no less.

This contract is sealed the moment it is declared, and cannot be taken away from the Player by a higher bid.

If a Player that declared Smudge achieves their contract, they automatically win the game. If a Player fails their Smudge, either by going over or under the 4 required tricks, then that Player will lose 4 Victory Points.

The Game

The Game is then played as any normal trick-taking game. Each Player will use their hand of six cards, playing one per trick and comparing their ranks (2-9, J, Q, K, Ace) and suits (♥♦♣♠) to the other cards played by each other Player.

The Pitcher

The “Pitcher” is the Player that won the normal contract by putting forth the highest bid, unrelated to Players that might have declared Smudge.

If all Players passed or Smudged, then the Pitcher is the Player to the immediately left of the Dealer. The Dealer position will move clockwise at the end of each round, or set of six tricks.

The Pitcher will play the first card of the first trick, and for subsequent tricks the Player to the left of the Pitcher will play the first card of the next trick, and so on. The Pitcher’s role is unique, because the suit of the first card played by the Pitcher will become the Trump suit of the round.

Follow Suit

Other Players must “follow suit” if they are able, and are not playing a Trump card. To follow suit means that the first card of a trick determines the suit of the trick, and any non-Trump cards played in that Trick must be the same suit, if a card of the same suit is in the Player’s hand.

Taking Tricks

The trick is “taken” by the Player that plays the highest rank card that either follows suit, or is a Trump card. A card that does not follow the suit of the first card, nor is a Trump card, does not win the trick even if it has a higher rank than other played cards that do follow suit, or are Trump cards.

End of Game

The game ends when one Player achieves 7 total “Victory Points.” Victory Points in Pitch are awarded for achieved contracts, or for the game conditions derived from Pitch’s mother game, All Fours: High, Low, Jack, and Game.

Pitch Rules

Below we listed the essential rules of the game.

  • The Pitcher decides the Trump card of the round.
  • The Game is divided into Rounds and Tricks. Each Round is a set of six Tricks.
  • The Smudge wins the game immediately.
  • Aces are always high, and are the highest-ranked card in the game.

Rules for Victory Points

Victory Points are assigned at the end of the round, in order of Player.

The Pitcher counts their Victory points first. This means that if the Pitcher and another Player both achieve 7 Victory Points in the same round, the Pitcher wins the game because their score was counted first.

The only way the Pitcher will not win in this scenario is if the other Player achieved a Smudge. Smudge immediately wins the game at the end of the round, before Victory Points are tallied.

Scoring & Points

Points in Pitch are rewarded for taking the requisite number of tricks based on a Player’s contract. Victory points can also be awarded for the following special conditions: High, Low, Jack, and Game. Each condition awards 1 Victory Point.

  • High: The highest rank Trump card played in the round.
  • Low: The lowest rank Trump card played in the round.
  • Jack: The Player that takes the trick containing the Jack of Trumps wins the Jack point.
  • Game: The Player with taken tricks accumulating the highest “trick value” Trick value is explained in the score sheet below:
CardTrick Value
1010 Points
Ace4 Points
King3 Points
Queen2 Points
Jack1 Point
9-20 Points

Note that some variants of Pitch include a specific rule from Euchre where the non-trump Jack of the same color as the trumps is also worth 1 point. This is called an Off-Jack.

Example Play

The following is an example hand-in Pitch:

J♣, K♣, 9♠, 5♣, 3♠, 6♥

In this case, it would be advantageous to bid highly in this round to become the Pitcher. By becoming the Pitcher, the Player can make the Trump suit clubs.

This would give them points for the Jack of Trumps, possibly winning the High point with their King of Trump, and can bid up to 3 during the Auction due to their 3 Trump cards increasing the odds of winning those tricks.

Basic Strategy & Tips

  • A Smudge is an extremely risky contract to take, however, because you get to see your hand before the auction, if the hand you were dealt has 4 high-value Trump cards, there’s a very good chance of succeeding the Smudge. A Smudge instantly wins the game, and is only a deduction of 4 points if it is not made. If you can reasonably expect a win from the Smudge, go for it.
  • Try to become the Pitcher as often as possible. The Pitcher determines the Trump suit of the game. This is an extremely advantageous position to be in, as the more prominent suit in your hand becomes the Trump suit.
  • Contracts are the fastest way to generate Victory Points, but contracts are also the only way to lose Victory Points as well. A failed contract can leave you with a negative score. It may be better to try and win the High, Low, and Game points if your hand is rather weak.
  • Remember, when it comes to the Game Point, anything besides the 10, Ace, and face cards (K, Q, J) offer no value. 10 cards are worth the most, so if you are trying for the Game Point, always try to take tricks where a 10 has been played.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Points in Pitch?

Pitch uses the same Victory Points as All Fours, except for the Gift point. This means points in Pitch are tabulated by High, Low, Jack, and Game.

How do you win a Pitch?

A game of Pitch is won when a player accumulates 7 of the Victory Points.

When it comes to the individual trick, a trick is taken when the Player plays the highest value card that either follows suit, or Trumps. A game also ends automatically when a Player that declared Smudge takes exactly 4 tricks, with that Player being the winner.

Can your score be negative in Pitch?

Yes, it is possible to get a negative score. During the bidding portion of the game, a Player’s contract is sealed before the round starts. If a Player does not take at least as many tricks as they bid, then the Player loses as many points as their bid was worth.

For example, Player 1 bids 3, but only takes 2 tricks. This means Player 1 loses 3 points at the end of the round.

Also see

  • Rules for Pedro
  • Rules for Smear
  • Seven Up
Pitch Card Game – Rules, How to Play & Points (2024)


How do you count points in Pitch card game? ›

Points are assigned as follows:
  1. 1 point to the lowest trump card played.
  2. 1 point to the highest trump card played.
  3. 1 point to the jack of trump.
  4. 1 point to "game." This is the person with the highest number, if you count the 10 card of any suit as 10 and each jack as 1, queen as 2, king as 3, ace as 4.

What are the points in the 4 point Pitch? ›

The highs deal, six cards per player with 28 left in the “blind.” Each hand consists of four points: High, Low, Jack, and Game. The player to the left of the dealer bids first by passing or indicating the number of points they hope to take. Two is the lowest allowable bid and four is a “moon” which ends the bidding.

What is the point system in Pitch? ›

One point is awarded for taking the Ace, Jack, off-Jack, high Joker, low Joker, and 10 of trump. Three points are awarded for taking the 3 of trump. One point is awarded to the player who is dealt the 2 of trump.

What are the rules for Pitch? ›

Pitch is a trick-taking game using a standard 52-card deck; each player is dealt six cards. Each player can bid on the value of his or her hand and plays to take tricks and get points. Although one player wins the bid and tries to take all the points, all players can get points by taking key cards.

What cards count in pitch? ›

Overview. Contway 6-point pitch is based on auction pitch and combines a number of variations, some of which are unique. The deck is played with a regular 52-card deck plus one joker. The six points consist of High, Low, Jack, Off-Jack, Joker, and Game.

What is the score of the 10 point pitch winner? ›

The first team to reach 52 points is declared the winner. Another option to bidding is the “shoot the moon.” Shooting the moon means takin all 10 points. If the bid is shoot the moon the bidding team advances their score to 52 if their score was above zero or to zero if their score was below zero.

How does the game pitch work? ›

Pitch is a four player game, played in two teams of two. The objective of the game is to get to 12 points. Teammates sit across from each other, and don't get to see each other's cards.In the setback card game cooperation between pairs is required to win tricks which contain cards.

Can you burn a point card in pitch? ›

-No point value cards can be “burned” by the dealer to start the first trick.

Can two people play pitch? ›

Pitch can be played with 2, 3, or 4 players using a standard 52-card deck with no joker with 6 cards dealt to each player.

What is the no pitch rule? ›

A no pitch is an umpire's ruling in baseball or softball in which a pitch thrown by a pitcher is neither a ball nor a strike. This is typically the umpire's call whenever the pitcher released the ball after the umpire called timeout. However, there are other instances in which this can be called.

What not to do in a pitch? ›

Below are the mistakes that entrepreneurs often make while pitching to investors and what they should do instead.
  1. Mistake-1: Not doing your research. ...
  2. Mistake-2: Not knowing who your investors are. ...
  3. Mistake-3: Not being open minded. ...
  4. Mistake-4: Delivering a boring pitch. ...
  5. Mistake-5: Not being progreesive in your approach.
Dec 15, 2021

What is the 4 person 10 point pitch? ›

10 Point Pitch, also known as Auction Pitch, is a trick-taking card game for 4 players. The goal is for your team to reach a score of 52 before your opponents. This game is played with partnerships. Teammates will sit across from each other and share a score for the game.

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