Pitch is derived from an old English game known as All Fours. The main difference is that Pitch has a betting component to the play.
To play the card game Pitch requires three to four people, but can be more. The dealer shuffles the cards and passes out six cards to each player. This is done either by first dealing a single card, then two and finally three, or alternately by dealing two sets of three to each player.
The game proceeds when each player bids. While some think bidding in Pitch is complex, it is actually very simple. The players can choose to bid one, two, three or four. This translates to the number of points they believe their hand will win them. A player may also pass. If everyone at the table has passed, the dealer is obliged to bid two.
Once any player has bid, the next player in line must either up the bid or pass (meaning exit the game). The highest bidder is usually the one with the strongest hand, and is also the player who determines the trump suit. They throw down the first card, which determines the trump and the play proceeds to their left.
Each player throws down a single card and the winner of the hand is the one who has thrown either the highest card in suit or the highest trump card. Trump will always beat the suit, and the winner of the hand takes the cards won. Once all players are out of cards, the tallying begins.
Understanding Points in a Game of Pitch
To win requires points and there are four points that a player will win in a game of Pitch, these are one point each to the highest trump card played, the lowest trump card played and the jack of trump card. The player with the highest number, meaning the card with the highest face value also gets a point, which is a “game” point.
If the person who bid the highest happens to get their bid, then they get the four points but if they didn’t reach four points, then they are given a negative four points. For example, a player bids four and has high, low, jack and a game point; they’ll receive four points for the hand. Additionally, if a player is not a bidder, but happens to get any kind of point, they’ll receive those points as well.
Playing Pitch as a Team
Many people like to play Pitch in teams as well. This is usually done with no more than six total players split into three couples. The rules are the same, but a team must reach twenty-one to win a game, and only if at the end of a hand which they reached their bid. For example, a team with fifteen points may actually beat a team with twenty-two points if the last hand had the lower score winning the trick.
There are many variations with Pitch as well, which allow for alterations in the bidding; adding a draw feature to the game; and even forbidding trumps in the first trick. These variations require some skill and strategy, but are a fun way to show off your Pitch expertise.