Pitch is a favorite at Pittenger & Anderson, and anyone who plays pitch knows that 4-point is the only game worth playing. Traditionally, the game is played with two partners (four people). To begin, deal each player six cards… two (or three) at a time, “pitch” style. Since 24 cards are dealt, there will be 28 cards left in the deck. That’s an important point to remember. The four “points” are “High,” “Low,” “Jack,” and “Game.” The winning bidder declares “trump.”
“High” is the highest card of trump played. If the Ace is in the deck, then the King is high. If the Ace and King are in the deck, the Queen is high. It is possible for the Deuce to be high.
“Jack” is the Jack of trump. If the Jack is in the deck then there is no Jack out and the players will only score three of the four available points. If the Ace, King, and Queen are in the deck, then the Jack will count as “Jack” and “High.”
“Low” is the lowest card of trump played. If the Deuce is in the deck, the Trey is Low. If the Deuce and Trey are in the deck, then the Four is Low. It is possible for one card to be High and Low. Low cannot be captured, the player dealt the low trump out, retains that point for the team.
“Game” is the skill point. Count for game by assigning numerical value to all the face cards, the Aces and the Tens (not just Trump). Aces count four. Kings count three. Queens count two. Jacks count one. Each Ten counts ten. All teams count the cards that they have captured as tricks. Obviously, Tens are important.
The player to the left of the dealer bids first. The lowest bid is two, the highest is four, which is also called a “Moon.” Each player bids by determining how many of the four points they think their team will be able to take. Holding the Ace and Deuce of any suit would make for a cinch 2-bid, High & Low. A player holding an Ace/Deuce may be inclined to bid three if another player bid two first. The assumption being that any partner worth having could provide the Jack or at least a Ten for game. Bidding is as much gumption as science. It can only be learned by playing the game.
Bidding is all numbers. Once everyone has bid, the winning bidder declares trump and must lead trump. If all three players to the left of the dealer pass, the dealer is stuck a 2-bid. However, the dealer still has the option of “Mooning.” The dealer also has the option of accepting a 2-bid set. In that scenario, the dealer’s team goes set and the opposition does not score.
If a player “Moons,” the bidding ends immediately and play begins. During play, suit must be followed unless the player elects to play trump. Players may trump in at anytime. When a player decides he cannot take anymore tricks and cannot contribute in any way, he can “pitch” his remaining cards on the trick being played. You cannot “pitch” trump. “Pitching” speeds play.
Players collect tricks as the game progresses. When we play, both teams collect tricks face-up. This allows both teams to audit for Game (the skill point) as play progresses. If you want to take 4-point pitch to its nastiest extreme, play with the tricks face down and “capture” low. It makes for a much more challenging game.
Single Game Method
Here’s where things start to get interesting. We know two methods of scoring. The first, and simplest, is the Single Game method. Play each game to 15 or 21. A Moon is worth the game value, either 15 or 21. A Set Moon counts 4-points against the bidder. Aggressive players will notice there is a mathematical incentive to Moon. Points are accumulated in a column of figures. “Made” bids are positive and “Set” bids are negative. The first team to 15 or 21 wins.
If the players want to introduce a wager (and who wouldn’t), the stakes would be set at the outset and the wager would be completed with each game. For instance, with stakes set at $2.00/$2.00 or “Two’s,” the players would be playing for $2.00 per game and $2.00 per set. The winning team is forgiven their sets. If the winning team goes out with its opponent “On the Post,” or “Posted” (a score of Zero or less), the results are doubled. If a player Moons and goes out, the results are doubled.
The second method is “Hollywood Scoring.” It takes pitch to a higher level and makes the score pad an important part of bidding. Using Hollywood, the teams play three games simultaneously. Each game is played to seven, making a Moon worth seven and a Set Moon worth negative four. Score is kept on a 12-column sheet, also called a “Rack.”
Once again, stakes are set at the outset and the contest is completed when all 12 games of the Rack are finished. The scorekeeper tallies the first, second, and third games cumulatively. The fourth game is not started until the first game is completed. Only three games are open at one time. The following pages describe a number of Hollywood Scoring scenarios, followed by a blank score sheet. Feel free to make a copy.