Immensely popular through parts of Canada, the US, and various countries around the world, King Pedro is played in groups, tournaments, and is widely available online. Prior to the breakout of Hearts in the early to mid 1900s, it was actually considered one of the best skill games of the last century.
King Pedro is among the easiest games to learn and, surprisingly, not that difficult to master, either. To your benefit, game play is heavily restricted. There isn’t a lot of decision making involved. Trumps are the only cards that matter, the only cards of point value, and the only cards that have the power to catch tricks.
King Pedro Tips & Strategies
Knowing how and when to use trump cards—that’s the key to winning King Pedro, and even those decisions shouldn’t be difficult to render. But there are a few tricks you should know, based prominantly on your current position of play.
Leader’s Partner – 3rd to Act
There’s one very common strategy known to all avid players of this popular Canadian card game. It is known as ‘cinching‘. This tactic is so well known, the game is actually called ‘Cinch‘ in some areas of the United States.
Cinching is a tactic that’s left to the responsibility of the trick leader’s partner; the third to act in a round of play. The strategy is applied when the leader of the trick plays any card worth points, especially a Pedro (5 trump, or same color 5).
Even if the second player has not captured the trick, it is the solemn duty of the leader’s partner to play their highest trump. This prevents the last player from ‘making a Pedro‘ by dropping the other 5 onto the trick (or any other higher trump, for that matter) to capture it for the other team.
Defender – 4th to Act
This player’s job is simple—to steal tricks from their opponents. If there’s any significant points in play, it’s your job to catch the trick, if possible. However, if it’s only 1 or 2 points, and there are much bigger points left to be captured, it’s best to hold onto your highest trumps.
If your partner has already captured the trick, don’t waste your high trumps here. Instead, focus on throwing as many points as possible onto the pile. If your highest trump—the King, for instance—is enough points to set your opponent, or successfully capture the bid for your team, then by all means, play that King!
Trick Leader – 1st to Act
Unlike many trick-catching games, being the leader isn’t always a great position to be in. The more information you have, the better. If you know your partner has high trump, it’s safe to lead with points. You must be able to rely on your partner to stop the last player from making Pedro.
If the cards are getting low, and you have high trump, it’s safe to lead this card. You may be able to draw in the remaining point cards. It also gives your partner a free opening to drop points into the pile.
Defender – 2nd to Act
Perhaps the most difficult position to be in, this player has a lot of things to consider. If you can beat the lead, will it be beaten by another player? If you throw points on, will the next player steal them away, or will your partner be able to capture it—or better, make Pedro? This is the kind of game play information and that comes mostly from experience; not just playing the game, but playing with the same partner.
There’s much more to learn about King Pedro than tips and strategies. If you’re so inclined, check out some of our other links for more information.
Canadian King Pedro Rules
Ukrainian-Canadian King Pedro Rules
Other King Pedro Variations
King Pedro History
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