euchre

euchre

[yoo-ker]
euchre, card game, played usually by four persons (two sets of partners). The game originated among the Amish and was a popular card game in America in the late 19th cent. The pack has 32 cards, from 7 up to ace in each suit. The jack of trumps, called the right bower, ranks highest, and the jack of the other suit of the same color, called the left bower, ranks next. The dealer gives five cards to each player, in two rounds, first three cards and then two or vice versa and turns up the next card for trumps. The player to the left of the dealer (eldest hand) may accept the turn-up for trumps ("I order it up") or may pass, in which case the option goes to the next player and so on. If all four pass, then the eldest hand may name trumps or pass. A second round of passing calls for a new deal. A trick is won by the highest trump or by the highest card of the suit led. Five points make a game. By making all five tricks (march), the combination that has made trumps scores two points (four if the trump maker plays alone). They score only one point by making either three or four tricks, while if they fail to make three tricks they are euchred and the opponents score two points. The game is similar to écarté and five hundred.

Euchre is a trick-taking card game most commonly played with four people in two partnerships with a deck of 24 standard playing cards. It is closely related to the French game Écarté and it may be sometimes referred as "Knock Euchre" to distinguish it from Bid Euchre. It has been suggested that the game and its name derive from an Alsatian card game named "Jucker".

The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand all have large followings of the game. Euchre has declined in popularity in the United States since the 19th century, when it was widely regarded as the national card game, but it retains a strong following in some regions, specifically the Midwestern states.

Euchre is played differently from region to region and even within regions. This article describes typical Euchre rules, noting some of the variations that may be encountered.

Dealing

Conventional Euchre is a four-player trump game, wherein the players are paired to form two partnerships. Partners face each other from across the table so that the play of the cards in conventional clockwise order alternates between the two partnerships.

Conventional Euchre uses a deck of 24 standard playing cards consisting of A, K, Q, J, 10, and 9 of each of the four suits. A standard 52-card deck can be used, omitting the cards from 2 to 8, or a Pinochle deck may be divided in half to form two Euchre decks. In some countries, the common 32-card piquet or Skat deck is used, which includes the 7s and 8s.

To determine the first deal, many players use a first Jack deals or first black Jack deals rule. Using the Euchre deck, one player will distribute the cards, one at a time, face up in front of each player. The player dealt the first (black) jack becomes the dealer for the first hand. In subsequent hands, the deal is rotated clockwise. Out of courtesy, the dealer should offer a cut to the player on his right after shuffling and immediately before dealing.

Each player is dealt five cards (or seven if using the 32-card deck) in clockwise order, usually in groups of two or three cards each. The dealer may alternate, first giving two cards to the player to his left, three cards to his partner, two cards to the player on his right and three cards to himself. The dealer then repeats, this time giving three cards to the player on his left, two cards to his partner and so on, to give each player the requisite five cards. Some dealers prefer to deal in groups of one and four, however dealing in groups of five and zero or one by one is not allowed. In other circles it is required that the dealer deal in batches of 3-2 or 2-3 and keep to the plan he or she selected.

The remaining four cards are referred to as the kitty, the kit, the widow, the blind, the dead hand, the grave, or buried and are placed face down in front of the dealer toward the center on the table. The top card of the blind, sometimes referred to as the deck head, or the "up card" is then turned face up, and bidding begins. The dealer asks each of the other players in turn if they would like the suit of the top card to be trump, which they indicate saying "pick it up" and the top card becomes part of the dealer's hand, who then discards to return his hand to five cards. If no one "orders up" the top card, each player is given the opportunity in turn to call a different suit as trump. If no trump is selected, it is a misdeal, and the deal is passed counter-clockwise. A variant of this rule involves forcing the dealer to choose a trump (see the Bidding section in Euchre variations).

When a suit is named trump, any card of that suit outranks any card of a non-trump suit. The highest ranking card in Euchre is the jack of the trump suit and is referred to as the right bower, or simply the right. Next highest is the jack of the same color, the left bower. The right and left may also be known as the "jack" and the "jick", the "right bar" and "left bar," or "jack" and "off jack" respectively. Remaining cards of the trump suit rank from high to low as A, K, Q, 10, and 9.

In non-trump suits (except for the next suit), the jacks are not special, and the cards of those suits rank from high to low as A, K, Q, J, 10, and 9.

Example

Assume a hand is dealt and that spades are named as trump. In this event, the trump cards are as follows, from highest ranking to lowest:

  1. Jack of spades (right bower)
  2. Jack of clubs (left bower)
  3. Ace of spades
  4. King of spades
  5. Queen of spades
  6. 10 of spades
  7. 9 of spades

For the purpose of play, the jack of clubs becomes a spade during the playing of this hand. This expands the trump suit to the seven cards named above and reduces the suit of the same color (sometimes referred to as the next suit) by one card (the jack is "loaned" to the trump suit). The same principles are observed for whatever suit is named trump. Remembering this temporary transfer of the next suit's jack is one of the principal difficulties newcomers have with the game of Euchre (See Cheating: Renege, below).

Once the above hand is finished, the jack of clubs ceases to be a spade and becomes a club again unless spades are again named as trump during the playing of the subsequent hand.

Play

Objective and scoring

In Euchre, naming trump is sometimes referred to as "making," "calling," or "declaring trump". When naming a suit, a player asserts that his or her partnership intends to win the majority of tricks in the hand (3 of 5 with a 24-card deck, 4 of 7 with 32 cards). A single point is scored when the bid succeeds, and two points are scored if the team that declared trump takes all five tricks. A failure of the calling partnership to win three tricks is referred to as being euchred (also called "getting set" or "getting bumped," again depending on geographical location) and is penalized by giving the opposing partnership two points. A caller with exceptionally good cards can go alone, or take a loner hand, in which case he or she seeks to win all five tricks without a partner. The partner of a caller in a 'go alone' hand does not play, if all five tricks are won by the caller, the winning team scores four points. If only three or four of the tricks are taken while going alone, then only one point is scored. If euchred while playing alone, the opposing team still only receives two points. (In some places, a euchred lone player is worth 3 points.)

The primary rule to remember when playing Euchre is that one is never required to trump, but one is required to follow suit if possible to do so: if diamonds are led, a player with diamonds is required to play a diamond. This differs from games such as Pinochle.

Calling (naming trump)

Once the cards are dealt and the top card in the kitty is turned over, the upturned card's suit is offered as trump to the players in clockwise order, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer. If a player decides to "call" the up-turned card as trump (which indicates that the calling team claims they will win at least three tricks), the dealer picks up the top card in the kitty. This is termed picking up or ordering up the top card. In this event, the dealer picks up the top card from the kitty and then selects a card from the hand to discard, face down, so that the dealer only has five cards. There are several regional variations on this, see below. Once a call has been made, play begins.

If a player does not want the upturned card's suit to become trump, he or she says "pass" or signifies the desire to pass by knocking on the table. The next player to the left may then order up the card or may likewise pass.

If the upturned card comes around the table to the dealer without being ordered up by any of the players, the dealer may make a bid by picking up the top card and then discarding as described above. Generally, a player may not call a trump suit if that player does not have a natural card of that suit, although some regions will allow this. For example, if the top card in the kitty is a Jack of Spades, a player cannot call Spades if the only Spade they are holding is the Jack of Clubs, the left bower.

The dealer may also decline the upturned card's suit by turning it face down on the kitty. Once this suit has been passed by all four players, it may no longer be chosen as trump.

If the upturned card's suit is not chosen by any of the four players, the players are offered the opportunity to name any of the other three suits as trump, beginning with the player to the dealer's left, and proceeding clockwise. In this case, play begins as soon as a suit is named; no cards enter or leave the dealer's hand. A player may pass as previously described, and if the calling comes around the table to the dealer without the naming of a suit, the dealer may name a suit. If he or she also declines to name a suit, the cards are collected, no points are scored, and the deal is passed to the left. A variation to this rule exists, see below.

The team that selects trump is sometimes known as the "makers" for the remainder of the hand. The opposing team is known as the "defenders" for the remainder of the hand.

One or both Jokers commonly available in a deck may be used to substitute the two Bowers. The advantage is that the Bowers become very distinctive; the downside is that the player or players holding the Bowers are forced to reveal this fact. The Joker card was originally designed for this role, and its name comes from a mispronunciation of the German "Juker" (the German "J" sounds like the English "y", so the German and English names nominally sound alike). An alternate way to use the Jokers as Bowers is to include them in the deal, and deal a six-card kitty. One Joker is thus always the left Bower, the other the right, and all jacks keep their ordinary rank. In this way, the trump suit gains two cards, and the suit of the same color is untouched.

Winning tricks

The player to the dealer's left begins play by leading a card. (In some variations, if any player is going alone, the player to that person's left will lead.)

Play continues in clockwise order; each player must follow suit if they have a card of the suit led. The left bower is considered a member of the trump suit and not a member of its native suit.

The player who played the highest trump wins the trick. If no trump were played, the highest card of the suit led wins the trick. The player that won the trick collects the played cards from the table and then leads the next trick.

After all five tricks have been played, the hand is scored. The player to the left of the previous dealer then deals the next hand, and the deal moves clockwise around the table until one partnership scores 10 points and wins the game.

Going alone/solo

If the player bidding (making trump) has an exceptionally good hand, or if his or her partnership is in danger of losing the game unless they are able to score points quickly, the player making trump has the option of playing without his or her partner. If the bidder playing alone wins all five tricks in the hand, the team scores four points.

"Going alone" or "Going Solo" is initiated at the time the bidder orders the upturned card on the kitty to the dealer (on the first round of bidding) or names a suit (during the second round of bidding). The bidder signifies his/her desire to play alone by stating "alone" or (for example) "clubs alone" or "clubs solo" after bidding. If the dealer selects the top card, she may also declare a loner hand by sliding her discard to her partner. The bidder must make this call before play begins.

During a loner, the bidder's partner discards his or her cards, and does not participate in play of the hand.

Depending on regional rules, the lead on the first trick will either remain with the player to the left of the dealer, or switch to the player to the left of the bidder.

The odds of success of a loner bid depend on the lay of the cards and the inactive cards held by the bidder's partner. Nine cards out of twenty-four do not participate in play, making the hand less predictable than otherwise. A hand consisting of the top five cards of the trump suit is mathematically unbeatable from any position; this is sometimes referred to as a lay-down, as a player with such a hand may often simply lay all five cards on the table at once.

The rules of an individual game may state that a player who "sweeps," or wins all 5 tricks while going alone/solo gets 4 points, 2 for sweeping and 2 for going alone.

One of the opponents of the lone bidder may say "I defend alone", and his partner must stay out. The lone defender will play alone. Scoring is similar in such a case to a loner hand. Any "set" or "euchre" by a single defender going alone is worth 4 points to the defending partnership, or 3 in some regions.

Buffalo Rules

Introducing a "rule" mid-way through the game which favors the rule maker's team. This typically occurs with less experienced players that would not know whether or not the rule is accurate. It is common for losing teams to accuse winning teams of playing by "Buffalo Rules" rather than to admit defeat by far superior players.

Scoring

Scoring in Euchre
Bidding partnership (makers) wins 3 or 4 tricks 1 point
Bidding partnership (makers) wins 5 tricks also called a "yuk" 2 points
Bidder goes alone and wins 5 tricks 4 points
Bidder goes alone and wins 4 tricks 2 points **
Bidder goes alone and wins 3 tricks 1 point
Defenders win 3 or more tricks 2 points
Lone defender (vs. lone bidder) wins 3 or more tricks 4 points **
** regional variation

The first team to score 10 (sometimes 5, 7, or 11) points wins the game (sometimes called a round). While score can be kept by using a tally sheet, most Euchre players traditionally use the unused 6 and 4 cards, or unused pairs of 5 cards for one member of each partnership to keep score. In western New York and parts of Ohio, it is traditional to use 2 and 3 cards, crossing them to show scores higher than 5. In all cases, one card is used to cover the other so as to expose the number of pips corresponding to the team's score. A lone defender winning 3, 4, or 5 tricks (known as a march) gets 4 points.

Betting

Betting in Euchre can be done on a per trick basis. An additional bet may be based on a per "bump" basis. What constitutes a bump can be determined on a house rules. In general a bump occurs when the calling team fails to attain 3 tricks but for betting purposes a bump can also be assigned by: failure to sweep a lone hand, committing table talk, or by being caught reneging. Getting Euchred on a lone hand may constitute 2 bumps. Bumps can be tracked with chits such as pennies piled next to the score cards. In a Euchre game where bets are placed the table may agree on "a buck a trick and a buck a bump" for instance. Bets are settled at the end of each game.

Variations in play

Euchre is a game with a large number of variant versions and alternate rules. They include versions for two to six players, as well as changes in cards used, bidding, play, and scoring.

Many of these variations are specific to a particular region. In the US, one popular variation is "Stick the Dealer" (also called "Screw the Dealer"), where the dealer is forced to call trump if no suit is chosen after the second round of bidding. Another popular variation is "Farmer's Hand", or "Ace No Face", where a player with a bad hand can force a re-deal. In Australia and New Zealand, playing to 11 rather than 10 points is common. In southwestern England and Guernsey, variations with a joker as highest trump are played.

For more detail and many more variations, see Euchre variations.

Strategy

Many sources for Euchre strategy exist, and one popular and humorous version are the Ten Commandments of Euchre by noted Euchre master Harvey Lapp. The commandments are:

  1. Thou shalt not pass a biddable hand.*
  2. Thou shalt counteth upon thy partner for one trick.
  3. Thou shalt not trumpeth thy partner's ace.
  4. Thou shalt trumpeth thy partner's king.
  5. Thou shalt leadeth trump to thy partner's order.
  6. Thou shalt not leadeth trump to thine opponent's order.
  7. When thou hath ordered trump, leadeth thy right bower to smite thy foes.
  8. Ordereth not the right bower unto thy partner's hand unless thou canst go alone.
  9. Goeth alone whenever thou canst, unless thy team hath eight or nine points.
  10. Thou shalt not complaineth about the cards that the Lord thy Euchre God hath bestowed upon ye (or "learn to play those and we'll give you some better ones").

*These rules are not absolute. In the first: Consider a scenario in which diamonds are trump. The player to the left of the dealer (first to bid) has the left bower, the right bower, the ace of diamonds, and the nine and ten of hearts. While she or he is guaranteed a point by bidding, passing is a much better strategy here. Chances are that no one would order up diamonds (and even if they did, the first bidder's team would win two points for setting). But when the second round of bidding begins, the first bidder can select hearts as trump and go alone, having a much better shot at four points than with diamonds. Also, leading trump to your partner can prove catastrophic, especially if your partner made a weak call. Leading an ace of non-trump color can be a safer bet.

Cheating

Unscrupulous partners are known to increase their chances of winning tricks by cooperative communication which is not allowed in play. This is commonly known as table talk (or talking across the table), crossboarding, or kibbitzing.

  1. Innocuous code words to tell what cards are in the player's own hand or to query what cards are in the partner's hand or what trump to declare. E.g. "You look so LOVELY tonight." Translation: I have a lot of hearts in my hand. Call hearts as trump.
  2. Secret gestures. Some examples: loud cough means partner should pass; scratching the right side of your face tells your partner you have the right bower (similar for left side); placing your cards face down during bidding is an invitation for your partner to go alone.

If crossboarding is called, depending on local rules, points may be given to the team calling out the infraction, or the hand may be simply disqualified and re-dealt by the next player in order. The player accused of cheating may or may not be given a chance to refute the charge. Some variations allow (or at least accept the inevitability of) the following form of non-verbal communication: A player may gratuitously hesitate before passing to signal to his partner that his cards are helpful to the offered trump, but are not sufficient to guarantee a win. This adds an additional element of strategy in that players may bluff hesitation to discourage the opponent from calling the offered trump.

Other forms of cheating include:

Stealing the deal

To successfully steal the deal, one player must finish dealing all the cards in the normal manner and flip the top card of the kitty without anyone else pointing out that it is not actually that player's turn to deal. Once the top card is flipped, the deal becomes legal according to some circles. There are generally no penalties for being caught attempting this theft, though penalties can be instituted depending upon how frequently the players involved attempt to steal. After a deal has been stolen, the deal rotation would normally be picked up from the dealer that stole the deal, unless otherwise stolen again.

Renege

If you do not follow suit when you are able to (usually by playing a trump card instead), it is considered a renege, and the opposing team is rewarded two points if it is caught in later tricks of the same hand. A variation on calling out a renege is if more than one card of the reneged suit is played afterwards, the infraction may only be called on the first instance, if it is not called until the second instance it does not count. A player often reneges purposely in order to win a trick if they think the opposing team will not catch the renege. However reneges can also be unintentional, where a player misreads some of his/her cards, usually by misinterpreting the left bower as being of its native suit, but are still callable by opponents as reneging.

Some euchre terms

  • Squib - winning all five tricks in a row. The losing team is referred to as being "squibbed"
  • Right bower - a Jack of the same suit as the trump suit. Comes from the German word Bauer (usually referred to as just "the right"). In some parts of the world, the German spelling "bauer" is still used.
  • Left bower - the Jack of the non-trump suit of the same color as the trump suit; the second-highest card in a given hand (usually referred to as just "the left")
  • Bare left - having the left bower and no other trump in the player's hand; the left bower might fall to a right bower lead
  • Big guy/Little guy - another name for the right/left bowers
  • Bullet - an Ace; the highest card in the suit (except for bowers)
  • Dutchman - having both bowers and the Ace of trump in the same hand; this is a guarantee of winning at least three tricks
  • Golden Paw - in Canadian euchre, a hand including both bowers, Ace, King and Queen of trump (also known as a "Once-in-a-Lifetime" or a 'Lay Down' hand)
  • In The Barn - when you and your partner are one point away from winning, you are 'in the barn'
  • Guarded or protected left - having the left bower and another trump card in the player's hand; the left bower is protected because the player can play the other trump on a right bower lead
  • Loser - a card that probably will not take a trick; the number and quality of losers in a hand often determines if the hand should be played alone or not
  • Lay-Down - a hand that will automatically win all five tricks if played in the correct order; ex. a Dutchman plus two more trump cards, or one more trump card and an off-trump ace. Also called a "Loner" because a player with such a hand will typically opt to go alone.
  • No brainer - a hand that cannot be misplayed, for example: a hand with the five highest trump cards
  • Rag(s) - Term for non picture cards (10 or lower).
  • Benny - Alternative name for the joker
  • Yuk - When the team that calls trump takes all 5 tricks
  • Early Doors - This is used early in the game when you don't have the greatest hand but want to get some points on the board
  • Monkey Hand - Five good trumps (benny, left, right, Ace and one other) - so easy a monkey could win
  • Chimps Hand - The opposite of a Monkey hand, generally comprising of 9 and 10s from suits other than the trump
  • Over The Melling Road - Crossing the break in the cribbage board onto the final five holes
  • Firkin Fisters - A term of abuse when your opponents euchre you. Particularly used in Devon in the UK. A good example of gamesmanship.
  • Thin To Win - When cutting the deck the player can use this phrase if the cut of the deck leaves a very short stack of cards remaining
  • Squeaked it - If you or your partner call the trump and have a hard fought round, just scraping the three tricks to win a point, you have can say you have "squeaked it"
  • Never In Doubt - If you easily win four or five tricks then you can say the points are "never in doubt"
  • You Make 'em, I Rake 'em - Particularly useful when your partner goes alone and wins tricks, you can pick up the cards and use this phrase. A good use of gamesmanship to rattle the opposing team.
  • Curly Wurly - A different name for the suit of Clubs. Commonly used in Devon, UK.
  • Fishing Out - The player to lead can on the first hand, play a high card (typically an Ace) of a different suit from the trump, gambling that the opposing team will have at least one card each from that suit. The player would therefore say 'lets see what we can fish out'. Also referred to as finding 'the outside'.
  • Turn down a bower, lose for an hour - Commonly said when trying to intimidate a player that has turned down a bower as trump.
  • Don't send a boy to do a man's job - Commonly said when you play a higher trump than your opponents trump. Especially when playing the right bower over the left bower.
  • Power Nine/Power Ten - Said when winning a non-trump trick with a low trump
  • Skunked - Used to refer to a team who fails to win any points during a game.

References

External links

Search another word or see euchreon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature