Euchre

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Euchre
Euchre.jpg
A perfect lone hand for spades trump
OriginEurope, Canada, South Africa, Australia
TypeTrick-taking
Players4
Skills requiredMemory, Tactics
Cards24–32
DeckFrench
PlayClockwise
Card rank (highest first)one joker played as the top of all beating any trump, J (of trump suit) J (of same colour) A K Q 10 9, sometimes 8 7
Playing time25 min.
Random chanceMedium[citation needed]
Related games
Clabber, 500, Forty-fives, Juckerspiel, Skat

Euchre or eucre (/ˈjuːkər/) is a trick-taking card game commonly played in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Great Britain, and the United States. It is played with a deck of 24, 28, or 32 standard playing cards. Normally there are four players, two on each team, although there are variations for from two to nine players.

Euchre was responsible for introducing the joker into the modern deck of cards. The Joker Deck was introduced to Americanized Euchre around 1860 with the joker acting as a top trump or best Bower (from the German word Bauer, "farmer", denoting also the Jack – see Bester Bube).[1] Euchre is believed to be closely related to the French game Écarté,[2] the seventeenth-century game Loo, and the 19th-century game Juckerspiel. It may be sometimes referred to as Knock Euchre to distinguish it from Bid Euchre.

Origins and popularity[edit]

"Euchered"; lithograph (1884) from the Library of Congress

There are several theories regarding the origins of Euchre. One theory is that Euchre was brought into the United States by the early German settlers of Pennsylvania[3] and from that region was disseminated throughout the nation. The 1864 edition of The American Hoyle disputes its alleged German heritage, tracing the game's origin to Pennsylvania in the 1820s. It goes on to surmise that a "rich German farmer's daughter" had visited Philadelphia and carried home a confused memory of Ecarté which then developed into Euchre.[4]

Another hypothesis is that the game derives from an eighteenth-century Alsatian card game named Juckerspiel,[5] a derivative of Triomphe. It may have been introduced by immigrants from Cornwall, UK, where it remains a popular game. It is also played in the neighboring county of Devon; one theory is that it was introduced there by French or American prisoners of war imprisoned in Dartmoor Prison during the early 19th century. Ombre is an ancestral form of Euchre.[6]

The game was regarded as the national card game of the United States in the late 19th century[7] but has declined in popularity, although it retains a strong following in some regions, such as the Midwest.[8]

The game retains its popularity in Canada as well, particularly in Ontario, and is commonly seen as a social game, with community tournaments held in bars or community centres. According to Parlett it may be described as Canada's national card game.[9]

The deal[edit]

Euchre is a four-player trump game, wherein the players are paired to form two partnerships.[10] Standard Euchre uses a deck of 25 playing cards consisting of One Joker, A, K, Q, J, 10, and 9 of each of the four suits. A 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. Sometimes, a 32-card Piquet or Skat deck is used, which includes the 8s and 7s.[10]

Each player is dealt five cards (seven if using the 32-card deck) in clockwise order in two rounds. A "cut" is sometimes offered by the dealer to the player to the right. In some variations, the cut must be requested.

The remaining four cards (or five if using the Joker) are called the "kitty" and are placed face down in front of the dealer. The top card of the kitty is turned face up, and bidding begins. The dealer asks each player in turn if they would like the suit of the top card to be trump, which they indicate by saying either "pick it up" or "pass".[10] If the choice comes around to the dealer, the dealer can either pick the card up or flip it over. If the dealer acquires the top card (either by being ordered to pick it up or choosing to pick it up), the top card becomes part of the dealer's hand, the dealer then discarding a card to the kitty, face down. If no one orders up the top card and the dealer also chooses not to pick it up, each player is then 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 clockwise. If the dealers partner orders his partner (the dealer) to pick up they have to drop their hand and his partner goes alone - with the belief they may get 4 points.

When a suit is named trump, the jack in the suit of the same colour becomes a member of this trump suit. Any card of that (expanded) suit outranks any card of a non-trump suit. The highest-ranking card in Euchre is the jack of the trump suit and is called the "right bower" or "right"; the other jack of the same colour is called the "left bower" or "left". The cards are ranked, in descending order, J (of trump suit), J (same colour as trump suit), A, K, Q, 10, and 9 of the trump suit.[10] The remaining cards rank in the usual order (the off-colour Jacks are not special) and the cards of those suits ranked, in descending order, A, K, Q, J, 10, and 9.

Example[edit]

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:

Joker (top card), J (right bower), J (left bower), A, K, Q, 10, 9

The J becomes a spade during the playing of this hand. This expands the spades suit to the seven cards named above and reduces the suit of clubs by one card (its jack being loaned to the trump suit). Once the hand is finished, the J ceases to be a spade and becomes a club again unless spades are again named as trump during the playing of a subsequent hand.

The play[edit]

Overview, objective, and scoring[edit]

When naming a suit, a player asserts that their partnership intends to win the majority of tricks of the hand. A single point is scored when the bid succeeds, and two points are scored if the team that declared trump takes all five tricks (called a "march"). A failure of the calling partnership to win three tricks is referred to as being "euchred", and that partnership is penalized by giving the opposing partnership two points.[10]

A caller with exceptionally good cards can "go alone", in which case they seek to win the march without a partner. The partner of a caller in a lone hand does not play, and if the caller achieves the march, the winning team scores 4 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 2 points.

The primary rule to remember when playing Euchre is that one is never required to play the trump suit (unless that is the one that is led), but one is required to follow suit if possible. (e.g., if diamonds are led, a player with diamonds is required to play a diamond.)

Calling round (naming trump)[edit]

Once the cards are dealt and the top card on 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 (called the "eldest"). Team members are generally discouraged or explicitly forbidden to discuss their preferred choice(s) of trump, covered by the rules forbidding table talk. If a player wishes the proposed suit to be named trump, they order up the card and the dealer adds that card to their hand. It is usually more advantageous to the dealer's team to select trump in this way, as the dealer necessarily gains one trump card. The dealer must then also discard a card face down from their hand, in order to return their hand to having a total of five cards. This discard is an important tactical decision, as the dealer can potentially create a "void" or "short suit" in their hand, where they lack any cards of a particular suit. That would allow them to play a trump card instead of being forced to follow that voided suit when it is led (see the later section on winning tricks, and "two-suited" in the Terminology section). If the player instead opts to pass, the option proceeds to the player to the left until either a player orders the card up or all players have passed.[11]

If all players pass, the top card is turned face down and that suit may no longer be chosen as trump. Trump selection proceeds clockwise beginning with the player to the left of the dealer, where the player may name a suit different from that of the previous up-card as trump, or they may pass. No card is ordered up in this round. If all players pass again, it is declared a misdeal. The deal passes to the player on the previous dealer's left, who reshuffles and deals a new hand. (A variation called "Stick the Dealer", also referred to as "hanging" or "screwing" the dealer, is sometimes played, where the dealer is forced to call trump in this situation.)

The team that selects trump is known as the "makers" for the remainder of the hand, and the opposing team is known as the "defenders". The makers must take at least three of the five tricks in the hand in order to avoid being euchred.

Winning tricks[edit]

The player to the dealer's left begins play by leading any card of any suit, including trumps. 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 card of the suit led wins the trick, unless a trump is played; then the highest trump card wins the trick. Players who play neither the suit led nor trump cannot win the trick. The player who won the trick collects the played cards from the table, turns the cards face down, and then leads to the next trick.

After all five rounds 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[edit]

If the player bidding and making trump has an exceptionally good hand, that player has the option of playing without their partner and partner's cards. If that player then wins all five tricks, the team scores four points.

"Going alone"[12] is initiated at the time the bidder orders the upturned card on the kitty to the dealer or names a suit. The bidder signifies their desire to play alone by saying so after bidding. The bidder must make this call before play begins. During a loner or lone hand, the bidder's partner discards their cards, and does not participate in play of the hand. In some regional variants (see below), if the dealer's partner "calls them up"/"orders it up" (on the turned up card), they are obliged to go alone for that hand.

Defending alone: If a player chooses to make trump, the defending team can choose to go alone. If all five tricks are taken by the defending team, the defending team will receive 4 points. In most Canadian variations this is not allowed and only the team making trump may decide to "go alone".

The odds of success of a lone hand 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 it would be 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.

Scoring[edit]

Scoring in euchre
Event Points
Bidding partnership (makers) wins 3 or 4 tricks 1
Bidding partnership (makers) wins 5 tricks (march) 2
Bidder goes alone and wins 3 or 4 tricks 1
Bidder goes alone and wins 5 tricks (march) 4
Defenders win 3 or more tricks (makers are euchred) 2
Defender goes alone and wins 3 or more tricks (regional variant) 4

The first team to score 10 points (or 5, 7, 11, or 15 points in some variations of the game) wins the game. Some players choose to play "win by two" where there is no winner until a team has more than 10 points and 2 points more than the other team. Winning a game 10–0 is known as "skunking" in the US.

Scorekeeping markers[edit]

Scores can be kept by using two otherwise unused cards as markers, with each team often using cards of the same colour.

One method involves using the 4 and 6 cards. Scoring begins using one card face up, covered by the other card face down. Upon winning points, the top card is moved to reveal the appropriate number of suit symbols on the bottom card. After all points are revealed on the lower card, the top card is flipped over, adding pips on both cards to indicate the score.[10]

A variation of scorekeeping in Western New York and Ontario involves each side using the 2 and 3 of one suit. Scoring starts with counting the symbols on the cards, for points 1 to 4; at 5, the cards are turned over and crossed. Crossing the cards indicates 5 points. Points 6 to 9 are counted similarly by counting the number of suit symbols showing and adding them to the 5, when the cards are crossed.

In Canada and Michigan, it is common for each team to use two 5s of the same colour to keep score, with one team red and the other black. The 5s are usually referred to as "counting cards" in this situation.

Betting[edit]

Betting takes place after the trump is determined, but before the first card is led to the first trick. Betting can start with an ante or forced bet. The defenders can either check on the bid and bid nothing, thereby likely losing their ante; call the bid; or – if they feel confident that they can Euchre – raise the bid. Once a bet has been settled by a call on the bid, the hand plays out, with the winners of the bet adding that bet to their pot. After a game has been won, the winning team then splits the pot between the two winners and the game can end. Some variants can be played over multiple games.

Betting in Euchre can also be done on a per-trick basis or a per point basis. At the end of the game, the losing team owes the winning team the difference in points based on the monetary value set per point.

Table talk[edit]

Communicating with one's partner to influence their play, called table talk or cross-boarding, is considered cheating. This can include code words, secret gestures, or other forms of cooperative play. Depending on house rules, table talk can result in replaying of a hand or awarding of a point to the team calling out the infraction.

Some variations allow (or at least accept the inevitability of) the minor non-verbal communication in that a player may hesitate before passing on trump selection to signal to their partner that their cards are helpful to the offered trump, but are not sufficient to guarantee a win. Conversely, the player may pass quickly or blatantly to indicate their cards are very poor for the available trump choice (possibly indicating their partner should go alone if they select that trump). This adds an additional element of strategy in that players may bluff a quick pass or hesitation to trick their opponents into calling or declining the offered trump; however, this can naturally backfire by confusing the player's own teammate. Depending on the playing group, couples or good friends may be purposely put onto opposing teams, because of the perceived advantage they may have reading one another as teammates.

Reneging[edit]

If a player does not follow suit when they are able to (usually by playing a trump card instead), it is considered a renege (or revoke), and the opposing team is awarded two points if it is caught in later tricks of the same hand or two points can be deducted from the offending team.[13] While such mis-plays are often unintentional—for example, where a player misreads some of their cards, most commonly by misinterpreting the left bower as being of its native suit—they are still callable by opponents as reneging. In some variants, reneging when a player or their opponent is going alone may result in a penalty of four points, equally applicable to the maker of trump and the opposing team, in order to equalize the potential values of a hand. Usually, reneging on purpose is considered cheating and is strongly discouraged among communities that consider cheating or lying to be unethical. Players caught repeatedly reneging on purpose are often ostracized from future card playing events.

Variations[edit]

Shows three men—Jack the black packer, "Harry my friend" the digger, and Ah Sin the Chinese fossicker—playing euchre. Ah Sin won.

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

No trump: After the first round (once the kitty's top card has been turned down), "no trump" may be called. The first card played for each trick establishes that trick's suit,[clarification needed] with normal deck order (ace high) taking precedence.

Stick the dealer or screw the dealer: The dealer must call trump at the end of the second round and is unable to declare a misdeal. This variation is often used to keep the game moving quickly.

Going under or bottoms or farmer's hand: A player with a hand with at least three 9 or 10 cards can exchange three of these cards with the three unknown cards in the kitty. This must be performed before trump has been selected.

Another variant of the "farmer's hand" rules states that if a player receives all 9s and 10s, they may call for a redeal. The dealer may not exercise this option (because they pick up the card from the kitty).

Point on partner: When a partner steals their own partner's deal successfully, in addition to retaining the deal, the team is also awarded one point.

In some variations, a player may not call trump with only a jack and must have another card of the same suit if they wish to call it. Sometimes this only applies to the dealer, and if a player is caught doing this, it is often treated as a renege.

Robson rules: When a team wins all five tricks (normally or by going alone), they may choose to reduce the opposing team's score (by two or four, respectively) instead of adding to their own score. Additionally, if the dealer turns up a jack on the kitty, they may elect to go alone without seeing the rest of their hand. If all tricks are won via this "blind loner" hand, five points are awarded instead of the usual four; but a failure to win all tricks earns the defenders one point. This rule set was named for four-time Northern Michigan regional tournament runner-up champion James Robson.

No ace, no face, no trump: If a player is dealt a hand which once trump is called contains no aces, face cards, or the suit which is trump they may reveal their hand before cards have been played, stating "no ace, no face, no trump"; and all players must throw their cards in and the hand is re-dealt.

Three-handed Euchre: A variant for three players, three-handed Euchre is played like 24-card Euchre, with the following changes:

  • Players play alone, rather than in teams.
  • Each player plays to ten points, and keeps their own score (using 4s and 6s as markers)
  • Seven cards are dealt to each player, leaving three in the kitty (top card is turned up).
  • The person who makes trump is the "maker". Both other players are "defenders", but compete with each other for tricks.
  • If the maker takes four tricks, they receive one point. If the maker takes six tricks, they receive two points. Taking all seven tricks gives the maker four points.
  • If the maker does not take four tricks, they are euchred (set). The defender who took the most tricks will then receive two points. If both defenders took an equal number of tricks, they each receive one point.

Ace no face: If someone is dealt a hand that contains any number of aces but has no face cards, they may lay their cards on the table and call "ace no face". This is considered a misdeal, and all the cards are gathered and re-dealt.

Queens Mulligan: If a player has 3 Queens, they can call "queens mulligan" when it's their turn to bid, and all the cards are gathered and a new player becomes the dealer.

Many of these variations are specific to a particular region. In Australia and New Zealand, playing to eleven rather than ten points is common. In southwestern England, Cornwall, and Guernsey, variations with a joker as highest trump are played. In Ontario, parts of New Zealand, and in the British and Australian versions of the game, after the dealer turns up the top card on the kitty if the first player to the left passes and the dealer's partner would like to order up the dealer, the dealer's partner must play alone.[14]

Terminology[edit]

Euchre terminology varies greatly from region to region, and is highly colloquial. Some examples include:

  • Bump or getting "euchred" or "set": Occurs when the opposing team wins more tricks than the team who called the suit.
  • Farmer's Hand, Poor Man's Hand, Bottom Hand, Grandma's Hand: Certain weak hands (usually those containing no Aces or face cards (Kings, Queens, or Jacks), but only 9s and 10s), are designated as "farmer's hands" or "bottoms". After inspecting the hand dealt, a player may call out "farmer's hand" and is then allowed to show the cards in question and exchange three of them for the three unexposed cards in the kitty (also called "going under" or "under the table").
  • Ace No Face: Similar to "farmers hand". In Ace No Face the player must have one Ace and all 9s and 10s in their hand. The player then calls "ace no face" and exchanges three of their cards for the bottom three (must be called before the first card of the beginning trick has been led).
  • Euchre Bustle: Name for a Euchre tournament (used in northern Midwest of United States).
  • Lay-Down: A hand that will automatically win all five tricks if played in the correct order: for example, a Dutchman (both Bowers and the Ace of trumps) plus the King and Queen of that suit, any other two trump cards, or one more trump card and an off-trump Ace (when that player has the lead). It is also called a Loner, or Lone Wolf, because a player with such a hand will typically opt to go alone. It may also refer to any set of cards that are often played when the player knows they will win all the tricks they lay for. This, however, may only be done within the same suit without giving up a slight advantage to the other players.
  • Screw the Dealer, or Stick the Dealer: An optional rule that states that if trump is not called it must be called by the dealer, who is last to act. Mainly used as a method to speed up the game, as it eliminates throw-in hands.
  • Trump the Partner: Refers to a situation where the last player plays the card that wins a trick that their partner would have otherwise won. It usually refers to a situation where the partner has an Ace that follows suit and the player plays a trump card, but playing a higher trump or non-trump than the partner's qualifies.
  • Loner Range: When a team reaches 6 points they are referred to as in "Loner Range" because they need 4 or less points (a successful going-alone is worth 4 points) to reach 10 points and win a game. Alternatively, it can also be used to describe being 4 points away from the opposing team. For example, when it is 4 to 8, the losing team is in "Loner Range" below the winning team.
  • Throwing in: Because there is no reward for winning four of the five tricks it is often customary for the leading player of the offensive team to throw the remainder of their cards into the centre once three tricks have been assured but five tricks is impossible. This is because one trick has already been won by the opposing team or they are certain that all the tricks cannot be won. (e.g. a right bower was ordered up but has not been played once three tricks have been won) The cards are thrown face up to show the opposing team the inevitability of their winning three tricks or the impossibility of winning all.
  • Deuchre: Coined by esteemed Euchre champion, Danny Maloney, the deuchre is when one team calls trump and proceeds to win all of the tricks.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Oxford Dictionary of Card Games, David Parlett, p. 104
  2. ^ The Everything Card Games Book: A Complete Guide to Over 50 Games, p. 128, Nikki Katz, ISBN 1-59337-130-6
  3. ^ Notes and Queries: A Medium of Inter-communication for Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists, Etc. 1. Bell and Daldy. 31 May 1862. p. 427.
  4. ^ "Trumps" 1864, p. 57.
  5. ^ Parlett's Historic Card Games: Euchre
  6. ^ Oxford Dictionary of Card Games, David Parlett, pg. 124 ISBN 0-19-869173-4
  7. ^ Trumps 1864, p. 72.
  8. ^ Schossow, Breann (February 21, 2014). "Wisconsin's Passion For Euchre". Wisconsin Life. Wisconsin Public Radio. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  9. ^ Parlett 1991, p. 190.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Tim Ander. How to Play Euchre: A Beginner’s Guide to Learning the Euchre Card Game Instructions, Scoring & Strategies to Win at Playing Euchre. 46 pag. (2018). ISBN 1976880068, ISBN 978-1976880063
  11. ^ Euchre Explained. Nick Buzzy. 52 pag. ASIN: B004KAB9QU
  12. ^ Safire's political dictionary, p. 283, William Safire – Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0-19-534334-2
    American politicians have been either proud of themselves or critical of others for "going it alone" since about 1850, when card players began using this phrase to designate a player's decision to take in their tricks without the help of their partner. It may only be called by the person declaring trump, not their partner.
  13. ^ Hoyle's rules of games : descriptions of indoor games of skill and chance, with advice on skillful play : based on the foundations laid down by Edmond Hoyle, 1672–1769. Hoyle, Edmond, 1672–1769., Morehead, Albert H. (Albert Hodges), 1909–1966., Mott-Smith, Geoffrey, 1902–1960., Morehead, Philip D. (3rd rev. & updated ed.). New York: Plume. 2001. ISBN 9781101085387. OCLC 460720133.CS1 maint: others (link)
  14. ^ An introduction into the way we play Euchre in our league. Penryn, Falmouth & District Euchre League 2014. "This player will pass or order up the dealer, in the case of the first player passing the second player (dealers Partner) may do like wise, but if they order the dealer they will go alone."

Further reading[edit]

  • Matthews, Thomas (1844). The Whist Player's Hand Book, Isaac M. Moss, Philadelphia.
  • Parlett, David (1991). A History of Card Games, OUP, Oxford. ISBN 0-19-282905-X
  • Phillips, Hubert & Westall, B. C. (1939) The Complete Book of Card Games. London: Witherby (Under the name Five hundred, pp. 172–175)
  • "Trumps" (1864). The American Hoyle, or, Gentlemen's hand-book of games, 4th edn. Dick & Fitzgerald, New York.

External links[edit]