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Five-hand Euchre is a variation of the popular trick-taking game Euchre that adds an additional player and features a dynamic partner system. In five-hand Euchre, each player competes against all other players in temporary partnerships.
The five-hand Euchre deck consists of the Euchre deck with the addition of the eights and a joker. The joker is always the highest trump.
As in Euchre, the trump suit is dynamic. Cards in the trump suit outrank all other cards. The order of trump, from highest to lowest, is: Joker (also known as the Big Bower), RJ, LJ, A, K, Q, 10, 9, and 8, where RJ and LJ represent the right and left bower respectively. For example, if spades is trump, the order is Joker, J♠, J♣, A♠, K♠, Q♠, 10♠, 9♠, 8♠.
Five-Hand Euchre is played essentially the same as Euchre, with the game cycling through hands that consist of dealing, bidding, playing the hand, and then scoring the hand, until an ending to the game can be determined.
As in Euchre, all players receive five cards. The cards are dealt clockwise starting with the player sitting to the left of the dealer. The remaining cards, referred to as the kitty, are set aside.
The face up card is the initial proposal for trump. Each player, in clockwise order starting at the left of the dealer, has the option to make the face up suit trump (a.k.a. make trump) or pass. Finally, the dealer has the same option.
If the face up suit is selected, the dealer picks up the face up card. This occurs whether the dealer himself chose to make the suit trump or any of the other players. The player who makes trump becomes the bidder. The dealer must discard any one of his six cards face down into the kitty.
If the face up suit is not selected as trump, then each of the players, in clockwise order ending with the dealer, has the opportunity to select any other suit as trump. Once again, the player who selects trump becomes the bidder. If none of the other players selects a suit to become trump, the dealer must select a suit (the "stick the dealer" variant of traditional euchre). Forcing the dealer to make trump in five-handed Euchre is more common as players may be more hesitant to make trump given the three on two format of the game.
The bidding player and the player two positions left of the bidder are partners playing offense. The other three players are partners playing defense.
The bidder may also opt not to select a partner, which means he is "going alone". In this case, the other four players are partners defending against the lone player. A player who takes all five tricks while going alone is awarded four points. If the lone player takes three or four tricks, he receives one point. If the lone player takes two or fewer tricks, he is euchred, and all four defenders receive two points each.
A special situation exists if the dealer flips over the joker. Bidding proceeds in the normal order, with each player having the option of ordering up the Joker and simultaneously naming the trump suit. The rest of the hand is played as usual.
Playing the hand
Each hand consists of five tricks. The hand starts with a lead from the player to the left of the dealer. Following the lead, each player must follow suit if possible. If a player cannot follow suit, he may play any card. After each player has played a card, the player who played the highest ranking card is declared the trick winner and the trick is cleared faced down. The highest ranking card is determined as: the highest ranking trump played, or if no trump was played then the highest ranking card in the suit initially lead. The trick winner then leads a card for the next trick. Players may ask to see the last trick played, but only before the next card is lead.
Scoring the hand
The number of points awarded for sweeps, euchres, and lone hands is the same as Euchre. Since teams shift from one hand to the next, each player maintains an individual score. Each player receives the same number of points as his partners for that hand. For example, if the bidding team takes three tricks, the two partners take one point each; if the bidding team is euchred, the three defenders take two points each.
Ending the game
The game ends when a player reaches ten or more points while holding at least a one point advantage over all other competitors.
Alternate way of ending the game
The game ends when a player or players reach ten or more points. Should multiple players reach ten or more points simultaneously, the winner is the player with the lowest score at the start of the hand. If a single winner can not be selected, the game is a draw amongst those players with ten or more points.
Laying down a hand
If the outcome of a hand has been determined before all cards have been played, the players may lay their cards down face up. The hand is then scored as though all cards had been played. If a player lays down a hand in error (the outcome of the hand is still in question), the hand must be continued with that player's cards face up, and the player himself roundly criticized for sub-par performance. Lay downs are an advanced skill reserved for veteran players to expedite game play.
A "lay down hand" is a special case, where a player may lay down his entire hand before a single card has been played. A player might lay down a hand like RJ, LJ ,A, K, and Q of trump. Since there is only one card this individual could lose to (Joker), he bypasses playing the hand and simply asks if anyone has the Joker.