Euchre Deck: The Euchre deck is a twenty-four card deck consisting of a 9, 10, J, Q, K, and A of each of the four suits.
Euchre Terminology: There are a few terms that every euchre player ought to know: Trump is probably the most important concept in the game. The trump suit is set at the beginning of each hand, and the cards in that suit are the most powerful cards in the game (a 9 of the suit will beat an ace of any other suit- although an ace of trump will crush that 9). This concept is already familiar to anyone with experience in spades or bridge.
An off suit is any suit but trump.
The kitty is the stack of four cards left over after the deal is complete.
Bowers are the Jack of the trump suit (the 'right' bower) and the Jack of the suit that is the same color as the trump suit (the 'left' bower). These two cards are, respectively, the highest and second highest cards in any given round.
A round is completed whenever each player has played a card.
A hand consists of five rounds, ie when all the cards from one deal have been played.
Whenever a person wins a round, his/her team gets one trick. This is usually indicated by the winner taking the four cards of the round that they won.
If the hand you're dealt contains no cards of one or more of the suits, those suits are called voids.
Euchre Setup: Euchre was designed for four players. Players sit around a common area (like a table), so that there are two pairs of players (partnerships) facing each other.
Euchre Deal: One player is chosen at random to deal the first hand. After each hand is played, the deal passes clockwise around the table. The player who deals must, according to etiquette, offer a cut to the opponent to his right. As for actually dealing the cards, the dealer should always deal to the opponent to his left first, then proceed clockwise around the table. The usual manner is to deal three cards to one's opponent, two to one's partner, three to one's other opponent, and two to oneself. Then, the dealer deals another round to bring each player up to a total of five cards. THERE WILL BE FOUR CARDS LEFT OVER. These four cards are called the 'kitty'
When everyone has the right number of cards, the dealer places the kitty face-down on the table. The dealer then flips over the top card. You are allowed to look at your cards.
The suit of the face-up card in the kitty is the first suit proposed as trump. Beginning with the player on the dealer's left, each player gets a chance to accept or decline that suit as trump. To accept the proposed suit, a player tells the dealer to pick up the face-up card. The dealer then adds that card to his hand and discards one card face down on top of the kitty. (It's usually a low, non-trump type, but that's a matter of personal taste.) To decline the proposed suit, a a player just passes. If the dealer declines the suit, the card is turned over and the kitty becomes basically a moot point. If every player declines the proposed trump, then each player gets a chance to call any suit except the declined one as trump, beginning with the player to the dealer's left. As soon as any player calls trump, play begins. If everybody passes a second time, then everybody throws their cards in and the deal passes to the left. (Unless, of course, you're playing stick the dealer.) In this case, nobody scores any points.
Going Alone: If you think that your hand is good enough you may want to consider going alone. Just order up the proposed trump or call a suit, as usual, then tell your partner to sit back or "Stay at home" . If the person who would have lead the hand is sitting out, the next player in the rotation leads, otherwise the hand is played as normal, minus one person. Cons to this technique- your partner, who can usually be counted on to take a trick, is now out of the hand, doing nobody any good. Pros- if you take all five tricks, you get double points! Winning without sweeping and getting euchred dole out the usual number of points to the appropriate team.
Really useless rule: If the calling team goes alone, then the DEFENDING players also have the option of going alone, beginning with the player on the attacker's left (when the attacker is facing the table,) Granted, this is usually akin to voluntary self-sacrifice, but there you have it.
Playing the Game of Euchre The player to the left of the dealer leads; they can play any card from their hand. Play then proceeds clockwise. The next player must play a card of the same suit, if able. If not, they may either "trump" or "throw off". The two remaining players, in turn, play a card, following the leader's suit if they can. Trumping is accomplished by throwing any card of the trump suit. Since even a nine of trump will beat any card of an off suit, this is sometimes a good idea. Throwing off means playing a card which is (a) not trump and (b) doesn't follow suit. REMEMBER- if you can follow suit, you must follow suit. If you throw off, you personally cannot win the trick, so this is generally only a good idea when it looks like your partner will take the trick.
Once each player has played a card... The person that played the highest trump card takes the trick. If no trump was played, then the trick goes to the person that played the highest card of the suit led. Remember that in off suits, aces are high. The player who took the trick leads the next round. The rest of the rounds are played in a similar fashion, with the winner of each round leading the next.
Finishing the Hand Once all five rounds have been played, each team totals their tricks. The team which takes the most tricks wins the hand, earning points according to the table below, under Scoring. If the team which called trump takes the most tricks, they earn one point, plus a bonus point if they take all five. If they fail to take at least three tricks, however... It's not pretty. This is a fun little event known as a Euchre. If this happens, then the calling team gets NO POINTS WHATSOEVER . and the defending team gets two points and -
Euchre Scoring This area probably discourages more people from playing euchre than any other, more even the whole concept of bowers. It's really not that bad. You can only score 1, 2, or 4 points in any given hand, so it doesn't get that complicated. Anyway, here is a quick sum-up (The team that called trump is the Calling Team, the other is the Other Team, cool?):
Caller's Points Other's Points
Calling Team takes
0 - 2 tricks (EUCHRE!):
All four players playing: 0 2
Caller going alone: 0 2
Caller & Defender going alone: 0 4
3 - 4 tricks:
All four players playing: 1 0
Caller going alone: 1 0
Caller & Defender going alone: 1 0
All four players playing: 2 0
Caller going alone: 4 0
Caller & Defender going alone: 4 0
Keeping Score the right way: Use a six and a four (any suit you please), and you cover one card with the other. Then, as your team scores points, you uncover that many spots on the cards. You go alone and take all five, you uncover four more spots on the cards. The first team to uncover all ten spots wins! Easy, no? Unfortunately, not everybody sees fit to score this way. The usual alternative is too use two fives to score. If you feel you must go this route, then the technique is pretty much the same- you just uncover the proper number of dots:
Special Rules There are hundreds of variations on the basic game of euchre. Here are a few... In this variation, the dealer is not allowed to pass a second time. If no one else calls trump, the dealer must do so. In other words, every time the cards are dealt, someone's going to score some points. This is a pretty good addition, but is kind of tough on beginners. Ace-No Face This is a protective sort of thing. If a player is dealt a hand with (only) one ace and no face cards, then they are allowed to call "Ace-No Face". Everybody's hands are thrown in and the current dealer deals again. Partner's Best When a player decides to go alone, then after trump is called, the player's partner chooses a card and passes it to the fellow with the loner hand. This makes getting a loner entirely too easy, and most games end up lasting about five rounds. Farmer's Hand This rule is questionable even for fans of Ace-No Face. If someone is dealt three nines or three tens, they have the opportunity to, before they decide on the proposed trump, to exchange their puny cards with the three face-down cards in the kitty. Some folks allow players to call Farmer's Hand if they have any three-card combination of nines and tens- these are probably the same people that wear elbow pads when they speed-walk. Any number of players can invoke this rule during a given round, but bear in mind that after the first farmer's hand, the kitty is guaranteed to consist of poor quality cards. Five Point Euchre This is just regular euchre, played to five points instead of ten. (Most use a three and a two to keep score.)
Bid Euchre also known as 6-Card Euchre, or Racehorse
This version of euchre is a lot more strategic than is 5-Card euchre. Another advantage is that up to eight players can participate, as opposed to the four-person limit on 5-Card. When six or eight people play, though, a double-euchre deck (ie, a pinochle deck) must be used. In Bid Euchre, there are two opposing teams. Players sit in a circle, alternating teams. That is, each player sits between two players of the opposing team. The dealer deals out the entire deck- there is no kitty. Then, beginning with the player on the dealer's left, each player bids the number of tricks that they believe their team will take from this deal. The player must bid at least three tricks, and must bid more than the highest previous bid. The only exception to this is that the dealer may match the highest bid instead of overbidding.
Once all the players have had a chance to bid (if no player bids, the dealer MUST bid three tricks), the highest bidder calls trump. In addition to naming one of the suits as trump (in which case, the rank of the cards is the same as in 5-Card euchre), the player may call either 'No Trump, High' or 'No Trump, Low'. If 'No Trump, High' is called, then all of the aces are the high cards, and the rank of the cards (from high to low) is A-K-Q-J-10-9. If 'Low' is called, then the rank of the cards (also from high to low) in every suit is 9-10-J-Q-K-A. In either case, the players still must follow suit if able, and there is no all-powerful trump suit. NOTE- If more than one deck is used, then the first card of a given suit and rank is more powerful than the second one. REMEMBER THIS WHEN BIDDING!! Just because you've got the J-J-A-K-Q of the suit you want to call trump does NOT mean that you've got a lock on five tricks, like it would in 5-Card. If one of your opponents plays those cards first, then sorry 'bout your luck.
Scoring is also different than in 5-Card. (Not to worry- it's much easier.) After a hand is played, if the bidding team made at least the number of tricks it bid, then each team gets one point for each trick it took. If the bidding team failed to 'make its bid', then that team loses a number of points equal to its bid, while the defending team still gets one points for each trick taken. The game end when one team reaches thirty-two points (this number is subjective.
Going alone (also called "shooting") is a bit more exciting in bid euchre. Whoever goes alone must take all six tricks or face the consequences. The Partner's Best rule actually originated in this cousin of euchre, where it's role is a lot less obnoxious.