Introduction and Object of Play
One of the most favorite pastimes of playing card enthusiasts right now is the Euchre card game. It is a plain-trick card game that usually involves four players: two teams of two players each in which teammates sit opposite each other. To start the game, each player is given five cards that are put into play one at a time.
Euchre uses a regular deck of fifty two cards. The 2’s up to the 8’s of each suit is removed, leaving only six cards from each suit: the aces, the face cards, and the 10’s and 9’s. The remaining 24 cards is used to play the game.
The object of the game is to win a minimum of three out of the five possible tricks that can be played in a single five-card hand.
Other variations of the game involve up to seven players and include more or less of the 52-card deck. Others use 25 cards with the addition of a joker.
Rules of the Game
The best card in a Euchre card game is the Jack of the chosen trump suit. It is referred to as the “Right Bower”. The second best card is the Jack of the other suit with the same color as the Right Bower called the “Left Bower”. For instance, if the chosen trump suit is the hearts, the Jack of Hearts is the Right Bower, while the Jack of Diamonds is the Left Bower. Consequently, if the spades is the chosen trump suit, the Jack of Spades is the Right Bower and the Jack of Clubs is the Left Bower.
The remaining cards of the trump suit and the regular suits are ranked in this manner: aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks, 10’s, and 9’s. The cards of the trump suit beat all the cards of the other suits. This means that if the chosen trump suit is diamonds, the 9 of diamonds is higher that the ace of spades, ace of clubs, and ace of hearts.
For versions that involve a joker card, it becomes the most powerful card in the game and is the “Benny” or “Best Bower”.
Before the first dealer deals the cards, it should be shuffled and cut, and then dealt clockwise. Each player gets five cards. Some variations allow the dealer to draw two or three cards at a time for each player. It is up to you. After a hand is finished, the responsibility of the dealer is passed on to the person at his left.
After completing the deal, the dealer should have four cards left, which is called the “Kitty”. He then places the remaining cards face down but turns the top card of the Kitty face up.
Each player now has five cards and should arrange their hands by suit. Cards are played one at a time, and when each player plays one card, it is called a “trick.” The player with the highest card played in every trick wins that specific trick.
When all five tricks are completed, it is called a “hand”. Every time a player wins a hand, it adds to his team’s score.
Trump suits are the highest cards in a Euchre card game and they can beat any cards of another suit. The identity of the trump suit changes within the game. For example, if the trump suit are the diamonds, the 9 of diamonds beats the ace of all the other suits, as explained above.
Playing the Game
Once all cards are dealt and the Kitty is in place, the question “do you want the suit on top of the Kitty to be trump?” will be posed to each player beginning with the person to the left of the dealer. This determines what the trump suit is in that specific trick.
If the first player says “No,” the question is passed on to the second. If he also says “No,” then the question is passed on to the third. When someone says “Yes,” the dealer will take the revealed top Kitty card into his hand, and then replace one card from his hand face down into the Kitty.
If everyone says “No,” then the top Kitty card is faced down. The person to the left of the dealer now has the choice what suit does he want to be trump, other than the revealed card on top of the Kitty. Players can pass the power to choose the trump suit to the person at his left. If nobody wants to choose a trump suit, then the trick is a “misdeal”, and the next person becomes the dealer.
The first card is led by the player to the dealer’s left. If possible, all players must follow the suit of the card played by the opener. If the suit is not followed, a player can either dispose a card or play a trump card. The trick is won by the player with the highest card of the suit led, or by the highest trump card. The winner of the trick will be the first one to lead next.
Winning the Game
The main goal of a Euchre card game is to win three out of the five tricks per hand, where in you score a point for every hand won. Bonus points may be granted to the team who will be able to win all five tricks in a single hand.
The first team who will reach a predetermined number of points, typically 10 points, is declared as the winner.
Basic Euchre Strategies
Below are a two of the most basic Euchre strategies that you and your teammate can incorporate into your game as beginners. The more you play and the longer you play, the better you will be able to get a feel of the game and figure out the techniques that you need to use in order to win.
If you think that your hand is very good according to the circumstances on the table, you can call to “play alone.” Play alone means that you are going up by yourself against the opposing team, which means your teammate will simply fold his cards down.
This should only be done if you feel that you have a really strong hand based on the situation and the chosen trump suit.
Laying off for your partner.
When your partner has already won the trick, lay off your weakest card to save your other cards for the next tricks.
For example, if hearts is called trump, and a spade card is led in the opening, then your teammate trumps with a Jack of diamonds (in this case the Left Bower, the second best card in the situation), then the next player follows suit with a spade of his own.
In this situation, your move should be to lay the lowest spade in your hand. If you don’t have a spade, then you can throw in your lowest card of any suit, or if you do not have any, your lowest trump card. Do not play the Jack of hearts even if you have it because your teammate has already won the trick with his Left Bower. Never trump over your teammate’s winning card as it will cost both of you the game. This is basic in a Euchre card game.