A trick taking partnership card game for four players using a reduced deck, 9s through Aces (high).

Rules for trick taking are similar to those for bridge, except for the fact that the Jack of the trump suit is elevated to the highest card in the game, and the Jack of the other suit of the same color is immediately below it. The basic goal is for the team that called trump to score 3 of 5 tricks, earning them 1 point, else the opposing team scores 2. Play is usually to 10 points.

The definition of Euchre is noded here already, but I feel there is a need to discuss the finer details of how to play this simple, yet addictive trick-taking game. The following are not necessarily the official rules, but rather the rules I've experienced in my Euchre games here in Michigan. There are regional differences in the game, and I encourage others to node those differences. I will describe four player Euchre, as it is the most common.

Basic Rules

Setup:

In four player Euchre, players divide into two teams of two partners each, with the players sitting in a square around the table with partners opposite each other, as in Bridge (in general, the game proceeds more like Hearts or Spades though). Begin with a standard 52 card deck, but before starting the game remove the 2's through 8's (alternatively, the 2's through 6's). To determine first deal, one player deals cards one at a time off the top of the deck to the left. By to the left I mean clockwise starting with the player on the dealer's left side. The first player to get a black jack will deal first.

Deal:

The player to the right of the dealer is allowed to cut the deck once immediately before dealing. The dealer then starts by dealing a five-card hand to each player, although for a fairer deal all five cards should not be dealt at once. For example, a common deal is 3,2,3,2 to the left, then the remaining two or three cards to each player. The remainder of the deck, which will be four cards if you are playing 9's and up, is placed in the center of the table and the top card (called the up-card) is turned face up for all players to see.

Trump Call:

Starting to the left, each player must pass or "call it up". If the card is called up, the dealer replaces a card in his/her hand with the up-card; the suit of the up-card is now trump for the remainder of the hand; and the player who made the call is now the maker. If all four players pass, the up-card is turned face down, and any suit except the suit of the up-card can now be called trump. Again going to the left, each player must call or pass. If a second round of four passes occurs, there is no trump suit for the current hand. (*** In addition, any player calling trump may declare they are "going alone", which means they have to win the hand with no assistance from their partner. See "Scoring" below for more details.***)

Card Ranking:

At this point it would be to your advantage to know how the cards are ranked. This depends on the trump suit:

    Highest card
  • Right Bower (Jack of trump suit)
  • Left Bower (Other Jack of the same color as trump suit)
  • Ace,King,Queen,10,9 of trump suit (Ace is high)
  • Ace - 9 of other three suits (excluding left bower)

  • Lowest card

Play:

Again start to the left of the dealer. The first player leads the trick by playing one card, followed by one card from the other players in turn. Any player with a card in his/her hand the same suit as the first player must "follow suit" (play a card of the same suit - note that the left bower is considered to be part of the trump suit for all purposes). Otherwise, players can play any card in their hand. The player with the highest card wins the trick. The next trick is then started and played the same way, only the player who won the previous trick leads, and play continues clockwise from there. The team who made the trump call must win 3 of the 5 tricks to win the hand, otherwise they lose and get euchred (just an expression). The scores are then tallied and the next deal begins. Play continues until a team reaches ten points.

Scoring

Score is usually kept by setting aside either a pair of 5's or a 6 and 4 for each team. The cards are overlapped and the number of pips showing represents the score from 0 to 10.

  • Makers win all 5 tricks - they get two points.
  • Makers win 3 or 4 tricks - they get one point.
  • Makers win fewer than 3 tricks - they are euchred and the other team gets two points.
  • Maker goes alone and wins all 5 tricks - maker's team gets four points!
  • Maker goes alone... - otherwise scoring is the same

Variations/Advanced Rules

Here are some variations and rules that are not in effect by default, but are usually agreed upon mutually before the game begins.

  • Screw the Dealer/Stick the Dealer:
    In this variation, the dealer must call a trump suit if the calling comes back to him/her a second time.
  • Partner's Best/Railroading:
    In this variation, when going alone, your partner gives you one card (face down) which you may swap with one card in your hand.
  • Defender Going Alone
    In this variation, one of the partners on the team that did not make the trump can go alone, getting 4 points if the maker is euchred.
  • Stealing the Deal
    This rule allows a player to deal out-of-turn if he can finish the deal before the opposing team notices.
  • Farmer's Hand
    A player dealt a combination of three 9's and 10's may reveal them and exchange them for the three cards below the up-card.

Addendum 8/29/02: Two player Euchre plays the same as with four players. Three player Euchre, or "Cutthroat", is slightly different. The maker plays alone against the other two, who temporarily become partners. The maker gets 1 point for winning three or four tricks, and 3 points for all five. If the maker is euchred, each opponent gets 2 points.

Euchre is a simple, yet very fast and fun game. In my travels, I have never met anyone who has not spent significant time in Michigan that knows how to play. It is a very big game in MI; it is not uncommon to hear of churchs holding tournaments of Euchre as fund-raisers. Typcially, such events are difficult to join due to there popularity.

Tournaments of euchre play much like a standard game with the following additional rules:

  • Winning or losing a game is irrelevent. Each player records the score of their team, adding it to the score of all previous games. The winner will be the person with the most points after a predefined number of games.
  • Players are given a partner at random (or based on the current point leader in a ladder fashion) after each game.

Tournament euchre tends to be much more loner ("go alone") oriented, since players care less about playing it safe then in acquiring points.

One of the nodes above mentions several variations in the game. I've included some comments about some of them below, along with a few others:

  • Screw the dealer is a very popular one, because it tends to make the game run faster.
  • Partners best is typically frowned upon by most players because it makes "going alone" so much easier.
  • Stealing the deal is typically frowned upon as well, but most players I have meant simply treat it as a rule that requires you to pay attention to the game. It is therefore tolerated by most players.
  • Farmers hand If a player's hand contains ONLY 9's and 10's, that player may select 3 cards from their hand and exchange them for the three cards under the trump card. The acceptance of this rule varies greatly among players.
  • Poker for a point A player may request that this hand's point be given to the player with the best poker hand. This must be called BEFORE the dealer has picked up the face-up trump card. Accepting the call for poker for a point is COMPLETELY voluntary on the part of the other team.

Euchre Scoring using cards

The cards:

To keep score with cards in Euchre you typically take the two and three of one suit. Only one person on a team will keep score. In tournament play I would suggest using paper since Arabic numbers are less likely to be confusing.

(note: These are not to scale)

Two Spades      Three Spades    Back of Card
+-----------+   +-----------+   +-----------+
|2   S      |   |3   S      |   |...........|
|           |   |           |   |...........|
|           |   |           |   |...........|
|           |   |    S      |   |...........|
|           |   |           |   |...........|
|           |   |           |   |...........|
|     S    2|   |    S     3|   |...........|
+-----------+   +-----------+   +-----------+

0 points

Both cards are face down on top of each other.

+-----------+
|...........|
|...........|
|...........|
|...........|
|...........|
|...........|
|...........|
+-----------+

1 point

Two card is face down covering the two of the suit symbols on the three card. All cards are vertical.

+-----------+
|3   S      |
|           |
+-----------+
|...........|
|...........|
|...........|
|...........|
|...........|
|...........|
+-----------+

2 points

Two card is face down covering the one of the suit symbols on the three card. All cards are vertical. (left)

-OR-

The three card is placed face down and the two card is placed face up on top of it. Both cards are vertical. (right)

+-----------+     +-----------+
|3   S      |     |2    S     |
|           |     |           |
|           |     |           |
|    S      |     |           |
|           |     |           |
+-----------+     |           |
|...........|     |     S    2|
|...........|     +-----------+
+-----------+

3 points

Two card is face up on top of the three, covering two of the suit symbols on the three card. All cards are vertical. (left)

-OR-

The two card is placed face down and the three card is placed face up on top of it. Both cards are vertical. (right)

+-----------+     +-----------+
|3   S      |     |3    S     |
|           |     |           |
+-----------+     |           |
|2   S      |     |     S     |
|           |     |           |
|           |     |           |
|           |     |     S    3|
|    S     2|     +-----------+
+-----------+

4 points

Two card is face up on top of the three, covering one of the suit symbols on the three card. All cards are vertical.

+-----------+
|3   S      |
|           |
|           |
|    S      |
+-----------+
|2   S      |
|           |
|           |
|           |
|    S     2|
+-----------+

5 points

Both cards are face down. A card is placed horizontally on top of a vertical card.

    +-----------+
    |...........|
+-------------------+
|...................|
|...................|
|...................|
|...................|
|...................|
+-------------------+
    |...........|
    +-----------+

6 points

The three card is placed in the vertical position face up and the two card is placed face down across it to cover two of the suit symbols.

    +-----------+
    |3    S     |
    |           |
+-------------------+
|...................|
|...................|
|...................|
|...................|
|...................|
+-------------------+

7 points

The three card is placed in the vertical position face up and the two card is placed face down across it to cover one of the suit symbols. (on left)

-OR-

The three card is placed face down horizontally and the two card is placed vertically face up on top of it. (right)

    +-----------+            +-----------+
    |3    S     |            |2    S     |
    |           |            |           |
    |           |        +---|           |---+
    |     S     |        |...|           |...|
+-------------------+    |...|           |...|
|...................|    |...|           |...|
|...................|    |...|           |...|
|...................|    |...|           |...|
|...................|    +---|     S    2|---+
|...................|        +-----------+
+-------------------+

8 points

The three card is placed in the vertical position face up and the two card is placed face up across it to cover two of the suit symbols. (left)

-OR-

The two card is placed face down horizontally and the three card is placed vertically face up on top of it. (right)

    +-----------+            +-----------+
    |3    S     |            |3    S     |
    |           |        +---|           |---+
+-------------------+    |...|           |...|
|                  2|    |...|           |...|
|                   |    |...|     S     |...|
|S                 S|    |...|           |...|
|                   |    |...|           |...|
|2                  |    +---|     S    3|---+
+-------------------+        +-----------+

9 points

The three card is placed in the vertical position face up and the two card is placed face up across it to cover one of the suit symbols. (left)

-OR-

The two card if placed face up vertically and the three card is placed face up across it horizontally. (right)

    +-----------+            +-----------+
    |3    S     |            |2   S      |
    |           |            |           |
    |           |            |           |
    |     S     |            |           |
+-------------------+    +-------------------+
|                  2|    |                  3|
|                   |    |                   |
|S                 S|    |S       S         S|
|                   |    |                   |
|2                  |    |3                  |
+-------------------+    +-------------------+

Comentary on alternative scoring styles

I have seen only the variants on the right. However, during my research for this node I encountered both styles. There are also methods of scoring that involve 4-6 and 5-5. During my high school and college play in the United States I've only ever seen scoring with 2-3 and with the method(s) on the right side. Your milage may vary.

References: http://www.pagat.com/euchre/euchre.html and my memory.

Alternate scoring using cards

I grew up in Michigan, so inevitably I've been playing Euchre since the day I learned how to count to ten, and I must say that I've never seen anything other than the 5-5 method used for scoring. I'm not saying the others are necessarily wrong, but using the fives to keep score does have the advantage of being much more straightforward than the method lisa-ny describes above.

Here's how it works: First, find the 5s (all four of them). Since the fives aren't used during normal play, you'll find them in the discard pile that is set off to the side.

The fives in a standard deck of Western playing cards will usually look something like this:

+---------+  +---------+    +---------+  +---------+
|5        |  |5        |    |5        |  |5        |
|  S   S  |  |  C   C  |    |  H   H  |  |  D   D  |
|         |  |         |    |         |  |         |
|    S    |  |    C    |    |    H    |  |    D    |
|         |  |         |    |         |  |         |
|  S   S  |  |  C   C  |    |  H   H  |  |  D   D  |
|        5|  |        5|    |        5|  |        5|
+---------+  +---------+    +---------+  +---------+

Note that there is a symbol in every corner, plus one in the center. (FYI, these symbols are called "pips")

One team gets the black 5s (clubs and spades), the other gets the reds (hearts and diamonds).

At the start of the game, both teams set one 5 face-up, and the other 5 face-down on top of it, so that no pips are visible.

When the first point is scored, the scoring team turns the top card 45° and slides it down slightly, so that the pip in the top-left corner is visible. To show two points, rotate the top card to horizontal, showing the two top-most pips. For three points, slide the card down to show the center pip. There are now 3 pips showing. And so on. Be careful not to bump the scorecards with your elbows, or you'll be accused of cheating. Also, don't use the scorecards as a coaster for your Faygo. That's just bad form.

When you get to five points, flip the top card over and lay it face-up on top of the bottom card (5 pips visible, 5 pips hidden). If you're in the lead, make sure the card makes a nice slapping noise when it hits the table. ;o)

This would also be a good time to announce gloatingly that you're "around the bend". (Others might say "around the horn" or "on the homestretch", depending on whether they're more nautically or equestrianly inclinded. A friend of mine always says "halfway to Mackinaw!", in reference to the great Port Huron to Mackinac sailing race, an annual tradition around here.)

For six points, slide the top card so that there's six pips showing (five hearts + a diamond underneath, for instance). And so on, until one team gets to 10 points and wins.

Euchre is a great casual card game because it looks complicated, but in actual fact is not. Once you gets the gist of things, there isn't a whole lot of thinking to do. There's a limited amount of "good plays" in any given situation. "Bad plays" are obvious almost immediately. There are some hands, called a "set-down loner", that are simply impossible to beat. You just say "loner in diamonds" and set the cards on the table, then add 4 points to your score. There's no betting, no math. Yah pick yr suit, yah play yr cards, yah count yr score, yah deal again. The main thrust of the game is just throwing the cards and finding out what everybody had. "Who's got the left? Huh, where'd the ace go? Musta been buried. Man, I had nothin'. Why'd you do that? I was three-suited. Damn you, I could have had a loner in spades!" etc etc etc.

In most cases the game is just there to give typically standoffish Michiganders an excuse to sit down and talk to each other, probably the real secret of its enduring popularity.

Eu"chre (?), n. [Perh. from F. 'ecart'e.]

A game at cards, that may be played by two, three, or four persons, the highest card (except when an extra card called the Joker is used) being the knave of the same suit as the trump, and called right bower, the lowest card used being the seven, or frequently, in two-handed euchre, the nine spot. See Bower.

 

© Webster 1913.


Eu"chre, v. t.

1.

To defeat, in a game of euchre, the side that named the trump.

2.

To defeat or foil thoroughly in any scheme.

[Slang.]

 

© Webster 1913.

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