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