back when I was in college.
A couple of decades later I learned Euchre.
I started noticing Euchre when Betsy, a bar friend who I played
pool, would play Euchre with her friends.
It was all sorta confusing because I didn't know the rules
and unexpected things kept happening.
Then, when Cynthia, I girl I like (or liked, or have/had feelings
for or love[d] it is so hard to tell with these things)
most tremendously played Euchre all
I learned how to play Euchre well..
I never got to play Euchre with her. :(
Euchre is essentially a
using a partial deck of cards --- 9 through Ace of each suit.
The big difference between euchre and other
trump games are the jacks or bowers.
They are why I found Euchre confusing in the beginning..
In Euchre, the jack of trump (or the
right bower) becomes the most
powerful card in the deck -- higher than an ace.
The opposing jack -- the other jack with the
same color becomes the second
most powerful card in the deck.
It's otherwise known as the left bower.
After that oddity ranks go as
normal Ace .. King .. Queen .. Ten .. Nine.
This creates a great deal of confusion in
new Euchre players.
They (and I) forget this and then don't follow suit
either when it is played, or it is in their hands.
This can lead to a lot of grumbling at the table!
This addition of the other jack or bower to the trump suit
changes the normal odds of the game considerably.
One effect is that the suit the left bower comes from is shortened
considerably (removal of 1 of 6 cards is a big change).
This means that the high cards in that suit are worth less,
since there is a significantly higher chance they will be trumped.
The other effect is that the trump suit becomes longer.
This is a statistical effect that is
usually to the advantage of the makers
the partners trying to win the hand.
It can also lead them to a loss of a trick (or loss
of hand-- being euchred) if another player has enough
trump to burn on discards (or to trump otherwise winning hands
by the makers).
When selecting trump, the dealer always gets the
trump card -- who may be a defender, and not a maker.
Another difference is that not all cards are
dealt and in play -- a few are left in the deck.
These 4 undealt cards are called the kitty;
the top card of the kitty becomes the turned-up trump card.
These undealt cards can change game play significantly, turning
winning hands into losing hands and vice-versa.
I think that these combination of elements are things that make
Euchre a constantly interesting game, instead of just a
short form of Bridge or other trump games.
You may find extra cards (4s and 6s) in a Euchre deck; those cards
are used for scoring.
You use the 4 face-down to cover up the pips on the 6
card to show the first 6 points made.
After six, the 4 is flipped face up, and the face-up 6 is used
to uncover the last 4 points.
Pen & paper, or a pegging board can also be used to score
matches ... because the scoring cards can get messed up and change
British Euchre is slightly more complex, with a joker
added to the deck, which is known as the Benny.
The Benny becomes the highest trump, games go to 11
instead of 10, and some other
changes that I don't recall at the moment.
Check one of the
detailed references for info.
It also makes the trump suit longer, further changing game
For scoring, extra cards in the deck are the 5 and the 6
(instead of 4 and 6) are in the deck
for scoring to 11.
The initial dealer is found by dealing cards out; the first player
to be dealt a jack is the dealer.
After that, dealing rotates left in the conventional sense.
When dealing euchre, you always deal in
odd and different amounts between players, then change it
for the second round.
You never deal one card at a time.
For example a typical euchre deal
2 3 2 3 and then
3 2 3 2.
- One thing to note when dealing euchre like that is you
will always deal the same card
count twice -- when going from dealer to 2nd round.
If you aren't doing that -- something is wrong.
- Tournament euchre may use conventional single-card dealing.
- Always verify that there are 4 cards in the
kitty before you turn up trump.
If there aren't -- it's a misdeal.
After all the players are dealt, a card is turned face-up.
That is the trump suit.
Starting left of dealer, players decide whether they want
to play that as trump.
If a player calls trump, the dealer is given
the trump card to add to their hand (they have to discard something).
If the dealer refuses trump, the trump card is turned face-down,
and a second pass around the table allows any player to
call the trump suit.
A player may not select the suit of the
former up card as trump.
First player to call trump gets it.
If nobody wants it, the hand is gathered up and the deal shifts.
There are other rules for this, such as stick the dealer,
In stick the dealer (also known
as screw the dealer),
the dealer must declare trump the 2nd time around.
This speeds game play, but isn't so fun!
A maker can decide to go alone, playing single-handedly
against two opponents.
This can be risky, but rewarding -- a single winning all 5 tricks
gets 4 points -- 2x the normal all trick point count.
Of course that's balanced against getting 1 point for less than
5 tricks ... when you could have gotten 2 points by keeping your
partner in and counting on them for a trick.
A defender can also declare to defend alone;
they will receive 4 points if the alone defender euchres
the makers -- 2x the normal euchre point count.
Only a defender after the declarer can
declare to defend alone.
This variant is common, but singleton defense is not common enough to
be considered usual play.
Play starts to the left of the dealer;
If a player is playing alone,
the player to the left of
the lone player leads.
If both the maker and the defender go alone, the defender
Play proceeds clockwise (to the left).
During play, you must follow suit.
If you don't have anything, you can throw off (discard or ruff)
a card from another suit, or trump in.
The player with the highest card of the suit led, or the highest
trump, wins the hand.
That trick-winning player has to lead the next hand.
If you get 3 tricks, your team wins the round, receiving 1 point.
If you get all 5 tricks, your team gets 2 points.
If you are playing alone, your team gets 4 points for making all 5
If you don't make at least 3 tricks you are euchred,
and the opposing team gets 2 points.
This page came about .. eventually .. because of a
discussion I had with MJO about playing euchre.
Putting together content for this page, and discovering some
of the Euchre resources out there ...
I discovered that I was a bad euchre player!
I actually wasn't doing that poorly, with a >50% win percentage.
Being self-taught in strategy, however, had led me to do a few
things that are not considered kosher in the Euchre world.
Not illegal, but rather things that are long-term problems which
cost you tricks, games, or matches.
These things are actually quite simple, and I'll list the common
ones I've so far discovered so that other self-taught players
can avoid my fate -- and become better euchre players sooner.
Of course, Caveat Emptor; there are times that these
things may be the proper things to do.
They are general rules that you follow when you don't have better
things to do!
- If 3rd seat calls trump, and you are 1st seat
-- you must lead trump.
- If 2nd seat calls trump, they should have a wicked strong hand
that is a candidate for going alone -- and consider doing so!
- 3rd seat has to have a powerful hand to call trump.
- Go alone more often -- the 40% of the game
you can get from a possible ALONE is worth
the risk. Face it -- if you are going alone and the
cards look right, you will at least get 1 point, and have
a good chance of getting 4.
- You don't need wicked powerful hands to call trump. If you
can get 2 tricks, assume your partner is good for one,
and roll with it.
- Some trump and some aces (especially singleton aces) is a powerful
hand -- you might make book on the aces alone.
- (Reminder to self) ... don't include the trump card in your
thinking when you are seat #2 and go alone -- that card
isn't in your hand ever, nor in your partners!
- Don't give up control of a game too early in an attempt to
finesse the 3rd trick.
If you don't have stoppers you are probably better draining
trump from your opponents.
- Leading a singleton ace is your best chance of stopping a 5 trick,
and two-or-four point round.
- If in 1st seat and it looks like the upcard might go for an ALONE,
it might be better to call it and take the 2 point
euchred penalty instead of letting the dealer
or partner go alone to get 4.
- Being euchred isn't the end of the world.
Early in the game it is only a 1 point loss -- and you might
have it anyway if the other team called trump.
- If you are the non-calling partner, play the bower
you hold at first opportunity, so that the caller knows where
If you have both -- only play the right, don't play both.
You don't want to run your partner out of trump.
- Don't trump your partner's ace -- unless you need it to guarantee
a win (or a big win).
- If you have AK, play A, so partner knows not to trump it.
If you play the K, partner will assume it should be trumped.
- Play the 4th hand low, to see if your partner can take a trick.
- Count trump, so you know how many are out there ...
and one might be in the kitty (talon).
- The dealer is the most powerful position -- because they can
create a void with the discard.
- If you have all 4 jacks ... you may not want to call trump;
it's only a two-trick hand.
- If nobody likes trump, try bidding NEXT as 1st or 3rd seat.
- As 2nd or 4th seat, try bidding REVERSE NEXT.
- If you have some good aces and are in 1st seat -- lead trump.
If you can burn trump, your aces might be good later.
- When you discard try to create a void in a suit so that you can
trump into that suit.
Don't discard an ace... unless you are all trump!
- As the calling team -- If confused about what to lead, and trump is still
out there -- leading the NEXT suit is a poor idea;
it is the one most likely to be void in a hand, allowing
the opposition to trump in.
- Go read a lot of good
euchre strategy info to find out what
all these simple hints are about -- there is good
reasoning behind all of them!
Also times to ignore them.
My own euchre strategy isn't bad -- I'm an overall
winner against decent opponents, so I can't complain too
The section on I Played Bad Euchre!
contains some basic conventional conventions of euchre.
However I think they are wrong in some cases.
I play things differently every once in a while, and it seems
to produce a bigger win.
Reading this after written, I suppose you could call these refinements
to the conventions, based on what I've seen.
If you really think I'm saying something stupid, shoot me an
email to tell me why I'm wrong -- I'd be happy to find out!
- This actually comes from using some of the "I was bad" guidelines
and finding myself euchred a bit too much on hands that are supposed
to be worth playing...
If you are being euchred a lot, you are probably
being slightly too aggressive... OR It's not that your choices
are bad .. but that the cards are going against you.
Slow down a bit and wait for stronger hands.... and the
opportunity to euchre your opponents instead.
Even if this is due to the play of 1 card that was a good
choice that didn't work out!
You can't give your opponents too many free points -- make them
work for it!
- Euchre is about winning... and then trying to win big.
If you have two tricks, and cards in hand that
a third (such as the last trump), or you've burned trump from
the opponents.... You have
already won; you can't be euchred.
What you want to try to do now is get all 5.
So, see if your partner can help out NOW -- they
might have some aces or trump that would guarantee 5 tricks...
but they have to be able to get to them.
Instead of using conventional wisdom to lead low
on 4th trick -- lead low on 3rd trick
to try and pickup the extra tricks.
Otherwise your partner might burn the aces or trump
you need for 5, or
not be able to play any of their aces because you can't lead
to their strength.
- On the other hand, if you can't guarantee the third
winning trick by having a guaranteed trick via trump ... you need
to get the win NOW, and then use the conventional strategy to
try and get more.
- If you can guarantee 4 tricks in hand, (trumps + ace + X), go for it,
take 4 with the ace, and then lead X on the 5th trick.
If you or your partner has the high card you win big.
If not, you got book.
If you play it by convention, you are often not able
to get back to your own ace for 5.
- Don't try to finesse tricks in other suites with trump
still in play -- there is too great a risk that it will backfire
on you, and perhaps cost you the game.
Get the winning tricks ASAP, or burn trump yourself so that
you have a chance of winning via your strong cards.
By doing so, you are reducing the outcome of the game to a 50%
chance ... which card your opponent leads may determine the win.
That is better than playing for a high-percentage
loss strategy by leaving a power card with
Of course ... if your partner has some strength in trump still;
you'll get at least one more trick!
So don't worry too much.... I think it is a long-term winning
strategy (the numbers are on your side) even if it doesn't
work out in individual games.
Yes, I'm applying applying poker odds analysis to Euchre!
- On the flip side, trying to finesse trump is
always a good idea -- whether by maker or opponent!
It may not work -- the cards may be against you --
but if it does your other trumps hold out.
- The Next suit is difficult to play because
it is short .. and that's before realizing there is a 1/4 chance
it is even shorter with card(s) in the kitty.
It can be either a powerhouse or a dog, a surprise champion
or a hand killer for both offense and defense.
I think I have had the most marginal plays with playing
next due to the odd effects of it being more likely to
be trumped from shortness, or from being a powerhouse.
It pays to watch what Next has been played (count better next)
because you'll have a better idea if it is good or bad, compared
to either of the green suits.
- You partner's leads and discards (ruffs) during play can sometimes
be quite confusing.... because the conventions of euchre call
for your partner to do several things that have opposite
It's true of both offense and defense, but defense is the
harder one to read for the defender's partner.
Don't get upset if you are confused by the cards your partner
plays -- they are trying to do the best they can with
the information that they have.
It can work out a lot, but if it doesn't ... it's not like
they can read your mind!
The same is true when you are partner; you are trying your
best and don't worry about it too much.
Your partner is doing the best that they can with the info they have.
The Columbus Book of Euchre by Natty Bumppo
is one of the most modern
publications, and is reportedly chock-full of strategy and
top-notch play guidelines.
I'm waiting to get a copy myself to find out more.
The OhioEuchre Quiz is great -- because the
strategy is explained for answers you got wrong!
The answers also go a long way to understand where cards
are, and how to play common situations to your advantage..
in case the cards lay badly for you.
There is a lot of good info & reasoning there.
EuchreLinks and the associated pages are a good
set of references to many things Euchre; simple strategy, advanced
strategy, card sharking, and other issues.
Don't let the spammy, glitzy look of the site fool you -- it's the
real deal. :-)
Expert Village Has a nice set of youtube videos
describing basic and advanced Euchre techniques and strategies.
They aren't setup as a channel, but search for
How To Play Euchre:
Then they added in advanced euchre strategies as a youtube
The link will take you to the first i the series,
but you can search for it via
How To Play Euchre For Advanced Players:.
A youtube user created a channel of the advanced strategy videos,
so you can find them by themselves instead of
being buried in the huge amount of
expert village content.
Reading around, I found that there were a couple of Euchre
terms which can be confusing.
That's because a lot of places assume that you already know them,
and don't bother defining them.
They're confusing because you then must guess at what they
mean until you find out for certain.
Here's a simple explanation so you can understand right away, instead
of trying to track this info down somewhere else.
The jack(s) of the trump suit and the same color suit
as the trump suit.
The term Bar is often used in the midwest
to mean Bower.
The word comes from the German word Bauer, which
- Right Bower
- The Jack of the trump suit.
Normally the most powerful card.
- Left Bower
The Jack of the suit of the same color
as the trump suit.
Normally the second most powerful card.
When a Joker is added to the deck it is called
It becomes the most powerful trump, and then the bowers in their
- 1st .. 4th seat
Which player is involved, the order is the same as the
order the cards are dealt in.
1st seat (left of dealer) ... 4th seat (dealer).
- Eldest Hand
Player to the dealer's left -- first hand with dealt cards
on the table.
Another word for 1st Seat.
- The player sitting across the table from you -- your partner.
- The dealer's partner -- Seat #2.
Eldest Hand's partner -- Seat #3.
- Pone -- seat #3.
- The opposing team.
The player who deals the cards. -- Seat #4.
Last player to act, and in the most powerful
The dealer can decide on the upcard as trump
and take it into their hand, and discard an unwanted
card -- Something no other player can do!
The proper Euchre term is most likely Call.
While Euchre doesn't have bidding as a normal
does, the rounds are ften refered to as Bidding,
since that is what happens in this phase of a trump
- PICK IT UP --
The bidding player declares the upcard as the trump suite.
This is a directive to the dealer:
it tells dealer to pick up the trump card so that they
put it into their hand and discard any card from their hand.
- PASS --
The player doesn't want to be a maker.
- [I GO] ALONE --
The player will play maker with the trump suit alone,
no help from their partner.
- SUIT [ALONE] --
In the 2nd round, a bidder needs to specify the suit,
and if they are doing it ALONE.
- [I] DEFEND ALONE --
Only an opponent after the alone maker can declare to
Euchre has two bidding rounds:
- The first round mandates that the trump suit by
the suit of the upcard.
- In the second round, any player can decide on
trump -- but it can not be
the suit of the former up card.
The 4 cards remaining after the deal.
If there aren't 4, it's a misdeal.
The top card of the kitty is turned up to represent trump.
Talon is The proper euchre name for the kitty.
- The other suit of the same color as the
- Calling the Next suit as trump in the 2nd bidding round.
This can also be known as Next Call.
Either suit of the other color as
the trump suit.
- Reverse Next
Calling either Green suit as trump in the 2nd bidding round.
Also known as Reverse Next Call or sometimes
Not having a card of a suit in your hand.
Creating a void by play or discard allows
you opportunities to trump that suit..
- "Going Alone"
Attempting a hand by yourself, with no help from
A team that goes alone and gets all 5 tricks takes
4 points -- 40% of a match,
compared to the normal 2 points for both doing all 5,
or 1 point if less than 5 tricks are made in either way.
If the makers take less than 3
tricks in a hand, they are Euchred, and
their opponents get 2 points.
The partnership which decided on trump.
One thing to remember is that the makers only get the
trump card if they are the dealer or dealer's partner.
Otherwise the trump card goes to the opponents!
- The card the dealer returns to the kitty after picking
up or being ordered up trump in the first round.
- Another word for ruffing an off-suit;
playing a card neither of the trump nor suit led.
To play a card of another suit when
you have a card of the
suit led and could (must have) followed suit.
This can happen by accident, or in an attempt to cheat.
If a renege is discovered the making team
receives the full points for their attempt (2 or 4), regardless
of the outcome of the cards played.
That should help let you board the Euchre cruise in no time flat!
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Tue Jan 21 12:56:11 CST 2014
Bolo (Josef Burger)