I learned Bridge 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 the time... I learned how to play Euchre well.. I never got to play Euchre with her. :(

Euchre Features

Euchre is essentially a trump game 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 the score!

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 balance. 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.

Game Play

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 is 2 3 2 3 and then 3 2 3 2.

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 plays first. 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 tricks. If you don't make at least 3 tricks you are euchred, and the opposing team gets 2 points.

I Played Bad Euchre!

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!

Bolo's Ideas About Euchre

My own euchre strategy isn't bad -- I'm an overall winner against decent opponents, so I can't complain too much. 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!


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. :-)

Strategy Videos

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 series. 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 means Farmer.
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 a Benny. It becomes the most powerful trump, and then the bowers in their normal order.
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.
Eldest Hand's partner -- Seat #3.
The player who deals the cards. -- Seat #4. Last player to act, and in the most powerful position; 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 Trump Game does, the rounds are ften refered to as Bidding, since that is what happens in this phase of a trump game.
Euchre has two bidding rounds:
  1. The first round mandates that the trump suit by the suit of the upcard.
  2. 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.
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 Green Call.
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 your partner. 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!
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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Last Modified: Tue Jan 21 12:56:11 CST 2014
Bolo (Josef Burger) <>