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Euchre

A trick-taking card game played with two teams of two people.

Dealing

Conventional euchre is a four-player trump game, wherein the players are paired to form two partnerships. Partners face each other from across the table so that the play of the cards in conventional clockwise order alternates between the two partnerships.

Conventional euchre uses a deck of 24 standard playing cards consisting of A, K, Q, J, 10, and 9 of each of the four suits. A poker deck can be used, omitting the cards from 2 to 8, but a pinochle deck may be divided in half to form two euchre decks.

Each player is dealt five cards in clockwise order, usually in groups of two or three cards each. The remaining four cards are referred to as the kitty or the blind and are placed face down in front of the dealer toward the center on the table. The top card of the blind is then turned face up.

When a suit is named trump, any card of that suit outranks any card of a non-trump suit. The highest ranking card in euchre is the jack of the trump suit and is referred to as the right bower. The second highest ranking card is the jack of the suit of the same color as the trump suit; this card is called the left bower. Remaining cards of the trump suit rank from high to low as A, K, Q, 10, and 9.

In non-trump suits, the jacks are not special, and the cards of those suits rank from high to low as A, K, Q, J, 10, and 9.


Example

Assume a hand is dealt and that hearts are named as trump. In this event, the trump cards are as follows, from highest ranking to lowest:

jack of hearts (right bower)
jack of diamonds (left bower)
ace of hearts
king of hearts
queen of hearts
10 of hearts
9 of hearts
For the purpose of play, the jack of diamonds becomes a heart during the playing of this hand. This expands the trump suit to the seven cards named above and reduces the suit of the same color (sometimes referred to as the next suit) by one card (the jack "loaned" to the trump suit). The same principles are observed for whatever suit is named trump. Remembering this temporary transfer of the next suit's jack is one of the principal difficulties newcomers have with the game of euchre.

Once the above hand is finished, the jack of diamonds ceases to be a heart unless hearts are again named as trump during the playing of the subsequent hand.

Objective and Scoring
In euchre, naming trump is sometimes referred to as "bidding". When naming a suit, a player asserts that his or her partnership intends to win at least three of the five tricks in the hand. A single point is scored when the bid succeeds, and two points are scored if the bidder takes all five tricks. A failure of the bidding partnership to win three tricks is referred to as being euchred (also called getting set) and is penalized by giving the opposing partnership two points. A bidder with exceptionally good cards can go alone, in which case he or she seeks to win all five tricks without a partner. The partner does not play and if all five tricks are won by the bidder, the winning partnership scores four points.

The primary rule to remember when playing euchre is that one is never required to trump, but one must follow suit if possible to do so. If diamonds are led and a player has a diamond, he or she must play the diamond.

Failure to follow suit is called a renege. A renege is generally detected when a card that should have been played in a preceding trick is played belatedly. The renege would then be evident to any opponent attentively watching the fall of the cards. The infraction actually took place on the earlier trick, when the offending player failed to follow suit. Reneging generally causes the hand to be forfeited, with 2 points awarded to the opposing team. Among newcomers to the game of euchre, failure to identify the left bower as belonging to the trump suit and play it when required is a common cause of a renege.


Bidding - Naming Trump
Once the cards are dealt and the top card in the kitty is exposed, the upturned card's suit is offered as trump to the players in clockwise order, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer. If the player wishes the card's suit to become trump, he or she bids by asking the dealer to "pick it up" (referred to as ordering up a card). In this event, the dealer takes the card, adds it to his or her hand, and then discards one card, placing it face down on the kitty without displaying it to the other players. Once a bid has been made, play begins.

If a player does not want the upturned card's suit to become trump, he or she says "pass" or signifies the desire to pass by knocking on the table. The next player to the left may then order up the card or may likewise pass.

If the upturned card comes around the table to the dealer without being ordered up by any of the players, the dealer may make a bid by picking up the card, adding it to his or her own hand, and discarding the extra card as described above. The dealer may also decline the upturned card's suit by turning it face down on the kitty. Once this suit has been passed by all four players, it may no longer be chosen as trump.

If the upturned card's suit is not chosen by any of the four players, the players are offered the opportunity to name any of the other three suits as trump, beginning with the player to the dealer's left. In this case, play begins as soon as a suit is named; no cards enter or leave the dealer's hand. A player may pass as previously described, and if the bidding comes around the table to the dealer without the naming of a suit, the dealer may name a suit. If he or she also declines to name a suit, the cards are collected, no points are scored, and the deal is passed to the left.

In some variations, the following rules are added during the bid. First, if the dealer's partner orders up the dealer, the dealer does not play in the hand and the dealer's partner must play alone against two defenders (described further below). Second, if all players pass the bid twice, the dealer is stuck making trump from the remaining three suits (i.e., cannot opt for a redeal. Also, this rule is sometimes known as "screw the dealer"). These additions are sometimes referred to as "Canadian rules."

The team that selects trump is sometimes known as the "makers" for the remainder of the hand. The opposing team is known as the "defenders" for the remainder of the hand.

Winning Tricks
The player to the dealer's left begins play by leading a card. (If the player to the left is sitting out the hand because his or her partner is going alone, the dealer's partner will lead.)

Play continues in clockwise order; each player must follow suit if they have a card of the suit led. Remember that the left bower is a member of the trump suit and is not a member of its native suit.

The player who played the highest trump wins the trick. If no trump were played, the highest card of the suit led wins the trick. The player that won the trick collects the played cards from the table and then leads the next trick.

After all five tricks have been played, the hand is scored. The player to the left of the previous dealer then deals the next hand, and the deal moves clockwise around the table until one partnership scores 10 points and wins the game.


Goind Alone
If the player bidding (making trump) has an exceptionally good hand, or if his or her partnership is in danger of losing the game unless they are able to quickly score points, the player making trump has the option of playing without his or her partner. If the bidder playing alone wins all five tricks in the hand, the team scores four points.

"Going alone" is initiated at the time the bidder orders the upturned card on the kitty to the dealer (on the first round of bidding) or names a suit (during the second round of bidding). The bidder signifies his/her desire to play alone by stating "alone" or (for example) "clubs alone" after bidding. The bidder must make this call before play begins.

During a loner, the bidder's partner discards his or her cards, and does not participate in play of the hand.

Naturally, the odds of success of a loner bid depends on the lay of the cards, and in loner play, the inactive cards held by the bidder's partner means that nine cards out of 24 do not participate in play, making play less predictable than otherwise. A hand consisting of the top five cards of the trump suit are mathematically unbeatable, while other combinations merely have high probability of outranking one's opponents' cards.

A loner bid that fails to win all five tricks is not penalized; the bidding partnership scores one point provided that they won three or four tricks.


Scoring
Scoring in euchre Bidding partnership (makers) wins 3 or 4 tricks 1 point
Bidding partnership (makers) wins 5 tricks 2 points
Bidder goes alone and wins 5 tricks 4 points
Defenders win 3 or more tricks
(known as a euchre, or setting the bidder(s) 2 points
The first team to score 10 points wins the game (sometimes called a round). While score can be kept by using a tally sheet, most euchre players traditionally use the unused 6 and 4 cards, or unused pairs of 5 cards for one member of each partnership to keep score; in this case, one card is used to cover the other so as to expose the number of pips corresponding to the team's score.

Scores

Team that called trump gets 3 or 4 tricks. - 1 point.
Team that called trump gets 5 tricks. - 2 points.
Person that calls trump goes alone wins 5 tricks - 4 points.
Team that did not call trump wins 3 or more tricks (setting) - 2 points.


Flags: Very Short (0-60 mins), Short (1-3 hours), With a Group, Teens, Adults, Seniors, Indoors, Morning, Day, Night, Sunny, Snowy, Rainy
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