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Learning the Game of Euchre—Become a Pro!





These days, it seems like every time I turn on the TV all I hear about is “Trump” this and “Trump” that. While it’s always about our new president and his daily tweet rants, it makes me think of one of my favorite card games—euchre! In the fast-paced game of euchre, “Trump” is the strongest suit and you hope to have your hand filled with it!

If you’ve never played euchre before, that’s ok. It’s never too late to learn! And you’ll be glad you did. It’s a fun party game that has a huge following (especially in the Midwest), and the only one that I can think of where everyone actually wants Trump to show up! So make your favorite party dip, grab some drinks, and get ready to learn the game of euchre so you can play like a pro the next time you’re invited to a party.


TEAMS





Euchre is usually played with four people that are divided into two teams. Teammates sit across from each other (not next to each other). When one team reaches 10 points, they win and the game is over!






let's start with

THE DECK


A euchre deck contains 24 cards: each suit of nines, tens, jacks, queens, kings, and aces.





what is

TRUMP?


Trump is determined during the bidding stage (see below), and could be any of the four suits (clubs, diamonds, hearts, or spades). This changes with each new hand that is dealt. For example, if trump is diamonds, then the nine of diamonds (the lowest trump card during this round) will beat any club, heart, or spade (except for the “left bower” which is explained below).





START PLAY

with the deal





The person dealing the cards shuffles them and then proceeds to deal them out to everyone (including himself) two or three cards at a time (starting with the player to his left). Everyone will have five cards when they’re all dealt and there will be a pile of four cards remaining.

The dealer then turns the top card over on the remaining pile and this is a possible trump card. The first round of bidding begins.






BIDDING

(round one)





The player to the left of the dealer has the first opportunity to declare that this suit is trump for this round by saying to the dealer, “Pick it up.” He would want it to be trump if he has a few cards in his hand of this suit (particularly if they’re high cards and especially if they are jacks of this suit or the same color). If he does not want this suit to be trump, he says, “Pass” and then the player next to him has the same opportunity to say, “Pick it up” or “Pass.” If a player tells the dealer to “Pick it up,” then bidding is over and play begins.

If the first three players say “Pass,” then the dealer can either pick it up or turn it over (face down).






MORE BIDDING

(round two)


If no one wanted the suit of the top card to be trump and it was turned over, then bidding resumes with the person to the left of the dealer. This person can either call a suit to be trump by saying “Hearts” or “Clubs” (excluding the suit that was turned up on the pile), or he can say “Pass” and send play to the next person. Once someone chooses a suit to be trump, bidding is over and play begins. If no one calls a suit to be trump and it gets back to the dealer, you can choose to either “stick the dealer” and he must call a suit, or you can declare a “new deal” and the player to the left of the dealer is the new dealer.





how the cards are

RANKED





For non-trump suits, they rank normally with the highest being the ace and the lowest being the nine.

For the trump suit, the highest of the cards is the jack of that suit (known as the “Right Bower”), followed by the jack of the same color, known as the “Left Bower.” For example, if clubs is trump, then the jack of clubs is the highest, followed by the jack of spades.








understanding the

LEFT BOWER


Understanding the suit of the “left bower” can be confusing! Once a jack becomes a “left bower,” it takes on the suit of the trump cards. For example, if hearts is trump, then the jack of diamonds is the “left bower” (because the suits are the same color) and now considered a heart, and the second-highest ranking card that can be played. You must play it as a heart. So if a heart is led and you don’t have any other hearts, then you’d have to throw this card on the table. If clubs is Trump, then the Jack of spades is the “left bower” and is now considered a club.





on the road to

10 POINTS





One team or the other will win points during a hand. Here’s how:

For the team that determined trump,

• 2 points—wins all 5 tricks
• 1 point—wins 3 or 4 tricksFor the other team,

• 2 points—if the team who determined trump doesn’t win at least 3 tricks

If one player feels that his hand is strong enough (contains enough trump) to win the majority (or all) of the tricks without help from his partner, he can say, “Going alone!” His partner puts his cards down and allows the round to be played without him. If the player wins all 5 tricks on his own, his team gets 4 points! If he wins 3 or 4 tricks, his team gets 1 point. If he doesn’t get at least 3 tricks, he’s “euchred” and the other team gets 2 points.






ORDER

of play





The player to the left of the dealer is the first to throw a card into the center of the table. Play continues clockwise.

Whatever suit was led is what all other players must follow with. So if the first card was a spade, then all three players after that must throw a spade if they have one. If a player does not have what was led, in this case a spade, he can throw any suit he wishes (an “off-suit”), or one of the trump suit to win the hand. The trump card would win the hand if there wasn’t another Trump card on the table that was higher. The team that wins the hand collects the cards and the person who won the trick goes first. This continues for five rounds, then a new shuffle and deal is done by a new dealer.

*Warning! If a player does not follow suit even though he has a card of that suit in his hand (not playing a spade when a spade was led, for example), this is called “reneging” and the other team gets 2 points!

The best way to learn the awesome game of euchre is to get together with some good friends and play! “Practice makes perfect” applies to this game since you’ll only get better the more you play. Beware of joining in a competitive game or tournament of euchre because some players are very unforgiving of people who play the “wrong” cards at the “wrong” time, which kind of takes the fun out of it.

Camping is the perfect opportunity grab a deck of cards and gather around the picnic table for a game of euchre. Or if dark clouds have moved in and put a damper on your outdoor fun, take a seat at your RV’s dinette and get a game going! With a roaring campfire in the background and cold beers in hand, I can’t think of a better way to spend a night at the campground.



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