Euchre

From Academic Kids

Euchre is a trick-taking card game played in many parts of the world.

Contents

Geography/History

The United States, the British Isles (most notably in Cornwall), Canada and Australia all have large followings of the game. In the United States, the game has declined in popularity since the 19th century, when it was widely regarded as the national card game, but it retains a following. Today, it is frequently regarded as a Midwestern game; although Euchre players can be found across the country, it is believed that the game is most predominant in the Midwest (particularly Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan) and a card player from that region is almost certainly expected to have heard of or played the game. Euchre is also popular in parts of Pennsylvania, because of its ties to the Pennsylvania Dutch, as well as parts of Iowa and upstate New York because of German settlement in those areas during the 19th century. In Canada, the largest following is in Ontario.

Setup

Euchre is a game that requires speed and decisiveness on the part of its players. It uses a deck of 24 playing cards, the cards from 2 to 8 being left out, although 32-card variants (with the sevens and eights included) are also played. There are four players, divided into two partnerships, with partners sitting at the table facing one another. Each player is dealt five cards; the remaining four cards (the kitty) are placed in the center on the table.

Euchre is a game of etiquette, and before the cards are dealt, the dealer offers the deck to be cut by the player to his right. Also, as in many card games, the order of deal is traditional, and expected to be followed. Cards are dealt clockwise starting with the player left of the dealer in sets of 3, 2, 3, 2; 2, 3, 2, 3.

In non-trump suits, the order is the normal Ace high-King-Queen-Jack-10-9 low, but in the trump suit, the highest card is the jack of trump, called the right bower. (The term bower comes from German bauer, peasant, a word also used for the card called in English the knave or Jack. The German spelling is occasionally used in English, but the spelling bower is standard.) The second highest trump (even higher than an ace) is the jack in the suit of the same color as the trump suit, called the left bower. For all intents and purposes, the opposite jack is considered as if it were part of the actual trump suit. This is important later in the game, and is usually known by newcomers as the hardest part to learn about the game.

Procedure

After the deal, the top card is 'turned', or displayed face-up on top of the kitty. Starting with the dealer's left, this player decides whether they want to call the center card as trump, saying 'I order it up', or telling the dealer to 'take it up' or 'pick it up'. This player may also pass. The dealer's partner then may accept the trump by saying "I assist" or "pick it up," or may pass. Next, the player to dealer's right may also "order up," or pass. Finally, the choice comes back to the dealer, who may accept by saying "I take it up," or who may pass.

"Ordering it up"

If the center card is called trump, the dealer picks it up and discards another card from his hand, but he cannot choose the turn card he just received. This brings his hand back down to 5 cards. If all four players pass, each player is now given the opportunity to call another suit as trump in the same order, starting with the player at the dealer's left. If all four players pass on this second round, the hand is cancelled and a new one is dealt, moving the deal in a clockwise direction. This is called 'losing your deal'. There is a variation called 'stick the dealer', where if all players pass during the second round, the dealer is "stuck," or "screwed," and must choose the trump suit; there is no redealing. Another variation called "club euchre," is whenever a club suit is turned, the dealer must play that suit as trump and make the bid.

Gameplay

The game focuses on tricks. The lead starts with the player to dealer's left (or the dealer's partner if the player to dealer's right has decided to go alone), and this person plays the first card. All players must follow suit (yes, even the left bower if trump is lead, and it's the only trump a player has). After all four have played, the highest trump takes the trick, and receives the honor of leading the next. If no trump came out, the winner is the player with the highest card of the suit that was led. Once all five tricks have been played, the hand is scored. The player to the left of the previous dealer then becomes the dealer for the next hand, so that the deal moves clockwise around the table.

Goal/Scoring

The goal is for the team who accepted the trump suit (the makers) to take three tricks out of a possible five. If they do so, the makers score one point, or two points if they take all five. If the opposing team (the defenders) take three or more of the tricks, they score two (this is called a euchre, or set). The first team to score ten points wins. Score is usually kept using a six and a four, or a pair of fives, using one card to cover up the other so that the correct number of pips are showing.

When a team has nine points, it is common in the Midwest version of the game to place the score cards next to each other, face down. The team is now "in the barn" (also "on the corner"). Various moos may be sounded at this point. Do not be surprised to see a Mid-Westernern team "milk it," where one of the pair interlock their fingers with their thumbs down and the other pulls down of the thumbs as if he were milking a cow. If the team scores their tenth point then the "barn doors are opened:" the cards are flipped to show all ten pips.

Going alone

Most game varieties allow a player to "go alone" or "call loner" when calling trump; his partner sits out that hand and if the lone player takes all five tricks he gets four points. If he does not take all five normal scoring applies. Needless to say, this should only be considered if a player is dealt a very good hand, or the making team is in danger of losing. In most variations of the game when a player orders up his partner he must attempt the hand alone.

Some Euchre players count 4 points to a side euchring a lone opponent, or if the full making team scores no tricks, the defenders may score the same number of points for a Super-Euchre.

Some people allow a player to call "blind double loner" as a last-ditch effort before the maker even sees his cards; the turn card is automatically trump, and the game is played by normal loner rules, except 8 points are awarded if the maker wins all 5 tricks.

Variations

One group of variations common in the Midwestern US are the many "farmer's hand" rules, which are intended to allow a person who is dealt a poor hand to exchange his hand or call a re-deal. The most common criteria is the nines or nines-and-tens rule, which states that if a player is dealt a hand of nothing but nines and tens, the first person to call "Farmer's hand!" may exchange three cards in their hand with three in the kitty. Some areas play that multiple farmer's hands may be called during one hand, but the point is rather moot; after the first farmer's is called, the cards are guaranteed to be bad.

Another similar variation is called the "No Ace, No Face, No Trump" rule. This rule states that if again a player receives nines and tens and that none of them are trump after the make, he can call "No Ace, No Face, No Trump!" and the hand is re-dealt. It is logically impossible to take a trick with such a hand.

Other variations of Euchre are widely played in the southwestern counties of England, where it is common for a pub to have its own team which takes part in competitive league matches with other teams. The most common form of the game played in the UK is one where a twenty-five card deck is used; the deck consists of A-K-Q-J-10-9, with an extra card called the Benny. This card, usually a joker card or the two of spades, is the highest trump no matter which suit is called. Should this card be the one turned over by the dealer, the dealer must decide which suit to call trumps before looking at their own hand. The bidding then continues as normal.

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