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What Is Euchre?

R. Stamm
R. Stamm

Euchre is a game of cards played by two sets of partners who try to win by scoring a fixed number of points in a certain number of tricks. The game is one of elevated Jacks, where the Jack, or right bower, is the highest card, and the second Jack of the same color is the second highest. The game is usually played with a 24-card deck, which includes the cards from nine up to Ace of all four suits. The game originated from the German game of Juckerspiel and was popular in America at the beginning of the 19th century. It remains common in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and in certain regions of the US.

A dealer is randomly selected at the beginning of the game of euchre, and the shuffled cards are dealt to the four players. The dealer gives each player two cards on the first pass and an additional three on the next pass, or vice versa. The dealer places the remaining cards in the center of the table with the top card facing up to determine the suit or trump.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The player sitting to the left of the dealer decides if he has enough cards of the same suit as the top card in hand to win at least three of the tricks. If not, the process continues to the left until one player decides to be the maker of the suit. If the suit called as trump is the same as the top card, the dealer picks up that card and discards another. If no player calls the suit on the first round, the process continues for a second round until a player decides to make a specific suit the trump. If trump is not called in the second round, the cards are shuffled and deal passes to the next player.

Since euchre is a game of partners, one may elect to play by going it alone, forcing the other partner out of the hand. Regardless, the player to the left of the dealer makes the first play by laying down a card, and play continues in a clock-wise fashion around the table. The object of euchre is to win tricks by playing the highest card in the suit being led, or the highest trump card. In the trump suit, the Jack of that suit is the highest, followed by other Jack of the same color, then the Ace and down to the nine cards; in non-trump suits, the highest card is the Ace.

In typical scoring, the pair that called trump must win at least three tricks to take the hand; this earns one point. If the pair takes all five tricks, they earn two points. Euchre is called when the pair that does not call trump wins at least three tricks; this earns them two points. When one partner plays alone and takes the hand, he earns one point, but if he takes all five, he earns four points. The first team to score 10 points wins the game of euchre.

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