Euchre is a fairly popular card game played in the US, Canada, Australia, and many other parts of the world. It is another game with tricks and usually played in pairs.
While euchre rules aren’t as complicated as Texas Holdem rules, for example, but the game takes a bit of time to learn.
If you’re on the lookout for a simple game that you can learn and start playing within a few minutes, this one isn’t your best choice.
On the other hand, the Euchre card game can be quite exciting once you learn how to play it to have fun with your friends.
The good news is that Euchre rules seem more complex than they are.
Once you figure out the basics of how to play euchre, things will quickly fall into place. It may take you a few games to become comfortable with it, but the learning curve is worth it as this game can provide you with a lot of entertainment, especially if you enjoy card games that have a strategic aspect to them.
Main Euchre Game Info
- 4 players
- Need 1 card deck
- Need paper and pen to track score
- Tricks – sets of four cards played on the table, won by the highest-ranking card. Tricks are used to calculate points.
- Turn-up – the card from the top of the deck that’s turned face up after the deal, used to try and make the trump in the first bidding round.
- Trump – one of the suits which is chosen to rank above the others.
- Making a trump – the bidding process in euchre used to determine what suit will be the trump for the round.
- Right bower – the jack of the trump suit. The highest-ranking card in euchre.
- Left bower – the jack of the same color as the trump suit. The second-highest ranking card in euchre.
- Attackers – the partnership that called the trump.
- Defenders – the partnership defending against the attackers, trying to prevent them from making the contract.
- Euchred – when the attacking partnership fails to make at least three trumps, they're euchred, and their opponents are awarded two points.
- Sticking the dealer – a special euchre rule, whereby the dealer must call the trump on the second round of bidding without the option to pass.
- Going alone – calling the trump and announcing that you’ll play on your own. In this case, the partner folds their hand, and they don’t participate in the play for that round.
Euchre Card Game Preparation
Since euchre is a team game, you’ll need at least three more players to play the game the way it’s meant to be played. It’s probably the hardest part of the preparation process, as you’ll need to know three more people who know how to play euchre or are willing to learn.
Other than this, you just need a single deck of standard playing cards.
In euchre, you won’t be using the entire deck, though.
The game is played with a shortened deck that contains up to 32 cards. The deck is shortened by removing small cards, and you can choose from a few options:
- Remove all cards lower than 9s (24 cards)
- Remove all cards lower than 8s (28 cards)
- Remove all cards lower than 7s (32 cards)
All three of these options work, and the game rules stay the same, so it's a matter of personal preference.
Optionally, you can also get specialized euchre decks.
You'll need to keep score in euchre as well, but you won't need a pen and paper to do so, like in rummy. The game has its own elegant way of keeping score using those lower cards that have been removed, but more on that in a minute.
Euchre Rules – Master The Basics
If you have some experience with other games featuring tricks, euchre rules shouldn’t be too hard to learn.
For those who have never played these types of games, it may be a bit more complicated, but you’ll get there.
The main goal of a single round of euchre is to win at least three tricks as a partnership.
Game points are awarded based on the number of tricks won and how they were won.
To win the game of euchre, a partnership will need to reach a total number of points agreed upon ahead of time. Usually, it’s 5, 7, or 10 points.
Each player starts a hand of euchre with five cards. The deal begins with the first player to the dealer’s immediate left.
The dealer gives every player three cards first, followed by two more cards. Alternatively, they can start with two cards, followed by three.
All cards are dealt face down.
The rest of the deck is then placed in the middle of the table, and the top card is turned over. This card, called the “turn-up,” plays an important role, but more on that a bit later, in the how to play euchre section.
Card Rankings in Euchre
Euchre uses a fairly standard system for ranking cards, but there are a few notable exceptions you need to keep in mind. Of course, like with most trump games, cards in trump suit beat non-trump suits, with one exception.
The strongest card in euchre is the jack of the trump suit. This card is known as the “right bower.”
The second-strongest card is the jack of the same color as the trump suit.
For example, if spades are trumps, this would be the Jack of Clubs. This card is treated as the trump and is known as the “left bower.”
Other than this, cards are ranked as normal. Aces are high in the Euchre card game, followed by Kings, Queens, regular Jacks, and non-face cards according to their values (10s, 9s, 8s, and 7s).
Scoring in Euchre Card Game
The scoring system in euchre isn’t too complicated. As already mentioned, points are gathered by winning tricks and added as follows:
- 1 point for winning 3 or 4 tricks by a partnership calling trump
- 2 points for winning 5 tricks by a partnership
- 1 point for winning 3 or 4 tricks as a lone hand
- 4 points for winning 5 tricks as a lone hand
If the partnership that makes the trump fails to make at least three tricks, opponents are awarded two points. This is known as getting euchred.
As mentioned, those lower cards removed from the deck are often used to keep track of the euchre score.
For example, if playing a game to five points, players will use a three and a four to keep score. For the first point, a three will be positioned face up and covered by the four facing down so that it exposes just one pip (to indicate one point).
When another point is made, the four will be turned face up and covered by the face-down three so that two pips are showing.
To indicate three points, the three will be placed face-up on the four, and to show four points, the four is placed over the three, face up.
To put it simply, the number of suit symbols showing will represent your team’s score.
You can use some other systems to keep track of the euchre score using lower cards as well.
Whatever system you go for, it is a really fun and convenient way to do it without needing special tracking systems like those used in cribbage.
How to Play Euchre Card Game
With these technicalities out of the way, it’s now time to learn how to play euchre. As you can see, the game isn’t all that complicated in terms of basics.
Most of it makes sense if you have any card game experience once you remember that two jacks are very powerful in euchre.
Bidding in Euchre: Making the Trump
At the start of a euchre hand, each player will have five cards. These cards aren’t exposed, and they’re only known to the player holding them.
The first order of business in the hand of euchre is making the trump, i.e., determining what the trump suit will be for the round.
Remember that card that the dealer turned face up after finishing the deal. This is where it comes into play.
The first player to the dealer’s left will have the first opportunity to either accept the trump suit or pass on it. If they pass, the next player gets the same option, and so on.
For example, if the turn-up is the ten of hearts, if one player accepts, hearts will become trumps for that round.
If all players decide to pass on the turn-up, there will be another attempt at making the trump, once again starting with the first player to the dealer’s left.
This time around, players can declare their own suit, but they can’t declare the suit that was passed on during the first round.
If no one declares the trump suit, cards will be gathered, reshuffled, and a new round will begin. If a player declares a trump suit, that suit will become trump for the round, and the play can begin.
Sticking the Dealer
If you want to make the game move faster, you can introduce a special rule, where the hand is always played.
If everybody passes on the second round of bidding and it gets to the dealer, they can’t pass. Instead, they have to call a trump. This is called “sticking the dealer.”
When making the trump, a player can choose not to play with the partner and play alone instead. If you announce you want to go alone, your partner, i.e., the player sitting across from you, will put their cards face down on the table in front of them, and they will not participate in the play for that round.
Playing a Hand of Euchre
Once the bidding process is over, and the trump suit has been determined, the play can finally begin.
Players who called the trump are known as attackers, and they're under pressure to make at least three tricks.
The other team is defenders, and if they can prevent this from happening, they’ll euchre the attackers, earning two points.
Once again, the play begins with the first player to the dealer's left. They'll play the first card, which is known as the lead.
Going clockwise, all players have to follow suit (play a card of the same suit) if possible.
A trick is won by the highest-ranking card of the corresponding suit or by the highest-ranking trump card.
For example, let’s say diamonds are trumps and the player leads with the seven hearts. The next player has no hearts and plays the queen of spades. The other two players play the eight of hearts and the ten of hearts.
The trick goes to the player playing the ten of hearts, as they have played the highest-ranking card in the right suit. They'll collect all four cards in the middle, winning one trick, and they'll get to lead next.
However, had any of the three players played any trump cards, for example, the eight of diamonds, they would have won the trick because trumps always beat all other cards. Of course, if two or more players play a trump, the highest one wins.
A trump card can only be played if the player doesn't have any cards in the suit. Otherwise, they must follow suit.
Keep in mind that the jack of the same color as the trump suit is also a trump, and it is the second-best card in euchre.
So, in this scenario, if you play the jack of hearts, you'll only lose the trick if someone plays the jack of diamonds.
Once all cards have been played, tricks are counted and points awarded according to the previously described rules.
If a player decided to go alone, the round is played by just three players, the lone player (attacker) against the defending partnership. If they can make all five tricks, they will earn four points for the partnership.
Euchre Strategy, Tips & Tricks
This game does have quite a bit of strategy attached to it, and learning how to play euchre well will take you some time and practice.
This isn’t a bad thing, though, especially if you’re a competitive person and prefer games where luck isn’t the only determining factor. You won’t find any push fold chart for euchre, but sticking to some tips when playing should increase your chances of winning.
Always lead with a singleton non-trump ace
If you have a non-trump ace in your hand and that’s the only card of that suit you have (known as a singleton), always lead with it. You have a good chance of winning the trick because it’s very likely both defenders have at least one card of that suit.
Be careful about going alone
It’s tempting to try and go alone as you can win those tasty bonus points. However, when making the judgment, really try to think long and hard about this decision.
If you think the partner can help you make the contract, it’s always better to keep them in. You should only go alone when you’re pretty sure that the partner’s hand is pretty useless for the current contract.
Keep track of cards that have been played
Euchre is played with a shortened deck, so there aren't many cards to memorize, to begin with. Thus, you really should pay attention to what was played and what cards are still out there.
This will prevent you from making big mistakes and help you make some strategic plays based on the likely remaining holdings of your opponents.
Avoid trumping your partner's ace
If your partner leads with an ace or plays the ace of the suit, you really shouldn't trump it, if you can at all avoid it.
It's not only that their ace will likely give you the trick, but your partner might already have a plan on what card they want to lead with next. You trumping the ace will thwart those plans.
There is much more strategy to euchre than this and, if you like the game, you'll have no problems finding plenty of resources to continue learning. Unfortunately, I'm not a euchre expert myself, so hopefully, these basic tips will help you get off to a good start. The rest is up to you!
Euchre Card Game Summary
While it’s not the simplest card game out there, euchre is definitely an interesting option for those who enjoy games with some strategy elements throwing into the mix.
The Euchre card game can be quite challenging and entertaining from the bidding process to the play itself.
It's not just about how you play your cards; it's also about how well you cooperate with your partner.
Finding a few people to play euchre with might be a bit of a challenge, though. If all you have at the moment is you and your deck of cards and are bored out of your mind, check out our solitaire rules!