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How to Play Euchre

  • Euchre is a trick-taking card game most commonly played with four people with partners sitting opposite one another. 

  • The game is played with a deck of 32 standard playing cards consisting of a K Q J 10 9 8 7 in each of the four suits: hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades.

  • The highest cards are what is called trump. This means that a playing card is elevated above its normal rank in trick-taking games; is more powerful than any suit. Typically, an entire suit is nominated as a trump suit; these cards then outrank all cards of plain (non-trump) suits.

  • In Euchre, the right bower of the trump suit (the jack) is the highest ranking/most powerful card that can be played. The second most powerful card is the left bower which is the other jack of the same colour as the trump suit. In order of power, then follows the Bowers (Jacks), the Ace, the King, the Queen, the Ten, the Nine, the Eight and the Seven.

The Game

  • The goal is to take what they call “tricks”. To outscore your opponents by winning at least three of the five tricks, with the players having the highest score after eight (8) hands have been played, being declared the winners.

  • Basic play is that each player plays one card following suit and the highest card wins the trick.

Beginning the game

  • To choose the first dealer, one player will distribute the cards, one at a time, face up in front of each player. The player dealt the first black jack becomes the dealer for the first hand.

The Deal

  • After the first dealer has been chosen, the turn to deal then rotates clockwise throughout the game. 

  • The dealer shuffles and the player to dealer’s left may either cut or “bump” – that is, knock the cards to indicate that they should be dealt as they are, without cutting. Five cards are dealt to each player. The dealer deals clockwise, distributing the cards one at a time, face down, to the players until each player has five cards. 

  • The dealer then turns the next card in the pack face up. This up-card is used as a basis for selecting the trump suit. The remaining cards are left face-down and are not used. 

  • Note that the Right and Left Bowers count, for all purposes, as belonging to the trump suit. For example, if hearts are trump, the jack of hearts is the Right Bower (most powerful card) and jack of diamonds is seen as a heart not a diamond and can be played if a heart is led. It is the Left Bower. If it is led, then hearts must be followed. 

Making trump

  • First, each player in turn, beginning with the player to the dealer’s left, has the option of accepting the up-card’s suit as the trump suit or passing. Specifically: The player to dealer’s left may either pass or say “I order it up”. 

  • If the first player passes, the dealer’s partner may either pass or say “I turn it down”. If the first two players pass, the player to dealer’s right may either pass or say “I order it up”. 

  • If all three other players pass, the dealer may either take up the up-card, saying “I take it up”, or pass by saying “over” and turning the up-card face-down. The dealer can only pick-up the up-card if they have at least one other card in their hand having the same suit.

  • If either of the dealer’s opponents order it up, or if dealer decides to take it up, the suit of the up-card becomes trump; the dealer adds the up-card to their hand and discards a card from their hand to the “kitty” face-down. 

  • Note that the dealer’s partner cannot make trump and play with a partner. The dealer’s partner can only make the turned up suit trump by playing alone. 

  • If all four players pass, the up-card is turned face-down, and there is a second round in which players have the option to make any suit trump, other than the suit of the up-card. 

  • Again, the player to dealer’s left speaks first and may either pass again or name a suit. If the first player passes, the second may name a suit or pass, and so on. 

  • If all three players have passed, the dealer is forced to make a trump selection. This is known as “Stick the Dealer”. A dealer cannot pass a second time without naming the trump suit.

  • Note that the trump-making process ends as soon as someone accepts or makes trump (rather than passing). Those players selecting trump are known as the “makers” and the other side are known as the “defenders”.

Going Alone

  • After trump has been made, but before the first lead, any player may announce that they are playing alone. The partner of a lone player puts their cards face-down and takes no part in the play. Both defenders still play.

The Play

  • If all four players are in the game, the play begins with the player to the dealer’s left leading to the first trick. Any card may be led and each player, in clockwise order, must follow suit by playing a card of the same suit as the card led, if possible. 

  • A player who cannot follow suit may play any card, including a trump card. Remember that, for purposes of following suit, the Right and the Left Bower are considered to belong to the trump suit and not to any other suit. 

  • The trick is won by whoever played the highest card of the suit led, unless a trump was played in which case the highest trump wins. The winner of each trick leads the next round of tricks until all 5 tricks (all five cards) have been played.

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