Learning to Play Euchre
In my opinion, Euchre is an easy game to learn. Heck, despite what you may think because you didn't pick it up in one night, it can be such an easy game to play. In this summary, I will cover the game of Euchre in as much detail as needed to help you start playing with friends and family.
When I say this game is easy to learn and play, I'm not implying that it's easy to win. Everyone must develop their own strategy to succeed. While there may be other variations, the rules and instructions that I cover are part of the version that I grew up with in the Midwest.
Euchre Game Overview
- Type: Trick-taking card game
- Players: 4 (in teams of 2)
- Minimum age: ~9
Euchre is a game where you take tricks (cards that are played), and there is a changing trump suit that is the highest in the game. The game is played with four players who are in teams of two. Partners must sit across from each other and cannot table-talk about what cards are in their hands. Generally, players should be at the least above age 9.
How the Game Works
Each player plays one card in each deal, and the player with the highest card of the suit that was led wins the trick. If a player cannot follow the suit that was led and they have a trump card, they will win the hand with the trump card. The team that has the most tricks after a hand wins. Several rounds are played until one team reaches 10 points.
A traditional way to find a dealer for Euchre is to deal out cards face up until someone gets a jack. The lucky person to receive the jack will deal the first hand.
The Euchre deck contains 24 cards, excluding cards below the nine of all suits. Five cards are dealt to each player in two rounds of dealing where three or two cards are given in each round. After all players have their cards, there are four cards left called the kitty. The top card in the kitty is turned up.
After the cards have been dealt, players look at their cards to determine if they can call trump. The first choice goes to the person to the left of the dealer. This player asks the dealer to pick up the card (order it up) that is face up in the kitty, or they pass. If they call, then the person to the left of the dealer leads the card to start the hand. If everyone passes, then the dealer can pick up the card or pass and flip the card over.
If everyone passes, then any trump can be called, starting with the person to the left of the dealer. The team that chooses trump are called the makers, and their opponents are called the defenders. If no one chooses trump, then the hand is counted as a misdeal and the deal goes to the next team.
After a player orders up trump, they also have the option to play the hand alone. Playing the hand alone allows the team the chance to win four points if they collect all the tricks in the hand. If the team that goes alone on a hand only wins three or four tricks, they will only score one point.
When Should You Go Alone?
In my opinion, you might go alone for either of the reasons below.
- You believe that you will take every trick (most likely case).
- You believe that decreasing your partner's ability to lead a discard will increase your chances of winning the hand.
Ranking of Trump
The ranking of trump cards is much different in Euchre than in most card games. The suit that is called trump will beat any card that is not trump. The jack (right bower) is the highest card in the game. The next highest card is the jack of the same color.
Example: Hearts Are Trump
Suppose that hearts are trump; the two highest cards would be the two cards below.
- Jack of Hearts (Right Bower)
- Jack of Diamonds (Left Bower)
The next highest card would be the ace, followed by the king, queen, 10, and 9.
- Ace of Hearts
- King of Hearts
- Queen of Hearts
- 10 of Hearts
- 9 of Hearts
Playing and Scoring
Playing the game involves a player leading with a suit. Moving counter-clockwise, players must discard the same suit. When discarding, they have to try to beat the led card with a higher card or lay down a trump card if they do not have the suit that was led. Whoever wins the trick leads the next trick.
If you figure out that a player did not follow suit, then that player must lay a different card for that trick. I'm not sure if there are specific rules for this type of cheating, but this is how I've played. The team that wins more than two tricks wins the hand and scores. Remember that if you choose trump, you have to option to go alone for extra points.
Winning the Game
After a team reaches 10 points, they win.
Demonstrating a Hand With an Online Game
In the below hand, my partner Bill dealt and the other team passed. Since I have the two highest trump cards, I think my partner and I can win at least three books for one point if I call spades trump.
I ordered up spades, so my partner the dealer gets to keep the ace and discard his lowest card into the kitty. I'm not going alone because I think Bill and I may be able to win all tricks for two points.
Since Bill dealt, Lisa get to lead with the first discard. Lisa led with an ace, and since I am only two-suited, I can beat her with a trump. I will lay my king to beat the ace.
I won and will win the next hand, leading with the highest card in the game: the jack of spades.
My partner discarded a 9 of spades, so I know he still has one of the highest trump cards. This gives me a chance to throw a low card, hoping that he doesn't have a club. So I will throw the 9 to pull the rest of the clubs out of the game and hope my partner wins it.
My partner won with his ace because he didn't have any clubs. He led with a card that I don't have, so I will win the hand with the left bower and hope that no one can beat my final card.
I won the last two hands, so that means my partner and I received two points for winning all the hands.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Joshua Crowder