Card Games: 4. Euchre


  • Players: 4
  • Game Length: Short
  • Card Decks: 1/2 Pinochle Deck (all 9,10,J,Q,K,A from a normal deck. Thus 24 cards)
  • Jokers: No

Welcome to Michigan… The goal of the game is to get points, and you get points by collecting tricks. (Trick –> in a single round, the cards played by all the players; the high card is the winner.). Determining the highest card is all dependent on what “trump” is. (Trump –> the suit that has been declared to rank above all other suits for the duration of the hand; a trump can take a trick even when a card of a different suit is led).

Card Hierarchy

If people new to this game screw up, this is where they are going to mess up the most. Here is how the cards work in Euchre

  • For most suits the rising value of cards is as follows 9->10->J->Q->K->A. So an Ace would beat every other card, a Queen tops a 9, 10, and Jack, and so on. Very simple.
  • When trump is involved, trump beats every other suit. So if Hearts is trump for the round, the 9 of Hearts beats the Ace of Spades, for examples.
  • The hierarchy of cards for the trump suit is as follows: 9->10->Q->K->A->Jack of the same color->Jack of trump.
  • The two Jacks of the trump color (e.g. if Hearts is trump, Red is trump color, and the Jack of hearts and the Jack of Diamonds) are known as “bowers”. Assuming again that Hearts has been called trump, the Jack of Hearts is then known as the “Right” or “Big” bower, and the Jack of Diamonds is the “Left” or “Little” bower.
  • The key thing to remember (and the thing that is most often forgotten) is this: for this entire hand, the “little/left” bower is considered part of the trump suit, and not its original/actual suit. (e.g. if Hearts is trump, the Jack of Diamonds is a Heart, not a Diamond.)
  • For the non-trump color, the Jacks are treated normally, so in our example, the Jack of Spades and Jack of Clubs are still mediocre cards, beating 9 and 10 but losing to Q, K, and Ace of their suit.
  • Unless trump is involved, the leading suit always beats the non-leading suit. (e.g. If Hearts is trump, and I lead with the Queen of Spades, and the next player plays the Ace of Diamonds, my Queen is still winning, as you must be either the same suit as the leading (first) card, or be trump to win.)

So that’s how the cards work.. now here’s how you play:

  • Your partner is the person opposite/across you. (ie: A B A B)
  • The goal for each round is to win at least 3 of the 5 tricks.
  • Scoring is as follows:
    • If your team called trump and you win 3+: 1 point
    • If your team did not call trump and you win 3+: 2 points
    • If your team called trump and won all 5: 2 points
    • If you went alone, and won all 5: 4 points
  • The dealer begins by dealing all 4 people 5 cards (usually done in groups of 2 and 3), the remaining 4 cards [The “Kitty”] are set to the side, and the top card is flipped over.
  • The person to the left of the dealer begins. They must decide if they want the suit currently flipped over on the Kitty to be trump [i.e. if they believe that if that suit was trump, their team would be able to take at least 3 tricks]. If they do, they would say “Pick it up.” That suit would then be trump for the round, and the dealer would then get that card as part of their hand, and they must choose one card in their hand to discard, and the game would begin.
  • If the first player does not want that suit to be trump, they would pass, and then we move to the next player (the dealer’s partner), and they make the same decision… and so on.
  • If it makes it all the way around to the dealer, and the dealer passes, the top card on the kitty is flipped face down, and we move back to the first player, who may simply choose a suit except the suit that was just flipped over to be trump, or they can pass again.
  • If everyone passes the second time, the dealer may not pass, but must choose a trump suit (again, not the suit that was flipped over) This is called “Screw the Dealer”. I believe you can also play where if the dealer passes a second time, you pack it up and pass the deal to the person on the left, but that seems dumb.
  • Once trump has been picked, the person to the left of the dealer begins by laying out a card (usually a high non-trump card, but it can be anything). The next person to the left then must follow, obeying the following rules:
    • You must play/follow the same suit that was lead if you have that suit. (Remember, that little bower is a trump suit now)
    • If you do not have that suit, you may, but do not have to play trump. You can play any card you want. (Odds are, you’ll want to play trump, but this is where strategy comes in.)
  • This continues around the table until all 4 have played. The person laying the winning card (based on that card hierarchy above) takes the cards, and keeps then in front of them. They then lead the next hand.
  • This continues until all 5 hands have been played. Then you figure out who scored what.
  • The person to the left of the dealer is now the new dealer, and you go at it again
  • The game goes until a team scores 10 points. You can keep score using the 5 cards. Start with one face down on top of one face up, then as you score points, uncover the 5 symbols on the card.. when you get to 5, flip the card over and cover the other card, and continue until you’ve got all 10.

Additional Rules

  • Farmer’s Hand: During the “calling trump” period, if in your hand you have any combination of at least 3 9‘s and 10, you can trade those 3 for the bottom 3 cards of the kitty. This is also an automatic “pass” on the trump bid as well.
  • Steal the Deal: If you are a jerk, you can play this way.. where if you deal out of turn and the other team doesn’t notice, then more power to ya.

One thought on “Card Games: 4. Euchre

  1. I’ve been taught several times how to ‘play’ Euchre, and every time, I fail to play well. I’m not all that competitive with card games, board games, or things like that. Usually, I bow out early from the game because I cannot pay enough attention to figure out what trump is, and remember it from hand to hand. I’m used to games like ‘fourteen’, where trump is always one, etc.

    I’d also like to point out that I’m the only person who is provably reading every single post.

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