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Euchre Rules

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How to play Euchre?

Euchre belongs to the trick-taking category of card games. Each player is dealt an equal number of cards and players win a trick based on certain rules. Several different variants of the game are played worldwide, but the rules described below are of the most common game variant played. These rules are also known as North American Euchre.

Players

Euchre is played by 4 players, separated in 2 teams. Each player sits against his teammate.

Deck

  • 24 cards from a standard French deck are used in Euchre, 6 cards from each suit – Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades.
  • The cards used are: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9.
  • Some variants and custom game rules use an extra joker card (25 card deck) or 7s and 8s (32 card deck).

Cards Strength

  • Cards strength for non-trump suits is as follows: A > K > Q > J > 10 > 9
  • Cards strength for trump suit is as follows: J > J(left) > A > K > Q > 10 > 9

The second strongest trump card – listed as J(left) – is the Jack from the suit with the same color as the trump suit. For example, if the trump suit is Spades, the Jack of Clubs (J left) is the second strongest trump card. During a hand, this card is considered part of the trump suit announced for the hand, and not part of the original suit.

Dealing

The first dealer is chosen at random. The dealer deals 5 cards to each player in packs, first 3 and then 2, starting with the player on his left, and continuing in a clockwise direction. In the following rounds, the dealer is changed in a clockwise direction.

After dealing 20 cards in total to the players, the dealer takes the top card from the remaining 4 and turns it face up, so that all players can see it. This ‘face-up’ card is used as a basis for the initial bidding part of the game.

When the dealing ends each player can see only the cards in his/her hand, plus the face-up card.

Bidding

Bidding starts after all the cards are dealt and the top-card of the undealt four is placed. Players choose the contract based on the strength of their cards. The bidding process has two purposes:

  • Selecting the trump suit for the current hand.
  • Determining the Makers team that has to make 3 or more tricks.

The bidding process could have two phases, both starting from the forehand player (the one on the left of the dealer) and ending with the dealer:

  1. First phase: each player should either pass or choose the suit of the face-up card to be trump. If all 4 players pass during the 1st phase, the bidding process continues with the 2nd phase.
  2. Second phase: each player should either pass or choose a suit different than the one of the face-up card to be trump.

If a trump is chosen in the first phase, the dealer takes the face-up card in his hand and discards one card by his choosing, not showing it to the other players.

If all players pass during both phases the hand ends with no winner and scoring, and a new hand starts.

Going Alone

After the trump suit is selected – and before playing the cards – the player who announced can decide whether to play alone:

  • The announcer could do this when he thinks his/her cards are strong enough to win the hand without help from his/her partner.
  • The benefit of playing alone is that winning all 5 tricks leads to scoring 4 points instead of 2.
  • If the announcer goes alone, his/her partner puts the cards face down and does not participate anymore in the hand.

Playing the cards

Who starts the hand?

The player who starts the first trick is determined as follows:

  • If no player is playing alone then the player to the dealer’s left plays first.
  • If one player is playing alone then the person to that player’s left plays first.
  • If two players are playing alone (possible in some variations of the game), then the defender plays first.

Next tricks are started by the player who won the previous trick.

What cards can I play?

The rules for playing cards in a trick are as follows:

  • The first players can play any suit.
  • If the other players have cards from the suit led, then they must play one of them.
  • If the other players have no cards from the suit led, then they can play a card from any other suit.

Who wins the trick?

The rules for winning a trick are as follows:

  • When no trump card was played, the trick is won by whoever played the highest card of the suit led.
  • When trump card was played, the trick is won by whoever played the highest trump card.

Scoring

After all the tricks are played, one of the teams receives points according to the following rules:

  • If the makers win more than half but not all tricks they score 1 point.
  • If the makers win all tricks they score 2 points.
  • If the makers take fewer than half of the tricks then the defenders score 2 points.
  • If a maker is playing alone and wins all the tricks, the makers score 4 points; otherwise, the scores are as above.
  • If a defender is playing alone (possible in some variations) and wins more than half of the tricks, the defenders score 4 points; otherwise, the scores are as above.

Here is a table representation of the number of points each team scores, depending on the number of tricks won:

Number of tricks won Makers’ (Alone) points: Defenders’ (Alone) points:
0 0 2 (4)
1-2 0 2 (4)
3-4 1 0
5 2 (4) 0

Winning

The score of each round is added to the total score of the teams. The first team to reach 10 points or more is the winner of the game.