If you have read a few articles or game guides on this site, you might have noticed how often we tell you that games or aspects of gambling are actually quite simple, despite perhaps seeming a bit complicated at first.
Euchre is not one of those games.
It’s not that the game itself is complicated, but the rules around it are a bit fiddly which is probably why it isn’t as widely played as the likes of blackjack or poker.
To explain the game, it’s going to be easiest to break things up into sections and then use an example hand to pull everything together.
Before we start though, this is not a game that is available to bet on online unfortunately, despite actually having lots of potential for it.
We will go into the whys and wherefores at the end of the article, but unless you play for cash with friends, this one is for fun only as far as online play is concerned.
The Basics of Euchre
This game is traditionally played by two teams of two facing off against each other, so you are working with a partner in Euchre.
You will be sat opposite your partner, so your opposition players will be sat to your left and your right.
You can play other variations but the standard version follows this layout.
The game is played in rounds, with each round made up of 5 ‘tricks’, since each player is dealt 5 cards per round and 1 card is played by each player per trick.
During each round, the objective is to win as many ‘tricks’ as possible.
Points are awarded to your team for winning rounds with your partner, but the number of points you get for winning the round will depend on how exactly the round was won.
It stacks like this:
- 2 teams of 2 players
- 5 cards per player
- 1 card played per trick
- 5 tricks per round
- As many rounds as necessary for a team to win
You keep playing rounds until one team gets 10 points or higher, at which point that team is the overall winner of the game and another can begin with the points balance reset to zero.
As you can see, if you were betting on Euchre, there are many different levels of the game you could wager on.
We know where everyone is sitting but how about the dealer?
Euchre doesn’t use a dealer in the same way as blackjack does, so each player will take turns being the dealer.
The job passes to the left around the table, and each new round is begun by the player on the dealer’s left, so this honour will also be passed around the table, keeping things fair.
The dealer will deal the cards starting on his left, going round twice, but will deal from the top of the deck in a pattern of 2 cards then 3 cards; so the first player gets 3 cards, the second gets 2 cards, the third gets 3 cards, and the dealer themselves gets 2 cards. Then the first player gets their final 2 cards, the second player gets their final 3cards, and so on.
Here is the same information but in a table, which may be easier to digest:
|Cards Round 1
|Cards Round 2
|Jimmy (Team A)
|Jenny (Team B)
|Jessie (Team A)
|Jackie (Team B)
When it comes to the cards themselves, a hugely important element of Euchre is that all the lower value cards are removed from the deck, leaving only the 9 through to the Ace of each suit.
This creates a deck of 24 cards, 5 of which are dealt to each player, with the remaining 4 making up ‘the kitty’.
The kitty is the first step used to establish the trump suit for each round; the trump being the highest ranking suit for the duration of the round. This means that in each round cards from one particular suit will be more useful than those from other suits.
So to begin a game of Euchre, there is something of a ‘pre-game’ if you will, which fixes the final part of the game’s setup into place.
The trump suit.
The top card of the kitty is turned over and each player, starting on the dealer’s left, has the opportunity to establish trump as the suit of that card; so if it was the 9 of hearts and someone ordered it up, then hearts would become the trump suit.
Everyone gets an opportunity to establish hearts as trump, and if someone does want to do that, the dealer must swap one of their cards for the trump card, before the player on their left begins the first trick.
However, if everyone passes on the card in the kitty, then the kitty is put to one side. Using our 9 of hearts example, it would mean that no one wanted hearts to be the trump suit.
We still need a trump suit though, so we go back around in turn, starting on the dealer’s left again, with each player offered the chance to establish one of the other suits (not the one that was just passed on) as trump.
Player’s can still pass if they don’t want to establish trump, but if everyone passes at this point then the dealer is forced to make the choice.
The team who choose the trump suit are known as the attackers or makers, with the other team known as the defenders. This will be important later when scoring points.
Once trump is established, the round can begin, with the player to the dealer’s left laying down the first card. This does not have to be a card from the trump suit.
Once the first card has been put down, every other player must follow suit, i.e they must put down a card from the same suit if they have one. If they have more than one card from that suit they can choose which card to use.
If they don’t have a card from the same suit, they can choose to put down any card in their hand.
This is where the trump suit can come in useful, because a card from the trump suit is more valuable than a regular card from another suit. So even if the first card down is Ace of diamonds, and all other players have a diamond suited card on the table, if the trump suit is spades and you lay the 9 of spades, you win the trick.
Your card was lower, but it was from the trump suit.
Remember though, you could only do this if you didn’t have a diamond suited card in your hand. You must always follow suit if possible.
If you didn’t have a diamond suited card or a spade suited card, you would probably be best just burning your lowest value card from any other suit since you aren’t going to win the trick anyway.
The person that wins the trick goes first on the next trick though, and getting control of the game in this way is a valuable tool when you can do it.
Card Values and Points
There is another change to card values based on the trump suit that we haven’t yet mentioned.
As we know, any card from the trump suit will beat a card of a different suit even if that card has a higher face value.
Furthermore, once the trump suit is selected, the Jack of that suit becomes the most valuable card in the deck and the Jack of the same colour suit becomes the second most valuable card in the deck.
For example, if the Spades was the trump suit, the hierarchy would be:
- Jack of spades
- Jack of clubs
- Ace of spades
- King of spades
- Queen of spades
- 10 of spades
- 9 of spades
- All other suits/cards as their face value
So even if the trump suit was Spades and there was a King of Spades on the table, the Jack of Clubs would win the trick so long as the Jack of Spades wasn’t also showing.
This is the only time a card that isn’t from the trump suit can beat a trump suited card.
Moving on to points then, and while winning tricks will win you the round, winning points will win you the game.
Remember we said that the attacking and defending team status will be important for scoring? This is how.
A team can win the round with 1, 2 or 4 points as such:
- 1 Point – The attackers win at least 3 tricks.
- 2 Points – The attackers win all 5 tricks.
- 2 Points (Euchre) – A Euchre is when the team that calls trump loses the majority to the other team. So if the defenders win, the attackers are said to have been ‘euchred’, and the defenders get 2 points.
- 4 Points – The defenders win all 5 tricks in a round.
- 4 Points (Loner) – A Loner is when one player in the attacking team must go it alone and win all 5 tricks, with their team mate sitting out for the round. They can choose to do this only immediately after establishing trump, and you would only do this with a very strong hand. If you go it alone and win the round but not all 5 tricks, you still get 1 point.
So you would need at least 5 rounds to win a game on most occasions, and that’s assuming your team wins every round – most games of Euchre are almost twice as long as this.
Example Euchre Hand
That’s everything covered, so now let’s play a few tricks to see the game in actions.
Remember Jimmy, Jenny, Jessie and Jackie from earlier?
They are having a game (they love a bit of Euchre), with Jackie and Jenny on one team and Jimmy and Jessie on the other
Jackie established Hearts as the trump suit, so Jack of Hearts is the best card in the deck, then Jack of Diamonds, then all other Hearts in face value order, then all other cards in face value order.
Here is the deal with cards facing up so that you can see them, although obviously in a real life game you wouldn’t show your hand to the other players.
The player on the left of the dealer, Jimmy, will go first.
Jimmy has put down the Ace of Clubs, so now all other players must put down a Club suited card if they have one.
The other players put their lower value Club suited cards down because they know they can’t beat the Ace, but the final player, Jackie, does not have a Club suited card.
She can therefore put down any card in her hand, but which would be the best option?
Remember that Hearts are trump so Jackie rightly placed a trump card to win the trick.
She could have chosen any of the three Hearts suited cards she has, but correctly chose the 9 of Hearts as that leaves her with stronger cards in her hand but is still enough to win her the trick.
Since Jackie won the last hand she gets to lay the first card in the next hand.
She’s gone for the Ace of Diamonds, knowing that she holds the highest ranking card in that suit.
The only way she can lose is if someone else doesn’t have a Diamond suited card but does have a Heart suited card.
But Jackie also knows that no Diamonds were laid down in the last hand, and that the only Heart suited card that isn’t accounted for is the Ace of Hearts, so the chances of another player both not having a Diamond and also having that Ace of Hearts is slim.
Sure enough, every other player had a Diamond suited card, but unfortunately for Jackie, the player on her right, Jessie, had the Jack of Diamonds – the second most valuable card in the pack at the moment.
Jessie therefore wins this trick, taking control from Jackie.
It’s now 1 trick a piece for each team.
Jessie plays the King of Diamonds, which is risky knowing that so many Diamond suited cards have already been played.
This means anyone with a Heart suited card could sweep in and take the trick.
As we can see though, the only players with Heart suited cards are Jackie and Jimmy. Jackie also has a Diamond suited card though, which she must play to follow suit, and Jimmy is Jessie’s team mate, so if he wins then so does Jessie.
Sure enough, Jimmy wins the trick with the King of Hearts.
This makes it 2-1 to Jimmy and Jessie, but Jackie is destined to win the next two tricks because she has two Heart suited cards which beat every other possible card combination left on the table.
The last two hands would have looked like this:
The final score for the round would therefore be 3-2 to Jackie and Jenny, who would win 1 point for taking the round in the way that they did.
A new round would then begin with the dealer responsibilities moving over from Jackie to Jimmy on her left. That means Jenny would put down the first card in the next round.
Why isn’t Euchre on any Online Casino Sites?
Online casinos aren’t in the business of promoting obscure casino games, they are in the business of providing casino games that people already want.
Aside from that, the logistics of Euchre require four people and two teams to play out a full set of games.
This is technically possible, but getting someone to play online for real money in a team with someone they don’t know comes with complications, and what if one player decides they have had enough and logs out mid game before a winner is declared?
How is the money divided fairly, and does someone else come in to take their place? What if there is no one waiting for a game – does the game end? Is it on indefinite pause?
These difficulties mixed with the lack of popularity of Euchre make it an easy option for developers to ignore, and for casinos not to request.
You can find automated versions of the game online or in apps which can be played for fun, but if you want to actually bet real money on it you’re going to have to host a Euchre evening with your friends, sadly.