When To Play Alone, page 1
What is the minimum hand needed?
But first, a little story
I was playing against a new team recently and was euchred on a lone call. One of the other team members stated that they had never been euchred on a loner, and that I should not have called alone as I did not have the cards needed to guarantee winning the hand. I had to smile as I thought back to a game where I had been set on a lone call with 3 trumps and off suit ace-king combination. Sure, my call in this current instance was thin (left, king, nine of trump + king-nine off-suit), but I was reasonably sure of a point. And it's worth taking a risk, as a successful lone is 40 percent of the game (4 of the 10 necessary points).
They went on to say that the only time you should play alone is if you have three guaranteed tricks in your hand with a serious chance of taking all five. But these hands are far and few between: the odds of getting a near perfect hand (five trumps with both bars) are about 1 in 1,700. And even if you get this great hand dealt to you, you still have to be able to play it (another player may declare trump before you get a chance). After all, it's not a lone hand if you don't call it as such.
How many times have you heard a player say, after taking all five tricks, "It didn't look like a lone." In truth, most players don't call lones when they should, costing their team valuable points. It may even cost them the game.
So what types of hands should be seen as a potential lone calls? You first need to ask yourself these questions: What is my table position? What is the score? Do I need my partner's help to make a point? Read on to learn more.
What is your table position?
The first thing to consider is your position at the table. Let's look at each of them:
3rd Seat (right of the dealer):
This is the hardest place to make a lone from. You should have a very strong hand to even try. Very few lones are made from 3rd seat
2nd Seat (dealer is your partner):
In 2nd seat, with 1st seat passing, it's a fair guess that 1st seat is not very strong in the turned up suit. If you hold strong cards (say three trump and a strong off suit) then try it alone. On a lone call there are nine cards that are out of play: the five your partner holds plus the four in the kitty. With this many cards gone it increases your chances of success.
1st Seat (left of the dealer):
This is the best seat to call a lone from. As you have first lead, you have the opportunity to pull trump from your opponents' hands, which significantly reduces the chance of your off suit being trumped. Keep in mind that on first round bidding you're putting a trump into the dealer's hand.
The next best position for a lone call is dealer's seat. While you will not be able to lead trump, as the dealer you will get to pickup an extra trump. You are also able to discard and create a void in your hand. Because there are no other players after you, you avoid being over-trumped on the first trick. Do consider that you will likely have to use a trump to take the first trick.
What is the Score
In some situations taking along your partner will decrease your chances of getting euchred. In a few cases it may even increase your chance of getting two points. Still, it's often worth trying a lone as the rewards outweigh the risks more often than you may think.
With large lead, there is less incentive to go alone. On the other hand, when you are down by a large number of points, it is often worth the risk to try a lone call as the additional points could be crucial to salvaging the game.
Even if your team has 8 points, consider playing it alone. There are some circumstances where taking your partner along will hurt you. Consider whether you truly need your partner's help. Say you hold both bars and the ace of trump, along with a king-queen combination. You partner cannot help, even if they hold the ace.
Keep in mind that there are seven possible trump in any hand. When you play alone, nine cards are out of play, so likely one or more trump are buried. Also, if dealer turns down an ace, the king becomes highest in that suit (you should always try to remember what the turn card was, whether it was picked up or not).
The final thing to consider is the 'luck factor'. Are the cards running hot on your side? Although no one talks much about it, there are those days where you just can't seem to do anything wrong. On these days I will try almost anything for a lone. I've made lones with just the bare right and a couple of off aces.
At times, playing a lot of lones in a game can drive the opponents crazy, and set them on tilt (in poker parlance). They start bidding wild, making it easier to euchre them.
Hands to consider when trying a lone
Some hands, such as both bars plus two additional trump and off-suit ace, are promptly recognized as lones. But there are many other hands that should be considered potential lones. Below is a general list of playable lone hands. Try some of them, you may be pleasantly surprised.
* Holding any five trump.
* Holding any four trump (with an ace off suit works best).
* Holding any three trump (one being a bower) and being two-suited.
* Holding any 3 trump and two off-suit aces.
* Holding any 3 trump with a ace, king combination off suit.
* Holding both bowers, + matching trump card, and being two suited with any combination of cards.
* Holding both bowers, two suited, along with ace, king, X off suit (works best from first seat).
* Holding ace, king, queen two suited with ace, king combination off suit.
* When Your partner turned up the right and you hold left and two other trump with strong off suit cards.
Sure, on some of the above hands you will only get one point (or you may even get euchred). And yes, there will be times when your partner would have covered your losing tricks. But the risk is worth the gains. After all, euchre is a game of chance.
Reprint of a comment from a reader
This was posted by Julie L. (I think this sums up the whole article. Thanks Julie for you comment )
"The main reason to call a lone should be that be your partner is unlikely to be able to assist you. The decision to go alone should never be based on the strength of your hand, but should be based on whether or not your partner can help. If he can not help, there is no point in taking him along. This is the criterion to be used to decide. Can your partner help get 5 tricks? Can he stop you from being euchred? If he cannot do anything worthwhile to affect the score, then why take him along? Play the hand alone."
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