The game of Euchre
By John W. Keller, 1887
Two and Three-Handed Euchre - CHAPTER 7
In two-handed Euchre the deal is settled by cutting, as in all other forms of the game. The cards must then be dealt alternately, beginning with the non-dealer and giving first two cards to each player and then three, or first three and then two. The non-dealer must then examine his hand, and say whether he orders up the trump or passes. If he orders up, the dealer must take up the trump and discard: if he passes, the dealer must either adopt the trump or pass. If the dealer adopts the trump, the game begins with the non-dealer leading. If the dealer passes the trump, it then devolves upon the non-dealer to make the trump or pass the making. If he passes the making, the dealer then has the right to make the trump or pass the making. If the dealer should pass the making, a new deal is in order with the former non-dealer as the dealer.
But if a trump is ordered up, adopted, or made, the game must begin with the non-dealer leading. The dealer must play to this lead, and the two cards thus played constitute a trick.
The winner of any trick must lead for the next trick.
The joker and laps and slams may be played in the two-handed game, if the players so desire and agree prior to the first lead.
In all other particulars the rules governing fourhanded Euchre apply to the two-handed game, except, of course, in those points relating to partners and in the value given to a march. When a player in two-handed Euchre takes all the tricks, he is entitled to score but two points. But a euchre counts two, and three or four tricks only count one, as in the fourhanded game. Of course there are no lone hands in the two-handed game in the sense that there are lone hands in the four-handed game.
In playing the two-handed game, it is well to remember that twenty-two cards remain in the pack, and when the joker is played twenty-three remain. In addition to this there is but one hand in opposition, and therefore the trump may be ordered up or made on a much weaker hand than would be required to do the same thing in a four-handed or three-handed game.
Three-Handed Euchre. Three-handed Euchre has been not inappropriately though somewhat vulgarly called the cut-throat game. This murderous title is suggested by the peculiar conditions of the game, which make two of the players continually combine to vanquish the third; and this combination varies with almost every deal, and always with the status of the players. For instance, let us suppose that A, B, and C are playing three-handed Euchre. A deals, B and C pass the trump, and A takes it up. B and C now endeavor to defeat A, for if they succeed they will have euchred him, and each will be entitled to score two points. But suppose that A succeeds in taking five tricks. He will have made a march in that case, and can score three points. The game will now stand: three points for A and nothing for the others, with B to deal. Suppose that B takes up the trump after A and C have passed it. Now it is to A's interest to euchre B; for in that event A could score two points, and win the game. But it is not to C's interest to euchre B, because such a euchre would put A out of the game, and would defeat C as well as B. Therefore C must play to prevent a euchre, but at the same time endeavor to keep B from making more than one point. Suppose that B makes but one point. The game will then stand: A 3 points, B 1, C o, with C to deal. A and B pass the trump, and C takes it up. It is still to A's interest to euchre C, for that would win him the game. But it is to B's interest to prevent this euchre, for the reason that it would give the game to A. C makes a point, and the game stands: A 3, B 1, C 1, with A to deal. B orders up the trump, and makes a point. The game will then stand: A 3, B 2, C 1, with B to deal. A is still trying to euchre B in order to win. C's position is changed, however, inasmuch as he must now play to prevent B being euchred and at the same time to prevent B from making a march, for in either case C would lose the game. B makes one point, and the game stands: A 3, B 3, C 1, with C to deal. A and B will now combine to euchre C, for in that event the game would be ended, and they would both win, as each of them could score two points. But suppose that in spite of this combination against him, C should make a inarch. The game will then stand: A 3, B 3, C 4, with A to deal. Now if A should make a point on his deal, and B should make a point on his, the game would stand: A 4, B 4, C 4, with C to deal. Now if either A or B should order up the trump, or C should adopt it, the other two would combine to euchre him, for therein lies their only salvation. But if A and B were to pass the trump, and C should find his hand very weak, he could avoid the certainty of a euchre by turning down the trump and thus throwing the responsibility of making the trump upon one of his opponents. And these in turn may avoid the same responsibility by passing the making until a new deal is assured, and even then the same process may be continued indefinitely until someone holds a hand strong enough to take the risk.
In the event of a euchre when the game stands as last quoted, the two parties making the euchre will win equally; and each has the right to score a game.
And so, too, if one had four points and the other three, and they were to euchre the third player, they would both win equally; and each would be entitled to score a game without the one having four points taking precedence of the one having three. The reason for this is, that their combined efforts produced the euchre; and, as they share the proceeds equally, neither has the right to score before the other. Therefore they are supposed to score simultaneously; and as each scores two points, all that are necessary to complete the five points requisite for the game, they win simultaneously.
It will be seen from this that the individual interests in three-handed Euchre are diverse, complex, and various, as the game progresses.
The player making or adopting a trump in three handed Euchre really plays alone, for he always has his opponents combined against him out and out or in a degree. It requires, therefore, a stronger hand to order up, make, or adopt a trump in three-handed Euchre than in either the four-handed or two-handed games.
In three-handed Euchre the deal is decided by cutting, as in every other form of Euchre. The deal is made to the left, giving to each player in turn two cards and then three, or three and then two.
The eldest hand must lead, and each of the other two players must play a card to that led. The three cards thus played constitute a trick.
If the player ordering up, making, or adopting the trump takes three or four tricks only, he is entitled to score one point.
If such a player fails to take three points, he is euchred; and his opponents are entitled to score two points each.
If such a player takes all five of the tricks, he has made a march, and is entitled to score three points. Some authority's hold that a march in three-handed Euchre should count only two points, but the best usage of to-day allows three points for a march; and as that compensation seems to me to be both logical and just, I embody it here.
The joker can be and is often used in three-handed Euchre. Laps and slams, however, are not commendable, because they make the complicated and constantly changing interests of the game too complex and cumbersome.
In all other particulars the rules of the regular four-handed game of Euchre govern the three-handed game.