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The American Card Player section-4

The origin of euchre
By William Brisbane 1866, Pages 57 - 81

Last update on: Dec 21, 2016


As to what constitute sufficient force of cards to take the trump up, is a matter of considerable importance to the player. The purpose being to make a point, of course there must be a reasonable probability of securing three tricks, and this probability should be made, to a certain extent, dependent upon the position of the game. If the dealer should be three or four on the score, while the opponents are one or two, the deal might be passed by turning the trump down, and still the chances of gaining the game be not materially reduced; but if the position should be reversed, why then the dealer would be warranted in attempting the hazard upon a light hand, as the prospects of defeat with the deal in his favor would be no greater than the percentage of the same against him. Of course, any player would know that his success would be beyond peradventure, if holding both Bowers and the Ace; but the moment you attempt to point out what anything less would avail, you depart from the scope of argument, predicated upon substantial bases, to the unsubstantial realms of hypotheses. Anything less than both Bowers and the Ace might be Euchred, and the plodding player who exhausted his time in the search of absolute certainty might be beaten a hundred times by the cards which he had rejected. It is generally accepted as "sound doctrine," that three trumps - two of them being Court Cards, backed by a Lay Ace - is sufficient to attempt a point. The player must note the state of the game, and act accordingly. If the game stand four and four, it is better for you to take up the trump on a small hand than leave it to your adversaries to make. Suppose the game is three and three, you should be very careful of adopting the trump on a weak hand, because a Euchre puts your opponents out.


No prudent player will "order" the trump unless he holds enough to render his chances of success beyond reasonable doubt. There are times and positions of the game when, however, there would be no imprudence in ** ordering" up upon a light hand; for instance, supposing the game to stand four and four, the dealer turns the trump, and either the eldest or third hand has an ordinary good show of cards, with nothing better of another suit, there it would be proper to ** order up," for, should the trump be turned down, your chances of success would be lost, and in case you are Euchred, it would but give the game to those who would win it anyhow at another suit.

If the position of the player is eldest hand, and a suit should be turned, in which he receives both Bowers and another large trump, and he has also two cards of the corresponding suit in color, it would clearly be his policy to pass, for the obvious reason, that if the dealer's partner should assist, he would be enabled to Euchre the opposing side, and, if the trump were turned down, his hand would be just as good in the next suit; and having the first opportunity of making the trump, he could go it alone, with every probability of making the hand and scoring four.

Should the eldest hand hold the Eight Bower, Ace, or King, and another small trump, and a card of the same color as the trump suit, it would be good play to pass; for if your adversaries adopt the trump, you will, in all probability, Euchre them; and if they reject it, you can make the trump next in suit, and the chances of scoring a point are in your favor.

When you are at four, and hold commanding trumps sufficient to make a sure point, order up, particularly if you are eldest hand, for then you will take your opponent's deal.

As a general rule the eldest hand should not order up the trump unless he has good commanding cards, say. Right Bower, King and Ten of trumps, with a lay ace of a different color, or Left Bower, King, and two numerical trumps. The player at the right of the dealer should hold a very strong hand to order up the trump, because his partner has evidenced weakness by passing, and if the opposing side turn down the trump, his partner has the first say to make a new trump.


In case the dealer turns the trump down, the eldest hand has the privilege of making it what he pleases, and the rule to be generally followed is, if possible, to Dutch it, i.e., to make it next in suit, or the same color of the trump turned. The reason for this is very evident. If Diamonds should be the trump turned, and the dealer refuse to take it up, it would be a reasonable supposition that neither of the Bowers were in the hands of your opponents; for if the dealer's partner had held one of them, he would in all probability, have assisted; and the fact of its being turned down by the dealer also, raises the presumption that he had neither of them. Then, in the absence of either Bower, an otherwise weak hand could make the point in the same color. For reverse reasons, the partner of the dealer would cross the suit, and make it Clubs or Spades; as his partner had evidenced weakness in the red suits, by turning a red card down, it would be but fair to presume that his strength was in the black.

Be careful how you make the trump when your adversaries have scored three points, and, as a general rule, do not make or order up a trump unless you are eldest hand.


"Assisting" is where your partner is the dealer, and, with the help of the card he has turned trump, you deem your hand sufficient to take three tricks. In other words, suppose the Ace of Hearts to be turned, and you hold the Left Bower and King: you say to your partner, "I assist," and then he is obliged to take up the Ace turned, and discard, the same as though he had taken it up voluntarily. Two Court Cards is considered a good "assisting" hand; but where the game is very close, of course it is advisable to assist, even upon a lighter hand; for if the game stands four and four, the first hand will "order up," if the card turned is the best in his hand, and therefore the fact of his passing would be an evidence of weakness.

When assisted by your partner, and you hold a card next in denomination to the card turned up (whether higher or lower,) play it as opportunity offers. For instance, if you turn up the Ace, and hold either the left Bower or King, when a chance occurs play the Bower or King, and thus inform your partner that you have the Ace remaining. The same policy should be adopted when your partner assists and you have a sequence of three trumps, the trump card being the smallest of the three, in such a situation invariably play the highest card of the sequence this will inform your partner that you hold the balance of the sequence, and with this knowledge he can shape his play to suit circumstances. Supposing the King is turned up and you hold the Queen and Ten spot, when an occasion presents itself, play the Queen, and if your partner is au fait at the game he will know you have the ten spot in your hand.

As a general rule, always assist when you can take two tricks.

The American Card Player

* Index *

Section - 1

Section - 2

Section - 3

Section - 4

Section - 5

Section - 6

Section - 7

Section - 8 - 2 handed euchre

Section - 9 - 3 handed euchre

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