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Why should you count trump?

To give you the advantage needed to win a game.


Last update on: Feb 01, 2019

A group of us were talking euchre at one of our weekly games. Someone brought up the subject of counting trump. One player stated that they never count trump. I asked around and was very surprised to find out that very few count trump. The players I talked to said it was just too hard to remember.

To be a successful, a player needs every possible tool available. You hold an advantage when you know what cards are out against you. Counting trump allows you to guess with a fair amount of certainty what trump others hold. Once you learn to count trump, you will find yourself being euchred less. Calling and making thin calls becomes easier. As an added bonus, there will be many hands where 2-points are possible. In short, you will win more games.

So how do I get started?

As all players know, there are the six natural trump, plus the jack of the opposite color for a total of 7. It is best to think all trump are out in any given hand. More often than not, this will be the case.


The first and easiest thing to remember is the turn-up card. After each hand is dealt, make a mental note of the cards rank and suit. If the card is picked up, you then know where 1 trump is. Even if the card is turned-down, it will still be helpful to remember what it was. Watch to see when the turn-card is played as it may give you an idea of how many trump the dealer holds. Once you know the turn-card, it's time to think about the rest.

We start by counting how many trump are played in each hand. Make a mental note of this number and try to keep a running total in your head. Count only the trump that have hit the table, do not include the ones in your hand yet.

Let's say you call holding three trump, a trump is led and everyone follows suit. That would make four trump played. With the two in your hand, you have a total six known trump. This means there is still one that may work against you. In many instances, it should be possible to guess who has the last trump. If that last card is in the kitty, it should become obvious after a couple of cards are played.

Counting trump is a learned skill and it does take some practice. Don't expect to remember everything when you first start. As you get better at remembering how many trump are out, then it is time to remember what trump have been played. Focus on the right and left bower first. Then add the ace to your list. I wouldn't worry too much about which of the smaller trump have been played as in most hands once the three top have been played, many of these will be gone also. It is enough to know if one of these smaller trump remains in play.

Remember, this skill does not come naturally, it takes practice and paying close attention to what cards were played.

Now, it's time to move on to the others suits. Most times, it is enough to remember if a suit was played. This will come in handy when trying to decide the potential of that suit being trumped. As you improve, it's also helpful to remember if you hold any of the remaining boss cards in your hand. Let's say you hold a king - ten combination. Once the ace has been played your king is boss. It's much harder to remember what's played in a suit that you do not hold but it is possible. By paying close attention to the cards played, you will have a better understanding of how to play out your hand.

There are very few people that can remember all 24 cards (and those that can are most likely playing Black Jack and not euchre), but by practicing every time you play, it is possible to learn to remember the top cards. The more you practice the easier it gets. You will find this gives you an advantage over the other players.

Counting trump and paying attention to the cards played go hand in hand.




Suggested Further Reading:

What Card should I Lead? page 1
Help me understand what card to lead

Our series of 10 lessons on how to play.
A Self-Study Course in Euchre

The Ten Commandments of Euchre
compiled in 2000 A.D. by Harvey Lapp

Our series of articles for the advanced player
A complete listing of our euchre articles

Why you should count trump?
For an advantage over other players

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