Blocking or donating is the term commonly used for when you order up trump to your opponents knowing there is little chance of making a point. It is a strategy both loved and hated, but is an essential tool in the arsenal of winning euchre players. It is commonly employed by many of the best players. Blocking has been around perhaps as long as euchre itself: there is talk of it in some of the earliest texts about euchre.
The one and the only reason to call a block is to stop an opponent from going alone and making 4 points. Although it may seem odd to be ordering up your opponents when you know you are going to be euchred, it is a common tactic. When applied properly, donating can make the difference between winning and losing a game. The trick is to know when to call a block. If it is over-used or not done correctly it will cost you points and maybe even the game. Knowing when to effectively employ this strategy comes with experience, but here are some general guidelines to help you get started.
1) If the score is 9 to 6 or 9 to 7 in your favor and your team is not dealing, a block is almost mandatory. The only time a block is not required would be when you have a lone stopped in the turned-up suit. This means if that you're holding the right, the left protected, or an ace protected (i.e.: A-X-X). When blocking, the worst that will happen is you will give your opponents two points. At this score, if they go out on a lone it's too late, you've already lost. But by blocking, you are still in the game and will have the next deal, and a 70% chance of making that crucial last point.
2) There are many times you may want to block at lower scores. Like when a jack is turned up and you only hold low cards with either no trump or possibly one or two low trump. Generally speaking, a higher turn-up card indicates a higher probability of a lone call by the dealer.
3) Think about blocking when you hold a lay down lone (or something close) in the opposite color of the suit as the turn-up. It has been said, "if there is one lone out there, then there is likely another as well". This is especially true when a jack is turned up.
4) When considering a block, think about the score, if they make a lone, how much would that hurt you? What would giving up two points do? It is the lesser of two evils.
5) Think about blocking when you have a large lead and want to protect that lead from a possible lone call.
1) You should not block from the third seat, it is the job of your partner (in first seat) to block. To block from third seat is the same as telling your partner you don't trust his ability to play the hand. Blocking from both seats will also cause your team to call far too many blocks, thus giving away points unnecessarily.
2) Blocking is normally not a good idea at scores of 7 - 7, as you could be just giving them the advantage.
3) Generally, it is not advisable to block at low scores like 0 - 1.
4) It is generally not advisable to block when you are losing. Your opponents are already ahead in points, don't help them by giving them more points.
1) Most experienced players agree that when calling a block the best card to lead is a trump. By leading trump, this will remove them from your opponent's hand and may give your team a chance to squeeze out a point.
2) Remember: this is a tactical move based on very little information of card distribution. Leading trump is the best way to win a point if your partner happens to have a good hand.
* As with most strategies in euchre, these guidelines are not absolute. Use your experience and intuitions guide you.
Blocking may be used a form of communication.
Anytime you are playing with a partner that is known to block, especially 6 or 7 points to 9, you should realize they are communicating that they have one sure trick in their hand. What does this mean to you? Let's say you also had two fairly certain tricks in your hand. Armed with this information, you have a high probability of making a point. Go ahead and name trump.
A final bit of advice: if someone blocks you, think about discarding one of your boss cards to keep a sure losing trick. Let them think they called a block for nothing.