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The game of Euchre

By John W. Keller, 1887

Last update on: Dec 21, 2016

Helpful Pointers - CHAPTER 10

Always make a definite agreement, before the game begins, as to the form of Euchre you are to play. This will prevent misunderstandings and discussions after the game begins.

Always pay close attention to the game. It will not only make you a good player, but a desirable one. Nothing is so tedious and annoying as a person at a Euchre table, who never knows what the trump is, whose lead it is, what was led, etc.

In two-handed Euchre, always lead your strongest trumps first until you have taken two tricks. Then if your adversary has not refused your trump suit, and you have a third trump left, hold that trump in your hand, unless it is the best trump out, and lead your strongest lay card. But if your adversary has refused trumps, then continue to lead your trumps as long as they last. For instance, if you have ordered up the trump on the two bowers and the king, and your adversary has followed suit to both your bowers, do not lead the king; for he may have the ace, and in that event would take the trick, gain the lead, and probably euchre you. Lead one of your lay cards, and thus force him to trump. More players have been euchred by attempting to make marches on hands that were good for three tricks, but not for five, than from any other cause. Be content with one sure point, or else you may be euchred in attempting to make two that are uncertain.

In the two-handed game the deal is considered as being equal to a point. Therefore you are reasonably safe in taking up the trump on almost any hand that is not worthless on its face.

In three-handed Euchre, remember that the player who orders up, adopts, or makes the trump has to play against the combined strength of his adversaries. Therefore it requires a practical lone hand to order up, adopt, or make the trump in this form of the game.

In four-handed Euchre, never trump your partner's winning cards. Throw away your poor cards on them.

Ordinarily do not order up a trump unless you are reasonably certain that you can make three tricks. But if the game stands four and four, and you are the eldest or third hand, and in your cards there is no chance of making a more satisfactory trump than the one turned up, order up the trump. For, if the trump should be turned down, you would be just as badly off as before; whereas, if you ordered up the trump, and were euchred, your adversaries would do no more than they would in the event of your allowing them to make the trump.

If you have the position of eldest hand, and hold both bowers and another large trump of the suit turned up by the dealer, and at the same time one or two cards in the same color as the trump suit, pass. For, if the dealer should take up the trump, you can euchre him; and if he should turn it down, you have the first opportunity and a strong hand to make the trump.

When your side has four points, and you are reasonably certain of making one point, always order up.

When you occupy the position of third player, do not order up unless you have a strong hand; for your partner has shown weakness by passing. Besides this, if the trump should be turned down, your partner will have the first chance to make the trump.

Always assist when you are reasonably certain of winning two tricks. When the game is close, and nearly ended, assist on a weaker hand; for the eldest hand has shown weakness by passing.

Consider. the condition of the game before taking up a trump on anything but a strong hand. If the dealer's side should have four points, and his opponents but one or two, he might turn down the trump without materially injuring his chances of winning the game. But if the reverse were the score, the dealer would be warranted in taking up the trump on a comparatively weak hand. If the game stands four and four, it is better to take up the trump than to give your opponents a chance to make it. But if the game stands three and three, be very careful about taking up the trump; for a euchre would lose you the game.

In making the trump, if you are the eldest hand, always make it next in suit to the card turned down if you can possibly do so, and thereby do justice to your hand. The reason for this is, that both your adversaries have shown weakness in the suit turned up, and therefore it is probable that they have neither bower of the next suit. Of course, if you have a strong hand in a cross suit, play that suit.

If you are the dealer's partner, and have a chance to make the trump, cross the suit from that turned down. For, if the dealer had had either of the bowers of the turned-down suit, he would probably have taken up the trump. Being obviously weak in both the suit he turned down and the next suit, his strength, if he has any, must be in the cross suit.

Ordinarily, if you hold the eldest hand, and a red card is turned down, make the trump red; if it is black, make it black. If you are the dealer's partner, make the trump black when a red card is turned down, and vice versa.

Be careful about making the trump when your adversaries have three points, for a euchre will put them out.

In discarding, put away your odd cards. For instance, if you hold in your hand the ace and seven of hearts and the king of spades, all lay cards, throwaway the king; for there is no certainty of its taking a trick. But the ace guards the seven, and being led might exhaust the heart suit, which would leave the seven good.

If you have three cards to discard from, two of one suit and one of another, discard the single card, so as to give your trumps better scope.

If you have but two cards to discard from, and they are both of the same denomination, but different color, - tens, for example, - retain the one that is the same color as the trump that you are adopting; for it is probable that your adversaries are stronger in the cross suits, and therefore more likely to capture the cross-suit card.

The lead is always important.

If you hold commanding cards, no matter what your position may be, lead them at your first opportunity, so as to make a march; on the other hand, if you are only strong enough to make a point, lead your other cards.

If you are the eldest hand, and the dealer's partner assists, it is sometimes well to lead a trump, as such a play may exhaust the dealer's hand of trumps, and leave him to the mercy of a strong suit of lay cards. The eldest hand, however, must judge from the strength of his lay cards, whether or not he will do this.

If the dealer voluntarily adopts the trump, the eldest hand should lead anything but trumps.

When your partner makes the trump, or takes it up, always lead him the best trump you have, and as soon as you possibly can.

If your partner should have the right bower turned, lead a small trump as soon as you can.

When opposed to a lone hand, lead your best lay card. This will prevent your partner from retaining the same suit as yourself.

In playing a lone hand, always lead your commanding trump cards first. If you hold only enough commanding trumps to make two tricks, and then hold a small trump and two lay cards, lead one of your best lay cards. If this wins, then follow with your trump.

When you have three small trumps and commanding lay cards, and wish to euchre your opponents, lead your trumps.

Never play to win the lead when your partner has made or adopted the trump, unless you have enough commanding cards to make a march.

If you have lost the first two tricks, and secured the third, and hold a trump and a lay card, lead the trump, as it is your only chance either to make or save a euchre. However, if your partner has adopted the trump, or you have assisted him, and he still holds the trump card in his hand, you should lead the lay card instead of the trump, trusting to your partner to trump it, unless your trump should be larger than your partner's, and your lay card should be an ace or a king. In that case, lead your trump, and trust to your large lay card to win the last trick.

In playing lone hands, the eldest hand and the dealer have the best of it, because it is an advantage in playing alone to have the lead, or to have the last play on the first trick. Therefore the eldest hand and dealer may attempt to play alone on weaker hands than the other players.

When an opponent, playing alone, trumps a suit played by either you or your partner, throw away all cards of that suit at every chance you have.

In opposing a lone hand, if your partner throws away high cards of any suit, retain your best card of that suit unless it be at the sacrifice of an ace; for you may be sure your partner is holding high cards of another suit.

When your side is one, and your opponents are four, you can afford to attempt to play alone on a weaker hand than if the score were more even.

If your partner orders up, adopts, or makes the trump, and you hold either bower alone, trump with it at the first opportunity. When you cannot follow suit or trump, throw away your weakest cards.

If your partner leads a lay ace, do not trump it.

When playing second, consider well before you trump a small lay card, as your partner will probably be able to take the trick.

When you hold a card next above the turn-up card, your partner assisting, trump with it the first opportunity.

As third player, always trump with medium cards or better, as this forces the high trumps of the dealer.

The "bridge" is something of which every Euchre player should know. It is that condition of the game when one side has made four points and the other but one, with the deal in the hands of the weaker side. Under these conditions it is the duty of the eldest hand to order up the trump if he is not strong enough to prevent the successful playing of a lone hand. To prevent a lone hand, a right bower or a left bower guarded is necessary. If the eldest hand has neither of these, he must order up the trump and submit to a euchre. The theory of this rule is, that it is better to lose two points by a euchre under the condition of the score, than to take the chance of either of the opponents playing a lone hand and winning the game. For if the opponents did make a euchre, the score would then stand four to three in favor of the eldest hand, and as he would have the next deal, its parentage would probably give him the necessary point to complete the victory. If the eldest hand can prevent the successful playing of a lone hand, however, he should always pass, unless his hand should be strong enough to order up the trump and make the point needed. If the eldest hand should pass at "the bridge," his partner will know that he is strong enough to prevent a lone hand. Therefore if the partner of the eldest hand should have a reasonably strong hand, he should order up the trump, but not otherwise. Generally it will be found that the eldest hand should order up at the bridge, and that the weaker his hand the more urgent the necessity of his ordering up.

These points are familiar to everybody that has made a study of Euchre, but they are none the less valuable for that; and while they may seem trite to old players, they will prove of the greatest benefit to beginners. Some people hold very justly that excellence in card-playing comes only with practical experience. I am as firm a believer in that doctrine as anyone, but at the same time I think that the novice who carefully reads the fundamental principles and studies the laws of Euchre as given here will have received such a start towards that excellence in playing, as could not have been otherwise acquired in anything like so short a time.

Chapter 1 - Origin of Euchre

Chapter 2 - description

Chapter 3 - Technical Terms

Chapter 4 - Rules of Euchre

Chapter 5 - Laps, Slams, Jambone, Jamboree

Chapter 6 - Railroad Euchre

Chapter 7 - Two and Three-Handed Euchre

Chapter 8 - Progressive Euchre

Chapter 9 - Miscellaneous Variations

Chapter 10 - Points

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