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The game of Euchre

By John W. Keller, 1887

Last update on: Dec 21, 2016

Laps, Slams,Jambone, + Jamboree - CHAPTER 5

Various innovations have crept into the game of Euchre from time to time, some of which have become decidedly popular, while others have perished from inherent weakness. The phase of the game known as "Laps and Slams" obtains largely in the southern part of the United States, and has many admirers on account of the fact that any and all points in excess of one game are counted on the next. In a long contest at Euchre, where laps and slams are played, no point is lost; and therefore a temporary run of unusually good luck benefits the winning side more than it would in a series of ordinary games.

The lap, as has been defined, means simply the addition to a new game of any and all points in excess of the number necessary to the completion of the preceding game. For instance, if one side needs only one point to complete the game, and it should make two, the extra point is not lost as in the ordinary game, but is counted on the next game. So, too, if a player should play alone, and make four points under the circumstances mentioned, he would have the right to count three points on the next game. - As the lap game is a specialty in Euchre, it cannot be played unless all the players have agreed to play it prior to the opening of the game. Its relation to Euchre is similar to that of jackpots to Poker, and it is not recognized in the regular game. The lap game may be played by two, three, or four people, and the rules of the regular game as already given govern it.

With the lap is generally, if not always, found the slam. The latter is the rather appropriate term used to designate the fact that one side has won a game, while the other has failed to make a point. This feat entitles the victors to count the slam as two games. Laps are played in conjunction with slams; and, if a side should make a point or points more than are necessary to complete the slam, such point or points may be counted on the next game. For instance, if a side needed but one point to complete a slam, and should make that point by a march or euchre, it would be entitled to count the extra point on the next game, and to count its slam as - two games. And if but one point were needed to complete a slam, and that point should be made by the successful playing of a lone hand, the extra three points should be counted on the next game.

It has been held by some writers on Euchre, that in a game of laps and slams four points should be counted when a player attempting a lone hand is euchred. For my part, I cannot see the justice of this in laps and slams any more than in the regular game. In the former, four players are engaged as in the latter, and a lone player in the former has no more chances of success than a lone player in the latter. Why, then, should his defeat in laps and slams count more points for his opponents than his defeat in the regular game? In each he puts his single hand against the combined strength of his opponents; in each the chances of success or defeat are the same, and in each the penalty of failure should be the same. I have shown that the penalty of a lone player failing to capture three tricks in the regular game, should be two points for his opponents. And I certainly think, that, in view of the similarity of the conditions, such a failure in a game of laps and slams should be penalized with only two points for the opponents of the lone player.


Jambone and jamboree properly belong to the variation of Euchre known as Laps and Slams. They are not found in the regular four-handed game, and really have but little to recommend them. In playing a jambone, the player's hand must be laid face upwards on the table. If the lead happens to belong to the jambone player, the opponent immediately at his left has a right to designate what card the jambone player shall lead, and the latter must lead that card. If it happens to be the opponent's lead, the player having the lead may call any card from the jambone hand into the trick, provided no revoke is made; and the jambone player must obey.

Under these conditions, if the jambone player takes all five tricks, he is entitled to score eight points.

For example, if a player should find in his hand both bowers, the ace, king, and ten of the trump turned or made, and the conditions of the game permitted him to play a lone hand, he could declare to play jambone, and would immediately spread his hand face upwards on the table so as to be plainly seen by his opponents. Now, if it were the jambone player's lead, and the player to his left were to hold the queen of trumps, this player to the left could demand that the jambone player lead the ten of trumps, and the demand would have to be complied with. Or, if it were the opponent's lead, and the eldest hand held the queen of trumps, this eldest hand could lead that card, and command the jambone player to play his ten of trumps to it, and the jambone player would have to comply; and so, in all cases, the eldest hand of the opponents has this privilege of calling one card from the jambone player's hand, provided no revoke is made thereby.

If the jambone player loses one trick, although he makes all the rest, he can count but one point.

A player may play jambone only when he orders up, takes up, or makes the trump; or when his partner assists, orders up, or makes the trump. He cannot play jambone with a trump he has passed, or with a trump whose making he has passed. Nor can he play jambone after a lead has been made. In short, the time for jambone-playing is governed by the laws governing "playing alone," which see.

A jambone hand cannot be played when the opposing side orders up or makes the trump.

When the jambone player has the lead, only the opponent immediately on his left has the right to say which of the exposed cards shall be led.

The right to call one of the exposed cards is forfeited when any information is conveyed between the opponents whereby a trick may be won. This applies to signs or any suggestion of speech.

No call can be made after the first trick has been played. After that, the jambone player may play his hand as he pleases.

If the dealer should play jambone, and should find that the trump turned was weaker than any card in his hand, he need not discard. But the turned-up card will indicate what trumps are.

The player calling a card from the jambone hand must call it immediately he leads, or else forfeit the right to call. If the jambone player has the lead, the player having the right to call must call before a card is played, or else forfeit his right to call. In the case of forfeiture of the call, the jambone player has the right to play any card he chooses.

If the jambone player fails to take three tricks, he is euchred, and his opponents are entitled to score eight points.

Jambone playing requires nice judgment, considerable skill, and exceptionally strong cards.

In playing against a jambone hand, it is always well to call the weakest card in the exposed hand to the first trick, and thereby give your partner an opportunity to beat it, even if you cannot do it yourself; for once that the jambone player gets the lead, he will play his invincible cards so as to swallow up everything.


Jamboree is the combination in one hand of the five highest cards in Euchre; viz., the two bowers, ace, king and queen of trumps. It is not necessary to play a jamboree hand, for it is invincible. The mere announcement of the fact that a player holds such a hand is sufficient; and if he claims jamboree before a lead is made, and then shows his hand, he is entitled to score sixteen points.

If a player holding a jamboree hand should play it as a jambone hand, he can score only eight points. It is not probable that any one aware of the character of his hand, however, would do this.

Jamboree, like jambone, cannot be played as jamboree, when the opposing side orders up or makes the trump. The combination forming such a hand must, under these circumstances, be played as an ordinary Euchre hand. Of course it will take all the tricks, and the opposing side will be euchred; but two points are all that may be counted.

In the game of laps and slams it is possible to make a very large score with a single hand. For instance, if one side has made four points, and the other side has made none, and a player of the side having the four points plays a jamboree hand, he is entitled to count eight games for that play. The reasoning of this is as follows: The side of the jamboree player already had four points; the score for the jamboree is sixteen points; these added to the four already obtained, make twenty points, or four five-point games. But the opposing side had no points; and, as the game of laps and slams allows any game to be counted as two when the opposing side has failed to score a point, the four games thus obtained may be counted as eight. Such a contingency as this, however, is not likely to occur often, although it is always possible.

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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