Railroad Euchre, So called from the rapidity with which its points are made, is one of the most popular variations of the game. Indeed, it is so well liked by card-players in general that it has, to a large extent, superseded the older and more conservative form of Euchre that has already been described in this book.
Thirty-three cards are necessary for the game of Railroad Euchre. These are the thirty-two cards of an ordinary Euchre pack, and an extra card known as the joker. In some packs the joker is simply a blank card, while in others it is marked with a suitable device.
The joker, or imperial trump as it is sometimes called, is always the best trump, no matter what suit may be turned. It beats the right bower, and consequently takes any trick in which it may be played.
But there are also other points of difference between Railroad Euchre and the regular game. In the first place, the number of points constituting a game may be fixed by agreement at ten, instead of five as regularly.
If a player elects to play alone, he has the right to call for the best card in his partner's hand; and his partner can give him such a card without letting the opponents see it, or in any way know what it is. Of course when the lone player receives this card from his partner, he must discard one card from his own hand, so as to have only five cards in hand when the play begins.
When a player has declared to play alone, and has received his partner's best card, either of his opponents may demand the other opponent's best card, and play single-handed against the lone player.
If, under these conditions, the lone player fails to make three tricks, he is euchred; and the opposing side counts four points.
If the lone player takes all the tricks, he is entitled to score four points, as in the regular game. If he makes only three or four tricks, he can score but one point.
If the joker should be turned up as a trump, the dealer must turn up the next card; and the suit of this next card must determine the trump. But, in discarding, the dealer has the right to take the joker in hand, provided his side adopts the trump, or the opposing side orders it up. But while he can take the joker, he cannot also take in hand the other trump card turned up, as the dealer has but one discard, and cannot play with more or less than five cards in his hand.
Laps, slams, jambone, and jamboree are also played in Railroad Euchre, but only when agreed upon prior to the beginning of the game. Laps, slams, jambone, and jamboree are not recognized in either regular Euchre or Railroad Euchre unless by agreement; that is, no one expects to play them unless they are mentioned. Figuratively they are the frills on the substantial shirt-front of Euchre, and must be ordered if they are to exist.
In all other particulars the laws of the regular game of Euchre govern Railroad Euchre.
As may readily be judged, the addition of the joker and the privilege of calling for a partner's best card make attempts at playing alone very frequent and very fascinating. Indeed, playing alone occurs more often in Railroad than in any other form of Euchre.
And as the possibilities of playing alone increase, so does the importance of ordering up the trump increase. For instance, if the dealer's side has scored one or two points, and the dealer turns up the right bower or the joker, and the eldest hand is too weak to prevent the successful playing of a lone hand, it might be well for the eldest hand to order up the trump, as such action on his part would prevent a lone hand, although it would almost certainly result in a euchre. But as a euchre counts only two points, and a lone hand counts four, and therefore would win the game, the economy of such a movement becomes apparent. Some players hold this to be good Euchre, while others prefer to take the chance of the partner of the eldest hand being able to balk the playing alone of either the dealer or his partner. But as the holder of the eldest hand has nothing but his own cards to judge from, it is probably safer in the long run to order up the trump, and stand the consequent euchre.