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The Law and Practice of the Game of Euchre (1862)

Last update on: Dec 21, 2016


"There's a game much in fashion
I think It's called Euchre,
(Though I never have played it, for pleasure or lucre,")

The addition of the Lap, Slam, and Jambone, to the game of Euchre is comparatively a modern institution, and is esteemed by competent judges - "the choice and master spirits of this age" -as one of the grand inventions of the present refined state of society - a result of the advanced condition of civilization. We have indeed encountered some few players, but of indifferent skill, who decline to sanction this pleasing variation of the game, and persistently insist in their opposition to the Lap -which is counting all the points won over five to the next game - declaring that you might as well score all the points won over the number constituting the game at Whist, or at any other game of cards; and adhere most rigidly to the fixed fact that one game is only one game, no matter how many points above the number of which it consists. This is very good logic when applied to most games, but it is inapplicable to our; and this opposition to the Lap constitutes the principal objection to the Jambone. But this very practice thus objected to, we affectionately cherish as one of the most interesting features of our pet game. Alas for a difference in taste! So many men, so many minds - We heard it once alleged that people do exist who even object to playing cards. "Tell it not in Gath" And then this variation of the old mode of playing the game of euchre adds so immensely to the amusement of the play - the purpose, we opine for which the game was invented - and has such a cheering influence on a despondent player's downcast heart, to whom ill-luck has been obstinately running, by giving him the hope - "gay hope by fancy fed" - that if fortune - "the hood- wink'd goddess" - will once again smile upon him he may be enabled, by a few brilliant coups, to retrieve his sad reverses. And our game is, in truth, so essentially variant in many points of play from all other games, that this objection to the Lap, Slam, and Jambone, cannot be fairly urged against it, and this mode of play is as fair for one party as the other. So what's the odds, as long as we're happy. We confess to never yet having encountered a first-class player who did not pronounce the Lap an eminently pleasing addition to the game.

Permit us to instance a case, more clearly to illustrate our meaning. Suppose a' player, ardent as ecclesiastical zeal, at the score of four -though not four score, for the zeal's 8ake - perceives, on examination of the cards dealt to him, that he holds a sure lone hand, and all the other players pass to him. If he is to be deprived of the privilege of playing that hand Alone, and of counting the four points which he wins, as he most assuredly would be were he not allowed to Lap the superfluous three points to the next game, such deprivation would cause him to be depressed in spirits for a week - as wretched a youth as if he had been entangled in the meshes of the tender passion and suffered disappointment. "these little things are great to little men."

But, as an agreeable man is one who agrees, and who delights to obviate difficulties, it would be advisable before sitting down to play with persons who have never previously entered the lists to together, for one player to make himself agreeable by inquiring if this manner of playing the game is to be adopted; and, if the proposition gives rise to any difference of opinion affecting the merits, we most sincerely hope that its expression may not prove to be so tedious to either party as this preamble of ours.

The Lap

The Lap then is simply counting upon the score of the ensuing game all the points made over and above the five, of which the game consists. For example: if one party, having scored four points towards game, should Euchre their opponents, or should win all five tricks, either of which events entitles them to two points, they therefore not only win that game, but are permitted to score the superfluous point as one in the next game. Or, if a player, at the score of four, Plays Alone and wins the five tricks, he counts the three points over to the next game.

The Slam

Slam," or Love-game, is a term common to many games of cards, and implies that, when a party win the game, before their opponents have made one point, that game is deemed to be a double-game, and must be reckoned as two games. Suppose a player, at the score of four, and his opponents are counting nothing, and he Plays Alone and wins the five tricks, which counts his side four additional points-eight in all - he wins that game, which reckons as two games, and he is permitted to transfer "the extra three-by means of the Lap-to the next game, and feels that he has accomplished a good thing.

"alone I did it." We can trace no analogy between the terms slam, and Love-game, which have the identical signification, however at cards, without indecorously alluding to our own. and neighbors street doors, and agitated exits; and so, prudently refrain.

The Jambone

Jambone is a euphonic term, of difficult Etymology. But-"What's in a name?"

Whatever its derivation may have been, however, it is now used to express the intention of a player to Play Alone, with his cards exposed on the table. Thus, if a player, examining the cards distributed to him by the dealer, finds that he holds cards of such estimable worth that he is confident of winning the five tricks, he announces, when his turn, that, he will play Jambone, and spreads his cards out in a line before him, on the table, with their faces turned up to view. When the cards are exposed by the Jambone player in this manner, the player entitled to the lead commences the round, and has the right to call one of the cards so exposed, to be played to the first trick. But this right to call a card belongs only to that adversary who has the right to lead, or to play first, for if the partner of that adversary gives any intimation to his associate which would enable the two together to win the first trick, they thereby forfeit their right to the call, and the Jambone player may then play whichever card he chooses to the first trick. If the Jambone player is successful in gaining the whole five tricks, - under this disadvantage of showing the opponents his cards, and of giving the elder in hand the right to name one of the cards so exposed to be played on the first trick, - he is entitled to count eight points.

Jambone may be played by any player under the same restrictions which regulate Playing Alone.

If the adverse party order up, or make the trump, a player holding a Jambone hand can-not be permitted to play it as such, and he must be content simply to win a Euchre with it.

If the Jambone player is entitled to the lead, then his left-hand adversary has the right to call one of the exposed cards as the lead.

If the first trick under these circum stances is won by the Jambone player, the play proceeds in the usual course ; and if the Jambone player then wins only the majority of the five tricks, he scores but one point towards game, as in Playing Alone.

The opponent, entitled to call, has the right to call but one card only, and that card to the first trick played, and the Jambone player is entitled to play his other four cards according to his own judgment.

If the eldest-hand, opposed to the dealer playing the Jambone, leads a suit which the Jambone player can trump, and calls, on leading, the smallest trump in the open hand, if his partner can also trump the suit with a higher trump they of course win that trick, for the Jambone player is compelled to play the card called, when not inconsistent with the system of play. But let us illustrate this point. Suppose the dealer plays a Jambone hand, and clubs are trumps, and in the open hand he shows the Bowers, Ace, and ten of trumps, with the Ace of hearts. The eldest-hand has three diamonds, with no trump, and leads one of them, hoping, as he has so many, his partner may be able to trump it also, and calls the ten of trumps from the Jambone hand. His partner haying the Queen of trumps, with no diamond, wins the trick. The Jambone player would not have the option, in this case, after the Queen was played, to throw away his Ace of hearts, in lieu of the ten of trumps, but must always play the called card.

Should the Jambone player fail to win three tricks, it is not yet known what measure of corporal punishment ought to be inflicted upon him, but his adversaries, at all events, would be entitled to count eight points.

The dealer, possessing the right to discard, or, in other words, having six cards with the privilege of putting out one of them, more often holds a Jambone hand than either of the other players. He is never compelled to use, or take in, the card turned up for trump, if he should be so fortunate as not to require it, for then the turn up card only serves to indicate the trump suit, and he may decline to discard. The player calling the card to the first trick should call it at the moment he leads, or if the lead belongs to the Jambone player, his opponent entitled to the call must call before he plays, for if the opponent's partner plays his card before the player who has the right to call has called, the right to the call becomes forfeited, and the Jambone player may then play any card he chooses to the first trick.

A few examples of the play, by way of illustration, may define our positions more clearly. Suppose, then, the dealer, concluding the deal, turns up the Ace of spades. The other players pass, or his partner may assist, and, examining his cards, he is delighted to behold the two black Bowers, with the Queen and ten of trumps, and a card of a lay suit. He immediately announces the Jambone, discarding the lay card. He then turns up his cards on the table, in a line before him, and is confident of success -naturally, as the chances in favor of the King of trumps not being out against him are so mighty multitudinous that it would be quite unnecessary to enter into a calculation of them - even if he could. But the fickle goddess, bless her heart! does not invariably bestow all her favors on one individual -we love to say it - for the eldest-hand does, curiously enough, - oh, the capriciousness of luck! - hold the identical King of trumps. He leads that King, of course, with a smile of gratitude, announcing in a winning manner - bland as the breath of spring -that he calls the Queen, which the dealer is compelled to play to the King after the eldest-hand's partner has followed to the lead, and the Jambone player loses that trick. Although he wins the other four tricks, he is only entitled to count one point, as previously stated. If the dealer had played that hand alone, simply, of course he would have won every trick, and secured four points; but the chances of winning all eight points were do seductive that it was impossible not to make the hazard; for nothing venture, nothing nothing gain, is pre-eminently, a maxim of Euchre. Had the eldest hand not been the lucky holder of the king, but had held in lieu of his majesty, an indifferent trump, of, in fact any trump, it then would have been his imperative duty to have led it, calling the Queen or the ten, in the faint hope that his partner might possibly hold the King- which gave them the only chance of preventing the Jambone hand from making. Such chances must never be disregarded.

If the dealer plays Jambone with a quart or sequence of four trumps from Left-bower and an Ace of a lay suit (which he should invariable do, because, if the Right-bower is out against him, he could only win one point if he played alone) the eldest-hand should lead a card if he holds one of the suit as the dealer's lay Ace in the hope that his partner might be able to trump it. The eldest-hand could not play a lay card of a different suit and call the Ace of the lay suit to be played to it, because that would be at variance with the spirit of the game. No player having the right to call a card from the Jambone player's hand, can require him to throw away a commanding card of a lay suit to a lead of a different suit, but in that case can only call his lowest trump.

If the cards should be cut in such a manner that the dealer turns up a Bower, say the Knave of spades - the most unkindest cut of all, -and he deals to himself the Left-Bower and nine of trumps, with the Ace of each of the three lay suits, he may discard his nine of trumps and play Jambone. He discards this small trump because the chances are much more favorable that either one of the three Aces will win the first trick, when called by the eldest-hand, than that his nine of trumps will make. It would not be prudent to play this hand Jambone, if the player holding it was the eldest-hand, because the player next in play to him might be able to trump one of the three Aces, and he would therefore call it, and in that way win the first trick. But when the suit is led to the Jambone player, the chances of the second player not being able to trump are greatly in favor of the Jambone player, who would then win the trick, and would probably exhaust the trumps with his two Bowers, and clear the way for the other two Aces,

Although the foregoing hand would generally win, yet it might be quite easily Euchred. Par example : Suppose the eldest-hand holds the ten of trumps, three small hearty and a small diamond. His partner has the seven and eight of trumps, and three small clubs. The eldest-hand leads a small heart, - because, having three of them, his partner would be more likely not to have any -and calls the Ace. His partner not holding a heart, trumps with the seven, and wins the trick. He then leads a club, on which the dealer puts his Ace, and the eldest-band wins with the ten of trumps, making the second trick. The eldest- land then leads his small diamond, which his partner wins with the other small trump, and the dealer's two Bowers are left "blooming alone ;" while his antagonists proceed contentedly to score eight points for their successful play. " They laugh that win," if we remember rightly.

Once more. Suppose the dealer is assisted by his partner, and, looking at his hand, finds that he holds the two Bowers, with the seven and eight of trumps, a lay Ace, with another small card. He may discard and venture the Jambone on this rather indifferent hand -if the score of the game invites it, though it would, ordinarily, be better to Play Alone, simply, -for, if the eldest-hand has no trump to lead and to call the seven or eight, the dealer is almost sure of winning. Remember, there are only nine trumps -eight of the suit, with the Knave of the same color -in this favorite game of ours. The dealer, in this case, sees four of them in his own hand, and he is certain that his partner has at least two more, which accounts for six of the trumps. As there are ten cards in the hands of the two opponents, and eleven more in the talon, the chances are very much in favor of the eldest-hand being without a trump. We could cipher it out for you, but it is scarcely necessary*

Jamboree is another musical sound of unknown etymological deduction, rarely announced, however - "breathe not his name"- and signifies the combination of the five highest cards, namely, the two Bowers, Ace, King, and Queen of trumps, in one hand, which bestows on the player--fortuna juvante - who holds this galaxy of cards, the pleasing privilege of counting sixteen points. It requires but little to be said of this rare constellation of the "painted tablets" for a player will not have dealt to him the Jamboree more than two or three times in the course of a quarter of a century's addiction to the game.

The player holding Jamboree simply announces the fact, and displays the cards ; for no play, of course, is necessary* But the player must announce the Jamboree ; for if-by mistake, he should announce the Jambone, and commence to play the hand as such, when in fact he holds the Jamboree, he is only entitled to score what he announces, and to count eight points. The mistake of one party is the game of the other.

In counting the Lap, and the Slam, it is to be remembered that all the points made above five go to the score of the next ensuing game; and, if those points extend to so many as ten -as in the case of a party scoring two points, and winning with the Jambone, making eight points more -the second five points, from six to ten inclusive, must be a Slam, which counts two games -making, in all, three - games. If a player is scoring four points and wins with the Jambone, which, added to the four, makes him twelve points, he counts three games, and the supernumerary two lap into the fourth game. If the adverse party were not scoring one point, the first game would be a Slam, as well as the second, which would then count four games, with the two to the next game. This, of course, is the highest number of points that can be gained in one hand -except with the Jamboree.

The Jamboree hand wins sixteen points, which must, at least, count five games with one point to lap over. If a player is scoring four to his opponent's nothing, and announces the Jamboree, the sixteen points then won added to his four, make twenty points, which make four games, each of them a Slam, which entitles him to count, in all, eight games-the highest figure attainable.

Jamboree, like Jambone, and Playing Alone, cannot be played, as such, if the adverse party order up the trump, or make it ; for in that case it can only win the two points - as when playing the Bridge -for the Euchre.

It will be perceived that our game is peculiarly symmetrical in arrangement ; and to prevent any misunderstanding in scoring the games, let us reiterate that the counts, in the different variations of play, increase in geometrical progression j-and, when one party, adopting or making the trump, win the odd trick, they count only one point; in winning " five tricks they count two points; Playing le and winning, four points; winning at Jambone, eight points; with the Jamboree, sixteen points. Should the party, adopting or making the trump, fail to win the odd trick in either of these variations of play, they lose the same number of points which they would have been entitled to count if they had been successful in gaining the five tricks.

Chapter 1 - Preliminary

Chapter 2 - Mode of Playing

Chapter 3 - On Playing Alone

Chapter 4 - Lap, Slam, Jambone, and Jamboree

Chapter 5 - Technicalities

Chapter 6 - Laws

Chapter 7 - Hints to Tyros (Novice)

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