This page is Best Viewed in landscape mode (sideways)

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

Last update on: Dec 21, 2016


Tis not in mortals to command success, you know, if you do not, it is time you did, you understand there be players, that I have seen play, who grumble and fault-find as much over the card-table, as they would chaffering and willing in a market-house with a huckster!as if cards were not invented for recreation and amusement.

The ensuing hints, confidingly and confidently suggested to novices in our highly scientific and glee-some game, result from an experience gained in many a "glorious and well-foughten field," and although not pretending in these premises to be Sir Oracle yet haud inexpertus loquor. We hope they will be kindly taken, as meant. Should they appear trite and simple to players of a certain degree of skill, we beg permission to remind them that the hints are offered only to novitiates, with a desire fully to explain to them some of the most approved points of play.

We venture to invite attention to a few words by way of prelude.

As the principle which guides us in social intercourse (if we remember our early education aright) is politeness -the observance of those pleasing amenities which tend so much to make life agreeable, so that which should guide us at the card-table is good humor, that card-inal virtue.

Adhere undeviatingly and persistently to the law in each and every case made and provide and remember "there is no power in Venice can alter a decree established." Play the right game always, and insist on the strict play of the game by your opponents, for no option in playing, at variance with prescribed precepts, can be tolerated and, if your partner commits an error, require the other side to avail themselves of the advantage attained by it, for the mistake of one party is the game of the other, fairly. Eschew especially every circumstance and act that has a tendency to produce confusion or misunderstanding in play.

Acquire the habit, it is easily accomplished, of determining whether you pass, or order up, without unnecessary suspense, and "hesitate not to say. Promptness and a quick response, when, it is done, then it were well, it were done Quickly, should be part and parcel of the play, it is better to decide wrongly a few times than mislead your partner by hesitation. Nothing can be more irksome than to see a player, especially if one's partner, boggling over his cards, hesitating and undecided what to do. Such indecision, besides, betrays your Land. Holding but five cards, a glance at them, simply, enables a quick judgment to declare whether he will pass, or not. Speak quick, it is the strength of the game, is the favorite ejaculation of a friend of ours.

Never exhibit peevishness and ill-temper - reserve it for home consumption when you lose, nor too great elation of joy when you win, nor permit the calm expression of your face to be ruffled by the appearance of your hand, and bear all reverses with Christian fortitude and Jewish resignation.

So, if your hand, we mean the cards you hold, gentle tyro, should happen to be as red as lire saints' days in a Roman calendar, or as black as the concentrated essence of mid-night, when the opposite colors are trumps, pursue the even tenor of your play, with placid demeanor, with columbine innocence and serpentine wisdom, and publish it not, with impatient demonstrations, or vituperative concessions against ill-luck, for cards, at best will obstinately run as chance directs.

Should your partner make an occasional misplay, take it kindly, and avoid, by all means, that horrid practice of fault-finding and censure. Every one, you know, except ourselves, commits blunders, and mistakes are inevitable.

Should you be eminently successful in winning from your adversaries, don't twit them too often and persistently with their defeat, but enjoy it secretly and quietly as we enjoy love and poetry, for modesty, says the renowned Munchausen, forbids individuals to arrogate to themselves great successes or victories.

It may happen once in a while, that you will find yourself associated with a partner, who is a novice in the philosophy and mysteries of our noble game, and when you do begin to perceive that he is one of those unfortunate individuals of neglected erudition, whose intense ignorance of the play is disheartening,displaying the most marvelous ingenuity in preventing you from winning, and a cruelly tantalizing facility in helping your opponents to defeat you,smile, if you can, we always do.

In such a case, if no other kind of amusement can be resorted to, suggest refreshment, you will find it a great relief and, besides, someone may then offer to take your place at the card-table, or your partner, may obtain some more suitable employment.

Never give in and grow faint-hearted hard, as it sometimes is to lose when near winning, but console yourself with the comfortable reflection that while the combat continues victory is uncertain.

Although, at this game, the advantage rather depends on skillful combinations, and a quick calculation of chances at the various periods of play, than on high cards, yet the most unskillful novice at the game may frequently hold such commanding cards during an entire seance that he must necessarily win all the tricks, even from experienced experts, for Bowers will defeat Aces, and Aces will capture Kings. Avoid too much elation at a run of luck, for, the hood-winked goddess must succumb to persistent skill : moreover, you will soon find but little excitement in like easy skirmishes. But, when cards do range out equally and high on either side in groups of threatening and overwhelming strength, good scuffling hands, I love a hand that meets mine own, affording fine scope for combinations of chance and skill, arousing the accomplished adept's valor to the strife for victory, "then comes the tug of war." We have known players when holding such hands to play a series of several hundred games, without making a single error in play, or failing to win every trick on the cards. "Think of that Master Brooks," and be emulous.

Always consult the score of the game and play accordingly, and remember that the policy of your antagonists is at variance with your own. Never let your face betray your hand. An air of coldness, and impassibility of feature, are indispensable qualities in play.

There are many other circumstances of play which we might assume cannot well be demonstrated by rules, but deference to the opinions of others older, if not better soldiers, your knowledge of the refined observances and established usages of society, and a certain natural tact, will guide and counsel you, we fancy, better than any suggestions of ours. Skill, of course, is only acquired by practice.

Once more we earnestly recommend, may beseech you, to give no indications by gesture or expression of the strength or weakness of your cards, but preserve a stoical placidity of countenance, eschewing in every manner all species of unfairness, and we hope it may be our fortune, to meet you in friendly conflict.

After the ceremony of the deal has been concluded, it is the duty of the eldest-hand to order up the trump card or pass. He should always order it up at a Bridge, when not sure of a trick, as before explained; he should also, of course, (when sure of one trick and has passed accordingly,) make the trump, if the dealer turns it down, and for the same reason that he would order up at the Bridge. At any other stage of the game he must hold a very strong hand in trumps to order up. The Left-Bower, Ace, and ten of trumps, with an Ace of a lay suit, or two commanding cards of a lay suit, as a general rule, would be sufficiently strong ; or the Ace, King, ten, and seven of trumps -especially if the fifth card in his hand is a high one. The eldest-hand, when strong at the suit turned for trumps, and also strong at the next in suit should always pass to Euchre the other side if the trump is adopted for, if it should be turned down he can then make the trump. As a general rule he should always pass for a Euchre when as strong at the next in suit.

Never order up with the two Bowers and the Ace, or other high trump, if you have two cards, even so low as the seven and eight of the same color of the trump, because, if the adversaries adopt the trump you are sure to Euchre them, and if it is turned down you have a lone hand at next in suit.

With the Eight-Bower, Ace, and seven of trumps, with a secondary card at the next in suit, it is safe to pass, for you will probably Euchre the hostile side, if the trump is adopted, and you are almost sure of the odd trick at the next suit, if the trump is turned down.

Next In Suit, or Dutching, is deemed by many eminent professors of the game one of the most important elements of play, the principles upon which this rule is founded we will here essay to explain. The pack is composed of just thirty-two cards, of which number of twenty-one are thrown round by the dealer for the play of each hand, leaving eleven cards, say one-third of the entire pack, in the talon. When the dealer and his partner decline to play at the suit turned for trumps, it is fair to presume that neither of them holds a Bower -especially if the turn-up is a court-card. The chances are greatly in favor of the presumption that one of the Bowers has been distributed in the deal, and nearly equal that both of them are out. The probability then is that one, if not both of them, are in your partner's hand, yourself having neither. And if the Bowers are not out, it is the reason why you may win the odd trick with fewer and weaker cards than in an ordinary hand. Your partner, if a skillful player, will never order up when holding both Bowers only, but will pass for the Euchre, if the trump is adopted, or for next in suit, if turned down, for so he plays his part. We have known instances when the eldest-hand's partner has played and made a lone hand at next in suit, when the eldest-hand has made the trump, according to rule, without having a single trump in hand. At all events the chances are much in favor of making the tramp next in suit, and favorable chances should always be embraced Have a care of the main chance When you follow this rule, always lead a trump, unless you have the tenace of Right-Bower and, and you should lead the Bower then if you hold commanding lay cards. It is sometimes asserted that if this rule is strictly adhered to the dealer may often win a Euchre by a ruse, in turning down when equally strong at each suit of the color, but in the event of his being strong at both suits, (the exception to the rule, crossing the suit) may be in your hand. It is a bad rule, we are told, that works only one way.

The eldest-hand opens the game, and as success frequently depends upon the lead, he must bear that fact in mind, and deploy his small force into action skillfully, with decision.

It is a rule with many experienced players to lead through the assisting hand, that is, when the dealer's partner assists, the eldest-hand is always expected to lead a trump, if he has one, in every case, except when a Bower is turned up, or you have the Left-Bower guarded. The exceptions to this rule, we think, are so multitudinous that the practice is almost as much honored in the breach as the observance. The rationale of the rule is founded on the supposition that the player who assists may hold but two trumps, and by leading a trump, his trumps and his partner's are brought together, and if you or your partner have commanding cards in lay suits you may make a Euchre. And, moreover, if your partner holds two trumps, by leading through the strong hand up to the weak-the dealer's partner, assisting, is supposed to be in that position, you give your partner an opportunity to finesse. These are the only advantages we now revive in memory. If the eldest-hand holds one or two trumps, especially if small, with commanding cards in other suits, the trump should then most assuredly be led.

Should he bold three trumps of various value and two lay cards of suit, the seven and Queen for instance and is playing to Euchre the dealer, he should always lead the lay seven, for when he wins the rentree with one of his small trumps, the Queen will then either win the trick or force a trump from the opponents. If the eldest-hand's partner should win the first or the second trick he should never return such a lead, because the eldest-hand, if ho comprehends his vocation, will never commence the round with an isolated plebeian card, unless for some exceptional cause.

With two trumps, two lay cards of suit, and one single lay card, commence with one of the two lay cards, for one of your trumps may bring you back to your suit, and your second lay card will then probably force the other side to trump. Never open with the single lay card when holding such a hand, because you may have an opportunity of throwing it away on a trick of your partner's, or, when second player, on a lead of a numerical card of the suit of which you have none, which will enable you to ruff its suit, if led by either of your adversaries, and win you a trick.

When playing to Euchre, if you have two or more small trumps with commanding lay cards, lead a small trump as it may enable you to make the high cards when trumps are expended.

When your partner orders up, or makes the trump, always lead him one, the best you have, without regard to tenace or Left-Bower guarded.

When, being eldest-hand, you are scoring three points to your game, and your adversaries count one, or nothing, and you hold very weak and sickly looking cards, although this is not a Bridge, yet it is often well to order up and take a Euchre, especially if a Bower is turned up, rather than risk a lone hand to the other side, and if you are Euchred, you are Euchred!

If you hold a lay Ace, when opposed to a lone hand, always lead it, for if you hold a King or Queen doubled, you have an additional chance to prevent the march, of the lone player.

That condition of the game in the flood tide Of luck, termed the Bridge, is fully explained at the close of Chapter III, to which we respectfully beg leave to refer. When it carried you safely over, praise it. And thus much for your duty as eldest-hand, and we, like England, expect every man to do his duty.

Your performance, as second player, when the games afoot, and the eldest-hand has given you a taste of his quality, is much more circumscribed and simple, consisting mainly in following the suit led, or in ruffing it, and this easy duty and irresponsible continues through each of the five rounds in which you have to play second-fiddle.

When confident of winning two tricks always assist and rely on your partner to win one trick.

The second player (the dealer's partner as they sit at the table) must remember, however, that when the trump card has been turned down by the dealer, and the eldest-hand has passed the making, it is his duty, though not quite so imperatively on him as it is on the eldest-hand to make the next in suit, to cross the suit, that is, to make the trump either of the black suits, (the one in which he is the stronger, of course,) when a red suit has been turned down, and vice versa, and for nearly the same reasons, just given to the eldest-hand for making next in suit.

As second player rarely ruff a numerical lay card the first time round, as the chances are even that your partner may win the trick. Throw away any single lay card of less value than an Ace, if you have one or two small trumps, on such a lead, which will enable you to ruff its suit when led. Also underplay a numerical trump, risking the chance of your partner winning it. We have an acquired antipathy to a single lay card and love to dispose of its bachelor-like wretchedness by membracing the first opportunity.

So often as the lead changes the relative positions of the players as the leader, second, third, and fourth player also vary, of course.

Second player following suit to lay cards, as a general rule, should always head, that is win the trick, if he can. The same, with few exceptions, when playing trumps.

With one tramp only, if the Right-Bower himself single, and your partner adopts or makes the trump, ruff with it the first chance.

When you can neither follow suit nor trump, throw away the weakest card you have, naturally.

In the situation of third player your duties become more numerous. When playing to win a Euchre, if you hold a small and a medium card, at trumps, and have the opportunity to ruff, stick in the medium trump, if third player, which may force the dealer to play his best trump. Never send a boy, you know, on a man's errand. And this, by-the-by, reminds us of a pretty problem in play. Suppose yourself sitting on the right hand of the dealer who has turned the Knave of spades, and adopted the trump. Two rounds have been played, the first trick having been won by your opponents, and the second by your partner. Your partner leads in a lay suit and is followed by the second player, and you hold the Left-Bower, Ace, and Queen of trumps, you play either the Left-Bower, or Ace, and the dealer holds the Eight-Bower, King, and ten of trumps. If the dealer takes the trick with the Bight-Bower, which he would naturally be inclined to do, he is Euchred, because you then have the tenace. But, on the contrary, if he should play the ten of trumps and let you win the trick, he gains the odd-trick, as by this underplay he secures the tenace to himself. If you had played the Queen, which would have been a horrid play, you would, of course, have lost the odd-trick. This simple problem is deemed worthy of especial commendation, as illustrative of the peculiar advantage of the tenace. You should be very strong in trumps to order up, because your partner, passing, shows that he is weak, or prefers to make the next in suit. As a general rule let the responsibility of ordering up rest with your partner when he is eldest-hand.

When your partner has adopted or made the trump, be careful not to win the lead from him, unless you are strong enough to play for a march, or to win the odd trick.

Always divest your hand of losing cards, when possible, to your partner's winning ones.

If your partner in the third or fourth round leads a lay King (you having none of its suit) which is not captured by your right-hand adversary, and you have a lay King of different suit, with trumps, throw it away on your partner's lead, for his King having passed safely through one hand is much more likely to win than yours would be, having to pass through both hands. Trust it through one hand rather than two is the rule. Play in like manner, in like cases, you understand.

Opportunities to finesse occur but rarely, and when they are offered should be exercised with considerable caution. It is much better for the third player to win the trick than risk its loss by any delicate stratagem of play. The vocation of the dealer is replete with interest. He should commence by distributing the cards with exactness, not allowing any card to be exposed, except the one turned for the trump, or his antagonists may declare the deal null, and he will have to perform it afresh. He should always discard a single card, though above medium value, and retain two of suit, if one of them is not higher than a nine. When he determines to Play Alone with three trumps, he should always discard even so high a card as a King of a lay suit when the only card of the suit, and retain the seven, or any other card, of a suit of which he holds the Ace, for the chances are much better that the Ace will exhaust the suit and let the seven win, than that the King would win the first time round.

If his partner, assisting, has played one trump, the dealer winning a trick should never lead him a trump, unless he is sure of winning the march, or the odd trick, with his own hand; for the probability is that his partner has assisted with two trumps only and by leading a trump to him he may draw the last he holds, and in that way entirely destroy his game. This is a fatal mistake but often made by inexperienced players, and is conspicuously improper, as you see, But if your partner assists, and your side have captured the first two or three rounds, leaving you with commanding trumps and sure lay cards, win the lead from him then and secure the march, for he might be left to lead a losing card not of your sure suit.

Always when assisted, Mr. Dealer, and you hold the card next higher or lower to the trump card, play it instead of the trump card for your partner's benefit. -Thus, if you turn up a King, and also have the Ace in hand, and your partner assists, when a trump is led, or you can ruff a suit, you should play the Ace, which show3 your partner that you have the King left.

Having a sequence of three trumps of which the turn-up card is the smallest, and your partner assists, play the highest, which informs him that you have two more trumps of equal value. As in case the Queen is turned up, and his partner assists, if the dealer holds the King and Ace, making a sequence of three trumps, when the trump is led, or he can ruff, he should play the Ace, which makes his partner understand that he holds the King also.

So, also, if a sequence of three or four cards in play shows all the cards above the turn-up card, and your hand continues the sequence, play the highest card for your partner's benefit. Par example: The nine of hearts is turned for trump, and the ten, Queen, and Ace, of hearts, are played to a trick ; if you hold the King of trumps play it, because your nine is as good as your King, and by playing the King your partner knows that you have certainly one trump in hand, and moreover, that it requires one of the Bowers to win it.

But if your opponents have ordered up the trump and you hold a similar hand, it is obvious, on the principle of contrariwise, otherwise, that you should play, quite the diverse, to balk them, as you clearly perceive.

Retain the trump card, when your side have adopted it, as long as possible, to benefit your partner; and, on the contrary, dispose of it the first opportunity, to put your adversaries in doubt, when it has been ordered up.

A few more illustrative hints, to each and every player, in a general way, we hope may be taken, as we offer them, in the very spirit of kindness.

Always play to benefit your partner -in every possible way you can with fairness and good order, and to balk your antagonists by masking your hand, for in Euchre, as in Love and War, all manoeuvres are admissible.

Three trumps, if medium ones only, are sufficient to take up the trump, or to assist your partner, or, ordinarily, to make the trump suit. If you hold Knaves, and commanding cards of two or more suits, it often proves successful to pass both the adoption and the making, to Euchre your adversaries if they adopt or make it. Especially if the other side dealt, for if they pass also you gain the deal.

Always lead a trump to your partner, if eldest-hand, or you have won the rentree, when he adopts or makes the trump, except when he assists and has played one trump, especially if you should hold either of the Bowers only.

When last player and the trick, in a lay suit, if the first or second round, is your partner's, and you hold a single lay card, and one or more trumps, throw away that single card, if so high as a King even, on your partner's trick, for if he holds a card in that suit he will of course lead it, which may enable you to win the trick with a trump.

When your side, having adopted, or made the trump, have lost one trick, you must then play cautiously to prevent being Euchred, for the risk you might venture when playing to make a march would be quite improper when you have lost one trick.

Having lost the first two tricks and won the third, if you have one trump left, lead it, either to make or to save a Euchre, for if your adversaries have a trump larger than yours they must win the odd trick and, if it is smaller, you may exhaust them and win the fifth trick with your lay card. The only exception to this rule is when you have assisted, or your partner has taken it up, and your partner still retains the trump card and, if your trump is higher than your partner's, and you have a winning card for the fifth round, you should lead the trump then.

Holding a sequence of trumps, and playing to Euchre the adversaries, always play the highest to balk them, for instance, if you hold Ace, King, and Queen of trumps, and a Bower is led, play the Ace.

When holding the Left-Bower and one other trump, the Left-Bower guarded as it is termed, be cautious how you separate them, for if the Bight-Bower should be led, by playing your smaller trump to it you are sure to win with left-Bower. When you hold the Left-Bower alone, whether you are playing to your partner's adoption or make of the trump, or to Euchre your opponents, ruff with it as soon as you have the chance, at any stage or condition of the play, otherwise it may fall to the Right-Bower, when the trump is led. Make the Right-Bower in the same manner, if your only trump, when your partner assists or makes the trump, for when he wins the rentree he would almost certainly lead his highest trump, and your Bower, winning it, might sadly injure his game.

In adopting or making the trump you may always rely on your partner to win one of the five tricks.

It is a rule in play that a lay Queen never wins a trick. This is not strictly correct, but near enough to the truth to be adopted as a general rule.

Keep your mind on the cards, as we fortune-tellers say, and remember how the suits fell in play, so as not to be trumping with a seven or eight a commanding lay card of your partner's, a sottise by the way, not unfrequently committed.

Be cautious how you adopt or make the trump when the hostile side are scoring three points for, if you are Euchred, you put them out, and, in another sense of the expression, you may put out your partner too, which would be grievous.

Opponent to a Lone Player, and holding the seven and nine of one suit, with single cards in each of the other suits, if Queens even, never separate the two of suit although there is a single chance only that one of them may win. You will be surprised, and delighted too, we assure you, you will, to see how often the nine in such cases prevents the march of the Lone Player, and ruffles his equanimity. We always rely more confidently on a Knave and seven of a lay suit, in such case, than on a lay King single.

We believe we have annunciated this doctrine before but, excuse us, for truth cannot be too oft asserted.

The leading principles

These leading principles in the practice of the game should always be retained in mind, though combinations of cards in the various distributions into hands, like the changes of the Kaleidoscope, may diversify the manner of the play.

It is quite unnecessary to offer any observations on that branch of the doctrine of chances which might apply to our game, or to point out that the dealer's chance of turning up a Knave is seven to one against him or why, when you adopt or make the tramp the chances are in favor of your partner's winning one trick, for it is obvious that games, contingent upon chance and combination, cannot be reduced to the exactness of the propositions of Euclid and be made to conform to a rigid and infallible geometry. Besides, the certainties of chances we do not affect to comprehend, but only have a care of the main chance.

And now, gentle Tyro, Oh you, for whom I write, if you will smile approvingly, with grateful acknowledgment, on this our magnum opus, sweetly, with Tyro-lean air, we will claim no better compensation for our labors than the pleasure of having rendered you a Service.

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)

The OhioEuchre Community Forum

Just like talking Euchre with like-minded individuals? Have a question on how to play a particular hand? Would like to share your expertise with other Euchre players from around the world? The OhioEuchre forum is designed just for you.

Just learning? Our forum includes a entire section dedicated to those that are new to Euchre.

Click here to visit our forum

Not yet a member of our community?

Sign-up Here, There is no cost.

Our Privacy Policy

Copyright © 2009 - 2023 Dlan Design, All Rights Reserved