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Special decks of cards are available to play euchre. However, they are hard to find and not really necessary. A standard deck of 52 cards may be used. Just remove the 2's through 8's, saving the sixes and fours for score keepers. Perhaps a better way is to buy Pinochle decks. Although they do not contain the low cards used for markers, they will give you two euchre decks for the price of one.
Euchre is played with four people in teams of two each,with partners sitting across from one another. The paring of partners may be done by spreading the cards on the table face down. Each person draws a card, and those drawing the two highest cards are partners, as are those drawing the two lowest cards. There are variations of euchre for two or three people; those are covered in other areas of this site.
The first dealer of a game is randomly determined by dealing cards clockwise and face up to each player in turn until a player receives a jack; they become the first dealer. They shuffle the cards and then offer the player to their right the opportunity to cut the deck. The dealer then deals out the cards in groups of two's and three's going clockwise until everyone has five cards. At that time there should be four cards left over. These are called 'the kitty'. The dealer places these cards in front of him, face down, and turns the top card face up. As the cards tend to stay together from the last hand, dealing oneself 3 cards last may give the dealer a slight advantage.
At this point the naming of trump may begin. Starting with the first player to the left of the dealer, each player in turn has the opportunity to name the turned card's suit as trump. He may also pass, in which case the option passes to the next player. If the turned card's suit is named trump, the dealer picks up the card and discards any one card from his hand so that he still holds just five cards.
If everyone passes, including the dealer, the dealer flips the card on the kitty over and second round of bidding begins. The second round of bidding starts once again with the person sitting to the left of the dealer. Any of the three remaining suits can be named trump, but NOT the suit of the turned card. If no one names trump, the hand is forfeited and the deal passes to the next player left of the original dealer. In a game variant called "stick the dealer", the dealer must bid (declare a suit as trump).
If any player calls trump, either in the first round by making the dealer pick up the turned card or in the second round by declaring a different suit as trump, they (and their partner) must win at least three of the five possible tricks to earn points.
Remember, on the first round of bidding only, no matter who orders trump, the dealer gets to pick the turned card up and place it in his hand, and is able to discard an unwanted card.
During the bidding process a player may declare he is going to play alone (generally done with a strong hand). He does this by stating this intention with the words "I'm Going Alone". His partner sits out this hand and places his cards face down on the table. The team declaring the lone will score four points if they win all five tricks. If they only take three or four tricks, then their team will only receive one point. In most circles, no one is allowed to look at the cards in the kitty until the hand is over.
The most important aspect to learning euchre is to understand the rank of the cards. This differs from most other card games, and often creates a great deal of confusion for new players.
A quick reminder: one must remember that after trump has been named, the ranking of the cards changes slightly. The suit named trump ranks in the following order (assume here that spades was named):Jack of spades, (or right bower,) Jack of clubs, (or left bower), Ace , King, Queen, Ten, Nine, all of spades (note there are seven cards in this suit). The ranking of the other suit of the same color (again assuming spades is trump), also known as 'next', is now Ace, King, Queen, Ten, Nine, all of clubs (note there are only five card in this suit). The other two suits do not change, and their ranking remains Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten and Nine.
A common mistake made by many new players when picking up a trump from the kitty is sorting their hand. Sharp opponents may be able to guess how many trump you hold, or how many suits are in your hand, just through careful observation. If you must sort your cards, do it before trump is called.
Once a trump suit is named, play starts with the first player to the dealer's left (1st seat). He starts by leading a card from his hand, normally one of the high-ranking cards. Everyone is required to follow suit if they are able. If they are void in the led suit (have no cards of that suit) they may play any other card from their hand, including trump. Remember, the trump suit out ranks all other suits. The trick is won by the highest card in the suit led, or the highest trump card, if any were played. The winner of that trick gets to lead the next card and the process repeats until all five tricks have been played. To score a point, the team that named trump must take the majority of tricks (three or more out of the five possible tricks). If the bidding team wins all five tricks they score two points. If a player goes alone and takes all five tricks his team receives four points. Whether alone or together, winning three or four tricks earns the declaring team one point. If a biding team fails to get at least three tricks in any given hand then they are said to be 'euchred' and the opposing team receives two points. This is true on lone hands as well.
If a player reneges (in other words, fails to follow suit when possible), the hand ends and the non-offending team gets two points. If the renege happens during a lone call the non-offending team gets four points.
As a rule of thumb, you should be able to count on your partner to take one trick. This means that if you think you can win two tricks, you should go ahead and call trump. Chances are your partner can win at least one trick. One of the most important characteristics of good players is keeping track of which cards have been played. This goes a long way in helping you play the right cards.
An elegant and widespread method of keeping score is using the cards that are lower than those used in play. In the early days, when games were played to five points, each side would use a three-spot and a two-spot as markers. Today, when most games are played to ten points, a SIX and a FOUR are used. To indicate a score of one, the FOUR is placed face down on the SIX, with one pip left exposed. For a score of two, the FOUR is placed face down on the SIX, with two pips left exposed. For scores of seven or more, the FOUR is placed face up on the SIX with the appropriate number of pips showing on the Six.
* The team that bids and takes at least 3 tricks scores 1 point
*The team that bids and takes all 5 tricks scores 2 points
* A team that plays alone and takes all 5 tricks scores 4 points
* A team that plays alone only takes 3 or 4 tricks scores 1 points
* If a team bids and takes less than 3 tricks, The other team scores 2 points
These are just the basics of the game. It may be helpful to read 'The Ten Commandments of Euchre' for a beginning strategy on playing the game.
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