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Normally, when talking about discarding, we are talking about discarding by a dealer that has just bid or been called up. There are other times when we also get to discard unwanted cards; these are more commonly known as throwing off a card. The time to do this is when you cannot follow suit. In euchre, unlike Pinochle and some other card games, though you must follow suit if possible you are not required to trump in when you can't follow suit. This allows an opportunity to clean out your hand. It is also a way to communicate with your partner. We will cover this subject in depth in a later lesson.
One of the keys to becoming proficient in euchre is knowing which card to discard. Choosing the correct card can make the difference between making a point and getting euchred. And on an opponent's bid, the correct discard can go a long way towards setting them. On some hands the choice is obvious. Holding, for example, three trump and an off suit Ace and nine [and picking up another trump], there is no question about what to discard. Most hands, however, require a little more thought.
As a general rule you should first try and create a void in your hand. Your next thought should be 'what cards do I hold that will most likely be unable to take a trick?' If there is a suit that you hold three of, discarding the lowest of these would be a wise choice
Careful observation of your opponents' play and habits can be helpful here. Hand after hand, many euchre players have a tendency to play the same way. Many players almost always lead their green suit (for example, if hearts were trump, they would lead clubs or spades; if clubs were trump they would lead hearts or diamonds.) In this instance, given a choice, the best discard would be one of the green suits. There are also those players that tend to lead next. You should watch for trends in their method of play and adjust you play accordingly.
As a general rule, try and hold a double suit. Say you hold a King-Queen of one suit and a singleton King of another, with neither one being trump. The best discard would be the lone King. Most often, the suit of your discard is more important than its rank. I have seen many players break up a combination to hold, say, two kings. This is not wise, as neither is likely to take a trick. When holding a combination set, one of them may be useful at the end.
While rare, there are times it is the correct move to discard the card that you picked up. An example would be when you hold five higher trump and turn up a nine.
When you are holding three trump and are making a lone bid, if you have to choose between holding two Aces or keeping an Ace-King combination, discarding the single Ace tends to be the better choice. This limits the opponents' opportunities to trump or over trump a suit.
When a lone is called from third seat, and you're the dealer, you should discard next whenever possible (if it voids you in that suit). Your partner should then lead next. This gives you the opportunity to trump or over trump the trick, and stop the lone.
When you cannot follow a suit, this is your best opportunity to give you partner information. The first time that you cannot follow suit, you should discard the suit you want your partner to lead back to you. An excellent example is when you have an Ace-King combination. Throwing off the Ace will tell your partner you have the King. In those cases that you have Ace-x (x being any card less than the King), playing the smaller card is again your best shot at letting you partner know how to put you in the lead.
Be aware that a dealer who has been ordered to pick up a card is able to create a void in their hand. This means that the first card they throw off is likely to be from a double suit.
Let's say that you ordered up the 9 of clubs to your partner (the dealer). The dealer's best choice is to discard the 9 of hearts. Ok, 1st seat leads a heart. You hold no hearts, so you trump in. You partner will throw off a diamond. Leading back a diamond is not going to work, given it is probably a double suit of your partner (the dealer). Do keep in mind, this is valid only if the dealer (your partner) picked up a card.