Before we get into some of the finer aspects of euchre, there is one thing left to cover: being a good partner. So, you ask, what makes a good partner? The simple answer, of course, is to learn the game to the best of your ability. However, that is far from the complete answer. There are those players that do know what cards to play, yet don't make good partners. They don't consider their partners hand. They tend to pull trump unnecessary. They tend to take every possible trick they can with the cards they are hold. Sure, this type of player will win their share of games. They may even be considered good players by some. The trouble is that they're not great players. All too often, they end up just out of the money in tournaments. Some of the primary reasons for this may be: They do not allow their partner the opportunity to take a trick. They do not take into consideration why their partner is playing a card and the logic behind it. They ignore signals given by their partner. In other words, they are not playing as part of a team.
Not playing euchre as a team game causes many games to be lost. Almost everything written about euchre focuses on the individual and the cards they hold. If you have these cards, play this way, if you have a different set of cards then play that way. These basics are where all new players must start. Taking euchre to the next level requires communication. The legal exchange of information between partners increases the likelihood of a successful hand.
Because euchre is a partnership game, it must be played as such. In addition, like any good partnership, communication is a must. It is imperative that one keeps their partner in mind with every card played. A close watch of their partners play is equally important.
Teams that play well together have the ability decipher the meaning of cards played by their partner. The most experienced players will play certain cards to indicate the strength or weaknesses in their hand. These signals are common across the euchre universe. Once learned, they give you the ability to compete in any euchre game with any informed partner.
To be a great partner, one must actively think about what their partner is doing at all times. As one gets into playing Euchre at higher levels, this literally is the difference between winning and losing. Let's start by assuming your partner knows how to play, and that there will be a logical reason for every card that they have played. To start with, you have to have faith in their ability to read and play a hand. Sometimes a strategy is not evident until later in the hand. It is your job, as a partner, to try to understand what that strategy is. Sometimes it's just going to be a guess and sometimes you will know for sure. In either case, you must take the information presented by your partner and decide how to make your cards complement what they hold. For example, did your partner call next or pass? Did they bid with confidence? Did your partner lead a trump or not. Did your partner take a trick or duck under it. Did your partner give you a lead-back suit? Was there a brief delay in the play of a card? These are the clues you have to watch for. They may potentially help you decide the best to play your cards. Each scenario may call for a different play on your part. Pick the wrong one and you risk getting set. It's your job, as a team member, to work together with your partner to either make your point or to set your opponents.
There are times when you will control the hand and times when your partner should. As a general rule, the player that names trump controls the hand. It is normally not a good idea for a partner to try to take control from the maker of trump unless they are able to control the balance of the hand. I've seen many hands where the non-making partner, while holding the two bowers, will lead them both. They will then lead a non-boss card. By doing this, they may have just stripped their partner of any chance of taking the third trick. Be aware that if your partner does not play alone then he is taking you along because he needs your help. Your focus should be on how to help him (and your team) make a point. You need to be sure your play does not hurt your partner's chances. Conversely, on your bid, it is the job of your partner to support your play.
Develop your memory so that you can follow what trump and what other suits are played. Through practice and experience, you will start to gain the ability to know what cards are where. It is your job, as a team member, to try to discover where these cards are and use this knowledge to work together with your partner to either make your point or to set your opponents.
It is not helpful to criticize your partner because they did not make a play that would have fit into your hand. Remarks such as "you should have lead a club, I had the ace" or "you should have passed, I had a lone" have no business in a euchre game. In fact, these type of statements only discourages a partner from putting any serious effort into winning.
This is where being a good partner begins. Experienced partners play as a team. They use careful analysis of what cards they hold, and a well thought out strategy to guide them. They watch and track what has been played. They understand signals from each other and respond accordingly. It's these little things that make it possible to squeeze out a point in a given hand. They are the teams that win.
If you have been following along with these lessons, you should now have a good understanding of how to play euchre. You should be able to win a large percentage of the games you play. There will always be those games and hands that just can't be won. Ignore these completely and focus on the ones with an average card distribution. In most games, this is where the winners or losers are decided.
When two skilled teams play against each other, it's the small things that make the difference. Many of these games come down to the wire with scores of seven to seven and above. In the following lessons, I will show you some examples of the advanced play, and the thinking behind them. These are the skills you will need to win the close games.
You will notice that there are no more questions at the end of the advanced lessons. This is because from here on there are few cut and dry answers, every decision made depends more on what cards have been played up to that point. This advanced play also means taking more risks and deciding if the risk is worth it or not. The best way to show this is by presenting different examples.