Have you heard of the Solitaire variant called Euchre? Probably not, owing to its decline in popularity compared to the other Solitaire card games like Klondike, Hearts, Spider, etc. which were introduced as default PC games in the late 90s thus, making it possible for them to remain up-to-date. However, Euchre is still a famous and go-to game in Canada and more specifically in the Ontario province. In fact, it may even be named the national card game of Canada. This pastime is a little different from the other trick-taking 52-card deck games like Hearts and Spades. The main difference is that it only uses 24-32 cards and has a rather confusing ranking. In this article, we will be divulging into the unresolved history of Euchre, some interesting stats related to it, and how it is played.
History of Euchre
There are several stories about the origin of Euchre and none of them have yet been proven or disproved. One of them is that the early German settlers in Pennsylvania brought the game into the United States. However, another story rebukes it and states that it originated in Pennsylvania itself in the 1820s. Funnily, it is believed that a German farmer's daughter, after visiting Philadelphia, had gotten the gameplay of Ecarte wrong and this was then developed to Euchre. However, that's not all! There's yet another theory to the origin of Euchre! It is said that the game was derived from another card game called Juckerspiel, which is an 18th-century Alsatian card game.
How to Play Euchre?
In this post, we will be discussing how to play a game of Knock Euchre (no bidding) with a non-standard deck of 24 cards (this includes the 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace of all suits). This is a four-player game, where each player partners with another. It starts by dealing 5 cards to each player. Then the top card of the 4 remaining in the deck is turned up for 'naming trump'. This involves picking which suit will act as the trump suit. Starting from the dealer's left, each gamer is given a chance to say either 'Pass' or 'Order it up'. Pass means the competitor does not want that suit to be trump, and by saying Order it up the player will set the trump suit thereby ending the naming session. The team that named the trump suit is called Makers and the other team is Defenders. Also, the person that called the trump gets the option to play alone or with their partner. Playing alone is tempting since there is a chance of scoring more points but it can be tough. If no one orders it up, then the gamers may pick a suit of their choice as the trump. And if no one wants to pick the trump suit, the Dealer will be forced to do so. Once that is decided, the game follows the usual gameplay where a player leads, the rest follow suit, and the player who played the highest-ranking card wins the trick. But here's where we come across another uniqueness in Euchre: the ranks. Simply stated, the Jack of the trump suit ranks the highest and is called the Right Bower. The Jack in the other suit that's the same color as the trump ranks second and is known as the Left Bower. Then the rest of the cards follow the normal ranking. For example, suppose the trump suit was Spades, then the ranking would be as follows:
- Jack of Spades;
- Jack of Clubs;
- Ace of Spades;
- King of Spades;
- Queen of Spades;
- 10 of Spades;
- 9 of Spades.
The scoring criteria in a game of Euchre can be summarized as follows:
- If the Makers take 3 or 4 tricks they get 1 point.
- If the Makers win 5 tricks they get 2 points.
- If the Maker chooses to play alone and takes 3 or 4 tricks s/he gets 1 point.
- If the Maker picks to play along and takes 5 tricks s/he gets 4 points.
- If the Defenders win 3 or more tricks they get 2 points.
The first team to reach 10 points comes out as the winner.
Fun Facts about Euchre
Here are some Euchre facts that may not be so useful in helping you win a game of Euchre but would be cool to know:
- Did you know that the minimum number of hands needed to play a complete game of euchre is 3? It cannot be any less! Consequently, the maximum number of hands you can have in a complete game of Euchre is 19.
- What is the number of possible Euchre hands? 42,504! Of course, nobody actually tried to figure it out by play. It was calculated by permutations and combinations.
- Did you know that the probability of being dealt with all the top 5 trump cards from any suit is 1 in 10,626? That's statistics for you!
- Have you heard of a 'lay down loner'? It's the ultimate hand where you can win every trick no matter how you choose to play it. The chances of getting one of those are 1 in 1771.
- There's a very high chance of you having at least one Jack in your hand, 5/6 to be exact.
- How about having just one Jack? That will be 5/11.
Euchre is a rather off-putting card game for beginners mostly because of its confusing gameplay, ranking that is hard to get used to at once, and scoring system. This can be one of the main reasons why it is not so popular in most countries around the world. Another appalling point might be the option to play alone and leave your teammate out. Most people would feel bad to do so when playing with friends, don't you agree? However, once you play a couple of sessions and become familiar with it, it can be a very interesting mind game to play with serious players. So, do give it a go!