This article deals with variations in game playing. For a description on variations in game rules and terminology, see Euchre variations.
|Skills required||Tactics & Strategy|
|Cards||20, 24, 2x24, 32, 36|
|Playing time||20 min.|
|Five Hundred, Poker|
Euchre has many variations in game playing. Some of them are designed for two, three, five or even six hands. Described below are some of these variations.
A normal hand is dealt out to each player along with a 3-card dummy hand to each player. Each person picks up their dummy hand after trump has been called. Each player must make their best five card hand out of the eight cards available.
Going alone is still an option and occurs when the calling player opts not to pick up the dummy hand.
In this version there are no partners. Each player will end up with four hidden cards, keeping strategy very similar to the partnered-version.
Use a normal deck of 9-10-J-Q-K-A in all four suits. The dealer places a card face down in front of the other player, and then in front of the dealer, alternating until each player has a row of four face-down cards. The dealer then places a face-up card on top of each face-down card, so now each player has 8 cards. The dealer then deals four more cards to each player, which they pick up and hold in their hand.
The non-dealer looks at their 4 hand cards, 4 show cards, and the opponents 4 show cards, and bids the number of tricks they think they can take, with a minimum bid of 7. The dealer can bid higher or pass. The highest bidder sets the trump suit, and the non-dealer goes first.
Players can play any card from their hand, or any of their face-up cards. If a face-up card is played that had covered a face-down card, the face-down card is flipped over and becomes a face-up card, and becomes eligible for play on the next trick.
It is important to remember to keep as many cards in your hand as possible, trying to play the face-up cards whenever possible. When a player doesn't have any cards in their hand, it is very easy for the opponent to lead off-suit and win. It sometimes better to sacrifice a higher-value face-up card than to give up the cards in your hand. If you are out of trump, it is sometimes wise to again sacrifice a higher-value face-up card in hopes of turning up trump and taking the lead.
In some variants, each player may be dealt a 3-card private hand, with 4 sets of face up/face down cards; or a 5-card hand, with 3 sets of face up/face down cards.
Missing Man Euchre also known as "George's Hand Euchre"
Missing Man Euchre is a three handed Euchre tournament game of Western Wisconsin. It is also seen on the gulf coast of Florida. It’s popular because it plays very similar to traditional 4 handed Euchre.
Dealing and Calling Suit - Four 5 card Euchre hands are dealt with the 4th hand being “George’s Hand”. The trump suit is called in the normal fashion.
**In the first round if a player orders trump, the calling player gets the trump card. If trump is not called, the trump card is buried. If trump is called, either of the other players can pick up George’s hand.
**In the second round, each player can call trump of another suit based upon their cards. If trump is called, either of the other players can pick up George’s hand.
**If no trump is called in the second round, the dealer must call a suit. They can call any alternate suit based upon their hand. Or the dealer can pick up George’s hand, and call any suit including the original trump (this is fair because George sat the first round out). If George’s hand is not picked up, either opponent can pick up and play George’s hand.
Scoring- Winning an ordered hand gets
A set occurs if the ordering player fails to get 3 tricks on a normal hand or all 5 tricks on a loner. A set is worth 1 point to the opponents. George is scored like the other players. He gets any points won by his hand and any points won when another hand is set. What happens if George wins a game is up to local tradition.
Strategy- This is a game of three hands against one. As such, the bidder should feel that they have at least three tricks to order and 5 tricks for a loner. Also, since the person that orders has no partner, leading trump to exhaust other player’s trump is a good strategy. Finally, the dealer should not despair being forced to call a suit after the second round. If the call goes around twice, chances are that many of the good cards can be picked up in George’s hand.
Another common three-player variation is played by dealing out four hands, but with the fourth hand acting as a dummy hand, known in different places as "the dummy," "the dead hand," "the imaginary friend," or "Johann." The player who calls trump on the current hand picks up the dummy hand and makes the best five-card hand for themselves out of his or her hand and the dummy hand. The player will now play alone against the other two players, who will play as partners for this hand. The two non-calling players will always play as partners which means that partners will switch from hand to hand depending on who calls trump. The calling player will score one point for winning the hand and 2 points for taking all five tricks. The calling player can still elect to "go alone" by choosing not to pick up the dummy hand. Taking all five tricks here results in four points. Each player keeps their own score.
Variations on the dummy hand also exist because being able to make a best hand out of ten cards is sometimes viewed as being too powerful. The other variations are:
In Cut-throat Euchre, each player gets a 5 card hand as normal and the top card is upturned. The bidding process is normal until someone calls trump. This player then goes alone against the other two.
Each player has his own score cards and plays until ten as normal.
Another common three player variation is to remove the nines from the deck. Players call trump like they would in a four-person game, and the above scoring rules apply. This leaves a five card kitty remaining. Playing without 9s in all suits inflates the 'value' of all hands, so be mindful not to get too loose with calling trump.
In this variant, the nines are removed from the deck. Players start at 300 points (or 500 points) and play down to zero, with the first player to reach zero winning the game.
In western New York, a three-player variation called "Canadian" is played. Four hands are dealt out, one to each player and one face down on the table. The dealer turns up the top kitty card, as usual, and this card is automatically trump; there is no bidding for trump. Instead, each player has the option, in clockwise order starting at the dealer's left, of playing the dealt hand or the blind hand on the table. If the player picks up the blind hand, he places his hand face down on the table and that becomes the new blind hand. Interesting play results if two (or more) players pick up the blind hand because the original owner of the hand knows what they have. When bidding gets to the dealer, the dealer picks up the trump card and play begins. Normal Euchre play now applies, with each player on their own. At the end of the hand, each player gets one point for each trick taken. If a player takes no tricks, he loses five points. A game of "Dumpling" is typically played to 21 points; tiebreaker rules vary by region. In Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, this version is known as "Gyoza", named after the Japanese dumpling. In other areas of the Midwest, this version is called "Buck Euchre," wherein a player losing five points is said to be "bucked."
A slightly less common version of three-person Euchre is played by removing the nines from a standard deck and playing without a dummy hand. In this version, the calling player always goes alone where four points will always result from taking all five tricks.
Another uncommon version of three-person Euchre is to deal out three hands of seven cards with a three-card kitty. The 4-hand rules apply, except that the calling player must always go alone.
In Southern Ontario, a three-person version exists called "Shooter". Each player receives eight cards and bids a number to win the contract and choose the trump suit. The winning bidder may also choose "no trump", where aces are high and all jacks are treated as off-trump coloured jacks, i.e. beat a ten but lose to a queen. The minimum bid starts at three and subsequent bidders must out-bid the highest previous bid or pass. Points are scored for each trick taken, not merely by the contractor but by all players. The contractor is of course vulnerable however, and if he or she fails to take the number of tricks bidden, he or she loses that number of points. A player wishing to bid all eight tricks calls "shooter", and if successful gains not eight but 12 points. Score is kept on paper and the game is played to 31. A player bidding less than eight and subsequently winning all eight tricks will only score eight points.
A somewhat popular three-handed variation exists. Players sit as though there is a "ghost player" in the fourth position. A hand of five cards is dealt to each player and the ghost player. Before the top card of the kitty is turned up, in clockwise order, players may opt to switch their hand with the ghost player's hand. If a player does, no other player may choose to switch hands. Bidding proceeds as normal. The maker of this hand plays alone, with the two defenders as partners. If the maker gets three tricks, he is awarded 2 points. Five tricks is four points. However, if the maker opted to switch hands at the beginning of the round, he is deducted one point if he wins. Should the defending players take three tricks, they get 1 point each, and taking 5 tricks awards them 2 points each.
Another three-player variant called "Threechre" (sometimes pronounced "tree-ker" or "three-kree") exists. In this game, only three suits are used and a joker serves as the left bower, regardless of drawn suit. The game is played to a winning score of 10 points: a 2-trick tie wins both tied players one point, and three or more tricks wins the player two points. The penalty for calling is -1 point; thus, calling and losing means an overall score of -1, calling and winning equals one point, and calling and tying means no change in score.
If the dealer goes it alone on the first round of bidding, the drawn card is turned down. No matter who goes it alone, the kitty is reshuffled and dealt to the opponents, who then must discard two cards from a hand of seven cards.
Another three-player variation is known as Call-partner. Hands of 5 cards are dealt as usual, and a card is turned up over the kitty. Bidding happens as normal, except the person who makes trump may call for a partner by naming a desired card. As an example, the trump maker might call for the left bower. The partner is only revealed when the card is played. This adds an element of surprise, as only the person holding the called card knows that they are the partner until it is played. Sometimes the called card is in the kitty, in which case there is no partner. The trump maker may also elect to "go alone". Scoring is the same as in 4 handed versions.
Yet another three player variation exists, called Euchress. It uses only 20 cards: the 10, J, Q, K, and A of each suit. Hands of 5 cards are dealt as usual, and a card is turned up over the kitty. Bidding goes as usual, except that the person who called the trump can choose his partner, or if he wants to go alone. The person who went alone gets the card on the kitty, if it is face up. Scoring is the same as in 4-handed versions. The first player to 15 wins.
"Sneaky Steve" another 3 player version of "cut-throat", imported from Ontario, Canada and popularized in Northern Arizona, is played much the same as the first common 3 player variant of "cut-throat". This three-player variation is played by dealing out four 5 card hands, but with the fourth hand acting as a dummy hand, known as the "Steve". The player who calls trump on the current hand has the option to pick up the "Steve" hand and makes the best five-card hand for themselves out of his or her hand. At this point the "Sneaky Steve" option comes into effect. The 9 of Diamonds is known as the "Sneaky Steve". Any player possessing the "Sneaky Steve" 9 of Diamonds, has the option to exchange the "Sneaky Steve" for any of the 3 cards left in the kitty outside of the card that was turned over or the card laid down. The card is chosen randomly unseen. If the "Sneaky Steve" is turned up on the deal, it is simply played as the 9 of Diamonds and cannot be exchanged. The "Sneaky Steve" option is the last thing to happen before game play begins. The trump calling player will now play alone against the other two players, who will play as partners for this hand. The two non-calling players will always play as partners which means that partners will switch from hand to hand depending on who calls trump. The calling player will score one point for winning the hand and 2 points for taking all five tricks. The calling player can still elect to "go alone" by choosing not to pick up the "Steve" hand but still has the option to exchange the "Sneaky Steve" if he/she has it in their possession. Taking all five tricks here results in four points. Each player keeps their own score.
A common variation played in southwestern England competitive pub leagues uses the standard Euchre deck with an extra card, usually a Joker or 2 of spades, called the "Benny" (often called the "Bird" in Australia). This card is the highest trump no matter what suit is called. When the Benny is turned over by the dealer, the dealer must choose a suit to call as trumps before looking at his or her hand. Bidding then proceeds normally.
The Duchy of Cornwall lays claim to the origin of the Benny in Euchre, its usage being exported from Cornwall to the USA, Australia and Canada by emigrant Cornish miners in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
In southwestern Ontario (Canada), there is an extension of this style wherein the 9s are removed from the deck and up to four "Bennys" are added. These usually take the form of either one or two Jokers and/or one or two Deuces (of differing colour, usually the Deuce of spades and, optionally, the Deuce of hearts). This is colloquially known as "Railroad Euchre" and in its simplest form (with only a single Joker or Deuce), it is identical to the English variant listed previously. As with the earlier description, the additional cards are ranked trump ahead of the right bower, regardless of the suit of trump with Deuce(s) outranking Jokers. In the case where two Jokers are added, some method is achieved for establishing a "high" and a "low" Joker. Often the cards are differentiated in some way by the manufacturer which makes this easy; for example, a coloured Joker (high) versus a black-and-white one (low), or by some other mark that distinguishes the two cards (in a pinch, marks can be added manually, but this is discouraged as it may render the card identifiable from the back). In any event, the "high" Joker always outranks the low. If one Deuce is used, it is always the highest trump in the deck. If two are used, the Deuce matching the colour of trump is highest. Turning up a Joker or Deuce on the deal is handled in the same way as described in the English method above. Although Railroad Euchre is somewhat complicated and often takes a few hands even for experienced Euchre players to grow accustomed to, the addition of up to four higher-ranking trump cards makes a significant strategic impact in the way the game is played. For clarification, assuming the addition of both deuces and both jokers, and if spades or clubs is called trump, the ranking of the four highest trump cards would be 2♠, 2♥, Joker(high), and Joker(low), with the normal progression of trump from the right bower on down thereafter. If hearts or diamonds were trump instead, the ranks of the top four cards would change to: 2♥, 2♠, Joker(high), and Joker(low). The popularity of the Railroad variants appears to decrease as more trump are added with the two and three Benny versions being the most common.
In Guernsey (Channel Islands) the game is played with a 33 card deck incorporating 7 to Ace plus a joker as Benny. In addition, where the Benny is turned up, the dealer not only has to name the suit, he must then pick it up and play (although he may still choose whether to play alone or with his partner). Unofficial rules require the wearing of a "dealing hat". When dealing (usually a Fez) alternatively, a 'dealing duck' may be placed in front of the dealer referring to the Ace of Spades as the Death Card, regardless of trump. Tradition dictates that the Death Card should not be led on the first trick unless defending against a lone attacker as it will otherwise invariably be trumped. A cleverer lead is known as the "Brisey" which involves leading the left bower in an attempt to trick one of your opponents into a renege (a failure to correctly follow suit) if any particular player consistently reneges throughout an evenings play he is referred to as a 'habin'. The Brisey lead itself is named after Brian Mauger, a famous Guernsey Euchre player. If a defender has won two tricks and still has possession of the Benny then he must slap it onto his forehead as a sign of the guaranteed euchre. In an attempt to improve a poor hand a player may call a 'kezza' with what would appear to be little chance of success in the hope that his partner may assist in winning the majority of the available tricks.
The five-handed Euchre deck comprises the Euchre deck with the addition of the 8♠, 8♥, 8♦, 2♠ and 2♥. Jokers can also replace the 2s, once they can be differentiated. Another variation includes all four 8s. This has no impact on game play, but it means there is an additional card in the kitty.
Trump & Bidding
Cards in the trump suit rank, from highest to lowest: 2♠ 2♥ J J A K Q 10 9 and 8. The 2♠ and 2♥, also known as the big and the little two, or high and low Joker, are permanently part of the trump suit. The players receive five cards and the next is turned for trump. If it is a 2 (or Joker), the dealer can not look at his cards. Each player has the option to order the face up suit trump or pass and if all pass then the dealer has the same option.
Selecting a partner
The bidder selects his partner by naming a card, which may not be the 2 or Joker. The player who holds the selected card becomes the bidder's partner for that hand, and if the card is not played, due to being in the kitty or having been discarded by the dealer, there is no partner. Players, including the bidder, are unaware of the partner's identity until the selected card is played. Thus if the bidder does not have a partner, he may not be aware of this until the last card is played.
The bidder may also opt not to select a partner, which means he is "going alone". A player who takes all 5 tricks while going alone is awarded 4 points. If a player names a card in the kitty and takes all five tricks, he is awarded an extra 2 points for not having a partner, so that, the player must intentionally "go it alone" to qualify for the additional points.
A special situation exists if the dealer flips over a 2 or Joker. Before looking at his hand, the dealer has the option of arbitrarily selecting a suit to be the trump suit or revealing a random card from his hand with the suit of the random card becoming the trump suit. If the dealer chooses the former, the bidding proceeds as usual with the 2 or Joker being considered a member of the, arbitrarily, selected trump suit. If the dealer chooses the later, he immediately picks up the 2, discards a card, then either selects a partner or chooses to go alone.
Scoring the hand
The game ends either when a player reaches ten or more points while holding at least a one-point advantage over all the other competitors or when a player or players reach ten or more points. Should multiple players reach ten or more points, the winner is the player with the lowest score at the start of the hand, and if a single winner can not be selected, the game is a "draw" among those with ten or more points. Only players who have taken tricks during the relevant hand are eligible to receive points. This implies that players may not receive points despite being on the successful team, which can cause competition within and between teams. The number of points awarded for sweeps, euchres, and lone hands is the same as Euchre.
If the outcome of a hand has been determined before all cards have been played, the players may lay their cards down face up and the hand is then scored as if all cards had been played. If a player lays down a hand if the outcome is still in question, then the hand must be concluded with that player's cards face up.
Scoring is the same as four person two team Euchre. Partnerships are three teams of two players seated across from each other. The deck is 32 cards with A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7 of four suits making up the deck. The deal is the same as in the four handed game but the kitty consists of only two cards, one up and one down.
Scoring the hand
|Scoring in Euchre||Points|
|Bidding partnership (makers) wins 3 or 4 tricks||1|
|Bidding partnership (makers) wins 5 tricks||2|
|Bidder goes alone and wins 3 or 4 tricks||1|
|Bidder goes alone and wins 5 tricks||4|
|Any player Reneges both opposing teams score||2|
|Defenders win 3 or more tricks both teams score||2|
|Defender Reneges against lone Bidder (regional)||4|
The first team to score 10 (sometimes 5, 7, 11, or 15) points wins the game. Some players choose to play win by two where there is no winner until a team has more than 10 points and 2 points more than both opposing teams. If Defending Teams Euchre the Bidding team both Defending Teams score 2.
Most things are identical to the 4-handed game with these exceptions:
Use a deck of three red suits and three black suits. The players divide into three teams of two players. Teammates should be sitting directly across the table from each other (there should be two players between partners on either side).
There will be three bowers: one right and two left. In both suits of the same color as trump, the jack is a left bower; the first one played outranks the second. Otherwise the rank of cards is as in normal play.
First team to get 10 points wins the game.
Use two standard Euchre decks of A, K, Q, J, 10 and 9 with a total of 48 cards. The players then divide into two teams of three players each. The teammates sit every other seat rotating around the table so teammates don't sit next to each other. The dealer deals out all of the cards, giving every player eight cards in their hand.
Most of the rules are the same as with regular Euchre, except how trump is made and how scoring is done. Both are more like bid Euchre. You bid how many tricks you can get going around the table once. The winning bidder picks the trump. The minimum bid is three, and the loners are Little and Big Shooters. With both you go alone, the only difference is in Little Shooter you get partner's best from both of your teammates. With both shooters, the player must get all tricks or they get set. Another difference is if the same card is played, such as both rights bowers, the first one laid is the winner.
To win, a team has to get 32 points on a turn when they make trump. If the team gets 32 points didn't make trump, then they need 34 points to win.
The players divide into four teams of two players. Teammates should be sitting directly across the table from each other (there should be three people between partners on either side). There will be 4 bowers, 1 right and 3 left.
The rank of Trump goes as follows:
First team to get 10 points wins the game.
A variation is played in Southern Ontario with nine players. Similar to the 6-handed game with the exception of the details below.
When the Dealer turns up a Joker
Because Jokers do not have suits printed on them, the players determine how to handle this scenario before it happens. Below are several possibilities.
When the jokers are not named Some decks of cards specify "Big" or "Little" on the Jokers. For other decks, you can add a 1 and a 2 to the index portion of the Jokers with a marker as well as "Big" and "Little" on their faces for ease of identification. It is very helpful to include the 1 and 2 on the indexes since typical Jokers have barely distinguishable icons in the corners.
Some decks have a red Joker and a black Joker. With these, it helps to decide if they will have fixed ranks written on them (prev. ¶) or whether their ranks will depend on the color of trump (i.e., red Joker is highest when trump is diamonds or hearts, and second-highest when clubs or spades; black Joker vice versa).