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Euchre - the Card Game

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Euchre (pronounced yuker) is a card game brought to the Northeast section of North America by French settlers. It now enjoys popularity in Eastern Canada as well as summer camps across America. It resembles bridge mildly, but requires less thought, making it the perfect game to play if you wish to continue your conversation.

The Set-up

  • Four players, in two pairs (two or even three person Euchre is also played, but is less interesting).

  • The upper-half of a deck of cards (nines through to aces).

  • A good flat surface around which the players sit facing their partners.

There are three sections to each hand of Euchre: dealing, declaring trump, and actually playing out the hand.


Dealing consists of shuffling impressively, rigging the deck in your favour (optional), and then asking the player to your right to 'cut or tap'. This person can then tap the deck, leaving it as is, or make a cut in an attempt to kill a rig. If a dealer neglects to ask this, the other team may call a misdeal, at which point the hand is over, and deal passes to the next person (which it does after each hand, going in a clockwise direction).

Then the dealer deals five cards to each player, going clockwise, starting with the player to their left. This is usually done by giving out two, then three (to your partner), then two, then three (to you), then three, then two, then three, then two. The remaining four cards are placed faced down on the middle, and the top card is flipped up for all to see.


Now that you've dealt, it's time to declare trump. The trump is the suit that will beat any card of any other suit. The oddity of Euchre, however, is that once a suit is declared trump, its Ace is no longer the highest card. The Jack (Bauer) of that suit becomes the highest card of the game, and is known as the Right. But, another twist - the Jack that is the same colour (black or red) but a different suit magically becomes the second highest card in the game, and is known as the Left (so if Hearts were trump, the Jack of Hearts would be Right and the Jack of Diamonds would be the Left). Thus the order of bigwig cards is Right, Left, Ace, King, Queen, Ten, Nine.

So - the suit of card on top of the pile is discussed first. Starting with the player to the left of the dealer, going clockwise, each player is given the opportunity to either 'knock' or tell the dealer to 'pick it up'. The former indicates passing on declaring that card trump, the latter declares the suit trump, but gives the dealer a card of trump. So if you have several high Hearts, and there's a Nine of Hearts on the pile, you say 'pick it up'; but if you have only low Hearts, and the Jack of Hearts is on the pile, it's not smart. Then again, if the dealer is your partner, you will want to give him something good.

If the first three players knock, the dealer can either pick it up and discard a card (usually a low non-Trump) face down on the pile, or flip the card over face down. Then each player has the opportunity to declare any other suit trump, or knock. If all three other players knock, the dealer must make a call, however bad1. You now have trump.


Time for the other bit - playing out the hand. The player to the left of the dealer leads, usually a high non-trump. Each player must, if they can, follow suit. If they don't, the other team can declare a renege, and they get two points. The highest card of that suit wins, unless someone throws a trump card, in which case the highest trump wins. Then this occurs again, with the player who won the previous trick leading. If, at some point, a player has more than one card which they know will win, (such as Right and Left) they can lead both at once, and the other players must do so also. This continues until all cards are played. The team that wins at least three tricks wins.

How to Score

You have now completed one hand of Euchre. Scoring is as follows:

  • If you (your team) call trump, and you win, but not all five tricks, you get one point.

  • If they call trump, and you win, it's called a Euche (say: yuke), and you get two points.

  • If you take all five tricks, it's a shutout, and you get two points.

  • In the event of a shutout Euche, you get four points.

  • If you, when you call trump, say 'alone', which means your partner puts their cards down and does not play, and you still manage a shutout, you get four points.

Now, it's the player to the left of the dealer's turn to deal. Play continues, generally until one team hits ten points. But you can go on indefinitely if you like.

1In some regions, the players are given the option of not playing out that hand.

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