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How To Play the British Version of Euchre
Euchre is a plain-trick card game which is usually played by 4 players in a fixed partnership. 5 cards are dealt to each player, and the object of the game is to win at least 3 of the 5 tricks, with an extra bonus being awarded for winning all 5.
History of the Game
Euchre is believed to have evolved from a game called Jucker, which was popular in France during the late 1700s. In the early 1800s, Euchre found its way to the United States. The year 1872 saw the introduction of the Joker card. Later in the 1800s, the United States Navy would be responsible for the steady growth of Euchre throughout the English-speaking parts of the world. Euchre would continue to grow in popularity in the military throughout the 20th century.
In the 19th century, it was regarded by many as the national card game of America. Since then, its popularity has declined among the general population, although it is still very popular in certain regions. These include: Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, upstate New York, and Pennsylvania. The game is also very popular in the British Isles, Canada, and Australia.
Rules of the Game
To play Euchre, a deck of 25 cards is used. These cards consist of the A-K-Q-J-10-9 (in each of the 4 suits), as well as one Joker. The 2 of spades is often used as substitute by those who have no joker in their pack.
The trump suit has 8 cards which rank from highest to lowest as follows:
Benny (or Best Bower) - Joker
Right Bower - Jack of the trump suit
Left Bower - the other Jack of the same color as the trump suit
The other suits have cards ranking in value from Ace down to 9. It should be noted that Benny and Left Bower effectively count as belonging to the trump suit. For example: if hearts are trumps, then the jack of diamonds is a heart. It can be played to a heart lead. If it is led, then hearts must be followed.
The first player to deal is chosen at random. From there on, the deal passes in a clockwise direction. The dealer then shuffles the cards and the player to the dealer's left may choose to either cut the cards or "bump" them, meaning to knock on the cards indicating that they should be dealt as they are.
5 cards are then dealt to each player in two rounds. On the first round, the dealer may give the player either two or three cards at a time. On the second round, the dealer gives the player whatever number of cards will bring his total to 5 cards. After all cards have been dealt to the players, the dealer turns the next card face-up. This card is used to help determine the trump suit. The remaining four cards in the deck are left face-down and not used.
Next, the players begin the process of determining the trump suit and finding out which team are the "makers," meaning the team which must try and win 3 tricks. This begins with the player to the dealer's left. The player has the option of accepting the up-card's suit as the trump suit or passing. This works as follows:
1. The player to the dealer's left may pass or say, "I order it up."
2. If the first player passes, the dealer's partner may either pass or say, "I turn it down."
3. If these two players pass, then the player to the dealer's right may either pass or say, "I order it up."
4. If all 3 players pass, then the dealer may take the up-card, saying "I take it up," or he may turn the up-card face-down.
If either of the dealer's opponents decides to order it up, or if the dealer decides to take it up, then the suit of the up-card becomes the trump suit. The dealer then adds the up-card to his hand and discards one card face-down. It should be noted that the dealer's partner cannot make trumps and play with a partner. The dealer's partner can only make the turned up suit trumps by playing the hand alone. If the dealer's partner says, "I turn it down," then the dealer's cards are placed face-down on the table and the dealer's partner plays alone (with the turned up suit acting as the trump).
If all 4 players pass on the up-card, then it is turned face-down and a second round begins. In this round, players have the option of making any suit the trump. Like before, the player to the dealer's left goes first, and he may pass or name a suit. If he passes, it moves to the next player in a clockwise direction. If all 4 players pass again, the cards are thrown in and the next player deals.
When a player does choose to make the trump (rather than passing), that team is known for the rest of the hand as the "makers," while the other team is known as the "defenders." If the Benny (Joker) is turned up, then the dealer's team is automatically considered the makers. At this point, the dealer must select a trump suit without first looking at his cards. The dealer then picks up their 5 cards plus the Benny and discards one.
Before the first card has been played on the table, any player may announce that they are playing alone. If this occurs, the player's partner places their cards face-down on the table and does not participate in the hand. It also possible that a player from each team chooses to play alone. If this happens, the hand will be played out between only the 2 players.
If all 4 players are in the game, then play begins with the player to the dealer's left. This player leads the first trick. If, however, one person is playing alone, then the player to that person's left leads first. If only two people are playing, then the defender leads.
Any type of card may be led, and each player must try and follow suit. If a player cannot follow suit, then he or she may play any card. Benny and Left Bower are considered trumps, and they do not belong to any other suit.
The trick is won by whoever played the highest card of the led suit. If a trump is played, then the highest trump wins the trick. The winner of the trick leads on the next hand.
If the makers win 3 or 4 tricks, then they score 1 point. If the makers win all 5 tricks, then they score 2 points. If the makers capture fewer than 3 tricks, then they are said to be "euchred," and the defenders score 2 points. If a member of the makers is playing alone and captures all 5 tricks, then the team scores 4 points instead of 2. If a member of the defender's team is playing alone and wins at least 3 tricks, then the defenders score 4 points instead of 2.
The game is normally played until one team reaches 11 points, but it is not uncommon for people to play to either 10 or 15.
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