Euchre is usually played with 2 teams of 2.
The standard 52-card pack is stripped to make a deck of 24 cards (A, K, Q, J, 10, 9 of each suit.
The highest trump is the jack of the trump suit, called the “right bower.” The second-highest trump is the jack of the other suit of the same color called the “left bower.” (Example: If diamonds are trump, the right bower is the Jack of Diamonds and left bower is the Jack of Hearts. The remaining trumps, and also the other suits, rank as follows: A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9.
The dealer has the right to shuffle last. The pack is cut by the player to the dealer’s right. The cut must have at least four cards in each side of the cut.
The cards are dealt clockwise, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer. Each player receives five cards. The dealer may give a round of three at a time, then a round of two at a time, or may give two, then three; but the dealer must adhere to whichever distribution plan he begins with. After the first deal, the deal passes to the player on the dealer’s left.
On completing the deal, the dealer places the rest of the pack in the center of the table and turns the top card face up. Beginning with the player to the left of the dealer, each player either accepts the turned-up card as trump or passes. If the turned-up card is accepted as trump by any player, the dealer has the right to exchange the turned-up card for another card in his hand of his choice.
If the choice comes around to the dealer, he can either accept the turned-up card as trump or signify refusal of the turned-up card by removing the card from the top and placing it face up partially underneath the pack; this is called “turning it down.”
If all four players pass in the first round, each player in turn, starting with the player to the dealer’s left, has the option of passing again or of naming another suit as trump. The suit that was rejected, however, cannot be named as trump at this point.
If all four players pass in the second round, the cards are gathered and shuffled, and the next dealer deals. Once the trump is determined, either by acceptance of the turned-up card or by the naming of another suit, the bidding ends and play begins. The team that chose the trump suit is called “The Makers” and the other team is called “The Defenders”.
The goal for the Makers is to win at least three tricks. If the Makers fail to get at least three tricks, they are said to be “euchred.” Winning all five tricks is called a “March.”
If the player who chose the trump suit believes it will be to their side’s advantage to play without the help of their partner’s cards, the player exercises this option by declaring “alone” at the time of choosing the trump, before play begins. This player’s partner then turns their cards face down and does not participate in the play.
The opening lead is made by the player to the dealer’s left, or if this player’s partner is playing alone, it is made by the player across from the dealer. If possible, each player must follow the suit led. If unable to follow suit, the player may trump or discard any card. A trick is won by the highest trump card played or, if the trick contains no trumps, by the highest card of the suit led. The Left Bower is considered a member of the trump suit and not a member of its native suit. The winner of the trick leads next.
The player to the dealer’s left begins play by leading any card of any suit, including trump. Play continues in clockwise order; each player must follow suit if they have a card of the suit led.
After all five tricks have been played, the hand is scored. The player to the left of the previous dealer then deals the next hand, and the deal moves clockwise around the table until one partnership scores 10 points and wins the game.
The following shows all scoring situations:
• The Makers win 3 or 4 tricks – Makers score 1 point
• The Makers win 5 tricks (a March) – Makers score 2 points
• Lone hand Maker wins 3 or 4 tricks – Makers score 1 point
• Lone hand Maker wins 5 tricks (a March) – Makers score 4 points
• Makers or lone hand is euchred – Defenders score 2 points
The first player or partnership to score 10 points (or 5 or 7 if agreed beforehand), wins the game.
The usual method of keeping score is with cards lower than those used in play. When the game is to 10 points, for example, each side uses a 6-spot and a 4-spot card of the same color as markers. To indicate a score of 1 to 5, the four is placed face down on the 6, with the number of pips exposed indicating the score. For a score of 6 or higher, the six and the four are turned face up and both cards are used to indicate the score.
Rubbers: If you prefer to play multiple games, the first team to win two games wins the rubber.
Reference for rules, 3-handed Euchre, and other variations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euchre
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