Thursday, December 28, 2006
So, how might a euchre player use this con? Simple. He wears a set of headphones like he's a bigtime poker player or he's expecting an important phone call, non-euchre related of course. His confederate stands behind the Left hand opponent and peeks at her cards. He then relays important information about the opponent's hand so our cheat will know what to order.
1. Don't fall for the old "headphone in the ear" trick. Require your opponent's ears to be unobstructed. No hats either!
2. Don't let anyone see your cards. Hold your cards as if every eye in the place is trying to see what you have. Look at your cards, memorize your euchre hand them using these tips, and put them down.
It is hard enough to win at euchre without having to overcome cheaters. As you play in those New Year's Euchre Tournaments, watch yourself out there.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
1. Tournament Euchre Chart. Hey, who couldn't use one of these?
2. Euchredoodle. Because keeping score with cards is just not cool.
3. Card and mug set. What euchre player wouldn't love these?
4. Magnetic Cards. Great for playing outside when it's windy.
5. Columbus Book of Euchre . Natty may be nutty but he knows his euchre.
6. Hardwood euchre software. One of the best places to play on the net.
7. Euchre gift pack. It's all in one place.
8. Waterproof playing cards. A must for spring training.
9. Hoyle card games. The euchre game is decent. Great when you can't find opponents.
10. "I love euchre" t-shirt. Our recommendation until the folks at Euchrelinks come out with a shirt.
Of course, if you need to know where to send something to the Euchre Universe, just send an email and we'll get you an address right away! ;)
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
We can find the answer by looking at the euchre point ordering strategy. The point system is derived from euchre probabilities. That is the chances that a card will win a trick. We can only approximate these probabilities because it is highly dependant on the other cards at the table. However, by simulating a large number of hands we can see patterns start to emerge. For example, an off-Ace (in the Next suit) will win about 44% of the time. In a green suit it is about 50% of the time that an Ace wins.
Now, if we can figure out the average value for any card by taking the average of all the probabilities. This turns out to be about 24.8%.
Since you have 5 cards in your hand, you can simply multiple that probability by 5 to get the average expectation. This turns out to be about 124%. Therefore, you should expect the average euchre hand to win 1.24 tricks thus this validation of the idea that you should "always count on your partner to win a trick."
Of course, this is all very rough mathematics. It is quite variable in any specific case. For example, if your hand is better than average someone else's hand will be worse than average and will not be able to win a single trick.
So, if your partner doesn't happen to win her trick don't be too hard on her. Sometimes you're on the wrong side of average.
New Space: I'm trying a new MySpace account. Come check it out and send me a friend invite if you like.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
According to the article germs from sick players get on their hands, then on their cards, and then on you. And this hand-washing nag says that if people would just wash their hands at the right times they will never suffer a cold again. Yeah right.
We here at the Euchre Universe believe that this is an excellent new gambit that can improve your game. You use it like this.
1. Dazzle your opponents with all the stats and info from this study. This will get them nervous.
2. Cough and sniff often.
3. Be very apologetic and suggest that you might be coming down with something.
Your opponents will be so distracted with the potential cold they might pick up that their card game will go to hell. And when that happens winning will be easy.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Book: Win at Euchre
Author: Thomas A. Gallagher
Rating: 2 out of 5 chickens
Overall: This book has some interesting content including a unique point system for evaluating your hand. However, it is also disorganized, complicated and way overpriced for what you get. It's worth reading but don't expect much.
Truth be told, I only ordered this book because I needed to push my Amazon order over the $25 mark to get free shipping. Sure, it seemed like an interesting enough book but I would rather have found it in a used bookstore or an old library copy. No matter, I got the new book and here's what I think.
The book was immediately disappointing. I was expecting a book but what I got was an $8 pamphlet. I felt ripped off before opening it. It's puny! 29 pages with 4 extra inserted in the middle. And the pages are 3 inches wide. Puny! The cover is clever, but hardly worth $8. On the inside the book switches different font sizes and overall looks pretty amateurish. Its design is reminiscent of The Columbus Book of Euchre but at least that book was substantial. I don’t know what it is about these euchre books. Clearly design is not a top priority.
As we saw with The Columbus Book of Euchre, poor design can be compensated with great content. Unfortunately, Win at Euchre falls short in this area too. The book is not laid out in any kind of chapter form so it’s difficult to explain the layout. Basically, it has 6 sections: History, Rules, Ordering, Playing Strategies, Tournament suggestions, and a Glossary.
While it’s understandable to begin a card book with some bit of history it feels like filler in this book. Why do we need to know about the history of cards? And according to at least one expert the information about the history of euchre is not exactly right either.
The second section of rules covers the game as we play it here in the Euchre Universe. If you’re a beginner they may not be too helpful and if you’re a veteran you won’t need them. This section is mostly for someone who hasn’t played the game in a while and needs a refresher.
The point system is the real meat of this book and that’s what comes next. Having independently created a euchre point system of my own, I was interested in seeing how Gallagher’s works. Overall, the system seems complicated. It gives the same value to a Left Bower as a Right Bower. Then it has different values for aces whether they are singletons, doubletons or tipletons. This mathematically makes sense but it complicates things.
And then using the system to order it up is also a bit complicated. There are 4 possible requirements for picking it up. Then it says to order your partner up with 2 trump. But it doesn’t take into account the up card or the score. For example, if your team has scored 6 points and your dealing partner turns up a bower, you should pass with almost any hand just to give her a chance to go alone and win the game. Subtle plays like this are not considered in this point system. Of course, this is a shortcoming of my own point system but I’m working on fixing that.
The rest of the book has some interesting tid-bits but some of the information is just not right. For example, it suggests that you shouldn’t order up with 2 bowers. This is true sometimes but at other times this is just wrong. If you are sitting first seat, a red Upcard is turned down and you have the two red bowers, you should definitely order up the Next suit.
The glossary provides some interesting euchre lingo but is certainly not comprehensive. And the information about euchre tournaments is short. He does finish the book with a poem which I certainly appreciate. But that’s not enough to save this pamphlet. Buy the book if you like, just don’t expect much.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
In the first game, we traded points until the score was 3-3. Then our opponent calls a loner. She had Right, Left, Ace of trump (diamonds) and the Ace and Queen of spades. Neither my partner or I had enough trump or even 2 spades. That put the score 3-7 and we never recovered. Stupid loners.
In the second game we started out alright. Scored our own loner to go ahead 4-1. But on the very next hand, they ordered a loner and made it to make the score 4-5. And it was an unstopable loner no matter how we played it. Next, it was my deal and I tried for a loner. It was foiled on the last trick when the Ace of clubs covered my King of clubs. Blast! Score 5-5.
Next they euchred us when my partner made a Next call with Left, Ace, Queen and two hearts. She led the Left which was covered by the Right. A heart came back and the opponents won it. Then the Ace of diamonds was led was led from the person who was to the right of my partner and we were sunk. The left hand opponent had the King of trump and was short in diamonds. Every play possible by my partner would've led to a euchre. And that's what happend. Score 5-7.
They made it to the barn and we scored a couple more points when we euchred them. 7-9. On the last hand, the opponents were dealing and the Jack of Diamonds comes up. My partner passes. I'm sitting third seat and I look down at 9 diamonds, 10,9 clubs, 10 spades, 9 hearts. Just out of spite I ordered it up. We got euchred in glorious fashion. (The dealer had both bowers and the Ace of trump).
The match, playoffs, and season were all over on that hand. Blasted cards! Like I said before, in euchre and in life...
I'd rather be lucky than good.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
The night started off brillantly. We played a couple of decent enough guys. Decent is a comment on their personalities not their play. Perhaps they are much better players than they showed in our match, but last night they had me scratching my head. How the hell could they be the 6th ranked team in this league?
The first game was a battle. We traded point for point until the game was tied 4-4. Then my LHO makes a loner to put us down 4-8. We battled back to 8-8 and won the game by euchring a questionable call by my RHO. But the seeds of doubt about one of our opponent's ability were sewn. He orderd us up (giving my partner the Right) from the first seat with Left, Ace, King of trump. But then he leads out the Ace of Spades. I trump & win with the lowly 10 (a singleton) and lead back the Ace of clubs. Everyone follows and we euchre them when my partner throws out the Right. A bold move that lost them the game. Clearly, he doesn't know the LTD rule. Lead Trump Dammit!
But the wheels really fell off in the second game. LHO goes alone right away. He has 4 trump (hearts) headed by the Left. His off-card was the King of spades. I lead the Queen of spades, partner plays the Ace and it wins. Our opponent pouts "that was the only thing that could beat me!" Next, she leads another spade. LHO trumps in with the King. I hold the Right, Queen and 10 of trump. Instead of overtrumping, I through a club. The opponent leads out the Left which I promptly cover with my Right. I lead the Queen of trump, he plays the Ace and is euchred when he tries to float the 9 of trump. That was terrible luck for my opponent. Getting euchred with Left, Ace, King, 9 trumps, plus an off-suit 10.
Unfortunately for them, he started to press, we euchred them 2 more times and were winning 6-0 after three hands. A sweep and a euchre gave us the game and match 10-0.
Next, we played against a couple of guys who were decent except for 2 pieces of strategy they followed. First, they would order it up and not lead trump. It mostly worked out for them but they got lucky on a couple of plays. But the worst thing was the donation strategy. They were winning 7-1 after making a laydown loner. My LHO orders me up the Queen of trump with only the 9 in his hand. We easily euchre them to push the score to 3-7. "I didn't want you guys to make a loner."
Now, I love the donation strategy but not when you're winning 7-1! When the score was 8-5 in the same game he donated again! Eventually, the score was 9-9 and we unfortunately lost when they turned over spades and ordered in Clubs. Yes, my partner could've ordered up spades (she had 3 and I had the left) but she was momentarily distracted and she just passed. The second game gave us more unfortunate luck.
After starting with a 2 point sweep, they proceded to get all the cards (even a loner). Eventually, they won 10-6. Now we move to the loser's bracket. We still have a shot to win it all, and that's just what we want to do. Stay tuned for details next week.
The Euchre Universe will be heading out of town for vacation so no posts 'til next week. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Thursday, November 16, 2006
They had J♦ J♥ A♣ J♣ 9♣. His team is losing 6-8 and he is sitting first chair left of the dealer. The Ace of spades is turned down. What should you do? Order up hearts, diamonds, clubs or pass? Bring partner with or go alone?
Here are some possibilities with some comments.
1. Order Clubs. You'll have a pretty good chance of making your point but you have 2 losers in the red suits.
2. Order Red. Diamonds or hearts aren't really different. You've got 2 guaranteed winners and a probable winner in clubs.
3. Pass. You've got 2 winners in all suits. If the opponents order they're in trouble. If your partner orders, a sweep is likely.
The euchre universe point system shows that ordering Clubs is inferior to a red call. In clubs you have 20 points total. In a red suit you have 24 points. Clearly, you shouldn't order clubs.
Passing could lead to a euchre but you are gambling that your opponents or partner will order. If opponents do order, they've probably got 3 or 4 trump and will have a great chance of making it. Also, euchre is a game for assertive players. Passing is a losing game.
The best option is to order up one of the red suits. Unless you've seen other cards flashed, there really isn't a difference between hearts or diamonds. I like hearts so that's what I'd order.
The only question remaining. Do you go alone or with partner?
The point system says go alone (>23 points). The chances of you being euchred are remote and the chances of you scoring a march alone and winning the game is great. That's what I'd do.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
The first game didn't start out so good. We lost a heartbreaker. Barn to barn with their deal. They turn up the Jack of clubs and proceed to pummel us. You know if you are the dealer, you have about a 70% chance of getting a point. Probability was on their side.
In game two, we opened up a can of euchre whoop ass! They scored the first point then I scored a loner (a 5 trump, near lay-down). Next, we euchred them when my LHO picked up the Jack of spades with no help. Some truly adept play by my partner scored us that one. I knew there was a reason she was the valedictorian of our high school class.
We finished off the game with a weak loner. I had 2 clubs (A, 10) and 3 diamonds (J, K, Q). RHO was dealing and the Queen of clubs was up. I passed as did everyone else in that round. Since we were in the pasture (6 points) I opted to try and win it right there with a diamond loner. I led out the Right and drew 1 trump. Next I threw the King and no one else had trump left. The Ace of clubs drew out the King making the 10 of clubs a winner. We win 10-2.
The final game was a little more challenging. They took a 6-3 lead and it felt like we were done. But we hung in there and euchred them a couple of times. We finished the game and match with a 10-7 win.
Our second match was against the top seed. This guy/girl team was pretty good competition. We traded points the first two hands, but then the guy scored a loner. We rallied back to make it a 6-6 game. Unfortunately, our cards stalled and we ended up losing 7-10.
Game two was a little bit better. My partner made a loner to put us up 4-1. Then they rallied back until the score was tied at 5. But a euchre and a loner finished off the game to push it to a deciding third game.
This is where things got grim. Our opponents jumped to a 7-3 lead. According to the euchre calculator, we only had about a 20% chance of winning. But that's just what happened. A euchre, a sweep and we were right back in it. We won going away 10-7. We got to the barn from 5 points when I called up a loner on a weak 4 trump hand. A next call would've killed us but they didn't make it. Lucky for us.
So, we advance to next week undefeated. Things are looking up.
Euchre Strategy: If you can go alone, take a chance and do it.
Friday, November 10, 2006
And if you want to see a video of it in action, check out this one over at Youtube.com. The second version in this video is known as the Charlier Cut and it's the one I most often use.
While you're at it, you might want to learn to just shuffle a deck of cards one handed. This will take a bit more practice than the cuts. Here is a video version that is pretty good.
But all of these card handling skills will be useful for intimidating your opponents at the euchre table. And since euchre is a game with a significant amount of luck, any edge you can get over your opponent is worthwhile.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
No matter. We eeked out the victory, catapulting us to the playoffs with some momentum.
I did stumble upon the following interesting hand. It is a strange case where 3 trump is better than 4.
Jack, Ace King Clubs
Jack, King Spades
My partner was the dealer and the upcard was a heart. Everyone passed and the option came back around to me. What should I call? Clubs alone or Spades alone?
Clubs. A club call would've given me the 4 top trump and an off-king. Not a bad hand for a loner but it can be beat.
Spades. A spade call would've given me 3 trump with an off-Ace, King.
I chose to play Spades as trump. The first lead was the Ace of diamonds. Both opponents followed and I ruffed with the King of spades. Next I led the Right and then the Left. This bled out all the trump and my Ace and King of clubs were winners. 4 points for my side.
If I would've called Clubs trump, my King of Spades would've lost to my RHO who had the Ace of Spades.
Bottom line...when it comes to trump, sometimes less is more.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Here is a website put together by Bob Lancaster of some really interesting cards. Looks like he was really good at updating until about 2003. But the interface is pretty cool and he's got all sorts of interesting cards. My favorite is the Snoopy deck. The joker is Snoopy as a juggler. Anyone who has seen my other blog (Just Your Average Joggler) knows my affinity for juggling.
Tonight is league night and the last day of the regular season. I think we've made the playoffs but a win tonight would be key. It would also give us a good seed so I'm really hoping for good cards and great playing.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Early on in the game (score 2-4) my partner orders me up giving me the king of trump. That puts into my hand Left-King, off Ace (green), and 2 dud cards. I was three suited.
First trick: Opponent leads heart, my partner follows, trumped by RHO, I throw my ace.
Second trick: Opponent leads Ace of clubs. Everyone follows.
Third trick: Opponent leads hearts again. Instead of trumping like I should, I opt to throw off. LHO plays Ace of trump and my partner throws a heart. Euchre.
I should've trumped in. Although, I still would've lost if I trumped in with the King instead of the Left. I just figured my partner to have a nice high trump and she did (right, nine)
but she never got a chance to play it.
We've got four victories going into the last week and I think our spot in the playoffs is assured. But I really would've liked to have won last night. We are better players than we showed last night.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Anyway, there was a hand where our opponents went alone, and I had the following.
9 of clubs (trump)
K, 10 of spades
K of hearts
K of diamonds
The opponent was on my right so it was my turn to lead.
Trick 1: I lead the King of diamonds, partner follows with the Ace and my opponent trumps in.
Trick 2: He next leads the right bower and I play my 9 of trump. My partner plays the 10.
Trick 3: He next plays the left bower and now I have to decide
...do I play the King of Hearts or the 10 of spade?
I played the King of Hearts and it worked out. My opponent next led the Ace of spades and then the Jack of spades which I took with my King to stop the loner sweep.
My reasoning for throwing away the King of Hearts was that I thought about how my opponent plays and what he might have gone alone with. He was a conservative player and rarely went alone. I figured he had a 2 suited hand with either 3 or 4 trump. If he had a 3 trump hand then I wanted to protect my King of Spades in the event that his other suit was spades. The King of Hearts is no good here unless he went alone with something like 4 trump and the Queen of Hearts. Fortunately, this wasn't the case.
Bottom line: When someone goes alone, keep your long suits long
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Your side has ordered it up.
You need to win the last two tricks to make either a sweep or to prevent a euchre.
The first three tricks have been played and your partner was good enough to win the last trick with a trump. Now, you have the lone trump remaining and you also have a King of an off-suit that has yet to be led.
Your partner leads an off-suit King of another suit that was never led. The opponent on your right follows with the Queen of that suit.
Now it's your turn to decide, should you ruff (play trump) or should you play your off-suit King and hope that your partner's King will win the trick?
To find the answer you need to figure out the probability of two events and do the one that has the highest chance of winning.
Event 1: Letting your partner's King win the trick.
To figure out the chances in this case, let's review the overall situation at trick 4.
Your partner has 1 card left
Your right hand opponent has 1 card left
You have 2 cards left
Your left hand opponent has 2 cards left
The talon (kitty) has 3 unknown cards
There is only 1 card that can beat your partner's king.
There are 5 unknown cards that are relavant (2 in left hand opponent's hand and 3 in the talon)
There is a 40% chance that the Ace lies in left hand opponent's hand and a 60% chance it's in the talon.
So, mathematics would say if you let it go you have a 60% chance or winning and a 40% chance of losing.
Event 2: Ruff your partner's trick and lead you mighty King.
In this situation everyone has 1 card left.
You, the off-king of a suit that hasn't been led
Left and right opponents - 1 card
Partner - 1 card
Talon - 3 unknown cards
Again, your opponents have 2 chances to hold the card and the talon has 3 chances. We assume your partner doesn't have the Ace else he would've led it.
That means the chances of you winning with the King is 60%. And the chances of you losing is 40%.
Bottom line...Mathematically, there is no difference. However, if you can pick up on some psychological clues about who might be holding a high card, then you can adjust your play accordingly.
That's all for today from The Euchre Universe.
Sorry about the sparse posts, I've been training hard and focusing on my efforts to joggle the Chicago Marathon
Thursday, October 19, 2006
The Law and Practice of the Games of Euchre.
Sure, it was written in 1862 but the game hasn't changed much since then. I haven't read it yet however, when I do I'll write a book review. We've written one previously (Columbus Book of Euchre) on this site.
I love Google. Free and useful stuff.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Here are a few tips on how to subtly lift the deal without your opponents noticing.
1. Become a card gatherer. Most times people flop their tricks on the table in an disorganized pile. Cards are not lined up and sometimes they are even exposed. When the hand is over, make it a point to gather up and straighten all the cards. Then hand the cards to the appopriate dealer. After a while, you can either keep the cards or hand them to your partner when it's not really your team's turn to deal. If you're opponents aren't paying attention, you've successfully stolen the deal.
2. Take the cards with confidence. When you are trying to execute the steal the deal maneauver, sometimes you can bodly just take the cards, quickly shuffle, and deal. As long as you flip the upcard, the deal stands. Speed and confidence are key with this ploy.
3. Distract with patter. The key to stealing the deal is to catch your opponents not paying attention to the game. One way to do this is to engage them in a conversation. Successful topics generally include subjects about them. Ask them where they work, what they do, how they like their life. If that's not working, bring up a normally taboo topic like politics, abortion or religion and take a contraian view to their own. They'll be so busy defending their beliefs that they won't notice you dealing the cards.
Having the deal is an incredible advantage in euchre. If you can steal the deal just a couple of times during a euchre match, this might be just the advantage you need to defeat your opponents. Use these tips and see if you can start stealing the deal yourself. Just one word of caution, make sure you pay attention yourself. You don't want your opponents stealing the deal on you.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Here is a short video of my lucky rubber chicken in action. Whenever I win a point, make a loner, euchre the opponents, or just sense a need for rubber chicken frivolity I "squeeze the chicken." Check out the video below.
That makes me wonder about the rest of you in the Euchre Universe. What are your good luck trinkets, props, or habits at the euchre table?
Monday, October 09, 2006
Our final installment of the World Series of Euchre Report. Click on the appropriate number to find parts one, two and three.
Thanks so much to Harvey "the Rabbit" Lapp from Euchre Links for a great report. And good luck next year Harv. Perhaps Euchre links and the Euchre Universe can team up and take the title.
Sunday, Sept. 17th:
After breakfast, I checked down at the tournament site. I was told that they hadn't finished all the games the night before, and that the WSOE wouldn't be over until at least 2pm. There was now a dilemma. Football started at 1pm.
You see, in Vegas, I work on Sundays, and I never get to see live football. Adding to that, my favorite team is from back east, and not available on regular television in Nevada. Plus, I live on the wrong side of the building to get satellite t.v. at home, so I can't even record my game and watch it later. Now, here I was in Lansing, MI trying to decide whether or not I should watch a euchre tournament that I had been eliminated from (granted, it is the big one), or go to a sports bar about a block away to watch my favorite football team. Easy choice; I watched football! Sorry euchreheads, but it's just not as much fun watching euchre when you aren't playing. However, I find that watching football is quite enjoyable, and never get tempted to go in and take a snap.
I couldn't honestly tell you who won it all, but Joe Andrews will be posting it soon at http://grandprixtournaments.com. My congratulations to them! Mozeltoff!Overall, I had a great time, and plan on returning again next year.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Part 3: So close and yet so far. Our heros make a valiant effort but fall short of their World Series of Ecuhre dreams of glory.
Saturday, Sept. 16th:
10:00 am EST: There was a much rowdier bunch on Saturday. Drinks were flowing early, but I had made a previous agreement with my partner, that I wouldn't touch a drop of alchohol until we were eliminated, or preferably, until we had won the entire tournament.
It became obvious to me that most of the players in the WSOE all knew each other by playing online in Hardwood. I noticed this in Cleveland in 2005, but this year it seemed to be an overwhelming majority, as opposed to about half. Some players we spoke to actually believed that Hardwood was running the World Series and that you had to be a member in order to enter. When we introduced ourselves to our opponents, they usually asked; "what's your names on Hardwood?", and we usually replied; "we don't have any.
Note: I have joined Hardwood since returning home, if for no other reason, so that I will have a name on Hardwood next year.
In our first match of the day, nothing clicked. The cards were terrible for us. The opponents slowly chopped us down and beat us both games. During a brief break afterward, Michael said; "You might as well have a beer Harvey. As soon as we lose another game, we're out of it". I declined on the beer, insisting that we remain positive about our chances. Although I enjoy drinking beer while playing euchre, it dulls the senses and makes it easier to make mistakes. I couldn't afford mistakes at this point in the venture.
Upon returning to the tournament area, we noticed that there were some empty tables. Some of the teams had left after they were eliminated, so Scott Zagol restructured the roadmap to keep 2 teams on each table. This was when Scott announced that "the top 25 percentile was going to make it into the playoffs", giving hope to teams who might finish with 9 or 10 wins.
On that note, the cards began falling into place. We won 6 out of the next 8 games. We found ourselves building up momentum and heading into the final two games with 8 wins, on a pace to finish with 10 wins overall and a possible playoff entry. Joe Andrews then made a heartbreaking announcement before the 9th and final round; only teams with 11 wins were being accepted into the playoffs. Although everyone there knew that you needed 11 wins to get to the playoffs before they started playing, any hope that was offered by Scott earlier to teams with 9 or 10 wins, was suddenly crushed.
Joe's statement eliminated our entire table in fact, so we all took a trip to the bar before the 9th round and bought a round of beers. We played two half-hearted games even though Michael and I scored four loners. I also reneged once and pitched a card off the table, but it didn't really matter. The cards were on fire, but we were eliminated.
Shortly after that, the playoffs began. 16 teams with 11 wins or better played a best-out-of-three, double-elimination tournament to decide who the winners of the WSOE would be.
Michael and I were out of contention, so we sort of hovered around for a while. Word began circulating about a No-Limit Texas Hold-em tournament that was going to take place in the ballroom. My partner Michael might not be the most experienced euchre player in the world, but he plays Texas Hold-em several times a week in Las Vegas with some serious sharks. I didn't want to play poker, as I am burned-out on the game personally, however Michael did. While this game was being organized, and the initial rounds of the play-offs were taking place, Michael went upstairs to the room for a nap and it became "beer:30" for me. Why not? I was on vacation. I'm a mostly a "home-body" back in Vegas believe it or not.
At the bar, I spoke to all sorts of interesting people, including a gentleman from New Zealand who helped me out with a euchre-related project that I have been working on for some time now. I also played some pool with Sammy D. and his wife, a very cool couple I met that lived near Lansing.Unfortunately, word had gotten out about the poker game and hotel security had shut it down before it started, but I found Michael another game that was taking place in one of the rooms. I woke him up and staked half of his roll, and he went up there and easily won everyone's money. Cool beans for us. We got our euchre buy-ins and part of the plane fare back, plus had fun doing it.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
From Harvey "the rabbit" Lapp
Friday, Sept. 15th:
The day of the big show arrived with my partner and I still discussing the same strategies. I planned to donate from first seat with a score of 8 or 9 to 6 or 7, if I had no definite stopper of the turned suit. This tactic is often known as "ordering at the bridge." The other part of that plan is, if I pass (indicating that I have a sure stopper), my partner only orders up if he thinks that he can take two tricks. Michael said that he would also order at the appropriate scenario, that is, if he remembered to. The way I looked at it, if that situation were to come up, we had about a fifty-fifty chance of protecting our interests. The opponents had a much smaller chance of actually scoring a four-point loner though, so I convinced myself that this was okay.
We began registering outside the ballrooms at about 5pm EST, and then had two hours to kill before the tournament started, so we went to Whitecastle for some of those tiny hamburgers that we can't get in Vegas. Our discussion over dinner didn't change much. I tried to pump Michael full of euchre strategy, but I began to feel that I was in danger of blowing a circuit in his brain. He looked confused. Even the concept of "next" seemed to be evading him. I decided that it would be better to just let him "wing it" again. Otherwise, he might not even call hands that he could score with for fear that he would be foiling some plan of mine that he didn't understand. He did assure me that he would order at the bridge at the appropriate time, but I doubted that he would remember to.
The table rules at the WSOE are harsh, as they probably should be. After dealing and offering the cut, the dealer must place a plastic "cut-card" under the deck while dealing. The players can only say; "Pass", "Pick it up" or "Alone." No variations of ordering and no knocks on the table are allowed. When a suit is called or ordered, a trump cube is placed on the kitty with the appropriate suit turned up. No asking "what is trump?", or even worse; "what was picked up?" allowed. Exposed cards, cards played out-of-turn, revokes and everything else mentioned above, score two points for the opponents of the guilty party while setting back the guilty team two points (a four point swing). When any of the above happens during a loner, four points are awarded, while two are taken away on the other side (ouch!).
In the WSOE 2006, each team played two games against 9 opposing teams, for a total of 18 games. On the first night, we played two games each against three different teams. The chip we drew randomly during the registration was N (North/South)-18, which meant that we were stationary on table 18. Our opponents (East/West), had to travel. The East/West teams played two games and moved up one table, each round. The tournament director, Scott Zagol, allowed a one hour time frame to finish the both games, which seemed to work pretty well. Last year in Cleveland, I saw players taking longer just to finish 8 hands (as opposed to two 10 point games) for some reason.
The first game was tense. Everyone was being careful to remember to mark the trump cube and say "Pass", Pick it up" and "Alone" instead of knocking, or using other phrases which are okay back wherever home may be. The game moved along at a decent pace and Michael and I were doing well at first. When we reached a score of 9-6 in favor of us, Murphy's Law took effect. The dealer was to my partner's right. He turned up the Jack of Spades, and my partner looked across the table at me as though he were remembering the "order at the bridge" strategy that I had been cramming down his throat for the past 24 hours. "Pass" he said, giving me a small hope that he was indicating a certain stopper in his hand. I had the nine and ten of Spades and a red Ace, none of which qualified as a definite stopper. I would have ordered up with this hand from Michael's seat, but, the question was, did my partner really have a stopper? I should have ordered it up anyway, not giving my partner a chance to drop the ball. Instead, I "Pass"ed, and was immediately "Alone"d by the dealer. We both passed that bower to him. The dealer had a "lay-down" too, but he followed the rules and played one card at a time. This opening loss set the pace for what was to become a tough evening. We only ended up winning 2 games out of the 6 that night. 3 rounds out of the 9 were complete.
Michael was especially bummed out. He had learned the hard lesson about defensive euchre and the need for conventional card play. He had also reneged during a hand in a later game in which we would have euchred the opponents and won, but instead, he turned himself in and had to hand the game over to them. I did respect Michael's honesty though. We didn't go there to cheat.Back at the bar we discussed more euchre strategy. It was becoming clear to my partner that he was ill-prepared for an endeavor of this magnitude, but we weren't about to give up now. We had been told earlier that it would take 11 wins out of 18 to reach the playoffs, and that was our goal. So we needed to get up the next day and win 9 more games out of the 12 that we had left to play.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Today, we have a special treat. One of our faithful affiliates, Harvy Lapp of the excellent site EuchreLinks.com was able to attend the World Series of Euchre and has filed a report. I’ve never actually been to the WSOE ,so I was keenly interested in hearing about what goes on. As soon as I find out the details of the event next year, I’m in.
The WSOE took place over the weekend of September 15 – 17, 2006 in Lansing, MI. This 4 part report chronicles the adventure of two ex-New Yorkers transplanted in Las Vegas who invade the Midwest hoping for Euchre Glory. What they got were euchre heartbreak, dashed hopes and White Castle “sliders”. Enjoy.
From the perspective of Harvey "the Rabbit" Lapp
Thursday, Sept. 14th:
My partner and I arrived a day early. The flight from Vegas to Lansing was occasionally speckled with further strategy discussion. I had brought my best friend, Michael, on this mission. Although he is a decent card player in general, he is originally from Long Island, NY, and not from the euchre heartland. He only learned euchre a few years ago, and only plays once or twice a month at our bar tournament back home. My partner had been harder to meet up with to prepare our game plan back in Las Vegas than I had anticipated. He works a different shift at the casino than I do, so the plane trip became the bulk of the strategy discussion we've had going into the tournament.
My belief has been, that the best way to prepare for a partnership euchre tournament like the World Series, you have to go over conventions with your partner, such as; (if, and) when to donate, to (or not to) order a bower up to each other (unless going alone) and (whether or not) to always pick up a bower as dealer, etc., so that your partnership is always working cohesively. When you begin with the 50/50 expectation that you have in euchre, you can alter the odds in your favor by consistently making good plays with your partner.
When we checked into the hotel room, I must have bombarded my partner with 30 years worth of euchre strategy. He had no clue that my favorite game could be so complicated. He also was having trouble understanding and accepting the idea of donating at the bridge (or any other form of donation for that matter). Euchre and strategy didn't jive well at first with Michael.
My partner can play some serious eight-ball however, and they happened to have a pool table in the hotel bar, so we got on it right away and began beating up on the local hustler. Michael and I were on an APA team in Las Vegas that came in first place during the last spring session. If this had been a partner's pool tournament we were at, I would have been more optimistic about us taking home the prize.
Later that night at the same bar, Joe Andrews was holding some small, single-elimination euchre tournaments, so we entered one. Michael and I did well, advancing deep, almost winning the whole thing. We did it by "winging it" too. There were no pre-planned tactics employed.
After the tourney, my partner was tired, so he went up to the room and went to sleep. I stayed at the bar, playing small-stakes euchre games until closing time with Tom ("lovin' it") as my partner. Tom and I played very much the same way, making it tough to beat us. We had met last year and played a small tournament together once on Pogo.
Note: I've been in Las Vegas long enough to be rather surprised when a full bar wants to close down. It seems bad for business.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Right away I find it amusing because one of the stated purposes of the society is to "have a damn good time."
But they lose me a little bit in the Composition section where they state that "Members will be inducted only during the awards ceremony...". Inducted members in a euchre society? Ridiculous. Why would you need to have formal membership in a euchre society?
Next they have elelctions and leaders and everything. Very formal. Should euchre be this formal?
The Amendments provide some of the more interesting aspects of this document.
First, it is evident that they play euchre the same way that we play it here in Chicago.
Second, they leave the option of scoring with the 5s or the 6 & 4. We've previously discussed scoring systems and are advocates of the 6 &4 method. Or if you can get them, we also encoursage the use of the euchredoodledandy.
I then find it interesting that they use the term "bid". At least one euchre guru squawks about how this is just wrong terminology. And maybe he is right that it was not originally part of the euchre lexicon but it is so widespread now, that it seems reasonable for everyone to accept that the term "bid" is ok to use for the ordering rounds.
The rest of the rules are pretty standard, although I wonder how they handle scoring for a reneg during a loner. That is to say what if one team is going for a loner and the opponents reneg? Does the former get awarded 4 points or just 2 as indicated in the rules? How does the rest of the Euchre Universe handle this?
There is a list of variations that they don't accept (No Trump for example) and that is notable too. In our league we also accept only the Screw the Dealer variation. It's nice to know that if I'm ever at the University of Michigan I'll be able to play euchre like we do in Chicago.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
I wonder how this would go over with the Urban Tribe. I know the chicken would fit right in.
Option 1 Random Blind Draw Single Elimination. In this type of tournament you put everyone's name in a hat and draw for partners. If you have 20 people at your tournament, that will leave you with 10 teams. Then follow a bracket system like this one and randomly assign people to a team number. Play the first round as a "best of 3" and then play the next 2 rounds as a "best of 5" tournament.
If you'd like to do a double elimination version try one of the other brackets at the site. For more or less players, you’ll need to create different bracket systems.
Option 2 Cut-throat option. In this type of tournament you are on your own and the object is to amass as many points as you can. Each person is randomly assigned a number. Then tables are made up of randomly assigned people. You play euchre for 2 rounds and keep track of the scores. The temporary partnerships each get the number of points that they receive as a team. After 2 rounds of dealing, everyone moves to different tables and gets paired up with new people. The object is to score as many points as possible. The winner is the person who has the highest score after a set amount of table rotations. For 20 people, you could probably do 4 or 5 rotations in an hour. This means you'd rotate about 9 times in a 2 hour tournament. There is no end to the games so people could theoretically score more than 10 points in a given rotation.
Here’s a euchre site that explains this option in more detail. I particularly like the “duck” and the “euchre bingo” ideas. And the idea of having a “ghost” player in the event of an uneven number of players is a pretty good one too. And at the Semi-Official Euchre site they have scorecards for this type of play.
Either system works well. Option 1 is better for the "pure" euchre players because it stays truer to the game. In the cut-throat version sometimes your partner might try to get your team euchred just to ruin your chances of winning.
But Option 2 is better for people who would rather take responsibility for whether they win or lose.
That’s what we’ve got for now. Good luck.
Friday, September 29, 2006
It’s really great because you even get ice cream and cash prizes. Unfortunately, it was conducted last weekend and I was unable to attend due to a conflict with my marathon joggling attempts in Toronto. But next year, I’m putting this one on my calendar. I hope you don't need a blind friend, I don't know any.
Monday, September 18, 2006
When you are dealt the 2 bowers you have 17 points according to the point system of ordering. In reality however, you actually have 20 points. This is because you have both the highest and second highest cards in the deck, meaning that you have a guaranteed 2 tricks. The point system is based on the probability that a card will win a trick. With the top bower you have a probability of 100% of winning a trick. To make things easier, we lop off a zero and make the point score equal to 10. The reason the left bower has a point value of 7 is because there is only a 70% chance that it will win a trick. But when you have the Right and the Left, the Left now has a 100% chance of winning and should have a point value of 10 also.
Anyway, how does this all affect your ordering strategy? Let’s assume you have the two bowers and no other trump. Additionally, you have no off-suit cards higher than a queen.
Two jacks are nice to have as long as that suit is trump. If not, they are just two off-suit losers. Ordering up from any seat is a winning play but in some cases there is an even better strategy.
Seat 1: In this position you shouldn’t order. You have an excellent opportunity to euchre your opponents and if everyone passes you can order in the next suit and have essentially the same hand. The bonus is that you are not giving the opponents a guaranteed trump. This is how you should play this hand no matter what the score.
Seat 2: Generally, you should order up in this position. With 2 winners and another trump in your partner’s hand, your side is going to win much more often than not. You don’t want to pass because unless the opponents are playing the “next” strategy, you likely won’t get the opportunity to order again.
Seat 3: Pass. If your partner is playing the “next” strategy you are golden. If not, you could be in trouble.
Seat 4: Pick it up and go alone (unless you have 8 points). If you have two bowers in your hand and you’re getting another trump, you’ve got 3 winners. If luck is on your side you might march and possibly win the game right there.
The world of euchre just got a little smaller. Here’s a sweet tribute to a euchre player.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
If you ever decide to visit a nudist colony, you’ll be happy to know that you can still enjoy a Wednesday or Friday night game of euchre. The next time you’re in …. Check out the Cyprus Cove nudist resort and spa. Located just 40 minutes out side of Orlando.
Monday, September 11, 2006
A new season starts
Perfect play is possible
But will still need luck
Tonight starts the next euchre league. We’ve been out of it for the whole summer but my partner and I are back. Since our last match I’ve learned a few things about euchre and hope to convince my partner to employ some of the winning strategies. For example, she’s never been much of a “next” caller. I’d like to see her start playing that way. I haven’t been much of one either, but as we saw in this previous post on ordering next, that is the best way to go. I’ll keep you posted as to how we do.
And remember next weekend is the big World Series of Euchre! Unfortunately, this editor will not be able to attend as I am traveling to St. Louis for work and I have my big marathon joggling event the next weekend. That's a lot of traveling. But we may have a report from one of our key affiliates who is going to try his hand at the event. Good luck Harv!
Euchre on the Web:
As a follow-up to the post of the Top Ten Euchre Tells, I found this cool article at Euchre Links. It contains some online euchre tells that weren’t considered. Check it out. It’s even funny.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Euchre is a funny game. You can play your cards perfect and still lose 30% of the time. Well, it doesn't have to be that way. By taking extra advantage of the opportunities your opponents afford you, you can push your edge just a little higher. And while some of these ploys and gambits might feel a little unethical, this is euchre for chrissake. A game that has acceptable cheating written into its rule book. Ever hear of steal the deal?
Here are four more euchre gambits to get your winning percentage a little higher. Note, most of these are effective in live games. We'll put together an online version soon.
1. Pay attention to your opponent's cards. Early on in the Euchre Universe we discussed the topic of spying your opponents cards. Back then we couldn't decide whether it was right or wrong. Well, now we don't see any problem with it. If you are next to some bafoon who can't keep his cards out of site of his opponents then he should expect that an opponent will use the information against him. Sure you could be polite and tell him to "vest his cards", but don't bother. Casually spy his cards and adjust your play accordingly.
2. Distracting conversation. My partner is great but she just cannot play cards and listen to a conversation at the same time. This is true of all but the best euchre players. When they are listening to a story it's extremely hard to play excellent cards. So, when you're playing your next euchre game throw out some distracting conversation. The key is to find a topic your opponents will be passionate about, then express a contrary opinion. Politics is an excellent choice. Religion, the existence of God, abortion, gay marriage, Iraq war, all great choices. Figure out which one will really spark your foe, find out what they think and then give them the opposing opinion. Nothing kills card playing like emotional upheaval.
3. Book worm ploy. The key to a good gambit is to affect the way your opponents feel. This one is designed to make them feel a little bit inferior. While playing the game casually use euchre terms that your opponents may or may not know. Check out the euchre glossary for a great starting list. But if your opponents know all the terms you bring up, start making up some of your own. Use these new terms as if anyone who plays euchre should know. When someone questions a term, give them a condesending look and tell them what it means. Then say something like, "I'm surprised you don't know that, everyone who plays euchre knows that." They'll be so busy trying to convince themselves that you don't know what you're talking about they won't notice you stealing the deal.
4. The mathematical gambit. People who play euchre with me often will hear the probabilities of everything. "There was only a 6% chance that queen would win that trick." "You know the odds of us winning is 70%?" "The chances that I'd get dealt 5 trump is 1 in 2100." After a game or so they get to calling me Mr Wizard. This lulls them into an expectation of losing. It's like playing poker against a pro. You never feel bad when you lose because you expect it. Speak of probabilities and odds and you too can make your opponents expect to lose.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
While we haven’t reviewed all of the following books here at the Euchre Universe, we thought we would make a list of the ones we will eventually review.
1. Columbus Book of Euchre – Bumppo, Natty. One of the best. See our book review.
2. The Complete Win at Euchre – Andrews, Joe.
3. Win at Euchre – Gallagher, Tom. A guy with another point system for hand evaluation.
4. Euchre the Grandpa Lou Way – Ellis, John.
5. Euchre for Dummies - Gameland Sports. Comes complete with a deck of cards.
We'll post more book reviews as we get the books and have a chance to read them. Someday we'll have enough in the Euchre Universe vault to actually purchase some of these.
Euchre Literature. Where is it mentioned?
"It came out of the night and invaded the room. George said, "Anybody like to play a little euchre?" "I'll play out a few with you," said Whit. They took places opposite each other at the table under the ..."
Of Mice and Men – Steinbeck, J. p. 46.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Overall, it was a decent tournament. My wife and I played together pretty well. There were times that she didn't call for "Next" like I would've liked but for the most part, we really gelled. The waitress was attentive and the bar atmosphere was fine. There were some temperature issues as I froze my ass off with the air conditioner blowing on me the whole time. It reminded me of being in Vegas. For some reason it is always so cold in those casinos.
The worst part about the tournament however, was how long it took. We were there from 1:00 pm until 7:00 pm and played only 3 matches. That put us in the elite eight. We still would've had another 2 matches to play (4 more hours) if we had kept winning. You cannot run a euchre tournament, play "best of 5" matches and make it double elimination. It just takes too long!
Oh well, we had a good time for the first 4 hours. Next time they should do either single elimination (best of 5) or double elimination in a best of 3 format.
Does anyone out there have a better idea on how to run a 24 to 32 team tournament in a reasonable amount of time?
Friday, August 25, 2006
You sign yourself up
Get good cards and play them right
You too can be champ.
“Hole card” – This is just another way to say upcard. Personally, the folks here at the Euchre Universe prefer upcard.
Euchre Universe Update
This weekend is the big Merkle’s Euchre Tournament. My wife and I will be playing as partners and trying to win it all. I can’t wait. It’ll be more fun than the 20 miles of joggling that I’ll be doing that morning. It’s been a long time since I’ve played tournament euchre. I think I’ve learned a fair amount about playing the game and my wife is really pretty good. If the cards don’t turn against us, we have a great chance for winning. I don’t know what the prizes are but it doesn’t matter. Anytime you can win anything you should feel fortunate. At least I do. I’ll keep you posted as to how it went.
Euchre on the Web
If you’re looking for a free euchre program here is one from DreamQuest software. I haven’t tried it out yet but you can’t beat the price.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Skewed Euchre Jargon (from the urban dictionary):
Eucharist: A large box of bed sheets.
Skewed Euchre QOD:
“I went to the store to buy a eucharist.”
I was testing out a euchre simulator today and came upon the following hand when I was in seat 1.
The upcard was the Queen of hearts and the dealer’s partner (seat 2) ordered it up.
This brings to mind a question. What should you lead? Let’s look at the case for each.
Left Bower (Jack of Diamonds):
If you believe that the person in seat 2 is ordering with a weak hand, a trump lead might be good. You could be pulling out the dealer’s only trump and you would be setting up your Ace of clubs to win. The Left might even be the highest trump out so you’d be winning that trick too. However, you will likely be pulling out your partner’s trump and you’ve only got 1 other winner. I don’t like this lead.
9 of diamonds:
This is the “lead a loser” philosophy. Not a bad one when you are on offense but on defense, forget it. Sure your partner might have the ace of diamonds or might be able to trump it but the odds are not good. I’d stay away from this lead.
Ace of Clubs:
With three clubs, the ace of clubs doesn’t have a great chance of winning. (Somewhere around 50%) However, it’s not a bad choice. I like the King a little better however.
King of Clubs:
This one has just as good a chance of winning as the Ace of Clubs since you know they can’t both be played on the trick. However, you have the added chance that your partner will trump it, forcing the next player to trump higher if they’ve got it. Of all the cards, this one to me is the best option.
10 of Clubs:
This card is almost a certain loser and only makes your Ace of clubs less likely to win later. Of all the cards, I’d say that leading the 10 of clubs is the worst choice.
Euchring the opponents with this hand is not too likely. But you can improve your chances if you just lead the right card. According to the leading scientific research at the Euchre Universe, we say the King of Clubs is the best lead, followed closely by the Ace of Clubs.
I’m sure everyone in the rest of the euchre universe would agree.
Monday, August 21, 2006
The key to winning euchre is to distract your opponents.
1. Ask your opponents if they forgot someting. Euchre requires a little concentration so if the opponents are thinking about something else, you'll have a big edge. To work this ploy begin a story about a rash of car thefts in the neighborhood. Then casually ask something like, "Did you remember to lock your car?" They'll be thinking and worrying about their car the rest of the night while you'll be euchring them and pulling loners.
2. Distract with decor. If you're hosting the euchre match be sure to make the surroundings suitably distraction. For example, employ the services of a "busty" French maid to serve drinks. Or if you've got the girls over turn on HGTV. They'll be watching the latest redecorating efforts while you score point after point.
3. The fagile seat. When a euchre player is comfortable, they will play better. So, you should do your best to make them as uncomfortable as possible. A simple way to accomplish this is to make them sit in a chair that is particularly wobbly or otherwise uncomfortable. In the league I play in, I make it a point to always find the least comfortable chair and arrange to have my opponent sitting in it. They'll be distracted all night and you'll be winning the game.
4. Slow play ploy. When someone is losing they want to get to the next hand as fast as possible. So if you are winning and you want to keep winning, just slow down. Take a little longer to throw your cards. Instead of three quick shuffles, do 10 or even 20 before you deal. Make your losing opponents wallow in their losing streak while you revel in your lead. The slow play ploy is particularly effective against good players who hate it when "inferior" players are beating them. Control the game speed and you control the game.
When we find more gambits/ploys we'll share them. In the meantime, what are some of your favorites?
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Is it acceptable for you to say to your partner, “I have it with the Ace of Clubs?”
While this happens all the time in our Euchre league, it is technically unacceptable table talk. It is true that you are just stating what happened, but the motivation to tell your partner that you have the trick won is so they don’t over-trump your Ace, pulling down a trick you already have. Was there a reason you didn’t tell your partner what the opponents played? Probably because that wouldn’t have communicated the message that you didn’t want her to waste a trump on a trick you already won.
Your partner should be sharp enough to ask who played what cards if they don’t know. It is fine to respond to the question “Who played the Ace?” But offering information that isn’t asked is akin to telling your partner what she should or shouldn’t play. This is just not right.
Bottom line: Avoid any table talk that would prevent your partner from making a mistake. And play euchre in a setting that doesn’t have tvs showing beetle mastication.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Options for playing euchre with a variety number of players.
One Player: Play euchre solitaire. I believe it is a Natty Bumpo invention. It works out pretty well and can even improve your euchre play.
Two Players: Play euchre for two as outlined by Joe Chellman. This is an interesting variation that requires you to win 7 of 12 tricks instead of the standard 3 of 5. A game is played to 31 and you get 12 points for euchring an opponent.
Three Players: Play Buck Euchre as described at Pagat. This is a bit different than regular euchre but you can add the extra incentive of gambling if you like.
Four Players: Play regular euchre of course.
Five Players: Play regular euchre with four and have the fifth player rub wrecking balm on everyone's tattoos to help remove the memories of foul euchre games of years gone by. Or that person could always try joggling.