Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Go big or go home

Euchre QOD: “I like to foster internecine”

Euchre Haiku:
Bagging is sneaky
Some say it’s also dirty
Don’t use it often.

Euchre Palaver
“Passing Dirty” – This is when your opponent is dealing, you have a good hand, but you pass. You are hoping they’ll pick it up and then you can euchre them. This is also known as “bagging”. And if you do it, you are known as the “bagger”. It’s not such a great strategy unless you are sitting in the weak seat (number 3).

Savvy Strategies
This was a situation that came up in league play tonight. My partner ordered up diamonds and I held the Left and King of trump. The player to my right won the first trick with the Ace of spades and led a low spade next. I then had to decide, should I trump with the Left or the King of trump? In this situation, you should trump with your higher card. This play is advantageous in various ways.

1. It prevents the player on your left from overtrumping the King with the Ace.

2. It lets your partner know where the Left trump is (she was wondering, trust me).

3. It also lets your partner know that you might have another, lower trump

You have to figure that since your partner ordered it up, she probably has the Right so your Left is a near sure winner. The King however, is vulnerable. Losing a trump and a trick at that phase of the game could be critical.

The bottom line, when your partner orders it, Trump Big!

League Night
My regular partner was out sick today so I had a sub. With his excellent help we were able to win 3 of the 5 games, dashing the play-off hopes of the 42nd place team. I felt kinda bad about it because the win didn’t matter much to us but a victory for them would’ve meant a play-off appearance. Oh well, I had to play the cards as I got them. There were some interesting plays…partner was euchred when trying to go alone, opponents not over-trumping when they could. But the coup de graze was my loner from the pasture to win the game and match 10-8. It was quite exciting.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Laying down and cutting

Euchre QOD: “Euchre is not for the passive.”

Euchre Haiku:
Order when you can
Pass only when you have to
That’s winning euchre.

Euchre Palaver
“Hook” – A common term for a Jack. (The J looks a bit like a hook, right?) You will often hear people calling for a “hook” to be turned over when they are dealing.

Savvy Strategies
Always cut the deck!! Manipulating a deck of euchre cards is one of the easiest bits of card manipulation that you can do. Even the sloppiest dealer can easily force a hook to be the fourth card from the bottom. The method is simply gathering up the cards after a hand is played out and making sure a Jack is at the bottom of the pack. Give the deck a shuffle making sure the Jack stays at the bottom. Then move three cards to the bottom as if you are randomly shuffling. And finally, give the pack another shuffle but leave the bottom four cards at the bottom. Simple stuff. Cutting the deck ensures more randomness and is the most effective way to foil this simple cheat.

League Night
It’s league night again tonight. I see we’ve dropped to 14th place. Luck was not with us last week but our position is fine. The real important position is where we end up in the play-offs. During the regular season, the only critical place is to end up in the top 32. Worse than that, you don’t make the play-offs.

Friday, February 24, 2006

A little something for Friday

Euchre QOD: “Everything is mostly void”

Euchre Haiku:
Two hearts and three spades
A doubleton and two voids
Not bad, depending.

Euchre Palaver
“Singleton” – This means having one card of a certain suit. When it’s the Ace, you call it the “lone Ace”. “Doubleton” means having two cards in a certain suit. “Tripleton” is just silly. Don’t ever bother using Tripleton. It’s bushleague. “Void” means that you don’t have any in a given suit. Being void is good. Unless you are void in the trump suit…that’s bad.

Euchre on the Web
Alright, time to tip you off to the full collection of the euchre wisdom of Natty Bumppo. Here are a host of writings that he has created on the subject of euchre. Most read like an Ann Landers column but he has an interesting perspective. I tend to prefer a more mathematical approach to the game whereas he advocates playing more on feel and intuition. You choose your style.

Blog update:
I’m off to a weekend of non-skiing and partying. It’s ski like you drive. Unfortunately, I might not be able to update the blog until Sunday. Explore some of the web links until then.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Jean jean the green machine

Euchre QOD: “It’s not easy being green”

Euchre Haiku:
Red cards are comely
But when spades are turned over
They start to look green.

Euchre Palaver
“Green” – This is a term used to mean the wrong color. In euchre there are certain conventions that snooty, backwoods players expect you to follow. If you are sitting first chair, you are supposed to call the “next” suit. If you call suit that is not next, you are calling the “wrong” suit and it’s known as going green. For example if Spades is trump, it would be green to call Hearts or Diamonds. Personally, I think it’s a silly term because if everyone played by the standard conventions only the luckiest people would win. Don’t worry about being green even if you do play in Southern Indiana.

Savvy Strategies
There was a discussion going on at the euchre science board (message 7040) about what to order in the second round when you are sitting at the first seat. According to the point system, you would order up anything that gave you the highest number of points. Not so suggests one of the computer literate posters. Conventional wisdom suggests that in the first seat you should automatically order up the “next” suit. In computer simulations, there does indeed seem to be an advantage to ordering next even if you have something like the 9 and 10 of trump. I’m going to have to test this notion on my euchre computer simulator. But until I can verify or disprove it, I’ll buy in to the following ordering conventions (from seat 1 in the second round).

  1. Always order up ‘next’ if you have 3 trump in that suit.
  2. Always order up ‘next’ if you have 2 trump in that suit. (unless opponents have 8 points and a set would lead to the loss of the game).
  3. Order up ‘next’ if you have 1 trump in that suit and it is the right bower.
  4. Never order up ‘next’ if you don’t have any of that suit.

If I find it to be different, I’ll let you know.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

What should you dump?

Euchre QOD: “Discard or dat card, which to throw.”

Euchre Haiku:
Clubs, diamonds, spades, hearts
You throw the wrong one away
And you may get set.

Euchre Palaver
“Discard” – The card that the dealer gets rid of in the “kitty” (or talon) when picking up the trump card.

Savvy Strategies
Much has been written about when to order and what to lead, in this blog and elsewhere. But I haven’t seen much about what you should discard. Here are a few tips to follow when thinking about what to discard.

0. Never get rid of a trump unless you have to! Even a 9 of trump is better to have than an off-ace. The only possible time that you would have to get rid of a trump is when you hold 5 trump and you have to pick up the table card. I hope in this case you are going alone.

1. Try to short-suit yourself. That means if you have only 1 card in a suit, you would do well to get rid of that card. It’s advantageous because when that suit is led, you’ll be able to ruff by playing that trump card you just picked up.

2. Throw away the cards with the least chance of winning. If you have a choice between short-suiting yourself in 2 different suits, discard the one with the least chance of winning. For example, if spades is trump and you hold singleton Jack of diamonds and Ten of clubs, you should get rid of the Ten because it has the lowest chance of winning a trick. If instead you had to choose between the singleton Ten of clubs and the Ten of hearts, you should still get rid of the ten of clubs. This one (statistically) has a lower probability of winning than the ten of hearts. Minute, but real.

3. Throw away the cards from your longest suit. Sometimes you won’t be able to short suit yourself. In these cases, just get rid of the lowest card from your longest (non-trump) suit. By maintaining length (multiple cards) in more than 1 suit, you set up your kings and queens as potentially winning cards.

4. Consider your opponents when discarding. There are some players who always lead the “next” suit. If hearts are trump, they will invariably lead a diamond. When you find one of these players, you can improve your chances of winning a trick by always short suiting yourself in the “next” suit when you can. Note there are also players who never lead the next suit. If you run up against one of these players, you should naturally discard a non-next suit to improve your chances of ruffing the lead trick.

One of these days I’m going to fire up my euchre simulator and figure out just how much impact the correct discard has. Until then, good eukin’.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Ordering against tight players

Euchre QOD: “Conservatives can’t win at euchre.”

Euchre Haiku:
Marching with my cards
Without bowers or aces
Not a simple task.

Euchre Palaver
“March” – This is when your team gets all the tricks and scores 2 points (or 4 if it’s a loner). This is also known as a “sweep”.

League night. Well, last night was a bit of a disappointment. The cards turned on us and never gave us a break. We lost the first 3 games of our 5 game match. The capper was being up 9-5 and losing 9-10. I ordered a weak one at 9-5 (holding only the ace and king of trump). It was close but we went set. They marched the next hand and won the next hand even though we were the dealing team. We did manage to win the next 2 games but at that point, the match was lost. Our opponents were nice enough and pretty good players too.

At least one of them was a real conservative bidder. She passed some really strong hands. And it reminded me that when you are playing against conservative bidders, you’ve got to become more conservative yourself. You don’t have to worry about loners so much so let them have their 1 point. You can be aggressive on the loner calls but conservative on everything else.

Euchre on the Web
Here’s a pretty good collection of euchre stuff. The strategy section is ok but light on details and not always correct. These are some good starting euchre pages.

Monday, February 20, 2006

How ruff is euchre?

Euchre QOD: “Just make it to the pasture”

Euchre Haiku:
Ruffing and sloughing
Promoting the weak trump cards
And dumping losers

Euchre Palaver
“Ruff” – To play a trump card on a trick that was led with a suit in which you are void. This is the type of play that allows the lowly 9 of trump to beat a mighty non-trump Ace.

Savvy Strategies
What to lead? We saw in a recent post that leading a lone (non-trump) Ace gives you a 74% chance of winning the trick. The probability goes down when you have another card in that same suit. I don’t remember all the calculations at the moment but it’s around 55%. Suppose you have an Ace and a King in the same non-trump suit. An excellent strategy is to lead the King instead of the Ace. Since you have the only card that can beat the King, none of the other players will be able to win the trick unless they ruff.

Leading the King gives your partner the opportunity to ruff the trick without having to decide whether to trump their partner’s Ace or not. According to the 10 commandments you are not supposed to trump your partner’s Ace but you are supposed to trump their king. Leading the king means you want your partner to trump the trick if she can. But if she can’t, you have the same probability of winning the trick as you did if you had led the ace.

Euchre on the Web
Here’s a pretty cool table. (Download the file called “probability of winning the game”.) It tells you the probability of winning based on the current score and who has the deal. Remember, this is based on the assumption that the players are of equal ability. And since you are reading the euchre universe, you are naturally better.

Some interesting stats…
At the start of the game the dealing team has a 51% chance of winning the game.
The team in the lead is always the favorite to win.

But the dealing team in the lead is a greater favorite to win even at equivalent scores. That shows the power of “stealing the deal”.

League night. With last week’s thumping of our opponents, I see that my partner and I have shot up to 4th place. That’s nice. My partner has been playing some excellent euchre these days. With our play and the cards fallin’ the way they have been, it’ll be tough to beat us. I hope it keeps up come play-off time.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Lead a loser

Euchre QOD: “Lose early, win late”

Euchre Haiku:
With a hand that’s weak
Start with the worst card you can
Partner might save you

Euchre Palaver
“Screw the dealer” – (stick the dealer). This is an optional rule in which the dealer is not allowed to pass a second time. She is required to order something up. This rule has the effect of speeding up the game as points are scored on every deal.

Savvy Strategies
Knowing what to lead can be complicated. But if you are in the first seat and you’ve ordered up trump here are a couple of tips that can help.

1. With a weak hand, lead a non-trump loser. Since the card isn’t going to win anyway, give your partner a chance to win the trick.

2. With a strong hand that is short on trump, lead trump first. This assumes that you have off aces that will win. You want to lead the trump so no one is able to waste your off aces.

The Euchre Web
I don’t know if I’d want to do it but if you play a lot of online euchre, here is your chance to make a few bucks. See Paid to Play euchre. Essentially, they pay you to put a banner ad up on your computer screen while you play euchre (or other online games). You get to see a commercial the whole time you play. But you could make a few bucks so maybe it’s worth it. They say it won’t cost you anything. Of course, you can expect your email to be littered with messages from them (once a day) and SPAM no doubt. If you don’t mind that, check it out.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Some euchre stats

Euchre QOD: “It’s not always right to lead the right.”

Euchre Haiku:
Feel five cards in hand
How many tricks are they worth?
If more than one, bid.

Euchre Palaver
“Trick” – Four cards laid on the table during a single turn. The winner of the trick is the person who laid the highest ranking card. They collect all the cards in the trick, lay them face down, and lead a card for the next trick. A single trick is one fifth of a game.

The Stats
There are 42,504 possible euchre hands.
There are 84 possible 5-trump hands.
There is a 0.2% chance of getting dealt a 5-trump hand.
That’s 1 time in every 500 hands.
Which means on average you’ll see one 5-trump hand every 50 games.

If you like euchre, go ahead and rate it here.

For tips on hosting a euchre tournament, check out this article.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The lone Ace

Euchre QOD: “Euchre is fun and his TV show is great”

Euchre Haiku:
The powerful ace
Alone, a great trick taker
Matched, mostly gets beat

Euchre Palaver
“Lone Ace” – A non-trump ace in your hand that has no other cards in that same suit.

Savvy Strategies
So you're in the first position, sitting with a lone Ace wondering whether you should start with that card or not. Let's look at the probability of it winning the trick.

First, a few assumptions used for figuring out the probabilities. This makes things easier.

1. If your opponents can win the trick, they will.
2. If your partner can win the trick, she will not.

When you have a lone Ace in your hand, there are 43,758 different hand combinations that your opponents can have. This is found by counting all the ways 18 cards can be divided up in groups of 10. 18 is for the number of cards the opponents could have (24 – 5 – 1 (for the up-card)).

Now it’s just a matter of finding out all the different cases when either one or both opponents don’t have the suit you’re leading.

So, if you have a lone Ace in a strong off-suit, there are a total of 5 other cards in that suit. The opponents could therefore have 0,1,2,3,4, or 5 of these cards.

If they have 0 or 1 of those cards (both are short-suited) then your Ace will not win. For simplicity we will disregard the times when they also don’t have trump to beat your Ace.

To figure out how many of the 43,758 hands they have 0 trump you just count 13 things taken 10 at a time. 13 is the number of cards they could have minus all the remaining cards in your Ace’s suit (18-5). The result is 286. That means 0.65% of the time neither of your opponents will have a card in the suit you led. A rare event indeed.

More common will be the times when 1 of the opponents is short suited and the other has 1 of the cards in your Ace’s suit. This will also result in a loss (unless the opponent also doesn’t have trump which we’ll ignore). This happens 3575 times or a total of 8% of the time.

The opponents will have 2 of the suit 12,870 times. But sometimes one opponent will have both of those cards and the other will be short suited and thus able to beat your Ace. This will happen 5720 times.

Similarly the opponents will have 3 of the suit 17,160 times and will be able to beat you 1560 times. They will have 4 of the suit 8580 times and will be able to beat you 130 times and will have 5 of the suit 1287 and be able to beat you 2 times.

Totaling up all the times they can beat you gives
286 + 3575 + 5720 + 1560 + 130 + 2 = 11,273 times.

Which means you will win 43758 – 11,273 = 32485 or 74.2% of the time. Whew!

Things are slightly different when you have the weak lone Ace (same color as trump) but I’ll save that for another day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Lead up to leading

Euchre QOD: “Lead ‘em if ya got ‘em.”

Euchre Haiku:
Staring at the cards
Wondering which one to lead
Let math be your guide

Euchre Palaver
“Leading” – The action of laying out the first card of a trick. The person in the first seat left of the dealer gets the privilege of leading any card to start the game. All subsequent tricks are led by the winner of the previous trick.

Savvy Strategies
After the bidding is completed and the real euchre “play” has begun, the occupant of the first seat has to make a decision on what to lead. This lead can be crucial to success.

Two rules of thumb are applicable. Summarized from the 10 commandments. (numbers 5 & 6)

1. If your team ordered it up, lead a trump.
2. If the opponents ordered it up, don’t lead a trump.

While these are good guidelines, they’re vague on what you should lead if neither of those are applicable. Perhaps you don’t have a trump and your partner ordered. They also don’t take into account the score of the game. In the next few days, we’ll consider what should be led at the start of the game.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A little more on ordering

Euchre QOD: “Beware of watchcat”

Euchre Haiku:
Sitting with the left
Thinking about a loner
Does kitty have right?

Euchre Palaver

“Kitty” – These are the 4 cards that remain after everyone’s been dealt their 5 cards. The top card of the kitty is flipped over and is used during the first round of bidding. If someone orders it up, the dealer gets to replace one of her cards with the top card of the kitty. The remaining 3 kitty cards are never used in play.

Savvy Strategies

One of the 10 commandments of euchre states that you should never pass a biddable hand. The fact is that if you are too conservative at euchre you will lose much more often than you win. I like this advice but I would add that it doesn’t really apply for the person sitting in Seat 1 (the Lead Seat). Unless you have a really great hand (>23 card points) you should pass, so when it comes around to you first in round 2, you can pick an alternate suit. That prevents the dealer from getting to pick up a trump, allows you the chance to euchre someone and doesn’t diminish the value of your hand greatly. Take the following example

If Clubs are turned up, you would have 22 card points and should order up from any seat. However, in the Lead Seat you should pass because in Spades you would also have 22 card points and you wouldn’t be giving the opponents an extra trump or a chance for the dealer to short suit himself.

It’s ok to be conservative from the first seat in the first round. But be aggressive with your bidding in round 2.

League update:
Well, my partner and I kicked some euchredoodledo last night thumping our opponents 5 games to none. In the whole match they score a mere 21 points. I believe our performance might push us up into the top 5 teams. The thing that made it most enjoyable however, was the fact that one of our opponents was a complete know-it-all, poutie, jerk. He was rude to his partner, made no attempt at conversation and would’ve made a drama queen look reserved. Playing strangers can be a drag. But made less so when you kick their butt!!

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The lonely euchre player

Euchre QOD: “You have less power with a partner”

Euchre Haiku:

You wait quietly
Praying the option is yours
Go alone, you win.

Euchre Palaver
“Going Alone” – This is a situation in which one member of the partnership orders up trump and says “alone”. That player’s partner puts her hand down and is relegated to watching the action and sweeping the tricks. She is allowed to sweep so she feels like she’s part of the game. Getting all the tricks on a loner will net your team 4 points. Getting 3 or 4 tricks results in 1 point and getting euchred results in 2 points for opponents.

Savvy Strategies – When to go alone
Ever since I won a play-off match we were down 6-9 in by going alone with the Right and Three off aces, I realized the power of the euchre loner.

Going alone is one of the most important plays in euchre. Getting all the tricks without your partner will net you 4 points which is 40% of the score needed to win the game. Therefore, a loner should be attempted anytime you have a reasonable chance of making it (or at least of not getting euchred). That is unless your team has scored 8 points. In these cases (with rare exceptions) you should not go alone unless you have 5 sure tricks. This is because the chances of your team getting all the tricks are better when your partner is with you than when she is not. And since 2 points will win you the game, 4 points is just overkill.

0. Never go alone if your team has scored 8 points.

From a card point standpoint the following rules are applicable.

1. Go alone whenever you have 24 card points or more. When your hand is this strong, the chances of being euchred are less than 10%. The chances of getting all 5 by yourself are only half that of what it would be if you brought your partner along. So from a mathematical sense, this strategy is sound.

2. Forget card points and go alone whenever you have 4 trump. Computer simulations show that the chances of getting euchred are quite low and the chances of getting all the tricks (even with K,Q,10,9 trump hand) are reasonable.

Loner tries have the additional benefit of messing with your opponent’s minds. It becomes frustrating when someone orders loner after loner. It also stretches your opponent’s bidding tendencies making euchring them a greater possibility. I love the loner! You should be using it more.

League Update
League night again. Despite last week’s victory, my partner and I stayed in 10th place. I estimate that we really only need one more match victory to get into the playoffs. However, I would certainly like to win the rest of our matches. There is no reason any of our opponents should beat us in a 5 game match. In the play-offs we only play best of 3 and luck plays a much greater factor.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Tips for Dealer bidding

Euchre QOD: “There’s no prize for passing.”

Euchre Haiku
It may not be much
But even off-aces fear
Beat by the trump nine

Euchre Palaver
“Next” – Refers to the suit that is the same color as the up-turned card. It is a common strategy to order up “next” from seat 1 in the second round of bidding. This makes sense because it’s likely that the dealer does not have a bower of that color.

Savvy Strategies
SEAT 4: Ordering as the dealer

Being in the dealer seat is one of the best spots to be. You still need a pretty strong hand to order it up because your partner passed and she probably won’t be much help. But you get to toss away a loser card for a trump card. This is a nice advantage. A mathematically sound strategy would be to order up whenever you have 16 card points or more.

Note that when figuring out the card point value of your hand from this seat you are supposed to count the points that you would get by picking up the trump card. For example, suppose you have the following…

Before the trump card is turned up, this hand is worth the following.

  1. Spades is trump = 11 points
  2. Clubs is trump = 12 points
  3. Hearts is trump = 1 point
  4. Diamonds is trump = 13 points

Then when the trump card comes up…

As dealer, you can pick this card up in your hand. Thus, your hand would really be worth 16 points, making it a biddable hand. Go ahead and bid because passing is not winning euchre.

In the second round of bidding your advantage has all but evaporated. Your stuck with your cards so if you have to order up something, figure out which suit gives you the highest number of card points.

Notable In the Euchre Universe:

I don’t know what the prize money is and it probably won’t be broadcast on ESPN, but here is your chance to become the “Greatest Euchre Player” in the world. Check out the World Series of Euchre for 2006. Oooh, a $3000 prize pool!

If you have some time, check out the Euchre Science poll just posted.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Seat 3 ordering strategies

Euchre QOD: “Bid it to win it.”

Euchre Haiku:
Lift pasteboards in view
Not a good card among them
Knuckles need knocking.

Euchre Palaver
“Knock” – This is when a player wants to pass. One could say “knock” but it’s much classier to actually knock on the playing surface. Of course, no one ever said euchre was a classy game.

SEAT 3: The weak seat
From this seat you really need a good hand to order it up. You have everything going against you. Your partner has already passed which means she doesn’t have much. If you do order it up, the dealer gets to dump a loser card, likely get short suited, and you’ve given her at least one trump. It’s definitely a grave situation to put yourself in. But when you can make your bid from this seat, victory is sweet!

As said before (previous post), the card point total needed to order from this seat in the first round is 21. This pretty much means you have the Right bower and a couple more trumps. This also means it’s a good idea for your partner to lead trump first so your team pulls out all the trumps the opponents might have in their hand. But that gets us into playing strategy which we’ll cover at a later date.

In the second round of bidding, this seat still is pretty weak. While 16 card points will generally be a winning play, more conservative play is advisable depending on the game score. For example, if the game is just beginning go ahead and bid it. But if it’s in the middle of the game and the score is tied, bidding with 18 card points is more appropriate.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The power of seat 2

Euchre QOD: “Stealin? No, I was just shufflin’ for ya.”

Euchre Haiku
Thieves placidly wait
Spent cards splashed on the table
Gather them quickly

Euchre Palaver
“Steal the deal” – A common ploy in which a player attempts to deal when it’s their opponent’s turn. In most euchre circles this is a perfectly acceptable form of cheating. And the advantage is HUGE!! The dealing team wins the round about 70% of the time. So get your opponents chatting and gather up the cards for yourself.

SEAT 2 – The Power Seat
By far this is my favorite seat. When my partner is the dealer there is no better place to be. I order her up on next to nothing! Now, this flies in the face of the advice given here but this is just what I’ve found works out. For example, he says that being a “silent” partner is usually best. Forget that!! You’re in the Power Seat. You and your partner have the best chance to win. Go ahead and tell your partner to pick it up.

If you have 11 card points or more, then just order it up already. Euchre is a game won by the more aggressive team. Be that team!

Some caveats however.

1. Don’t order it up if you have only 1 trump. You could conceivably have a hand with over 11 card points but still have only 1 trump. Don’t bother ordering in these cases. The chances of you making it are not good enough to warrant the call.

2. Don’t order it up if a bower is turned up and your score is 6 or 7 points. This could kill your partner’s try to get a loner for the win. But when you have scored less than 6 points or more than 7, loners are not as valuable.

3. Tighten up if your opponents have scored 8 points. You should increase your bidding requirements in this case because getting set (or euchred) will lose you the game. In these cases, you should have at least 16 cards points or 3 trump to bid.

The nice thing about having such loose ordering requirements for this seat is that if you do pass, your partner will know something about your hand. Specifically, you have less than 2 trump or you don’t have 11 card points. Either way she can use that info when considering whether to pick it up or not.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Ordering from seat 1

Euchre QOD: If you never get euchred, you’re not bidding enough.

Euchre Haiku:

Deal in twos and threes
Five to all and flip the last
Oh please be a Jack!

Euchre Lingo:
Short-suited: Being devoid of cards from any particular suit. Highly advantageous if this suit is lead because you can trump if you like.

I found more on euchre ordering strategy here. This is further validation of the importance of seat position and the need to adjust the point system.

SEAT 1 – The Lead Seat.

Of particular interest is the advice given about the first seat. As the lead seat, she has the advantage of being able to start the game with whatever suit she wants. But she also has no idea about how good the other players hands are because she has to bid first. I rarely find it useful to order up from the first seat in the first round. In fact, I often draw the ire of my usual partner because I have been known to pass from the first seat without even looking at my cards. That drives her nuts!

But the chances of having a great hand from this seat are pretty slim. I figure the added confusion thrown at my opponents will give me a psychological edge. I also realize that I’ll get to bid first if it gets passed around and if I had a good hand in the suit turned over, I probably still have a good hand in the “next” suit.

The general rule is that you need 21 card points (see previous post) in the first round to order up from this position, but only 16 points in the second round. But if you do have 21 points and the dealer picks it up, you’ll have a great chance of euchring her. And if it gets passed around to you, your 21 point hand in one suit is bound to be better than 16 in another, so you still have a good chance to make it without letting the dealer get short-suited.

Tomorrow we’ll look at ordering up from the other seats.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Ethics of euchre

Euchre QOD: I like my opponents much more when I’m winning.

League wrap-up: After squeaking out the first game 11-8, our opponents beat us the next game 9-11. In the third game, our opponents jumped out to a 0-4 lead by winning all the tricks, then setting me when I ordered up my partner on a Left-King of trump, and 2 off Aces in the power suits. They went on to win that game 4-10. We rallied back and beat them 10-4. This game featured a lay-down loner by my partner. 5 top trump, what luck. We breeze to match victory with a 10-5 win in the final game. It’s so nice to be back to our winning ways.

There were no glaring mistakes that I could think of but I did run into an ethical dilemma. The player next to me had this habit of not “vesting” his cards and it was quite easy for me to see most of them. On a few occasions I saw that he had a good hand in a suit that I didn’t have, so I just ordered up a suit where I had 2 trump and took a gamble. A few times we won but we were also euchred a couple of times. But I wonder….

Was I wrong to use the information about his hand in this way?

Monday, February 06, 2006


Euchre QOD: A nine of trump is better than an off Ace.

Monday is league night. Hopefully, we’ll pound down our opponents like I know we should. But I have found that (especially in euchre) you really have to be lucky. Even the worst players in the world can be the best if they get the good cards. It looks like we’ve slipped to 10th place. That’s ok we can’t expect to win every match. Luck is fickle. We must focus on perfect euchre play and then hope for the best.

Euchre lingo:

  1. “In the barn” - this means a team has 9 points and only needs one more to win.
  2. “In the corral” – a team has 8 points and only needs two more to win.
  3. “In the pasture” – a team has 6 or 7 points and could win with a loner.
  4. “In the forest” – a team has 5 or less points and can’t win on any given turn.

Of course, many other people have come out with their own euchre lingo. This is just how we say it in Chicago.

Tomorrow, I’ll let you know how we fair this evening and we’ll get back to talking strategy.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Sunday short and sweet

Here’s a pretty good euchre glossary, although he spells color wrong. Must be from the other side of the ocean.

Here’s another decent euchre page. The Ten Commandments are good but there are so many exceptions I don’t see how they qualify as “commandments”. Nevertheless, they provide good advice for beginners.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

More on points

Euchre QOD: Count on your partner for 1 trick…shoot him if he doesn’t get it.

I once read a book by John McGervey called Probabilities in Everyday Life. This is a great book and ever since then I try to find any excuse to figure out probabilities. I also now use a coin flip to make decisions whenever I’m uncertain.

Anyway, using some of the principals in that book I tried to figure out the most mathematically sound strategy for euchre. The point system was the result.

To figure it out, I created a computer program that played euchre. At first, I made all the players follow the Pinochle rule that if you can win a trick, you have to win the trick. The computer then played 10,000 games and kept track of all the times that each card won.

For example, the Right bower won 100% of the time. Since it’s the highest card it never loses.

The Left bower won about 70% of the time. It can only get beat by the Right bower and that is only if it is in someone else’s hand.

It turns out that the Ace of trump wins about 60% of the time, the King 50%, etc.

I figured that you could use these probabilities to figure out the value of your hand. To make it a little easier, I just divided everything by 10. So, the Left bower is worth 7 points because it has a 70% chance of winning. The Ace of trump is a 6 because it has a 60% chance of winning.

Cards that are worth 0 points had a probability of winning that was less than 10.

The nice thing about this experiment is that it verified that the strong suit off-Aces were worth more than the weak suit off-Ace. The former win about 50% of the time while the latter win about 40% of the time.

Why 21?

The thing about the point system is that the number of tricks you might expect to win can be figured out by further dividing your points by 10. So, if your hand adds up to 30 points, you could expect to win 3 tricks. When your hand adds up to 21, you can expect to win 2.1 tricks. The more points you have, the more tricks you’re likely to get.

There’s an old adage in euchre that says you should count on your partner for 1 trick. So, if you can get 2.1 tricks, your partner gets 1, you’ve got it made.

It turns out in my euchre simulator, 21 points was the lowest number of points you want to have in order to guarantee that you and your partner win 2 out of every 3 times you order it up. Next time, we’ll see why 2 out of every 3 times is important.

Friday, February 03, 2006

More about your seat

Euchre QOD: Always have change for a twenty.

You might be wondering why there should be a “seat adjustment” to the point system. Very simply, when you are the dealer, or your partner is the dealer you have a huge advantage over your opponents. You have one guaranteed trump and the dealer gets to through away one of her worst cards. This power alone is worth almost 1 whole trick.

In fact, in a computer simulation of 10,000 euchre games, the dealing team won 70% of the time.

All things being equal, the dealing team wins 70% of the time!

But why does seat 2 get a 10 point adjustment when the dealer only gets a 5 point adjustment? Simple. If the dealer’s partner has passed, that means she probably doesn’t have much of a hand. By following this system, she would either have less than 2 trump or less than 11 points. Despite the advantages of dealing, this is quite a handicap for your team to overcome.

While you don't really need to understand how the point system works to use it, some readers might be interested. Tomorrow, we'll look at that.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Seats aren't all the same

Euchre QOD: I’d rather be lucky than good.

While the 21 point rule will help you play winning euchre, it is generally too conservative. Unless you are lucky, you won’t get a lot of these hands and more aggressive opponents can take advantage of that.

The ordering requirements can be adjusted based on your seat position relative to the dealer. For the discussion consider the following seat numbering system.

Seat 1 : First one left of the dealer. This person has the first opportunity to bid and play.
Seat 2: Second from the dealer. Also the dealer’s partner.
Seat 3: Third from the dealer. The partner of seat 1.
Seat 4: The dealer.

Since I’m pressed for time, I’ll present my thoughts without comment.

Seat 1 & 3. No adjustments. Order up only on 21 points or more. (16 in second round).

Seat 2: Add 10 points to your total. So, if your hand is worth 12 points, add 10 to make a total of 22 points.

Seat 4 (dealer). Add 5 points to your total.

We’ll talk about why these adjustments are made tomorrow.

Good eukin’

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The point system in action

Euchre QOD: Put your faith in providence, but always cut the deck.

The point system is great because it covers a lot of hands. But there is one overriding rule that I should’ve mentioned earlier.

*Never order it up if you have only 1 trump.

I didn’t mention it because it happens pretty rarely. The only way to get 21 points or more is to have the Right Bower (10), and three off aces (5,5,4). In this case you would have 24 points. You should pass this hand and either hope to set your opponent or call up the “next” suit in the second round. The “next” suit would be the suit of the same color that trump would’ve been if it was ordered up in the first round. For example, Hearts is the “next” suit to Diamonds. Clubs is the “next” suit to Spades.

Here’s an example hand of how the point system might work. I randomly dealt out the following hand…

If clubs were trump, the hand value would be 14.
5 for King of clubs
4 for Queen of clubs
4 for 10 of clubs
1 for King of spades.

If spades were trump, the hand would be worth 10 points.
If hearts were trump, the hand would be worth 2 points.
If diamonds were trump, the hand would be worth 2 points.

I'll leave it up to you to work out how I arrived at those numbers.

By strictly following the system, you would not order up this hand. However, the power of this hand is also dependent on where you are sitting relative to the dealer. Tomorrow, we’ll look at why this is so.