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.

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