Euchre QOD: “Discard or dat card, which to throw.”
Clubs, diamonds, spades, hearts
You throw the wrong one away
And you may get set.
“Discard” – The card that the dealer gets rid of in the “kitty” (or talon) when picking up the trump card.
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’.