Your cards may be weak
Opponents in the pasture
Order to stop four
“Donation” – This is a defensive strategy in which you order up knowing full well that you will probably get euchred. Your intent is to concede 2 points to the opponents hoping to prevent a 4 point loner. Also called “Columbus Coup” by at least one euchre author. In Chicago, we call it “Paying Al”.
To some, the idea of ordering up when you have a pretty good chance of losing feels like “dirty euchre”. No doubt, these are the same kind of people who frown on the practice of not trying to make a ball when shooting a game of pool (pocket billiards). But these people are hung up on the immediate object of both of these games and miss the overall aim, winning. In euchre, the object is to win points. In pool, it is to sink balls. Employing a strategy which goes against those goals is abhorrent to some.
Don’t be one of these people! Remember, the object of euchre is to win the game. If you are beating your opponents 9-6 or 9-7 and they order and make a loner, you lose! It would’ve been much better if you got euchred and “donated” 2 points. That way the score would be 9-8 or 9-9 and you still have a chance to win the game.
Use the donating tactic with care however. You don’t want to be giving up point willy nilly. The following are guidelines to follow when deciding whether to donate or not.
- Donate when the opponents are in the pasture (have 6 or 7 points). The object of the donation play is to prevent losing the game from a loner. This can only occur when the opponents have 6 or 7 points. When they have 8 or 9, the donation play is not applicable. If you donate in these situations, you will lose the game!!
- Do not donate if you have a sure trick. This may seem obvious but it’s worth stating. If you have a sure trick, the opponents will not make a loner so there is no reason to donate. A sure trick is the Right bower or the protected Left (that is the Left bower with another trump).
- Donation is a defensive tactic, the dealing team should not use it. Generally, the dealing team is not in a position to donate. Certainly, the dealer’s partner should never donate. The dealer may donate if she has a “feeling” that the player in the first seat is sitting on a great hand and will order up a loner in a different suit. This is a rare case. It is also not as useful for the dealing team as they will be giving up the deal on the next hand and will lose their advantage.
- The player in the first seat controls the donation play. It is up to the person in the first seat whether the team should donate or not. If she has a “sure” trick then she should pass. If she has no sure tricks then she should donate. The player in seat 3 has no donating responsibilities. But she should assume that if her partner passed, she must have at least 1 sure trick. So, if she has 2 winning cards in her hand, she should order it up.
It may still seem odd to you to be ordering up when you know you are going to lose. But good euchre players employ this tactic to great advantage. Computer simulations also demonstrate that donating is a better strategy than passing. Start donating and you will win more games.
Tonight is the start of euchre play-offs. Looks like we ended up solidly in 10th place which means we’ll play our friends Kevin and Chad. Yikes! I hate playing my friends. When you lose you feel bad that you lost. When you win, you feel bad that you beat your friends. Fortunately, it is double elimination so when we do win, we won’t bounce them from the play-offs right away.
The play-offs are a bit different from the regular season. The matches are best of 3 instead of best of 5. I think it makes it much tougher to win because winning 2 games against superior players is much easier than winning 3. In a 3 game match format, the luckier players win a lot more often. No matter, skill should win out in the end. I’ll let you know how it goes.