Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Official Compilation of Euchre Palaver

Euchre is a great game played by people from all over the world. There are clubs throughout the United States, in Canada, and even some on the other side of the big pond. It’s been around for so many years that jargon specific to the game naturally developed. Here at the euchre universe, we endeavor to collect these bits of game jargon and present them here in a single post. Each time a new term is added we will update this. In time, this compilation could become as important a work as the Oxford English Dictionary.

Note: Some terms are regional but the use of each one has been verified by the crack research staff at the Euchre Universe. If you have any suggested terms used by your euchre group, feel free to submit them to the editors.


Alone – Term said when a player wishes to play the round against the opponents without help from her partner. See Going Alone

Assist – To order up your partner when she is the dealer; ordering from the power seat

At the bridge – In a 10 point game, it’s when a team has scored 9 points and is only 1 away from winning the game. Also called In the Barn.

Bagger – A player that uses the strategy of bagging.

Bagging - 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 passing dirty. 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 (third from the dealer).

Bowers – The Jacks of the trump suit. The Right Bower is the highest card and it is the Jack of the trump suit. The Left Bower is the second highest card and it is the Jack of the suit that is same color as the trump (the “next” suit).

Bubbles – Cutesy name for the Hearts suit

Columbus Coup – Term coined by Natty Bumpo to refer to the Donation strategy.

Dealer – The player who distributes the cards on any given round.

Diamantez – Cutesy name for the Diamonds suit

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

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.

Doubleton - Having only two cards in a certain suit

Exposed card – This is a card that has been turned face-up accidentally. Technically, it is supposed to remain that way and played at the first legal opportunity.

Farmer’s Hand – A hand which contains only Tens and Nines. In some euchre circles being dealt a farmer’s hand would result in a re-deal.

First Round – The round of ordering that starts immediately after the cards are dealt and the up-card is turned.

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.

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 or the green suit. For example if Spades is trump, the green suits would be Hearts or Diamonds.

Guarded – This is a situation when you hold the second highest card plus another one in that suit. Most often encountered when you hold the Left Bower and another trump. Your bower is said to be guarded because if the Right Bower is led, you can play the low card and your Left Bower is then promoted to the highest ranking card.

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.

Horse – The 6 card used for scorekeeping

In the barn – This means a team has scored 9 points in a 10 point game and is one away from victory. Also known as At the Bridge.

Kibitzing – Saying something that reveals information about your hand or indicates what your partner should play. For example, telling your partner not to trump your ace or to lead a certain suit is illegal kibitzing. There are forms of legal Kibitzing such as saying “alone” or “stay home”. Also known as table talk.

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, becoming the up-card, and is used during the first round of bidding. If someone orders it up, the dealer gets to discard one of her cards with the top card of the kitty. The remaining 3 kitty cards are never used in play. Kitty is a controversial term as some euchre purists do not believe it is technically correct. Talon is the more “correct” term but language evolves and while kitty may not have been correct in the past, so many players use it to refer to the remaining dead cards that it warrants inclusion in this work.

Knock – This is a hand signal used 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.

Lay down loner – A hand that is so good that it doesn’t matter how you play it you will win all the tricks. The hand consists of 5 trump headed by the two bowers and the Ace. Also known as a no brainer.

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.

Left Bower – The Jack of the suit that is the same color as the trump suit. It is the second highest ranking card in the deck.

Lone Ace – An ace in your hand in a suit in which you have no other cards. More generally called a singleton.

Long Suit - A suit in which you have two or more cards.

Make the hand – To order trump and win at least 3 of the 5 tricks.

Maker – the player who establishes the trump suit by ordering up in the first round or naming trump in the second round of bidding.

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.

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.

No-brainer – Also known as a lay down loner, this is a hand where the cards are so strong that no one else will win a trick (e.g. having a 5 trump hand with the Right and Left bowers).

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.

Paying Al - Term used by Chicago euchre players to refer to the Donation strategy.

Pips – The symbols on the cards indicating the suit. In a standard deck these are clubs, diamonds, spades, and hearts. In one Christmas deck the pips are snowmen, trees, elves and santas. Go figure.

Power Seat – The player sitting in the second seat left of the dealer. The dealer’s partner.

Promotion – Increasing the power of a lower card in any suit. This occurs when any of the higher cards are played on an earlier trick. For example, if you have the Left Bower and the Right Bower is played on an earlier trick, the Left is “promoted” to the highest ranked card.

Puppy paws – Cutesy name for Clubs

Right Bower – The highest ranking card in the deck. It is the Jack of the Trump suit.

Renege – This is when a player fails to play a card from the suit led even though they have one. When and if discovered the non-offending team receives the maximum possible number of points for that deal, usually 2 points. You are allowed to correct a renege as long as the next trick isn’t played. Since euchre is such a fast-paced game, some “creative” players will try to use reneging as a winning strategy. It works well against opponents who don’t pay attention much. Also called revoke.

Revoke – Same as renege.

Rider – The 4 card used for scorekeeping

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.

Screw the dealer – (Stick The Dealer, STD). This is an optional rule in which the dealer is not allowed to pass a second time. She is required to order something up except the suit of the turned down card. This rule has the effect of speeding up the game as points are scored on every deal.

Second Round – The round of ordering that starts immediately after each player has passed once and the up-card is turned down.

Shake the bushes – this is a strategy where you lead trump. It usually refers to the first trick. If your team made trump then leading it is usually a good play. If you are the defending team, leading trump is less often a good play.

Shift – In the world of card manipulation (legerdemain) this is the act of reversing a cut thus putting the cards back the way they started. Highly effective and easy to pull off with a small euchre deck. Some shifty euchre players do this all the time.

Shovels – Cutesy name for Spades

Singleton – This means having only one card in a given suit. When it’s the Ace, you call it the lone Ace.

Skunk – When you beat your opponents (or in the unbelievable event that they beat you) 10-0. In some euchre leagues where points count towards season placing you can score up to 13 points by making a loner when your team has 9 points. In some circles, 5 points is a game and a skunk would then be winning 5-0.

Squeeze Play – A strategy in which you force your opponent to choose between two equally good cards to throw away. It is an offensive strategy often employed when going alone.

Stay home – this is what you do when your partner opts to go alone. Used in context it would go something like this. “I’m going alone partner so you can just stay home”.

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. Against drunk and sober folks alike this trick is pretty easy to pull off. 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. According to euchre rules once the deal is complete (trump card is turned up) it is a legal deal and you’ve successfully stolen the deal.

Sweeper – The player that picks up the winning tricks for their side. In some partnerships one person sweeps all the tricks whenever their team wins and the other partner keeps score.

Table talk – Saying something that reveals information about your hand or indicates what your partner should play. For example, telling your partner not to trump your ace or to lead a certain suit is illegal table talk. Some also call this “Kibitzing”.

Talon – The more accurate term for the 4 cards left over after the hands of a euchre game have been dealt. It is more commonly referred to as the Kitty.

Throw off – To play a card that is not the suit led but is also not trump.

Trick – Four cards put face-up on the table during a single turn. The winner of the trick is the person who laid the highest ranking card in the suit led or trump. 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.

Trump – The suit that is the highest in a game of euchre. The smallest card in this suit (9 of trump) will beat the highest card in any different suit. Trump is determined by the up-card in the first round or the declared suit in the second round.

Trumping – Playing a trump card on a trick in which a different suit was led. Also known as “ruffing”, this play requires that you do not have a card in the led suit. Since any trump is higher than any non-trump, this card will usually win the trick. That is unless someone trumps higher.

Turn down – This is when the dealer decides not to order up trump in the first round of bidding. Usually, it means they don’t have a lot (or any) of that suit and they do have winners in another suit.

Up-card – the card that gets flipped from the remaining four (called either the Kitty or the Talon) that determines the first suit that can be named trump. If everyone passes, the up-card is turned down and a different suit must be named trump or the cards are re-dealt.

Void – Not having any cards in a given suit. It is useful to be void in a non-trump suit as it allows you to ruff a high card with a small trump.

Weak Seat – The player sitting in the chair that is third from the left of dealer.

Wrong Suit – The green suit, the suit that is not the next suit, the one that is the opposite color of the turned down trump suit.

6 comments:

Trevor said...

I've played euchre for over fifty years. I played a game recently where two player on the same team actually both reneged during the same trick! We let it pass because it was unintentional, but I wondered, would this merit a four point or two point penalty?

tcraig777@gmail.com

Perry said...

I think only a 2 point penalty. But that is an interesting situation.

Steve Sawicki said...

Riddle me this Batman. If your opponent decides to go for a loner hand and your team renegs, does that penalize you for 2 or for 4 points?

Perry said...

If you renege on a loner your opponent should get 4 points. That's how we play in all the leagues I'm involved in.

dvaill65 said...

If you are ordered up can you go alone? I ask because I picked up the card out of turn and the opponent decided to order me up so I would only get 2 points for the Euchre instead of 4 points for going alone.

NJ-to-TX said...

The definition of trump is awful. It needs to include the left bower as a trump card, and also needs to indicate that the two highest trump cards are the jack of the trump suit followed by the other jack of the same color.