Go alone often
Mathematics are on your side
As should your partner
“Loner” – Ordering up while telling your partner to lay their cards down. You attempt to make without help from your partner. Scoring is the same as if you were playing with your partner except that if you sweep you get awarded 4 points.
I stumbled across this website that tells you how to play euchre. eHow is actually a pretty interesting website and if you want to know how to do something, someone probably wrote it up already. Anywhoo…
Here is what someone wrote as a “good” tip.
“You can only call a loaner hand if you have the trump ace, both bars, and no 9's in your hand. Even with the one trump nine, you cannot call a loaner, it is too risky.”
Now frequent visitors of the Euchre Universe have heard that euchre is a game for the bold. If you are limiting your Loner calls to hands in which you have the top three trump and no 9’s, you are not going to win as many euchre games as you should. This advice is so conservative that it will hurt your game.
True you will never get euchred when playing like this. Some people get really embarrassed when they get euchred on a loner. But this is ridiculous. By following the tenets of game theory, you have to make the play that gives you the highest rate of return. Sometimes this return will lead to a loss, but if the gain is great enough it wins over the long hall. Let’s look at two possibilities.
Conservative lone bidder. Never orders a loner on a hand that can get euchred.
Liberal lone bidder. Orders a loner whenever there is a positive expectation of gain.
Based on experience and a little logical guesswork we can put some numbers behind these two approaches to see which is better. To figure it out we need to know how often the loner is called, how often they make the loner, and how often they are euchred.
For the conservative bidder these factors would be as follows.
- Ordering up a loner - 1%
- Getting euchred – 0%
- Sweeping – 50%
- Making bid – 100%
For the Liberal lone bidder the numbers are more like this.
- Ordering up a loner – 10%
- Getting euchred – 10%
- Sweeping – 10%
- Making bid – 90%
So how do these two players fair over the course of 1000 games? The following equations shed some light on that.
the number of times they order a loner: 1000 x 1% = 10 hands
Expectation: (1 x 100%) + (3 x 50%) = 2.5 points
Points generated over 1000 games = 25 points
the number of times they order a loner: 1000 x 10% = 100 hands
Expectation: (1 x 90%) + (3 x 10%) – (2 x 10%) = 1 point
Points generated over 1000 games = 100 points
That’s a huge difference!
It just shows that sometimes you have to risk losing a little to win a lot.
Note: Just because Liberal bidding is more successful here doesn't mean it always holds true, in euchre or in politics.