Friday, June 02, 2006

Euchre Strategy - Liberal Loner versus the Conservatives

Euchre QOD: “Lose a little to win a lot”

Euchre Haiku:
Go alone often
Mathematics are on your side
As should your partner

Euchre Palaver
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.

Savvy Strategies
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.
  1. Ordering up a loner - 1%

  2. Getting euchred – 0%

  3. Sweeping – 50%

  4. Making bid – 100%

For the Liberal lone bidder the numbers are more like this.
  1. Ordering up a loner – 10%

  2. Getting euchred – 10%

  3. Sweeping – 10%

  4. 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.


Kevin said...

Of course, you have to consider the hands where you don't call a loner, and you march with your partner.

I suggest if you have the top three trump, with two green nines, you're better off playing with your partner. I can't imagine that hand EVER marching alone, so you're better off hoping your partner can help with cutting or aces.

Still, the liberal loner will likely still win out in the long run. :)

Harvey "the Rabbit" Lapp said...

Some fabulous stuff in Friday's entry! I've long professed that ultra-conservative euchre play would prove to be a losing strategy in the long run, and the math seems to agree.
I have met a few die-hard, experienced euchre players however, who strongly believe in "bagging" opponents like myself. They are very frustrating to play with. These types prefer to pass, even though they damn well know that they can make a point. It seems to be a strategy for them to play defense during most of the game, but it usually becomes futile, eventually my side chipping away, point by point.
Good stuff Perry, and I'll make sure that I have the Ace of trump, both bars and no nines next time I orders me up a loaner!

Perry said...

Good point Kevin. I agree with you however that the liberal loner call will still edge it out in points.

Harv, thanks for the nice comments. I like playing with baggers, they usually lose.

beer5belly said...

I was expecting some solid strategy on when to call alone. But this is very basic.
Euchre is an agressive game. My general rule is go alone when you can conceivably make all 5, when your partner can't help by playing, Or when you have 9 points, an easy 3 tricks, and you want to rub it in.

Examples: If from position left of the dealer, you have both bowers, and are 2 suited with an ace, queen, 9, thats an alone hand. Both jacks SHOULD draw out all trump, and you'll almost always make your 3 offsuits. Sure you get euchred if someone has 3, but the odds are great.

If you are only missing 1 bower or an offsuit ace (4 trump and a off-king) go alone. If your partner has it, great! its down and your cards are good. If he doesn't, he probably couldn't have helped you anyways.

beer5belly said...

Oh and for defending loners, here is a easy beginner strategy for what to lead, (opponant calls a loner, its your lead).

If you have 1 ace: play a different offsuit, your partner could have the other 2 aces. If you play your ace and it gets trumped, your partner will probably have to make a 50/50 call for which ace to keep for the last trick.

If you have 2 aces, play one! same reasoning. You don't want a choice.

Always watch what your partner discards. If he discards clubs, you keep your club.

Zepharia Andres said...

I've always been a loner, and I've spent most of my life as a single person. See the link below for more info.