Monday, July 24, 2006

Random euchre web sites

Euchre on the web

Just a few interesting sites related to euchre that I've come across recently.

1. Euchre definition on the Urban Dictionary. Funny..."A card game fully understood when you're drunk"

2. Over at there is a discussion of the rules of euchre.

3. I just downloaded a book over at which is supposed to be about euchre. I haven't listened to it yet but it was free. You can get it at that website too if you like but you'll have to signup.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Euchre variations - When the regular game gets dull

Alright Euchre Universe faithful. I haven’t done a post on alternative euchre games in a while so I thought I throw out some now. I found this article about different euchre variations that you might find interesting. I’ll recap the most interesting ones here.

1. Black Only. A Player May Only Bid Spades Or Clubs As A Suit.
Clubs has always been my favorite suit.

2. Blood Before Death. All red cards (Blood) must be played from your hand before any black cards (Death) are played, with the exception of being forced to "follow suit".
This one would work well on Halloween

3. Handcuffed. Only the 1st & 4th (Dealer) seats may call trump. They may also choose to go "Alone". The 2nd and 3rd seats (1st seat & Dealer's partners) are "Handcuffed" and may not call trump nor choose "Alone". The 2nd & 3rd seats only have the option of "Pass". This rule rotates with each hand.
This might be more interesting if the handcuff was on the 1st and 4th seats. Ordering from 2nd and 3rd seat is harder.

4. Haters. Any Suit May Be Called As Trump Other Than Hearts.
A fun one to play on Valentine’s day.

5. Red / Black Suicide
If the UP Card is RED (Diamonds/Heart) the DEALING TEAM MUST Take up,
If the UP Card is BLACK (Spades/Clubs) the NON-Dealing TEAM MUST Order it up.
This would be hard to defend.

6. Solitaire. One pard from each team MUST bid/defend alone in every hand, You are allowed to pass and pick trump, but you must go alone. Basically, this is a one-on-one game.
It is a bit like playing two-handed euchre.

They had a bunch of other variations but these were the ones I found most interesting. Anyone out there in the Euchre Universe have favorite variations?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Euchre news - Computers use game theory to win and you should too

It seems scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have created a computer program named GS1 that plays poker (Texas Hold ‘em) better than the best computer players in the world. The remarkable thing is that the program is based strictly on game theory, and does not use input from the “best” human players. The program does it by using probabilities to make its betting decisions.

This is reminiscent of the computer program used to create the euchre point system strategy that is the heart of the Euchre Universe advice.

I’ve always believed that you could take a game like euchre and break it down to a matter of probabilities. There is always a “best” play to make and that is dictated by the probability that it will win or not. Hunches, beliefs and superstitions about euchre all succumb to the great god of game theory.

Now, this computer program hasn’t been put to the test against the greatest human players, but it will be interesting to see if GS1 can take all of Phil Ivey’s money someday. Maybe when they’re done with a boring game like poker, they’ll reprogram it to play euchre. Will the talking heads over at euchre science be ready for high quality computer opponents? They’re coming.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Questions about euchre playing cards

Without cards there would be no euchre. And without euchre, the universe would cease to exist. You’ve used the plucky pasteboards all these years, but have you ever wondered where they come from or why they look the way they do? Well, author John McLeod did and he went out to find the answers. You can find his answers at his frequently asked questions about playing cards site.

Here is just a sampling of what you’ll learn.

  1. How to turn your design idea into a real pack of cards.

  2. Who was Hoyle.

  3. Who was the inspiration for the people on the face cards?

  4. Why is the Ace worth more than the King? Rebellious peasants no doubt.

  5. Why does the Ace of spades have a bigger design than the other aces? Taxes.

And finally, did you know that the Joker was invented specifically for the game of euchre? And here I thought it was done as a tribute to joggling.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Euchre Lifestyle - Euchre Longevity

Euchre QOD: “A decision delayed is a decision not made”

Euchre Haiku

Play cards all your life
And your health may be as good
As a lifelong jock

Euchre Lifestyle:
You want to live longer? Forget about physical fitness. Scientists have discovered that productive activities like playing cards are as effective as fitness activities in lowering the chance of death in older people. While joggling takes up my non-euchre playing time, I think this will definitely be good news for most die-hard euchre players.

Euchre Obits
Sadly, the euchre universe is short one more euchre enthusiast. This poor kid had an infectious love of euchre but was done in by the waters of Lake Michigan.

How to remember the cards that have been played

To be a great euchre player, you have to be able to remember the cards that are played. For euchre where there are only 24 cards, this is not nearly as difficult as it is for a game like bridge where there are 52 cards. But even with 24 cards it is easy to forget “what’s out there”. Here is a (nearly) practical method you can use for remembering the cards that are played. It takes some practice but once you get it, it’ll be much easier and your natural memory skills will improve immensely.

Pictures are easier to remember than cards
The key to memorizing cards is to substitute a memorable picture for each card. Cards themselves are not very memorable but your pictures can be.

The system works like this. Suppose Spades were trump and you wanted to keep track of the Ace of Spades. It’s relatively easy to do if this is the only card you are trying to remember. Essentially, you will just keep paying attention to what is played until you see the Ace of Spades. But if you were trying to remember every spade that was played along with all the off-suit cards, you would soon find it nearly impossible.

That’s where the substitution system comes into play. To use the system you substitute a different word for Ace of Spades and then create a memorable picture about the card when it’s played. A suitable substitute word for Ace of Spades is the word Suit. To remember when something is played, it is useful to picture a destroyed version of you substitute word. For example, when the Ace of Spades is played you picture in your mind’s eye a suit that has been ripped, torn and worn. The more damaged the suit the better. When you wonder whether a card has been played or not you look at the substitute word in your mind and see its condition. If it’s destroyed, the card is played. If not, the card has not been played.

Here is a complete list of substitute pictures you can use for each card. For the system to work you need to memorize these substitute words.

Ace of Spades - Suit
King of Spades - Sing
Queen of Spades - Steam
Jack of Spades - Spade
10 of Spades - Sauce
9 of Spades - Soap

Ace of Clubs - Cat
King of Clubs - King
Queen of Clubs - Cream
Jack of Clubs - Club
10 of Clubs - Case
9 of Clubs - Cob

Ace of Diamonds - Dot
King of Diamonds - Drink
Queen of Diamonds - Dream
Jack of Diamonds - Diamond
10 of Diamonds - Dice
9 of Diamonds - Diaper

Ace of Hearts - Hat
King of Hearts - Hinge
Queen of Hearts - Queen
Jack of Hearts - Heart
10 of Hearts - Hose
9 of Hearts - Hoop

Practice makes perfect.
The way to practice these is to take a euchre deck and shuffle them up. Deal 4 cards face down and keep them separated from the rest of the cards. Next, flip over cards one at a time creating pictures in your mind of the destroyed substitute words. For example, the 10 of diamonds would be crushed dice, the Queen of hearts would be a beaten queen, etc. Don’t move on to the next card until you’ve created a memorable picture in your mind. When you get to the end of the deck try to guess what the four face down cards are.

You should practice this exercise a couple of times a day until it becomes second nature. After that you will need to do it once or twice a week just to keep in practice. And you should use it during a euchre game. At the very least using a system will make you pay more attention to the cards which will automatically make you remember better.

For more information about memorizing things like cards, numbers, faces and other things check out the excellent book by Harry Lorayne, Super Power Memory.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Euchre strategy - Analysis of a euchre hand

There’s a lively debate going on over at the Euchre Science pages. The question is what you should do about the following hand.

Jack of Hearts
Jack of Diamonds
Ace of Diamonds
Jack of Clubs
10 of Clubs

The Ace of Hearts was turned down, and you are sitting in seat 1.

Should you go alone or take your partner along? Should you lead trump or lead the loser? Should the score matter in your decision?

Let’s look at the first question.

Alone or with partner?

In case you don’t much care about all the math, here is the bottom line to this answer first.

Bottom line: Unless your team’s score is 8 points, you should go alone on this hand. If you have 8 points, you should bring your partner along with you, lead 2 trump, and hope for her to have the highest club.

Now the details…
This question is the source of much debate. First, consider all the ways that your partner could possibly help you sweep or march.

A. They have 4 trump and an off-suit winner
B. They have the highest club
C. They are void in clubs and have a trump


A. They have 4 trump.
There are a total of 8568 possible hands that your partner can have. This is found by taking the total number of cards left unseen (18) and figuring out how many ways they can be sorted into groups of 5. Combination of 18 things taken 5 at a time is 8568.

Of these possible hands only 14 will have 4 trump and only 3 of those will have a guaranteed off-suit winner. That means partner will only have a 4 trump helping hand 0.05% of the time. Those aren’t good odds.

B. They have the highest club.
If your partner has the highest club and you’ve saved one of your winner trumps, you can sweep for 2 points. To keep it simple we’ll consider only hands in which your partner has the Ace of clubs. Of the 8568 possible hands, your partner will have the Ace of clubs 2380 times or 27.8%. You’ll have to lead 2 of your trump first and your partner will have to save the Ace but you will sweep under these conditions nearly 30% of the time. Which also means you won’t sweep 70% of the time.

C. They are void in clubs, have a trump.
Complicated, yes. But a situation like this is not simple. Of the 8568 hands, only 2002 will be void in clubs (23.4%), and 1750 of those will also have a trump. That puts the chances of this sweep at 20%

Unfortunately, none of these situations can occur simultaneously. And the way you play will depend on which of these hand holdings your partner has. Based on the scenarios above, your best play would be option B which gives you a 27.8% chance of a sweep.

However, what are the chances of you making a sweep by going alone?
The chances that the 3 clubs are buried (either in partner's hand or in the uh kitty) and you make your loner is 6.86%. That was found by the following simple combination equation.

1. Number of unknown cards = 18. (24 - your 5 cards - the turned down card)
2. Number of cards that can foil your loner = 3 (A, K, & Q of clubs)
3. Number of possible opponent distribution of unknown cards = 43,758 (combination of 18 things taken 10 at a time)

4. Number of possible opponent distributions that don't contain any of the cards that can foil you = 3003 (combination of 15 things taken 10 at a time)

5. 3003 / 43,758 = 6.86%

Now, I believe we can also add in the times when the opponents have a lone Queen of clubs because after you've played your 3 trumps they probably dumped the lone Queen in favor of other cards. This improves your chances as follows.

6. Number of possible opponent distributions that are either void of clubs or could contain the lone Queen of Clubs = 8008. (combination of 16 things taken 10 at a time)

7. 8008 / 43,758 = 18.3%

So you should expect to make a loner with this hand a little more than 1 out of every 6 times.

Game theory comparison.
Expectation alone = 4 * 18.3% + 1 * 81.7% = 1.55 points
Expectation with partner = 2 * 27.8% + 1 * 72.2% = 1.28 points

Over the long run, going alone will get you more points and that’s what you should play.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Euchre Gambitry - More on euchre tells

Last week’s post on euchre tells prompted a good deal of response from the euchre universe. Here are some additional tells you can use to help improve your overall euchre game.

11. Listen to an opponent’s table talk.
Sword_4_hire suggests that you listen for when an opponent says “I need you partner” or words similar to that. This usually means that they are weak and provides a good opportunity to lead trump. It is especially good to lead trump if the opponent in the second seat ordered it up.

12. Staring at your cards.
Sithlord78 says you should only look at your cards when you need to. You can pick up a lot of information from someone’s reaction to their cards when they are looking at them. If you are not looking at your own cards it not only prevents you from giving off information about your hand but it allows you to look at other people and see how they like their own hand.

13. Rearranging their cards.
Sithlord78 also reminds us of the advice that you shouldn’t rearrange your cards. Look for people who rearrange their cards. This will give you a great idea of the distribution of their suits. When rearranging, they will grab cards of the same suit and put them together. If you remember where there cards were when they rearranged them, you can find out how many of the different suits they started with when they play from that part of their hand. I use this kind of information all the time.

14. Taking a long time to order.
Baliddle writes that you can sometimes get information about a player’s hand during the ordering process. If they take a long time to decide to order, their hand usually has some weakness. Against most players this is in the off-suits. In these situations you can feel more confident leading your off-suit aces.

15. Hesitation during play
Joeelf points out that some players will hesitate during the playing round. In this particular case it meant that the guy was holding the guarded left bower. This allowed the next player to finesse a lower trump and make the point.

Since euchre is a game that relies heavily on luck, tells are an important extra piece of information that can help you win more often. Learn to look for these and your game will improve immensely.

*Picture : Chicken in South Carolina with Cooper River Bridge in the background

Monday, July 03, 2006

Euchre on television

While I’m not a fan and have never watched the show, it appears that the Fox TV show 24 is produced by some euchre enthusiasts. Consider the following facts.

1. The lead character is named Jack Bauer. – Certainly a reference to euchre n’est pas?
2. The standard euchre deck contains 24 cards – Convenient coincidence.
3. The show involves suspense, intrigue, and high-stakes international terrorist plots – exactly the same as most euchre games.

Wow! This is eerie.