Thursday, November 30, 2006

Euchre playoff update - Round and out

Bleah! Losing sucks. Sure, we can chalk this one up to supremely bad cards, but it's a loss just the same. As a good pal of mine from college used to say, I'd rather be lucky than good. That is now the official motto of Euchre Universe.

Here's how it went down. We got matched up with the same team we beat on the first night. This was unfortunate because after our team, they were the most skilled team remaining. Worse yet, they didn't make any obvious mistakes and got some great cards.

In the first game, we traded points until the score was 3-3. Then our opponent calls a loner. She had Right, Left, Ace of trump (diamonds) and the Ace and Queen of spades. Neither my partner or I had enough trump or even 2 spades. That put the score 3-7 and we never recovered. Stupid loners.

In the second game we started out alright. Scored our own loner to go ahead 4-1. But on the very next hand, they ordered a loner and made it to make the score 4-5. And it was an unstopable loner no matter how we played it. Next, it was my deal and I tried for a loner. It was foiled on the last trick when the Ace of clubs covered my King of clubs. Blast! Score 5-5.

Next they euchred us when my partner made a Next call with Left, Ace, Queen and two hearts. She led the Left which was covered by the Right. A heart came back and the opponents won it. Then the Ace of diamonds was led was led from the person who was to the right of my partner and we were sunk. The left hand opponent had the King of trump and was short in diamonds. Every play possible by my partner would've led to a euchre. And that's what happend. Score 5-7.

They made it to the barn and we scored a couple more points when we euchred them. 7-9. On the last hand, the opponents were dealing and the Jack of Diamonds comes up. My partner passes. I'm sitting third seat and I look down at 9 diamonds, 10,9 clubs, 10 spades, 9 hearts. Just out of spite I ordered it up. We got euchred in glorious fashion. (The dealer had both bowers and the Ace of trump).

The match, playoffs, and season were all over on that hand. Blasted cards! Like I said before, in euchre and in life...

I'd rather be lucky than good.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Euchre Playoffs - Second Round

Some things shouldn't happen. The Cubs shouldn't have lost game 6 of the 2003 National League playoffs when leading 3-0 with 1 out in the 8th inning. The Greatest American Hero shouldn't have gone off the air after only 3 glorious seasons of superhero wackiness. The Urban Tribe shouldn't have lost to those punks on Move, Pitch Get Out the Way. Faster jogglers shouldn't have started running marathons before I broke the world record. And we shouldn't have lost a match last night. Unfortunate things shouldn't happen but they do.

The night started off brillantly. We played a couple of decent enough guys. Decent is a comment on their personalities not their play. Perhaps they are much better players than they showed in our match, but last night they had me scratching my head. How the hell could they be the 6th ranked team in this league?

The first game was a battle. We traded point for point until the game was tied 4-4. Then my LHO makes a loner to put us down 4-8. We battled back to 8-8 and won the game by euchring a questionable call by my RHO. But the seeds of doubt about one of our opponent's ability were sewn. He orderd us up (giving my partner the Right) from the first seat with Left, Ace, King of trump. But then he leads out the Ace of Spades. I trump & win with the lowly 10 (a singleton) and lead back the Ace of clubs. Everyone follows and we euchre them when my partner throws out the Right. A bold move that lost them the game. Clearly, he doesn't know the LTD rule. Lead Trump Dammit!

But the wheels really fell off in the second game. LHO goes alone right away. He has 4 trump (hearts) headed by the Left. His off-card was the King of spades. I lead the Queen of spades, partner plays the Ace and it wins. Our opponent pouts "that was the only thing that could beat me!" Next, she leads another spade. LHO trumps in with the King. I hold the Right, Queen and 10 of trump. Instead of overtrumping, I through a club. The opponent leads out the Left which I promptly cover with my Right. I lead the Queen of trump, he plays the Ace and is euchred when he tries to float the 9 of trump. That was terrible luck for my opponent. Getting euchred with Left, Ace, King, 9 trumps, plus an off-suit 10.

Unfortunately for them, he started to press, we euchred them 2 more times and were winning 6-0 after three hands. A sweep and a euchre gave us the game and match 10-0.

Next, we played against a couple of guys who were decent except for 2 pieces of strategy they followed. First, they would order it up and not lead trump. It mostly worked out for them but they got lucky on a couple of plays. But the worst thing was the donation strategy. They were winning 7-1 after making a laydown loner. My LHO orders me up the Queen of trump with only the 9 in his hand. We easily euchre them to push the score to 3-7. "I didn't want you guys to make a loner."

Now, I love the donation strategy but not when you're winning 7-1! When the score was 8-5 in the same game he donated again! Eventually, the score was 9-9 and we unfortunately lost when they turned over spades and ordered in Clubs. Yes, my partner could've ordered up spades (she had 3 and I had the left) but she was momentarily distracted and she just passed. The second game gave us more unfortunate luck.

After starting with a 2 point sweep, they proceded to get all the cards (even a loner). Eventually, they won 10-6. Now we move to the loser's bracket. We still have a shot to win it all, and that's just what we want to do. Stay tuned for details next week.

The Euchre Universe will be heading out of town for vacation so no posts 'til next week. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A euchre decision - black red or alone

I saw this post about euchre at another blog (Dangerous Logic). They raise an interesting situation.

They had J♦ J♥ A♣ J♣ 9♣. His team is losing 6-8 and he is sitting first chair left of the dealer. The Ace of spades is turned down. What should you do? Order up hearts, diamonds, clubs or pass? Bring partner with or go alone?

Here are some possibilities with some comments.

1. Order Clubs. You'll have a pretty good chance of making your point but you have 2 losers in the red suits.
2. Order Red. Diamonds or hearts aren't really different. You've got 2 guaranteed winners and a probable winner in clubs.
3. Pass. You've got 2 winners in all suits. If the opponents order they're in trouble. If your partner orders, a sweep is likely.

The euchre universe point system shows that ordering Clubs is inferior to a red call. In clubs you have 20 points total. In a red suit you have 24 points. Clearly, you shouldn't order clubs.

Passing could lead to a euchre but you are gambling that your opponents or partner will order. If opponents do order, they've probably got 3 or 4 trump and will have a great chance of making it. Also, euchre is a game for assertive players. Passing is a losing game.

The best option is to order up one of the red suits. Unless you've seen other cards flashed, there really isn't a difference between hearts or diamonds. I like hearts so that's what I'd order.

The only question remaining. Do you go alone or with partner?

The point system says go alone (>23 points). The chances of you being euchred are remote and the chances of you scoring a march alone and winning the game is great. That's what I'd do.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Playoffs begin in the euchre universe

Last night was the first round of play-offs in our Monday night league. My partner and I were the 16th seed out of 32 teams. We were matched up against the 17th seed.

The first game didn't start out so good. We lost a heartbreaker. Barn to barn with their deal. They turn up the Jack of clubs and proceed to pummel us. You know if you are the dealer, you have about a 70% chance of getting a point. Probability was on their side.

In game two, we opened up a can of euchre whoop ass! They scored the first point then I scored a loner (a 5 trump, near lay-down). Next, we euchred them when my LHO picked up the Jack of spades with no help. Some truly adept play by my partner scored us that one. I knew there was a reason she was the valedictorian of our high school class.

We finished off the game with a weak loner. I had 2 clubs (A, 10) and 3 diamonds (J, K, Q). RHO was dealing and the Queen of clubs was up. I passed as did everyone else in that round. Since we were in the pasture (6 points) I opted to try and win it right there with a diamond loner. I led out the Right and drew 1 trump. Next I threw the King and no one else had trump left. The Ace of clubs drew out the King making the 10 of clubs a winner. We win 10-2.

The final game was a little more challenging. They took a 6-3 lead and it felt like we were done. But we hung in there and euchred them a couple of times. We finished the game and match with a 10-7 win.

Our second match was against the top seed. This guy/girl team was pretty good competition. We traded points the first two hands, but then the guy scored a loner. We rallied back to make it a 6-6 game. Unfortunately, our cards stalled and we ended up losing 7-10.

Game two was a little bit better. My partner made a loner to put us up 4-1. Then they rallied back until the score was tied at 5. But a euchre and a loner finished off the game to push it to a deciding third game.

This is where things got grim. Our opponents jumped to a 7-3 lead. According to the euchre calculator, we only had about a 20% chance of winning. But that's just what happened. A euchre, a sweep and we were right back in it. We won going away 10-7. We got to the barn from 5 points when I called up a loner on a weak 4 trump hand. A next call would've killed us but they didn't make it. Lucky for us.

So, we advance to next week undefeated. Things are looking up.

Euchre Strategy: If you can go alone, take a chance and do it.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Euchre Card Skills - One handed dealing and cutting in euchre

Since card handling is an important skill in euchre, we here at the Euchre Universe constantly search for new ways to manipulate the pasteboards. While stumbling around the web (literally) I came accross this nifty description and video of how to cut a deck one handed.

And if you want to see a video of it in action, check out this one over at The second version in this video is known as the Charlier Cut and it's the one I most often use.

While you're at it, you might want to learn to just shuffle a deck of cards one handed. This will take a bit more practice than the cuts. Here is a video version that is pretty good.

But all of these card handling skills will be useful for intimidating your opponents at the euchre table. And since euchre is a game with a significant amount of luck, any edge you can get over your opponent is worthwhile.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Would you rather have 3 trump or 4

Last night was league night and my partner and I were fortunate enough to pull out a victory. I played with my lovely wife instead of my usual partner so there were times when we didn't exactly "click". But she played smashingly and called "Next" like a champ. She didn't much like the idea of leading trump on offense but sometimes euchre is complicated.

No matter. We eeked out the victory, catapulting us to the playoffs with some momentum.

I did stumble upon the following interesting hand. It is a strange case where 3 trump is better than 4.

My hand.

Jack, Ace King Clubs
Jack, King Spades

My partner was the dealer and the upcard was a heart. Everyone passed and the option came back around to me. What should I call? Clubs alone or Spades alone?

Clubs. A club call would've given me the 4 top trump and an off-king. Not a bad hand for a loner but it can be beat.

Spades. A spade call would've given me 3 trump with an off-Ace, King.

I chose to play Spades as trump. The first lead was the Ace of diamonds. Both opponents followed and I ruffed with the King of spades. Next I led the Right and then the Left. This bled out all the trump and my Ace and King of clubs were winners. 4 points for my side.

If I would've called Clubs trump, my King of Spades would've lost to my RHO who had the Ace of Spades.

Bottom line...when it comes to trump, sometimes less is more.

Monday, November 06, 2006

What playing cards do you use?

My favorite type of playing cards are Bee no.92, blue back. They have no borders and a pattern of mesmerizing diamond shapes on their backs. They aren't great for doing some magic tricks but for playing euchre, you can't get much better than the Bees. I especially like their Ace of Spades.

Here is a website put together by Bob Lancaster of some really interesting cards. Looks like he was really good at updating until about 2003. But the interface is pretty cool and he's got all sorts of interesting cards. My favorite is the Snoopy deck. The joker is Snoopy as a juggler. Anyone who has seen my other blog (Just Your Average Joggler) knows my affinity for juggling.

Tonight is league night and the last day of the regular season. I think we've made the playoffs but a win tonight would be key. It would also give us a good seed so I'm really hoping for good cards and great playing.