Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Euchre book review - Win At Euchre

Whenever we finish reading a euchre book we like to let the rest of the matter in the Euchre Universe know what we think. Today, we look at Gallagher's book Win at Euchre .

Book: Win at Euchre
Author: Thomas A. Gallagher
Rating: 2 out of 5 chickens

Overall: This book has some interesting content including a unique point system for evaluating your hand. However, it is also disorganized, complicated and way overpriced for what you get. It's worth reading but don't expect much.

Truth be told, I only ordered this book because I needed to push my Amazon order over the $25 mark to get free shipping. Sure, it seemed like an interesting enough book but I would rather have found it in a used bookstore or an old library copy. No matter, I got the new book and here's what I think.

Book Layout
The book was immediately disappointing. I was expecting a book but what I got was an $8 pamphlet. I felt ripped off before opening it. It's puny! 29 pages with 4 extra inserted in the middle. And the pages are 3 inches wide. Puny! The cover is clever, but hardly worth $8. On the inside the book switches different font sizes and overall looks pretty amateurish. Its design is reminiscent of The Columbus Book of Euchre but at least that book was substantial. I don’t know what it is about these euchre books. Clearly design is not a top priority.

Book Content
As we saw with The Columbus Book of Euchre, poor design can be compensated with great content. Unfortunately, Win at Euchre falls short in this area too. The book is not laid out in any kind of chapter form so it’s difficult to explain the layout. Basically, it has 6 sections: History, Rules, Ordering, Playing Strategies, Tournament suggestions, and a Glossary.

While it’s understandable to begin a card book with some bit of history it feels like filler in this book. Why do we need to know about the history of cards? And according to at least one expert the information about the history of euchre is not exactly right either.

The second section of rules covers the game as we play it here in the Euchre Universe. If you’re a beginner they may not be too helpful and if you’re a veteran you won’t need them. This section is mostly for someone who hasn’t played the game in a while and needs a refresher.

The point system is the real meat of this book and that’s what comes next. Having independently created a euchre point system of my own, I was interested in seeing how Gallagher’s works. Overall, the system seems complicated. It gives the same value to a Left Bower as a Right Bower. Then it has different values for aces whether they are singletons, doubletons or tipletons. This mathematically makes sense but it complicates things.

And then using the system to order it up is also a bit complicated. There are 4 possible requirements for picking it up. Then it says to order your partner up with 2 trump. But it doesn’t take into account the up card or the score. For example, if your team has scored 6 points and your dealing partner turns up a bower, you should pass with almost any hand just to give her a chance to go alone and win the game. Subtle plays like this are not considered in this point system. Of course, this is a shortcoming of my own point system but I’m working on fixing that.

The rest of the book has some interesting tid-bits but some of the information is just not right. For example, it suggests that you shouldn’t order up with 2 bowers. This is true sometimes but at other times this is just wrong. If you are sitting first seat, a red Upcard is turned down and you have the two red bowers, you should definitely order up the Next suit.

The glossary provides some interesting euchre lingo but is certainly not comprehensive. And the information about euchre tournaments is short. He does finish the book with a poem which I certainly appreciate. But that’s not enough to save this pamphlet. Buy the book if you like, just don’t expect much.

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