Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Points is points

Euchre QOD: Luck evens out in the long run…if you’re lucky.

Well, league night didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. My partner and I lost our match 2 games to 3. There was one game in which we were leading 4-0 and our opponents raddled off 10 points in a row. That’s when the cards were really cold. However, that’s euchre. You could be the greatest player in the world, but if your feeble foe gets 5 trump dealt to them, you aren’t going to win very often.

Despite last night’s loss, I’m convinced that the strategy we were following was sound. The key to winning euchre (besides being lucky) is knowing when to order it up. For this, I’ve developed a point system.

Point System
I used to play bridge and in that game there is a bidding phase only slightly similar to the one in euchre. In the bridge strategy books, someone created a point system to help figure out if you should bid or pass. Since it works for bridge, it makes sense that it could work for euchre.

Before I explain, here is the point system. If you remember the system and apply it, I guarantee that you will be giving yourself the best chance to win. Of course, you’ll still have to be lucky to win, but we can’t control luck.

Here it is…

*The strong off suit is the 2 suits that are not the same color as trump. For example, if Hearts were trump, the 2 black suits (clubs & spades) would be the strong off suits.

*The weak off suit is the one that is the same color as trump. This one has less cards in it (because the Jack is really a trump) which makes it “weaker”.

When do you order it up? - 21 points! or 16 points!
At first, follow these guidelines when ordering it up.

In the first round of bidding, order it up when you have 21 points or more.

In the second round of bidding (when everyone has passed once), order it up when you have 16 points or more. If you follow these guidelines, you will beat more than half of the euchre teams you play.

In later entries, I’ll explain how you adjust the points in your hand based on where you are sitting relative to the dealer. I’ll also explain what the points mean and how they were derived.

How to practice:
To practice the point system shuffle and deal out 5 cards face up. Determine how many points you have if the trump suit was Clubs. Do the same for Hearts, Spades and Diamonds. If you practice this a couple of times a day for one week, you’ll be able to use it quite easily.

Monday, January 30, 2006

League night

Euchre QOD: The only right way to play euchre is the way that wins.

Tonight is league night over at a local establishment here in Chicago. To track my team’s progress, here is the link. http://www.bar1events.com/leagues/default.asp

They really do run a great league here. The format is 5 games in a night. Match winner is the team that wins the majority of games. Points are collected over the 8-week season, as are total games and matches won. Top 32 teams make the playoffs. It was this league that inspired the euchre universe. There are so many players who have no seemingly strategy or stick to standard conventions and tell me how I’m playing “wrong”. I don’t want to tell them, but I’ll tell you the strategy I’ve come up with.

When do you order it up?

If you’ve played a little bit, the first thing you are going to want to know is when you should “order it up.” The answer is easy…when you and your partner will win 3 or more tricks. When you figure that out, you’ve figured out euchre. Of course, figuring out when you will win 3 or more tricks is much harder.

Be aggressive. You won’t win euchre if you sit back and wait for your opponents to get euchred. Don’t be afraid to get set. If you are not getting euchred 1 out of every 3 times you order it up, then you are not being aggressive enough.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the Point System for figuring out when a hand is worth ordering it up.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Online offline

1/28/06 Online on again

I’ve just been searching around the net for different euchre info. I should’ve thought of looking at the Wikipedia first. This is a cool online encyclopedia. If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out for any kind of encyclopedic info you’re looking for. Here’s what they have to say about euchre. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euchre They also have some additional game resources at the bottom of the entry.

I played online yesterday at Yahoo! It was fun but more challenging than playing live. The pace is much faster. In one hand, I thought I was dealer and ordered up a loner. With the 2 bowers, another trump coming in my hand, and a chance to dump my loser 9 of clubs, things were looking good. Unfortunately, my partner was dealer and the extra trump never came to my hand. I got set, of course. So, on Yahoo! you have to really pay attention to who is dealer.

Playing by yourself with computer robots is tough. The pace goes so fast you don’t know what’s going on. I followed my standard strategy and managed to win a game but it’s really confusing. If you’re just starting out, I’d stay away from these types of games.

A final note about online games. The strategies that I follow are mathematically based and sometimes go against standard conventions. This can really annoy the "know-it-all" players. When I led trump after the opponents ordered it up, my partner was horrified. “Here’s a tip, don’t lead their suit” he tells me. Here’s a tip for him…

Sometimes it’s ok to lead trump when your opponent orders it up.

In future entries, we’ll see why.

Have fun and good eukin’

Friday, January 27, 2006

Now you wanna play

Now that you know how to play, you’re gonna want to take some time to practice. Live games are best. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get 3 other live players. Especially when you are jonesin’ for a game at 2 o’clock in the morning. Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities to play online.

I recommend Yahoo! http://play.yahoo.com/

But for a complete listing, check out what one of the world’s leading Euchre aficionados (Natty Bumppo) has to say on the subject.


His book Columbus book on Euchre has great content and I recommend it. The book quality is a bit “home-made” but it’s still worth a read.

Actually, the content of his Euchre pages is pretty good but it also has that “home-made” quality to it that makes it confusing to look at. However, I really like his work.

For a good computer game version, check out Sierra's Hoyle Card Games 2004.

This isn't as good as a live game or even an online game however. The computer players are relatively easy to beat. It is an excellent game if you are first starting out.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


I love playing cards. These days, poker is all the rage, but there are other card games. Much has been written about Bridge, Hearts, Spades, and Rummy. They are all fine card games but none of them has the simple excitement of Euchre. Plus none of them have dedicated bar leagues near me where you can play week after week while you knock back a few discount beers.

I went through a phase where I was losing to players I thought inferior to me. That convinced me that the game must be all luck. To figure out for sure, I put together a computer program and used game theory to figure out all the odds and best strategies. I also wanted to create a simple strategy that my partner would buy into. I came up with a simple point system and am now convinced that you can overcome the "luck" factor if you play excellent strategy. That's why I'm writing about euchre.

How Do You Play?
It seems appropriate in the first post to give the rules of euchre. I could go through and create a big entry on it all, but people have already done that. Check out the following links to learn how to play the game.


Decent write-up of the rules but the site layout isn’t easy to read. Also, ignore the rules of thumb for the moment. Some of the things suggested are just not right.


The rules section on this site is pretty good. Here in Chicago, we always use a 6 card and 4 card to keep score. Forget their “special rules” for the moment. And the strategy stuff they have is pretty basic but not always right. In future entries I’ll lay out a more effective strategy.

Remember rules are regional. There are lots of variations depending on who you are playing with. Take heart. We'll adapt our strategy to factor in different rules.