Always wanted to learn how to play Euchre but find this fast-paced, trick-taking game goes too quickly to get to grips with?
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.
At first glance, this centuries-old favorite can seem a little baffling.
Look a little closer and you’ll soon discover a game that is not only effortlessly simple but also hugely enjoyable.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about how to play Euchre, including how to set up your game, how to keep score, and, of course, how to win.
What is Euchre?
Often referred to as The American Classic, Euchre was long regarded as the United State’s national card game until the likes of Gin Rummy and Poker surpassed its popularity.
Though it may not enjoy the same universal appeal as it did when it first made its way over the states back in the 1800s, the game is still widely enjoyed thanks to its straightforward rules, speedy gameplay, and the element of chance.
Like games such as Spades, Whist, and Bridge, Euchre is what’s known as a trick-taking card game, which means that each player lays down one card in a single round, known as a trick.
Whoever lays down the highest value card wins that round, a process known as taking the trick.
By the end of the round, the player (or in Euchre’s case, the team) who takes the most tricks, wins the game.
How to Play Euchre
Euchre is a game best played with 4 people divided into teams of 2.
Once you have your teams, you’ll need to prepare your cards.
Most people prefer to simply buy a ready-made Euchre playing card set to make setting up the game as simple as possible.
Alternatively, some people prefer to use a standard 52 card deck that is modified for Euchre.
If you’re choosing this option, simply strip your deck down to a 24 card deck using the following cards from each suit:
As in other card games such as Shanghai Rummy, each player draws one card and the player with the highest card is the game’s first dealer. That player then deals 5 cards to each player and you’re good to go.
Establishing the Trump
Next, the top card on the remaining pile of cards is turned over.
The player to the dealer’s left can choose to establish the suit that this card belongs to as the trump suit.
For example, if the top card is a Queen of Spades, then they can determine that spades is the trump suit.
If that player refuses to establish the suit, the player to their left can do so, and so on.
If none of the players establish the suit, then the player to the dealer’s left can pick any suit they like as the trump suit.
Much like other card games, the trump suit is the suit that beats all others.
Euchre is a game in which players follow suit (playing a card from the same suit that the last player laid down), but if players can’t do this, they can simply play a trump card to win the hand.
The only exception to this is if someone then has a higher trump card to play, in which case that player wins.
Card Rankings in Euchre
In Euchre, the typical card rankings that you may already be familiar with from other card games like Cribbage apply. Aces are high and 9s are low.
The absolute highest-ranking card is the jack of the trump suit. This is often known as the Right Bower.
The second-highest-ranking card is the jack of the suit that matches the color of the trump suit. This is called the Left Bower.
In other words, if the trump suit is hearts, then the Jack of Hearts is the Right Bower (highest ranking card) and the Jack of Diamonds is the Left Bower (second-highest ranking card).
Establishing Attackers and Defenders
Euchre introduces the unique concept of Attackers and Defenders.
The team who established the trump are the Attackers and, by default, the other team becomes the Defenders.
This might not affect the gameplay too much but, as we’ll soon see, it can make all the difference to the way the game is scored.
Euchre Rules and Instructions
The game begins with the player to the left of the dealer laying down their first card. Gameplay then moves in a clockwise direction, with each subsequent player laying down a card from the same suit (following suit) if possible.
If a player can’t follow suit but then can play a card from the trump suit, they should do that.
Once all cards have been played, the player with the highest-ranking card takes the trick. That player then plays the lead card for the next round.
Scoring and Determining a Winner
To those unfamiliar with the game, keeping score in Euchre can seem like a complicated process, but it really is as simple as it gets:
- If the Attackers take either 3 or 4 tricks, they get 1 point.
- If they take all 5 tricks, this is known as a March and is worth 2 points.
- If the Defenders take 3 or 4 tricks, they get 2 points.
- If they get a March, they get 4 points.
If either team is unable to take 3 tricks, they’re said to be “Euchred,” giving the game its name.
The winner of the game is the team who first reaches 10 points.
Going it Alone
Just when you thought you had Euchre all figured out, the game throws you a surprising twist.
Though it is meant to be played in teams, if one player believes that they have such good cards they could do better by themselves, they can announce that they’re going it alone and take on the other team by themselves.
In this instance, that player’s teammate lays down their cards and sits out the round.
Why do this?
Because there’s more points up for grabs.
If an attacking player goes it alone, they get 2 points for 3 or 4 tricks and 4 points for 5 tricks.
If a defending player goes it alone, they get 4 points for 3 or 4 tricks and 5 points for 5 tricks.
Didn’t we tell you Euchre is much a more simple game than it first appears?
Simply lead with one card, have each subsequent player either follow suit or play a trump card, and whoever plays the highest card takes the trick.
Use these easy-to-follow Euchre instructions on your next game night and you’ll soon discover for yourself why so many people continue to enjoy this All-American classic over a century after it was first played here in the United States.
And if, after all that, you discover that Euchre isn’t really the game for you? No problem, check out our guide to 6 more fun card games you can pick up and start playing today.