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Here are answers to some tricky euchre questions, according to Hoyle rules. Euchre, a card game popular in the Midwest, is rarely learned from a book, so occasionally rules questions do come up. An authoritative source like Hoyle is the perfect shield to hide behind if you want to be pedantic about rules, or if you're a newcomer and want to get a quick idea of how to play euchre.
This article is by no means comprehensive. We're looking, rather, to give a quick overview of how to play euchre, and to address a few common queries that come up. For a full set of rules, try getting your hands on a copy of Hoyle's Rules of Games.
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mahfrot/3210121547/
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Basics and Victory Conditions
According to Hoyle rules, euchre games are won when one side gets to 5 points. This differs from traditional house euchre rules, which always go to 10 points. Score is kept in 5-point games by using a 3 and a 4 card to keep track. In a 10-point game, each team keeps track of score with two 5s.
Euchre is played with 4 people in 2 teams who sit across from one another. With your partner, you try to take the majority of tricks in a 5-card hand (3 or more of 5 possible). One wins a trick by playing the highest card in one go-round. You must play the same suit as the card that was led, if possible. If that's not possible you may trump it or play an off suit.
Bet you didn't know this: Midwesterners call not following suit a "renege." Hoyle calls it a "revoke." If it's not remedied by the offender before the trick is finished, a revoke immediately ends the hand in favor of the other team and the revoking team loses two points.
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What is a Trump?
Every card in euchre is its face value, except for trump. Trump is whichever suit is assigned to be the highest value that hand. The trump suit is more powerful than any card of any other suit. If clubs is trump, the 9 of clubs will beat the ace of diamonds.
Trump is organized a little differently from other suits. The jack of the trump suit is its highest card, and therefore the highest card of any suit for that hand. The second highest card is the jack of the same color non-trump suit. After that, values are traditional, from ace on down to 9. If clubs are trump, the three highest cards are, in order:
jack of clubs ---> jack of spades ---> ace of clubs
Bet you didn't know this: In Hoyle rules, euchre has an official penalty for table talk (sharing information with your partner). If table talk occurs, the next time the offending team gets to lead, the other team gets to call which suit they have to lead.
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Dealing the Hand
A euchre deck is made up of all cards ranked 9 and higher, including aces, which are high. The dealer deals out the cards, alternating 2 and 3 at a time, until everyone has 5 cards. The top card left over is turned up and it's the candidate for trump.
Everyone, beginning to the left of the dealer, has the chance to order the turned-up card to be trump. If you think you can take all five tricks, you may go alone, and have your partner sit out. The bonus to this tactic is that if you win all five tricks, your team gains 4 points instead of the normal 2.
Bet you didn't know this: One of the defending team in a loner may also go alone ("I defend alone") after the loner is called, making the hand between two players only.
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Count on your partner for 1: Most of the time, you should only call trump if you are reasonably sure you can take 2 tricks with your hand.
Bet you didn't know: Hoyle rules for euchre don't include the "next" strategy, contrary to common belief. "Next" is this: if at the start of a hand, everyone around the table turns down the proposed trump card, the person to the left of the dealer should then name the turned-down card's off suit as trump.