Euchre (Rules and Gameplay instructions)

Euchre is a traditional European card game dating back to the Napoleonean era. It will test your focus, tactic skills, and cooperation since it is played in teams of two. These Euchre rules explain the gameplay in detail.

Euchre is a simple and totally rewarding card game suitable for anyone who likes fast-paced, dynamic, yet smart and logical games. Players sometimes liken this game to Pinochle since it is also played in pairs and involves tricks taking (see Pinochle rules).

Moreover, it can also resemble Nines using trumps, although unlike in Nines, trump stays the same in Euchre for the whole duration of the round (check out the Nines card game rules).

If you’re a seasoned player, Euchre will seem fairly familiar to you. Beginners can pick it up quickly and easily too.

This Euchre game rules guide will cover the following: 

  • What is Euchre?
  • What you’ll need to play Euchre 
  • Euchre rules
  • How to play Euchre (video tutorial)
  • FAQs
  • Other similar games to Euchre (our guides)

The following sections explain how to play Euchre step by step. 

What is Euchre?

Euchre is a dynamic trick-taking card game popular in many parts of the world. Although it can be played in a pair, it was originally intended for four players divided into two competing teams. 

Number of Players: 2 or 4 players

Ages: 10+

Difficulty: Medium 

Length of Play: 20 – 60 minutes

Category: Trick taking card game

Similar to: Juckerspiel, Bridge, Hearts

Main Objective: Win as many tricks as possible, earn 10 points, and beat the opposing team. 

Why We Love It: In Euchre, you can only play with the few cards you receive. Nevertheless, there are many ways to affect the gameplay, deploy your tactic skills, and earn your victory. The more you practice, the better you get!

What You’ll Need to Play Euchre

To play Euchre, you need one of the following: 

OR

  • A standard deck of cards is adjusted in one of the following ways:
    • 32 cards (A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7 of each suit), 
    • 28 cards (the same as above MINUS 7s)
    • 24 cards (the same as above MINUS 7s and 8s)
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Euchre Rules and Gameplay

As I have already mentioned, Euchre rules have many variations and alternative interpretations. It can even be played with a different number of cards, which might cause a lot of confusion if you’re totally new to this game. 

To make things easier and clearer, this guide explains Euchre’s gameplay with 24 cards in two teams consisting of two players, which is usually considered the most traditional version of this game.

Starting the Game

First, prepare your deck by sorting out any unnecessary cards (in our case, sort out all 7s and 8s). Now you’re ready to start dealing:

  • The cards are dealt clockwise, starting with the player to the dealer’s left. 
  • Each player receives five cards, keeping them hidden from the other players. 
  • Form a pile of the remaining cards and turn the top card face-up.

Cards value

In Euchre, cards are ranked in the following order:

  • Ace is the highest-ranking card in every suit
  • Nines are the lowest ranking cards

However, everything changes in the case of a trump suit:

  • If, for example, the diamond suit becomes a trump suit, the Jack of diamonds is the highest card, AND the Jack of hearts(another suit of the same color) is the second-highest-ranking card (= it becomes a trump card too)

The same applies to clubs and spades. 

All the cards from the trump suit outrank any cards from the remaining suits (example: a trick of non-trump cards is always won by a trump card, even if the trump is nine and non-trump cards are Aces).

How to decide on a trump?

The first player to the left from the dealer has the right to pick a trump suit first. Nevertheless, he cannot pick a suit freely right from the start – instead, he only confirms the suit of the face-up card on a pile of remaining cards or passes

  • If the player passes, the next player to the left faces the same dilemma. Eventually, if all the players pass, the first player who had to make the decision can pick trump freely (if all the players pass in the second round, too, the dealer decides)
  • If anyone picks the face-up card as a new trump, the dealer must take this card and replace it with another one (random) from his hand, placing it face down.

The team of the player who chose the trump is considered to be Attackers, whereas the other team will be Defenders.

How to Play Euchre

Players aim to win more tricks than their opponents from another team. “Trick” is basically a round of turns in which each player lays down one card. The winner of the trick is whoever plays the highest-ranking card. This is how the gameplay goes:

  • The first player to the left of the dealer takes turns first. Then, he plays one of his cards which will become the lead card of the trick.
  • Each player now aims to play a card of the same suit. The player with the highest-ranking card from the same suit wins the trick and takes all the cards (keep each trick stored in a separate pile).
  • If the player doesn’t have any card of the same suit as a lead card, he can play any card(of course, to win the trick, it is usually a trump card he chooses).
  • The winner of the trick plays a lead card in another round.
  • In the case of multiple trumps, the highest-ranking one wins the trick.

The game continues until players get rid of all the cards in their hands.

Who can play Euchre alone?

The player who decided on the trump has the option to play alone, without his teammate. His partner is forced to put his cards down and wait for the round to end without participating.

Euchre Scoring 

At the end of each round, teams put together their tricks and count them. The scoring differs depending on whether the team acted as Attackers or Defenders in the evaluated round:

  • Attackers: Get 1 point for winning 3 – 4 tricks and 2 points for winning 5 tricks
  • Defenders: Get 2 points for winning 3 – 4 tricks and 5 points for winning 5 tricks

As you see, winning three tricks is a threshold for getting any points at all. This is called eucher.

In the case of a sole player (see ‘Who can play Eucher alone?’ above), the scoring is a bit different:

  • Sole attacker: Gets 1 point for winning 3 – 4 tricks and 4 points for winning 5 tricks
  • Sole defender: Gets 2 points for winning 3 – 4 tricks and 4 points for winning 5 tricks

Keeping the score

Originally, players kept their score in Eucher in the form of two cards with a total value of 10 (e.g., two 5s). These are usually laid one across the other to reveal precisely the number of symbols representing the current score of the team.

Of course, nowadays, people often prefer writing down the score on a basic scorecard.

Who Wins Euchre?

The first team scoring 10 points wins the whole Euchre game. The teams play as many rounds as needed to achieve this goal.

How to Play Euchre – Video Tutorial 

Euchre Frequently Asked Questions

What is ‘farmer’s hand’ in Euchre?

If you receive a hand full of 9s and 10s (the lowest ranking cards in the game), it is called a Farmer’s hand. You can announce this, and the cards will be reshuffled and dealt with again.

Can you lead with trump in Euchre firsthand?

Yes, you can lead with whatever card you choose in Euchre, including a trump.

What does ‘in the barn’ mean in Euchre?

In Euchre, the players aim to earn 10 points, which would make them the ultimate winners. If either of the participating teams reaches 9 points, it is considered to be in a ‘barn.’

Other Similar Games to Euchre (Our Guides) 

Do you need more inspiration? Here are our guides to other great trick-taking card games similar to Euchre: 

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Read all the articles (18) written by Lucia Fajnerova