Euchre is a card game that is thought to have descended from a popular 16th century game named Triomphe. A hundred years ago in America, it had plenty of devotees and was considered our national card game. Here's how to play:

Number of players: Four in pairs. Partners sit facing each other. There are also two- and three-handed versions.

Object: To score points by winning at least three of five tricks.

The cards: A 32-card deck, 7s through aces for each suit, is used. Special Euchre decks are available, a Bezique deck can be used, or you may simply set aside the 2s through 6s of all suits in a standard deck. Cards rank as follows: A (high)-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7, except in the
trump
suit. For trump, the jack (called the right bower) is high, and the jack of the same color (the left bower) is the second-highest trump. Euchre is also played with 24 cards (7s and 8s omitted), 28 cards (7s omitted), or with one joker added.

How Scoring Works
Declaring side wins three or four tricks, 1 point

Declaring side wins five tricks (a march), 2 points

If lone hand wins three or four tricks, 1 point

If lone hand wins five tricks, 4 points

Declaring side euchred (wins fewer than three tricks), opponents score, 2 points

Game is played to a predetermined number of points, usually 5, 7, or 10.

Dealing: Players draw cards to set pairs and decide the dealer. Only in determining partners is the ace considered low. Those who draw the two highest cards play against the other two players. Lowest card deals first. Those who draw the same rank, draw again. Henceforth, the deal rotates clockwise. Five cards are dealt to each player either in batches of two and three or three and two. After the hands are dealt, the dealer turns up the top card from the stock to begin the task of setting trump.

Setting trump: Action starts with the player to the dealer's left (called the eldest player). Each player, in turn, may accept or pass the suit of the upcard as trump. If the eldest accepts the upcard as trump, saying, "I order it up," the dealer must then accept the upcard as a part of his or her hand and discard one card facedown, placing it into the stock. The dealer keeps the upcard on top of the stock until it is played. If the eldest does not want the upcard to be trump and passes, the dealer's partner can say, "I assist," in which case the suit of the upcard becomes trump, and the dealer again must discard. If partner passes, the other opponent can "order it up." If that player also passes, however, the dealer can either say, "I take it up" or "I turn it down."

If all players pass, the dealer turns the upcard facedown and puts it under the stock, and the players go through a second round with slightly different rules. The round begins from the dealer's left with no upcard. Instead, each player, in turn, has the choice of naming a suit as trump or passing. The suit rejected in the first round may not be nominated a second time. If no trump is selected during the second round, the cards are shuffled for a new deal.

When you accept or name trump, you may also decide to play alone. At which time, you must declare "alone," and your partner's hand is taken out of play. You must then play against both opponents. In this case, the risk is far greater than the reward. Unless you score "march" (winning five
tricks
), you get only one bonus point for success, but you lose two points for failing. Some also allow for one defender to decide to play alone against lone declarer, in which case if the declarer is euchred, the defenders score 4 points.

If you are the dealer, you will accept clubs as trump because you will have the two highest trumps.
2006 Publications International, Ltd.
If you are the dealer, you will want to accept clubs as trump
because you will have the two highest trumps and probably
a
A winner. You will certainly not want to play alone with
two almost certain losers. If you are not the dealer, you will
not want clubs to be trump. Quite likely the
J
will take your
J, and your ace could be trumped.

Playing: Play always begins with the player to dealer's left. You must follow suit to each lead if possible. Otherwise, play any card. The highest card of the suit led wins the trick unless the trick holds at least one trump. In this instance, the highest trump played wins the trick. Remember the J is not played as a heart when the trump suit is diamonds; this is also true for other jacks of the same color as the trump suit.

Tips: The trump suit has nine cards, but there are only seven cards in the other suit of the same color. The two remaining suits have eight cards each. Since each deal leaves out about a third of the deck, on average only five or six cards of each suit are in play. If you have three cards in the trump suit and your partner can take a trick, you are likely to win the majority of tricks.

When you have three practically certain winning cards in your hand and chances of winning the other cards, it may be wise to play alone. Your nontrump cards, even if not clear winners, may take tricks anyway: Your opponents have only ten cards between them and may fail to hold on to the right cards.

Don't forget that if the upcard is accepted as trumps, it becomes part of the dealer's hand. This may influence your decision to accept that suit as trumps for your side.

The game score may also influence your decision to pass, accept, or play alone. If you have a large lead, it may be a good risk to venture a questionable acceptance of the trump suit if you fear an opponent may score a march (4 points) in a different suit. Even if you're euchred, opponent scores only 2 points.

Variation: Two-Handed Euchre is generally played with a 24-card deck, omitting 7s and 8s as well. Score for a march is 2 points.