Euchre (pronounced /ˈyo͞okər/) is a popular card game played throughout the world. As with most globally renowned games, the Canadian rules of Euchre vary from the rules invoked internationally. Originating in the old Alstasian lands of Great Britain, the most common rules are the British variety. Here in North America, we play Euchre with a slight variation of those rules.
The game of Euchre is played in most regions of Canada. It’s especially popular in areas spanning from Midwest Canada to Nova Scotia. If you didn’t grow up playing the game, keep reading to learn how it’s played in the Great White North.
How to Play Euchre in Canada
Euchre is a trick-catching, trump-based card game for groups of 4 players. Each player is required to have a partner, seated opposite them. Unlike the British variety, Canadian rules for Euchre require a 24-card deck (no joker), consisting of only A, K, Q, J, 10, and 9 values.
There are 7 Trump Cards in a game, ranking highest to lowest as follows:
Right Bower: The Jack of the Trump suit
Left Bower: The Jack of the Same Color as the Trump suit
Ace of the Trump suit
King of the Trump suit
Queen of the Trump suit
10 of the Trump suit
9 of the Trump suit
All other cards are ranked by their value, highest to lowest (A, K, Q, J, 10, 9).
The Left Bower is an exceptional card, because it becomes the suit of the Trump. If Spades is the Trump suit, the Jack of Clubs becomes the second most valuable card. If led by a player, the Jack of Clubs becomes a Spade. All other players must follow suit, playing a Spade (not a Club).
Dealing the Cards
A dealer is randomly chosen to start, or the cards can be dealt face-up, one at a time, to each player until one receives a black jack, designating them the first dealer. The dealer position moves clockwise with each new hand. The player left of the dealer may “cut” the cards before the deal, or “bump” (knock on the deck) to decline cutting.
Each player then receives 5 cards. The way they are dealt may vary from one group to the next, either in ‘singles‘ or ‘packets‘.
Single Deal: By more modern rules, the cards are dealt one at a time per player.
Packet Deal: Traditionally, the cards are dealt in packets (groups) of two or three per player, at the dealer’s discretion. If two cards are dealt to a player on the first round of dealing, three will be dealt in the second, and vice versa.
Once all cards are dealt, the remaining four cards are laid in a pile. The top card is turned face up to help determine the Trump suit. The rest are not used.
Trump is made by going round the table, starting with the player left of the dealer. Each player is given a chance to pass, or claim the face-up card as Trump by saying one of the following phrases. Once a player makes trump (doesn’t pass), the game begins.
Player left of dealer: “I order it up”
Dealer’s partner: “I turn it down”
Player right of dealer: “I order it up”
Dealer: “I take it up”
A player who makes trump will claim the face-up trump card and discard (face-down) another card from their hand. This player and their partner are the “Makers”, and the other team the “Defenders”.
If the dealer’s partner says, “I turn it down”, this forces the dealer to place their cards face down. The dealer is not allowed to play, and the partner must “Go Alone”. If any other player makes trump, all four players may participate.
If all players pass in the first round, a second round begins where players can pass, or choose their own trump suit.
Any player who makes trump has the option to declare they’re “Going Alone” (except the dealer’s partner, who must go alone if they make trump). If declared, this player’s partner must lay down their hand. They cannot participate.
In some variations, even a defender can choose to go alone. It’s possible for a maker and defender to both go alone, setting the scene for a heads-up (one on one) battle.
The lead off player is determined by the number of players in the hand. If all four are participating, the player left of the dealer leads. If a player is going alone, the player to their left leads. If two are going alone, the defender leads.
The leader may play any card they wish. Play revolves clockwise, and must follow the lead suit. If a player does not have a card of that suit, they may play any other card (including a trump). Remember, the Left Bower is trump suit, not its original suit.
Whoever plays the highest card of the suit led, or the highest trump card (trump beats all other suits), wins the trick. The winner of the trick will lead the next card.
Objective and Scoring
The object of the game, as maker or defender, is to score 3+ tricks. At the end of a hand, score is tallied as follows.
Makers win 3 tricks = 1 point
Makers win 4 tricks = 1 points
Makers win 5 tricks = 2 points
Makers Go Alone, win 5 tricks = 4 points
Defenders win 3+ tricks = 2 points
The first team to 10 points wins!
And that’s how to play Euchre in Canada. If you want to learn more, check out our additional sections:
Common Euchre Variations
BC Euchre Clubs
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