30 May

British Euchre Rules

Learn how to play Euchre by British rules.

UK British Euchre Rules

Although Canadian Euchre rules reign supreme here in the Great White North, I’ve decided to expand our Euchre card game section with the inclusion of the original British rules. I’ve chosen to do so for a number of qualitative reasons:

  1. I’ve been asked more than once since starting this page how the two versions compare and contrast.
  2. I’m currently working on a ‘Crazy Euchre‘ rule variant page that will soon bear need to reference the British rules.
  3. I wouldn’t feel right calling this a complete card gaming guide while bypassing such relevant information.

So, without further ado, let’s get right to it…

How to Play Euchre in England

British Euchre is a 4-player trick catching game that requires partnership between two teams of two players each. Partners must sit across from each other.

Th deck consists of 25 cards; all suits of 9, 10, J, Q, K, A and a single Joker. If there’s no Joker in your deck, inject the 2 of Spades in its place.

The object of the game is for a team to capture at least 3 of the 5 tricks in each hand. Doing so earns that team points. The first team to 11 points wins the game.

Card Ranks

Non-trump cards rank normally, high to low: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9

The Trump suit ranks differently:

  • Benny (aka Best Bower): Joker
  • Right Bower:Jack of Trump
  • Left Bower:Jack of Same Color as Trump
  • Ace of Trump
  • King of Trump
  • Queen of Trump
  • 10 of Trump
  • 9 of Trump

For example, if Spades are trump, the Jack of Spades is the Right Bower, and the Jack of Clubs is the Left Bower. The same goes for Jack of Hearts or Diamonds.

Dealing the Cards

The host of the game will normally deal first. Otherwise you can choose a dealer by and random means. Once the dealer shuffles, the player to his left is given the option to “cut” or “bump” (knock on the deck, declining to cut). The dealer then passes out packets of cards to each player in clockwise order. A packet will contain 2 or 3 cards, at the dealer’s discretion. Each player must end up with 5 cards. So if a player is dealt 3 cards in the first rotation of the deal, he’ll be given 2 in the second, and vice versa.

Five cards will remain in the deck. These are placed face down in a pile. The top card is turned face up on the pile, known as the “upcard”. The rest of the cards will not be used in the game.

Declaring Maker / Trump

There is no traditional bidding required in Euchre. Each player, starting with the player left of the dealer, can either make trump or pass. Once a player makes trump, they win it. No one else can claim it.

Benny Up: If the Benny (Joker / 2 of Spades) is turned up, the dealer will automatically make trump. He must call a trump suit before looking at his cards. He may then collect the Benny from the pile and look at his hand, discarding one back to the pile. Otherwise…

There can be up to two rounds to declare trump. For each hand, the team that makes trump will be known as the Makers. The opponents are the Defenders.

In the first round, players will make trump or pass based on the upcard. Making trump in this round means choosing the suit of the upcard as trump. The Maker takes the upcard, and then replaces it with any other card from their hand by placing it face down on the pile. To make trump in round one, each player position is required to utter the corresponding phrase:

  • 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”

If the dealer’s partner “turns it down”, they will become the maker, but must “go alone” (see below). Their partner (the dealer) will turn all of their cards face down, and cannot participate in the hand.

If the first three players pass, the dealer may also pass by saying “Over”. The dealer will turn over the upcard, and a second round begins. This time, players can call their own trump, or pass again. If every passes a second time, the hand is null. All cards thrown in, and the next to deal begins a new hand.

Go Alone – aka Loner

Most of the time, any player can choose whether or not they want to play as a “Loner” (except when dealer’s partner says “I turn it up”; going alone is mandatory). When going alone, the player’s partner is forced to sit out. This applies to Makers and Defenders. However, a player can only announce that they are going alone. No one can choose to sit out.

Going alone must be declared at the start of the hand, after the trump is made, but before any cards are played. If a Maker or Defender goes alone, their partner cannot participate. It is also possible for one Maker and one Defender to go alone, bringing about 2-handed play.

Important: Once a Loner is declared, no arguments are allowed! Accept it and move on…

Playing British Euchre

Play begins with the first active player left of the dealer. This player will lead the first card to the first trick. Any card of any suit is eligible, trump or otherwise.

The next player (clockwise) will play a card of the same suit that was led, if possible. If not, any other card, including trump, may be played. Remember that the Benny and Left Bower are considered trump!

The player who plays the highest ranking card of the suit that is led – or the highest trump (since trump beats all other suits) – wins the trick.

The winner of the trick will lead a card to the next trick. Repeat this process until all 5 tricks are captured.

Scoring and Winning the Game

Points are scored in each hand only by the team that captures 3 or more tricks. Points are awarded as follows:

  • Makers win 3 tricks = 1 point
  • Makers win 4 tricks = 1 point
  • Makers win 5 tricks = 2 points
  • Makers Go Alone, win 5 tricks = 4 points
  • Defenders win 3+ tricks = 2 points

The first team to score 11 points wins the game!

Visit our ever-expanding Euchre Archives to learn so much more about Canada’s favorite card game.

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