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.
There’s nothing wrong with putting a little action on a friendly game of Euchre. Just make sure the action is small enough that the game does, indeed, remain friendly! Or not – that’s up to you. But it is a game, after all, and games were created to be fun.
In this section, we’ll talk about three easy ways you can bet money on Euchre. Each option takes into account the number of players/teams participating. We cover single tables of 4, two tables of 8, and three tables of 12, a.k.a. Party Euchre. You can certainly entertain a higher number if you have that many players. Simply use the 2-table, tournament-style structure and adjust the payouts accordingly.
Single Table – 4 Players – Friendly Game with Euchre Betting
This is the most common way to play Euchre for money. Just like a regular game among friends around the dining room table, you have four players; two pairs of partners. In this case, each player should place an equal amount of money in the pot. The first team to 10 points wins the game and splits the pot.
Another option is to pay-by-the-point. You would need to establish units of bets, such as $1 per point. The difference in score would determine the prize for the winning team, who would get paid one unit per point. For example, the score might end 10-6. Thus, each member of the losing team would pay four units ($4) to the players on the winning team (i.e. winners get $4 each).
Two Tables – 8 Players – Tournament Style Euchre
If you have 8 players in the mix, you’ll play a tournament-style structure. Each player puts an equal amount of money in the pot. It could be $1, $5, or even $10, so long as everyone is happy with the amount.
Start by deciding which teams will face off first; (coin toss, dice roll, draw names form a hat, whatever). The two teams who win the first their match will go on to compete against one another for the pot. The team that wins that match should receive approximately 70-75% of the prize, while the second-place team gets the rest.
Splitting up the prizes should be based on what makes the most sense. For example, if everyone put $10 in the pot, there’s $80 to be won. The winning team should get $50, and the losing team $30. If you had 8 teams (16 players, $160 prize pool), it would make more sense to award the top three teams with $100, $40, and $20 respectively. Third place gets their money back, second place doubles up, and first place gets a handsome chunk of change.
Three Tables – 12 Players – Party Euchre for Money
If you can muster 12 players, you can have a Euchre Party! to start, everyone puts an equal amount in the pot, usually $5 or $10. Don’t get too cozy with your partner, though, because you’ll be switching teammates after every 12 hands (i.e. every player will deal 3 times). This continues until everyone has partnered with every player one time. That’s a total of 132 hands across 11 different partnerships.
For each round of 12 hands, teams will record the number of points they score. Each member of the team gets that number of points added to their individual score. After 11 rounds of play, the players (not teams) with the highest total scores are declared the winners.
You can divvy up the prizes however you wish. If you want to award the top 4 players (the more friendly version), I suggest paying places 1 thru 4 at 50%, 30%, 20%, and 10% respectively. Note that these parties tend to last 4-5 hours, so make sure you have enough time before you get started.
But wait, that’s not all..!
You now know how to play Euchre in Canada for fun or real money, but there’s lots more to learn. If you want to continue your Euchre education, check out these additional resources:
Euchre can be played by all ages, but due to somewhat complex rules, far more adults play than children.
Euchre is more suitable for adults simply because of its complex rules and team-based game play. However, many children are taught the rules from a young age. It’s not a question of whether children can play, but rather whether adults want to take the time to teach the fundamentals of a trump-based, trick-catching card game.
Like all card games, there is an element of chance involved; the luck of the draw, as the old adage goes. However, skill is a dominant factor. The player who understands the game, calculates the odds, keeps up with what cards are left unseen and who has played what cards, will have the advantage in the long-term.
Euchre is not a difficult game to learn, but it is more involved than basic card games. Euchre is a trick-catching, trump-based game that requires exactly 4 players. If and when you understand the fundamentals of trick-catching card games, Euchre is a cinch to learn.
The Right Bower (that Jack of the Trump suit) is considered the best lead, because it cannot lose.
Choosing the best lead card depends entirely on the situation, but in general, the Right Bower (Jack of Trump) is the best card to lead, as it is the strongest card in the deck. If you lead the Right Bower and find that your partner has no Trump cards, it would be best to lead next with another high trump in hopes of drawing out the remainder.
A hand of Euchre is won by catching more tricks than you lose, thereby scoring points. The game is won by outscoring the other team.
The object of Euchre is for one team to outscore the other. The first team to 10 points wins. Points are earned by capturing tricks. There are five tricks per hand, thus the team that catches 3 or more will score points, with bonus points awarded for capturing all 5.
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Adalene Lucas: is our jack of all trades here at DBC. She is a skilled coder, gambler, writer and webmaster. She lives in Manitoba where she enjoys the lush landscapes and camping near Tulabi Falls. Nature gives her inspiration to write. When she's not immersed in nature, her favorite words are "game theory". She lives with her husband and their two Labradors, Kophy and Whisper.