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Nov 22, 2014

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Beer Game: Euchre

Category: Card Games
Submitted By: Vince Rezula (rezula@students.uiuc.edu)

Beer Games Euchre is a trumping card game, originating in Germany. The word euchre means "farmer", and so the game is thought to originate in the rural areas.
It is closely related to a French game called La Manie. It requires the understanding of the concept of a trump suit (like bridge), but if you have played Uno, it's not much of a stretch.
There are four players; two teams of two. They sit at a table with the teammates across from each other. The deck consists of the cards 9 through Ace of all four suits. Each team keeps score by using a 4 and a 6 card. The object is to get ten points before your opponents, and the four and six are started face down, then maneuvered throughout the game to expose the appropriate number of suit symbols on the face.
Someone is elected (or draws) to become the dealer. Everyone will have a chance to be the dealer, so who is first is not important. The dealer deals out five cards to everyone, starting with the person on his left. There are 24 cards in the deck, so the dealer puts the four remaining face down in a stack in front of him/her. The dealer then turns over the top card.
This is where the trump suit comes in. The card that is turned over is the first candidate to be the trump suit. When this happens, the players have to evaluate whether or not they want that to be the trump suit. Starting with the person on the left of the dealer, the players declare "pass" (if they don't want that to be the trump suit) or "pick it up" (if they do). The "pick it up" refers to the fact that the dealer must pick up that card, discarding one of the others in his hand, and puting it back in the stack. At no time should anyone see what is in the stack or in each others' hands. If the card is picked up, play begins. If all four people "pass", then the card is turned over and then someone can call a suit (starting again with the person on the left). If someone calls a suit, play begins. If nobody calls a suit, the cards are reshuffled and dealt again. (Unless you are playing with the "screw the dealer" option, when, if nobody calls a suit, the last person! (the dealer) MUST call a suit.)
At this point, the trump suit is set. Play begins with the person on the dealer's left playing a card, and everyone following in that suit. To understand how the hand is won, the order of the cards must be understood. The hierarchy is as follows: the Jack of the trump suit(the "left bauer"(bauer means "barn")) is the highest card, followed by the Jack of the other same-color suit(the "right bauer"), then the Ace, King, Queen, Ten, and Nine of the trump suit. The remaining 17 cards are normal (the Ace of each suit is the highest). So, for example, if the suit is spades, the trump cards are: Jspades, Jdiamonds, Aspades, Kspades, Qspades, 10spades, 9spades. (A trump card will always take the hand, unless bettered by a higher trump card.)
When the person leading puts down the first card, everyone MUST follow in that suit. If you do not have any cards of that suit, you may elect to trump, or to discard a lower card of another suit. (The right bauer counts as one of the trump suit, NOT of its actual suit.) The "trick", as each round of cards is called, is won by the person playing the highest card. The person who wins the trick leads the next round, and so on, until everone's cards are gone (5 rounds). The team that wins 3 tricks takes the hand.
The scoring is as follows: if the team that called the trump suit wins 3 or 4 tricks, then they get 1 point. If they win all 5 tricks, they get 2 points. If the team that did NOT call the trump suit gets 3 (or more) tricks, they get 2 points. So, it is important not to overextend yourself, or your opponents will get you! When the cards are first dealt, the players, when seeing the first possible trump suit displayed (the overturned card), must ask themselves "Can my partner and I take three tricks in that suit (if the dealer has that card)?". So, it is important to evaluate the worth of that overturned card. If you are giving the dealer the Jack, you are guaranteeing one trick for the dealer, if it is a 9 or 10, you're not giving the dealer much. Also, although it doesn't happen often, there is scoring for "going alone", which can occur if the person who calls the trump suit, at that time, declares "I'll go alone", meaning that that person's partner puts down his or her cards(face down), and the caller of the trump suit plays against the players of the other team in a 3-card rotation. This only happens when someone has a VERY good hand (for example, if the up card by the dealer is 10spades and you have Jspades, Jclubs, Aspades, 10, Q (the last two card wouldn't matter, you have the three highest cards) You could tell him/her to pick it up, and still be guaranteed 3 tricks.) The scoring for going alone is double that of team play (2 points for 3 or4 tricks, 4 for all five).
So, the team that gets the point(s) arranges their score cards to show one symbol (ie: a diamond) face up. The cards are then given to the player on the dealers left, who becomes the dealer for the next hand and play begins again. It continues until one team reaches 10. When a team gets 9 points, they are said to be "in the barn", and they warn the other team, in case they aren't aware.
After playing the game for a while, you will develop strategies, as in any trumping game. Such as leading a low trump to draw out the higher trumps, or discarding a card of a suit that you would like your partner to lead when you have nothing to give in the current suit and your partner is about to take the trick. These and others separate the novices from the veterans.
It takes an hour or two to get the hang of it, but it is well worth it, and very addictive. A game (to 10 points) will take anywhere from a half hour to an hour, unless slowed by the inevitable connection to drinking. Enjoy!

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