Euchre Terms 101: Understanding the Game's Vocabulary
If you’re new to euchre and you hear players say, “Ope, we’re in the barn!” or, “We’re playing screw the dealer,” your confusion is only to be expected.
Euchre is a deceptively simple trick-taking card game with a rich history, vocabulary, and latitude for strategic play.
Consequently, understanding euchre terms is essential if you want to play better, challenge your fellow players, and, of course, thoroughly enjoy the game.
At Jupmode, we love celebrating all things Midwestern, euchre being one of them. We totally get that it can be difficult for those new to the game to parse out the meaning of some euchre terms.
We’re going to give you the lowdown on:
- Basic terms to get you started on playing euchre
- Euchre merchandise to get you into the spirit of the game
- Intermediate and advanced strategies that’ll level up your euchre game
1 - Essential Euchre Terms for Beginners
The setup: You’re probably new to the Midwest and just got invited to your first euchre game. You don’t want to look like a total newbie, so we’ve got you covered with the essential euchre terms.
The trump is the winning suit of the deck. It’s chosen at the start of each game by turning over a card from the deck.
After dealing five cards to each player, the dealer turns the next card face up. Each player gets an opportunity to declare it the trump.
Declaring or ordering up the trump asserts a team’s plan to win the hand. They’re therefore the makers of the hand while the opposing team is the defenders.
By declaring the suit that is trump, you are indicating that you have a hand which is strong in that suit.
The goal is to win at least three tricks. If you fail to do this, you're said to be euchred and lose two points to your opponents.
A trick is a round of four cards. The players lay down one card in succession. The one who plays the highest ranking card of the lead suit or the highest trump card wins the trick.
A trick point is the point awarded to the team that takes a trick during a hand. One trick usually yields one point and the team that amasses the most points, usually out of 10 points, wins the euchre game.
The suit of the first card played during a trick is the lead suit. For example, if the first card played is a 9 of diamonds, then the lead suit for that trick is diamonds.
Pay attention to the lead suit because it can shape the course of the game and any strategic decisions you may make.
For example: if a player leads with a high-ranking card in the suit, such as an ace, chances are they have additional ones to help them win the trick. However, if they lead with a low card, you’ll probably have an opportunity to take the trick.
A bower is the highest ranking card in a trump suit, the jack. It’s also called the bar, right bower, hook, boss card, or simply, the right.
The other jack of the same color as the trump suit is called the left bower and is the second highest ranking card after the right bower. It’s sometimes known as the left.
In the popular North American four-player version of euchre, there are two teams of two players each. Your partner typically sits opposite you at the table.
Euchre is a partnership game and winning is a team effort.
So while you have fun, it’s important to watch your partner for clues, to guess the hand they hold, and to trust their ability to play their hand well.
If you really want to ramp up the camaraderie between you and your partner during a euchre game, consider showing up in a matching pair of the Euchre Dream Team t-shirt from Jupmode.
2 - Intermediate Euchre Terms for the Avid Player
Midwesterners pick up their knowledge of euchre terms and gameplay right from the cradle. It’s part of the fabric of most family get-togethers. Outside of that context, it can be challenging to understand the more strategic plays and obscure euchre terms.
Let’s take a look at a few intermediate level euchre terms to turn your love for the game into actual skill.
Protected ace is a euchre strategy that involves holding an ace with any other two cards of the same suit. The goal is to stop your opponent from successfully going it alone.
A block is a defensive euchre strategy where a team names the trump to prevent the opposing team from calling and making four points when they opt to do a lone call (going alone).
Stick the Dealer
Stick the dealer is a euchre variation where the dealer chooses the trump suit after the second round. This can be done if every player passes during the naming of the trump, in both the first and second round.
Also called screw the dealer, this variation can be more exciting and challenging since it forces the players to take risks and play a suit they didn’t choose.
A euchre party is any social gathering where people play euchre, such as holiday gatherings. A euchre tournament takes the party concept a step further in terms of organization and attendees.
During a euchre tournament, there can be anywhere between 8–48 people playing.
Euchre tournament organizers will usually have:
- Individual player scorecards
- 24-card decks for each table of four players
- Main euchre scoreboard with each player’s name registered on it
- Euchre payout table where all the prize money is collected
- Euchre rotation chart to determine tables and partners for each player
Here are our recommendations for euchre themed items to help you set the mood or to gift friends after the game.
|Euchre Themed Items For Your Euchre Party|
3 - Advanced Euchre Terms for Professional Players
Euchre needs both luck and skill that comes from playing often. The more advanced your play becomes, the more frequently you’ll come across the advanced euchre terms we discuss below.
Pass on a Bower
As the saying goes, “Pass on a bower, lose for an hour.” Passing on a bower is when a player chooses not to declare the trump.
This can be either because they have stronger cards in another suit or they don’t have strong cards in the trump suit.
While skilled euchre players can make this strategic move to allow them to take tricks later in the game, it’s considered a risky move. Passing on the bower means you give up a powerful trump.
Fishing out is a euchre strategy where the player intentionally plays low ranking cards to force their opponents to play their high-ranking cards. The goal is to make it easier to win tricks later with the player’s own high cards.
Go High or Go Home
This strategy is the exact opposite, requiring you to play a high trump card to avoid getting over-trumped and losing the trick. You’ll also hear it referred to with the phrase: don’t tickle it.
Going alone is the ultimate flex in a euchre game. It’s a high-risk, high-reward move in euchre where a player is confident they can play and win all five tricks in a hand without the help of their partner.
This move is typically only attempted when the player has several trump cards, or a high card in each suit, such as an ace or a jack.
They’ll usually signal the dealer by saying, “Pick it up, I’m going alone.” Their partner must put down their cards as they aren’t allowed to play the hand.
It’s such a ballsy move that it’s probably why our shirt with the same slogan, the Pick It Up Euchre t-shirt, is the most popular of all our euchre shirts.
"Bought this for my hubby, who always leaves me hanging to go alone. He loved it"
- Kymberly S., United States
It’s also available in the Pick It Up Euchre Sweatshirt for the legends in your life.
In the Barn
And so we come full circle. You’ve played a good euchre game, and now, nine points in, you and your partner only need only one more point to win. You can finally say, “Ope, we’re in the barn!”
You can even preempt your victory by showing up to your next euchre night with this cheeky In the Barn Euchre Shirt from Jupmode.
Gear Up for Euchre With Jupmode’s Themed Collection
Nobody goes as hard as hard on game night as Midwesterners playing euchre. With all the essential terms and strategies at your fingertips, don’t forget to look the part with euchre-themed tees.
Browse Jupmode’s euchre-themed collection to find the piece that best communicates your love for euchre.
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