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How to Play Euchre: Intermediate Skills

Updated on July 27, 2012

Better Your Euchre Game

Welcome to part two on how to play euchre! If you haven't already, be sure to brush up on your rules with part one of this series. If you already know the rules, prepare to learn intermediate skills that will separate you from your friends.

This article comes in two segments, both focusing on different techniques and strategies for learning how to play euchre:

How to Play Euchre: Tips for Beginners

How to Play Euchre: Intermediate Skills < you are here!

Refer to this lens in the future for more tips, and remember to bookmark this page!

A fanned euchre deck and score cards
A fanned euchre deck and score cards

When to Call Trump

Calling Trump is Huge!

Whenever I play with friends, I always tell them the same thing: the way to win in euchre is by calling trump. There's really no way around it, and it takes experience to know when you should and when you shouldn't.

As a general rule of thumb, I mentioned in my last article that you shouldn't call trump unless you have three or more in your hand. This leads me to one of the golden rules of euchre: depend on your partner for one trick. When you call trump, see if you can take two, and depend on your partner for the last one. It's a team game!

Check out the gallery below and note the ideas behind each call.

Call These Hands!

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This one's easy - call diamonds. Your two off cards are weak, but you should remember to depend on your partner for one.First instinct: you have two of the highest trump if you call clubs. At the same time, if you call spades, you'll have three trump and an off ace. Spades is the suit to call.This hand is garbage. There's nothing you can do here. Pass.Hearts is the obvious call - diamonds is too risky, as you only have two and it's unlikely any of your off hearts would go through - there would only be five total.Hearts - you have an off ace and can depend on your partner to help pick you up if it doesn't work as planned.You have three diamonds, but they're the three lowest in the deck and your off cards aren't very strong. You should pass this hand.This time you again have the three lowest diamonds, but you're also two suited and have an off ace. This is a good time to call diamonds.This one looks like it might be able to go clubs or spades - I would likely pass this hand, unless I was feeling risky. Then I'd call clubs.
This one's easy - call diamonds. Your two off cards are weak, but you should remember to depend on your partner for one.
This one's easy - call diamonds. Your two off cards are weak, but you should remember to depend on your partner for one.
First instinct: you have two of the highest trump if you call clubs. At the same time, if you call spades, you'll have three trump and an off ace. Spades is the suit to call.
First instinct: you have two of the highest trump if you call clubs. At the same time, if you call spades, you'll have three trump and an off ace. Spades is the suit to call.
This hand is garbage. There's nothing you can do here. Pass.
This hand is garbage. There's nothing you can do here. Pass.
Hearts is the obvious call - diamonds is too risky, as you only have two and it's unlikely any of your off hearts would go through - there would only be five total.
Hearts is the obvious call - diamonds is too risky, as you only have two and it's unlikely any of your off hearts would go through - there would only be five total.
Hearts - you have an off ace and can depend on your partner to help pick you up if it doesn't work as planned.
Hearts - you have an off ace and can depend on your partner to help pick you up if it doesn't work as planned.
You have three diamonds, but they're the three lowest in the deck and your off cards aren't very strong. You should pass this hand.
You have three diamonds, but they're the three lowest in the deck and your off cards aren't very strong. You should pass this hand.
This time you again have the three lowest diamonds, but you're also two suited and have an off ace. This is a good time to call diamonds.
This time you again have the three lowest diamonds, but you're also two suited and have an off ace. This is a good time to call diamonds.
This one looks like it might be able to go clubs or spades - I would likely pass this hand, unless I was feeling risky. Then I'd call clubs.
This one looks like it might be able to go clubs or spades - I would likely pass this hand, unless I was feeling risky. Then I'd call clubs.
This is an example of a lay down loner - the five highest trump
This is an example of a lay down loner - the five highest trump

Going Alone

And Getting Four Points!

Going alone is a part of the game that can change the entire outcome in one hand - if you or your opponents make all five tricks, it's worth four points. It may not seem like a massive amount, but you have to remember that the game is only played to ten.

Hands that you go alone in are typically called loners. A lay-down loner is a special type of loner, where you are certain to win all five tricks. This is achieved by having the five highest trump in your hand, or a combination that you know will draw out the rest of the trump from the other players.

Again, this concept takes practice, but I've included a gallery of hands for you to decide - figure out if you would call alone or not!

Going Alone

You can only go alone if you call trump. If you have a loner hand, it's unlikely that you'll be able to call it - but when you do, the victory is just that much sweeter.

Should You Go Alone? - See if You Can Get These Right!

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The nine may make this seem like a hand you shouldn't go alone on, but if it squeaks by, you could end up with four points. Call it hearts alone.You're missing the right if you call diamonds, but if your partner has it then you're guaranteed all five tricks. You should try it diamonds alone - you'll probably get at least a point.This one is a bit more risky than the last few, but try clubs alone. The worst that can happen is you get euchred.Call hearts, but don't try it alone. You have a great hand, but your partner will be more than helpful here.You can call either spades or clubs alone and have great off cards. Pick one!
The nine may make this seem like a hand you shouldn't go alone on, but if it squeaks by, you could end up with four points. Call it hearts alone.
The nine may make this seem like a hand you shouldn't go alone on, but if it squeaks by, you could end up with four points. Call it hearts alone.
You're missing the right if you call diamonds, but if your partner has it then you're guaranteed all five tricks. You should try it diamonds alone - you'll probably get at least a point.
You're missing the right if you call diamonds, but if your partner has it then you're guaranteed all five tricks. You should try it diamonds alone - you'll probably get at least a point.
This one is a bit more risky than the last few, but try clubs alone. The worst that can happen is you get euchred.
This one is a bit more risky than the last few, but try clubs alone. The worst that can happen is you get euchred.
Call hearts, but don't try it alone. You have a great hand, but your partner will be more than helpful here.
Call hearts, but don't try it alone. You have a great hand, but your partner will be more than helpful here.
You can call either spades or clubs alone and have great off cards. Pick one!
You can call either spades or clubs alone and have great off cards. Pick one!

Going Alone is Never a Bad Idea!

If you know you have three tricks - for example, the right, left and ace, then just go for it! You have at least one point guaranteed, so why not try and make it four?

Imagine the nine of spades led - this helps their partner, since they have the ace. Unfortunately, the last person to play trumps it with the nine.
Imagine the nine of spades led - this helps their partner, since they have the ace. Unfortunately, the last person to play trumps it with the nine.

The Art of Leading and Basic Strategy

Leading Can Be Difficult - Follow These Tips!

A lot of times, intermediate players have tough decisions to make regarding what they should lead, especially if they are the first to do so after trump is decided. It can be a somewhat difficult process, but allow me to explain a few scenarios. These are in decreasing priority - that is, if you can't do number one, move to number two and so on.

If your opponents call trump:

  1. Lead an off-suit ace, if you have one. This makes it hard for your opponent - if they both have one of this suit, you have a good chance at winning the trick.
  2. Lead another high off-suit card, like a king or queen. If the ace is buried or your partner has it, you'll win the trick.
  3. Short suit yourself. In the case that you don't have many high cards (but have a couple of trump), short suiting yourself is a great idea. If you have only one of one suit, you may want to lead that so that there is one less suit in your hand.

    This also applies when you're the dealer and you're ordered up - you should try to short suit yourself to make it easier to play trump later on.

Watch This Strategy Tutorial - Get a Better Understanding

Like all of euchre, you'll learn more as you play and watch examples. Here is a video that explains some of the concepts I just went over.

The Art of Leading and Basic Strategy Continued

More on Leading!

Now of course, your opponents won't always call trump. In the case of:

Your partner calls trump:

It really depends on what you have in your hand. This one isn't quite as cut and dry as before, but as you play more, you'll get a feel for what you should do in certain situations.

  1. Lead an off-suit high card, if you have one. This is a pretty good strategy no matter where you are in the hand.
  2. Lead a low trump. If your partner ordered up trump, there's a good chance he has at least a couple of them. This allows your partner to win with one of his trump, and gives him the lead.

You call trump:

Again, this really depends on the situation, and will vary from game to game. There really isn't any specific advice for this one, as it depends on the hand and how late in the hand you're leading. Playing a high off-suit card is usually a good idea - if you have a lot of trump be careful when playing it. Sometimes you'll want to draw out your opponent's trump, but have to be careful of taking your partner's.

Using the same hand from part one - we see that this is a classic case of having the left protected. Be careful when playing this hand!
Using the same hand from part one - we see that this is a classic case of having the left protected. Be careful when playing this hand!

"Left Protected"

How to Handle This Case

In many cases, you may be dealt the left and one other trump - this is known as having the left protected. This is because if anyone plays the right bauer, you can throw the smaller trump and save the left for later.

In many cases, it is smart to keep the left until someone else leads the right. Of course, there are some exceptions.

  • If you have a chance to take a trick with the left, be careful! If you're the last one to play and you're overtrumping, it's a good move. If you're second to play, it may be a better idea to throw off.
  • If your partner called trump, it is best to play the left as soon as possible - your partner is likely worried about where this card is, and by showing them it makes your partner's job easier.

Remember!

The left is the second strongest card in the deck! Use it wisely - you'll learn more about its use as you get more experience. Just keep playing!

Summary of Intermediate Skills

What We've Gone Over

This lens addressed many of the common situations players face as they get better at the game - what to lead in certain situations, when to use the left bauer, and calling trump.

If you take anything from this lens, remember that calling trump is the most important part of the game - a good call can get you one point, two points or even four if you try it alone!

"The way you win in euchre is by calling trump."

Thanks for reading my lens on intermediate euchre skills!

If you want to go back to the first lens, head over to How to Play Euchre: Tips for Beginners

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    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I used to play Euchre with my father who pushed me constantly to short suit myself. Thanks for the memories