of books on euchre
by Natty Bumppo, author,
The Columbus Book of Euchre
Andrews, The Complete Win at Euchre
Baiyor & Easley, The Think System
Benjamin, Euchre Strategies
Buchko, Euchre Anyone? Euchre Solitaire
Ellis, Euchre: The Grandpa Lou Way
|Gallagher, Winning at Euchre|
Kelchner, Discover Euchre (videotape)
Martin, Euchre: How to Play and Win
Rigal, Euchre for Dummies
Wergin, Wergin on Euchre
Published prior to 1906:
The Law and Practice of the Game of Euchre “by a Professor” (1862)
Euchre: How to Play It (anonymous, 1886)
Keller, The Game of Euchre (1887)
“Berkeley,” Écarté and Euchre (1890)
Euchre – and How to Play It (anonymous, 1897)
Catherine Perry Hargrave’s History of Playing Cards and Bibliography (Dover, New York, 1966) lists a number of early books on euchre: John W. Keller, The Game of Euchre (1887, Frederick A. Stokes Co., New York, 82 pages); Cavendish, The Pocket Guide to Euchre (1890, Thomas de la Rue & Co. Ltd., London); “Berkeley,” Écarté and Euchre (1890, George Bell & Sons, London, 79 pp.); Progressive Euchre (1890, author unidentified, Joseph E. Church, Cincinnati), and R. F. Foster, Call Ace Euchre (1905, Brentano’s, New York). Hargrave’s bibliography lists also four books on 500, the deliberately invented “super” euchre game commissioned by the United States Playing Card Company, all published between 1899 and 1909.
We now know, through the sweep of Amazon.com, Abebooks.com and the rest of the internet, that there were a few 19th century books on euchre that Hargrave overlooked, including, at least, The Game of Euchre with Its Laws (1850; author and publisher unknown; we have only seen this book listed in the Oxford English Dictionary and mentioned in the next book); The Law and Practice of the Game of Euchre by “a Professor” (1862, T. B. Peterson & Bros., Philadelphia, 134 pages); Euchre: How to Play It (ca. 1886, author unidentified, Griffith, Farran, Okeden & Welsh, London and Canberra, 124 pp.); A. Howard Cady, Euchre: A Treatise on the Game and Its Origin: With Descriptions of Its Several Varieties etc. (1895, American Sports Pub. Co., 44 pp.), and Euchre – and How to Play It (1897, 1903, author unidentified, United States Playing Card Company, Cincinnati, 34 pp.).
Since the publication of Foster’s book in 1905, there seem to have been no books published specifically on euchre until the first edition of The Columbus Book of Euchre was published in 1982. All those earlier books are out of print and hard to find. Foster was the author also, however, of Foster’s Complete Hoyle, reprinted in 1963 and accessible (1897, 1963, J. B. Lippincott, Philadelphia). It contains a long section on euchre, including a subsection headed “METHODS OF CHEATING.”
The publication of The Columbus Book of Euchre in June of 1982 was followed quickly by the publication in August of the same year of Gary Martin’s Euchre: How to Play and Win (1982, Martin, Fort Wayne, 64 pp.). Both Martin’s book and the first edition of The Columbus Book of Euchre were “desktop” publications created before personal computers made “desktop publishing” a household possibility and are, therefore, both a little rough typographically. Since 1990 and the advent of personal computer “desktop publishing,” a number of other books and a videotape on euchre have appeared. And while they are understandably more attractive than Martin’s book and the first edition of The Columbus Book of Euchre, Martin’s and The Columbus Book of Euchre remained the only good books on euchre in print until the appearance of Joe Andrews’ new book. Reviews of Andrews’, Martin’s and other books in print on euchre follow, along with reviews of those out-of-print 19th century books we have managed to find.
Euchre: How to Play and Win, by Gary Martin, Martin, Fort Wayne, 1982, 64 pp., $4.95
This is an instructive and useful little book.
There are some highly helpful hints on what
There are some annoying grammatical
|at page 23 (the author finally gets it right with|
“led” at page 32), and some syntactical num-
ber confusion (e.g., at p. 32, “If diamonds is
trump . . . ,” and at p. 38, “In buck euchre
each player plays for himself . . . . Each player
bids on the number of tricks each feels they
And because the book was printed before
But the content of the book makes it well
The Complete Win at Euchre,
by Joseph D. Andrews
Games by Andrews Inc., Melrose, Mass., 2004, 171 pp., $12.95
One of Joe Andrews’ criteria for a “book,”
And, I must admit, The Columbus Book of
|index pages and the like, and solely decorative|
illustrations taking up whole pages reduces it to
75. By similar subtractions you can get The
Complete Win at Euchre’s 171 pages down
to 151, but that’s still more than Wergin’s 137.
So if I want a competitive euchre “book,” it
– Use big type and lots of inner headlines.
– Use lots of repetition.
State the rules twice
describing variants of the game, such as
“British Euchre” and nine different ways
people all over North America play bid
euchre, state the complete rules for each
variant in each description instead of merely
the contrasting rules that make each variant
unique. Now I have 113 pages.
– Pad the book with pages having nothing
be warranted). Now I have 126 pages.
– Throw in articles by other writers, slap-
– Pad the book further with three full pages of
with a one-page illustration of each (that’s 47
more pages). Now I have 184 pages. Re-
store the title and index pages and the dec-
orations and I’m just a page shy of 200.
Hope you like my “book.”
Although Joe’s book describes “British Eu-
There are too many possible situations to
|up or turn down in the given scenarios; there|
are no specific lessons for the players in first,
second or third chairs, and none for the dealer
on second round. Eight examples are given
in the “Opening Leads” quiz, but no instructive
scenarios for leads to second and subsequent
tricks. And the four “Play of the Hand” sam-
ples given are rather meager. The “Classic
Hands” are but 23 out of thousands.
Joe does do well on his examples, although I
I said most of the book is correct.
things aren’t. For example:
– Joe speaks of euchre played in the 18th cen-
– Joe says that as dealer’s partner you should
– Joe says, categorically, to “never call a loner
when the score is 8-8” (p. 59; his emphasis).|
If the hand in his “Bidding Skills” question
No. 17, where he first suggests that, had
lower trump or one fewer trump, it would be
a perfect example of when you should go
alone with eight points, to keep your partner
from taking the lead on first trick and being
unable to lead trump back to you.
– Incredibly, he says that if you have 6 or 7
– There’s a questionable use of the word
– And Joe’s book contains constant reference
most distinctive thing about euchre – as op-
posed to other trick-taking games such as
bridge and spades – is that in euchre you do
not make trump by bidding. You order,
assist, pick up or name trump in euchre (as
in the extinct games écarté and triumph).
The only bidding that goes on in euchre –
i.e., claiming in advance the number of tricks
you will take – is in the many versions of bid
euchre, which, all taken together, do not
claim nearly as large a following as the stan-
I would like to attribute a few things in Joe’s
1. The etymology of the word
chre, without attribution to either (but|
with “Jucker” misspelled).
2. And Joe’s special thanks
to Harvey Lapp
3. Joe heaps acknowledgment on
been written about [euchre] strategy and
psychology. You may want to try The
Columbus Book of Euchre by Natty
Bumppo. It is very down to earth and
chock full of information!”
You will find the most amazing revelation
Joe does take care of his patrons and clients.
|the United States Playing Card Company,|
and the oozing glorification of Beth (“Tweet-
ie Heart”) Cole and her Euchre Club on line,
but also the promotion of MSN and three
other on-line euchre playing sites – over
Pogo and Yahoo!, which get only one line
apiece, and without mention of Playsite, one
of the most venerable venues for playing eu-
chre on line. Yahoo! and Pogo are far and
away the most popular sites for playing eu-
chre on line: None of the sites exalted by
Joe comes close to Pogo, and Pogo does
not come close to Yahoo! (and there are
One more thing: Let’s just pretend
Winning at Euchre, by Thomas A. Gallagher, 1991 (publisher & city not disclosed), 60 pp., $3.95
Gallagher’s booklet has a Gorenesque point
Another section, the three “Most Common
|partner’s ace is left out, but it is enjoined – in|
bold type – on the previous page.)
The point system assigns four points to a
But the math is a little fuzzy. For example,
the author states that if you have 8 points, your
opponents have 6, your partner has 3, and the
pack has 3. The actual probability is, the op-
ponents have 6.7, the partner has 3.3, and
the pack (i.e., the three cards remaining “bur-
ied,” or unseen) has only 2. On average each
hand is 167 per cent as strong as the pack.
The author says, at page 3, that a 10-point
|and (2) a holding of five trumps without bow-|
ers, which is the only “10-point” hand that
cannot be euchred. The error lies in ranking a
9, 10 or queen of trumps as high as an ace or
And the author’s assertion that you must
None of which is to say the point system is
shoddy – by and large, it works. But it is
flawed. For further examples:
(1) It fails to distinguish between the value
(2) It fails to evaluate distribution.
(3) It gives no value to kings.
While a king
Another problem with playing by the num-
Finally, would it be picayune to point out that the author has the horse on the rider
(p. 45)? That he thinks “next”
is “Nix”? That he lacks true bravado,
or humor, as on page 39, where he writes, “Dealing out of turn . . . is
considered poor sportsmanship if . . . done intentionally”?
Not in Columbus, where stealing the deal is part of the game!
I had heard about this book; I wanted to like this book. It’s OK; it’s interesting. But it is too formulaic: It does not capture the intuition, the essence, of euchre.
Grandpa Lou Way,
by John Ellis
Wednesday Morning Productions, Kleinburg, Ontario, 1996, 76 pp., $8.95
This book might be more appropriately ti-
It may have been written by a Dummy, so
|weak is the grammar.
The author seems to|
have particular difficulty with syntactical num-
ber – for example, on page 49 alone: “Before
either one of them pick up or order . . . , they
. . . ”; “Unless they are a novice . . . ,” and
“Learn how to assess another player’s bench
strength so that you can compare your own to
theirs. When someone else makes trump, you
may have some clues about their strength”
Inconsistency in use of terms also is dis-
|Then, on page 14, “hand” means
Then, in the glossary, you are instructed,
“A round and a trick get used interchange-
ably sometimes” (emphasis added). And this
glossary entry instructs you further, “Don’t
let this get confusing”! The glossary entry
adds, “The whole game is over when one
team has won . . . 10 points. You can call
all of the games leading up to that, ‘games’
as well” (emphasis added). To add to the
(interdicted) confusion over “round,” the
author terms the trump making process “go-
ing around the table.”
“Double suited,” according to this book,
Then, there is spelling – for renege, “re-|
neig”; for bower, “Bauer” (granted, “Bauer”
is the German word from which the euchre
word “bower” derives. But, Germans don’t
play euchre – hence, “bower”).
Not that the instruction on euchre is all that
And we are told that if a player on the team
|that made trump reneges, his team “forfeits the game.”
Just what does that mean (given the glossary’s confusion over what “game”
Then, there is this funny rule that the second hand cannot order without going alone (maybe they really play this way in Canada).
For all that, this book is very attractive typographically – an obvious product of desktop masturbation (yes, I can see the blurb coming: “‘Typographically very attractive’ – Natty Bumppo, author, The Columbus Book of Euchre”).
Euchre According to Wergin,
by Joseph Petrus Wergin
Huron Press, Madison, Wis., 1990, 137 pp., $9.95
Euchre According to Wergin contains
The author’s apparent certainty as to the
Nor is the author’s passion for “honesty“
|(pp. 6-7, 74-75, and 123) shared by vast|
numbers of euchre players. Overreaching
and deception such as “stealing the deal” are
as much a part of the game in many circles as
going alone. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out
there in the heartland, and the game goes to
the alert as well as the swift.
In some passages the author contradicts
– At the top of page 25 he defines “the bridge”
ver by the dealer’s opponents to protect
their position. (Actually, the correct term
for the maneuver is “ordering at the bridge.”
And “the bridge” is simply a score of 9 points.
If the player to the dealer’s left is “at the
bridge,” he must order the dealer when the
dealer’s team has 6 or 7 points to protect his
own team’s position. That’s “ordering at the
bridge” – similar to the “Columbus coup” in
– At page 28, the author says, “If you take the
|– And at page 51, “If partner named the
and you [at third hand] have a high and a low
trump, chances are that the fourth player may
not have a trump. If a high card is not played,
you may be embarrassed when the fourth hand
overtakes the play of a low trump.” (Anyway,
the reasons to play high exist despite the un-
likelihood the dealer holds trump, not because
In other passages, the author is simply
– At page 31: “With a score of 9 to 8 in the
nents score a point than to go out euchred.
is when the score is 9 to 8 against the dealer
that the risk is worthwhile, as the author points
– At page 47, the author states that a dealer’s
Given the second hand’s|
failure to “assist,” the likely probability of the
third hand’s holding the left is, it is true, some-
what higher than 38½ per cent; but it is not
mathematically determinable, and certainly
nowhere near 62½ per cent).
– At page 49, the author suggests that trump-
partner’s ace,” the very phrase criticized by
the author. Later, when they know the game,
novices can learn the rare occasions to trump
a partner’s ace.
– At page 83, the author suggests that players
Further, the author’s legendary super player
|illustrated at pp. 54-62:
Hands Nos. 2 and 3|
are but examples of simply correct play. And
the “foxy” play in “Hand No. 6” appears so
only because “Mr. Fox” made the wrong dis-
card when picking up.
The author’s chapter on “Euchre Odds and
Many of the author’s suggested “Official
– III-1-a, “Riffle the pack at least three times
fles. Be careful not
to expose the bottom
card,” is basic Hoyle, not just euchre, and is
more a matter of etiquette and good sense
– Likewise, III-2, “Pone’s Right to Shuffle”;
– Point penalties suggested in IV-3 b and c
– VI-6, requiring the dealer to answer truth-
|fully an inquiry as to trump, and forbidding a|
player’s asking what specific card was picked
up, not only is ridiculous, but toys with the First
Amendment. A better rule (of personal beha-
vior, not of the game) is, “Pay attention, and
beware of the liar!”
In sum, the proposed rules are too arcane,
Omissions: Not included in Wergin (but
by Fred Benjamin
(publisher & city not disclosed), 2007, 90 pp., $15.07
Fred Benjamin tells us in the very first section of
his book Euchre Strategies that he wins two out
of three games, on average, on Yahoo! Any euchre
player who tells you he wins two-thirds of his games
is (a) lying, or (b) cheating, or (c) selecting his com-
petition very carefully.
I am acquainted with the author through e-mail
If you have an established partner, and play most
|play generally inferior competition, you prob-|
ably can win two-thirds of your games. The
inferior competition, in this case, is indicated
by the Yahoo! ratings the author discloses for
five of six of his own “nics” – 1740, 1587, 1545,
1753, 2467 and 1710. Except for the 2467, the
ratings are mediocre, by Yahoo! standards, and
indicate avoidance of “advanced” competition. 2
I would not mention such statistical puffing,
When this book was published, a person who has
* who uses redundancies like “initial opening lead,”
* who uses malaprops like “hole card” for the card
* who misspells “led” throughout the book? 4
|* who needs eight lines of type to define “high card”?
The language distracts. If
you can figure out
Look at “kitbitz” [sic] and “kitty” in the defini-
|site of a
talon6 – just as “hole card” is the oppo-
site of a turned card: “Hole card,” a term unique
to poker, indicates a card hidden from the view
of other players.
Section 9.15 consists entirely of a table pur-
More confusion is created by diagrams that place
|will eventually get to deal in every card game, of|
course). But conventionally, in diagrams, South
has the deal and West has the lead. We might be
able to adjust to the author’s giving the deal to East
instead of South, but then he gives us a diagram with
North as the dealer (the book puts you at South, as
you would be in a computer game, and rotates the
Then there are the “Duh!” factors:
There is no history, no humor.
The only form
– no two-person, three-person, or bid euchre.
section on rules is equally spare – there is no mention
of irregularities, such as dealing out of turn, playing
out of turn, or reneging. 7
The book contains good advice, by and large; but
Benjamin gives generally good mathematical expla-
|not much help to a beginner or an intermediate play-|
er. There are easier ways to learn: Play cards, for
instance. Euchre should be fun; and reading about it
should be, too. This book may be the best endorse-
ment yet of Euchre: The Grandpa Lou Way.
And the mathematical analysis is not quite as relia-
at all the devastating effect of giving up a
loner to the opposition at a score ahead 9 to 7 with the
deal coming your way.
For another example: The chart
of probabilities of
And even the assumption that each player is Fred
|a table full of bots from Yahoo! ?
I do think that Benjamin has built a better bot,
Some good advice from the book:
* Playing aggressively is required, but playing
* Order and call aggressively when you have a
s. 8.4. (The author calls
this tactic “soft dona-
tion.” That’s a term I had not encountered be-
fore, and it’s interesting.)
* Lead the king of hearts from jack-10 of clubs,
Some not so good:
* Lead away from a guarded left bower when the
dealer’s partner has
ordered up. s. 5.5(2,3)|
That might produce an occasional euchre, but it
could deprive you of a stopper. In general the
book and the simulator lean too heavily on lead-
ing trump on defense. The book advises you in
section 5.5(1) to lead trump through the maker
(i.e., dealer’s partner) if you hold right-ace. That
would deprive you of an end play. And the author
contradicts himself on this point: In section 5.6.2
he says, “Do not lead a trump . . . when attempt-
ing a euchre.” 10
* Always open a defense against a loner with an ace
failed to recognize is the corollary that you may
treat a king-high doubleton as a second “ace” in
your hand. (The reason not to lead ace if you
have only one is to avoid squeezing your partner
if he has two. You lead an ace if you have two
to avoid getting squeezed yourself.)
This book is unlike any other book on euchre.
|charts and based on what
must have been tons of|
computer research. It’s a noble effort to quantify
conventional (and some unconventional) wisdom.
But some things cannot be quantified.
Section numbers given above refer to a 90-page printing with the title “Euchre
Strategies” on the cover.
Some readers may have an earlier, 55-page printing, in smaller type, with
the title “Euchre Challenge & Teacher” on the cover.
There was a relocation of the original section 3 to section 8 between the
printings, and thus a number of the section references above will not relate
to the earlier printing (in most if not all cases, the reader can add
1.0 to section numbers that do not work except for those beginning
with “8,” which must be read “3. . . . ”).
1 Another part of the pattern, not reported by the author but reported to me by one who knows him on line, is that he and his partner do not play again with anyone who beats them. So, “play with whomever sits with us” may be a bit of a stretch, too. (The author meant “whoever sits with us,” of course, not “whomever.” The case of a relative pronoun is dictated by its use in a subordinate clause, if any. The clause, not the pronoun, is the object of the preposition. Lest this observation seem petty, note additional observations of unclear writing following.) [back]
2 The author has confided to a mutual acquaintance that he plays mostly, if not exclusively, in the intermediate lounges. But he is skating on thin ice. In a post to the Euchre Science discussion group on Yahoo! a few weeks after publication of his book, he said 75 per cent of Yahoo! players with 65 per cent or better winning records are cheaters. Five of his own “nic” records published in his book show winning percentages ranging from 65.9 to 76 per cent (it’s the 2467 nic with the 65.9%). [back]
5 “ . . . [T]he ability of a person to view more than one hand during the play . . . .” This definition suggests that even a player can kibitz. A kibitzer (it’s a Yiddish word) is a spectator who offers unsolicited advice. And he or she may be allowed to watch only one hand. (We can probably lay some of the blame here on Yahoo!, which also seems not to know what the word means; but even Yahoo! recognizes that kibitzers can see only hands that allow being seen.) [back]
8 Maybe that’s why the author moved section 3 of the book to section 8 in the second printing – so that these remarks would appear two-thirds of the way through the book, instead of on page 12. [back]
9 Here’s what a mathematician had to say (my brother, who has a Ph.D. in mathematics and works in mathematics):
“Don’t trust anyone who uses simulation to get answers.
Simulation is very tricky business.
You’re trying to get answers by generating random numbers.
It takes not only thousands of repetitions but also keen statistical insight to reduce
the margin of error to a manageable amount.
(Everyone thinks he can simulate things these days, even engineers.)
“It seems that he produced the table of probabilities of trump holdings in opponents’ hands via simulation and accepted the answers without question. All those numbers could have been computed in closed form using elementary probability theory. Even when you have to get numbers by simulation, you still have to do a mathematical estimation to check them with.
“It appears also that the author hasn’t published any confidence intervals on his simulation data. Any biologist would be able to give you confidence intervals on his rat lab data, but amateurs at simulation don’t seem to see that this is required in simulation as well. Most people think you just run the simulation a few hundred times and then average the results. But to get confidence intervals, so you can have some idea if your data is nonsense or not, you have to collect the runs in batches, collecting variance data from each batch. It’s a sophisticated statistical process.
“Simulation is for mathematically intractable problems to analyze the actual play of the game, as opposed to the deal (which is almost always mathematically tractable). In the play of the game, each play is statistically dependent on the previous play or plays. The number of possibilities grows exponentially with each play, so it becomes unsolvable in closed form. Simulation is then the only recourse. But simulation design then becomes of the utmost importance and is only as good as your robots.
“Exponential error might not be an insurmountable problem on the outcome of the play of a single hand in a game as simple as euchre; but in trying to simulate the probability of winning the game at a given score, with many hands yet to play, he’s being way too ambitious.” [back]
|10 To be fair, the author presents that as a “KISS rule” (“Keep it simple, stupid”), which may be meant for novices only – but, like so many other things in the book, that is not entirely clear. [back] top|
Euchre for Dummies,
by Barry Rigal
Wiley Publishing Inc., Hoboken, N.J., 2004, 22 pp., $5.95
This book is thinner than it is dumm. It
contains some good advice. It just doesn’t cover
the subject. The content – 18 pages of text (20 on
the “Kellerian” scale) – is not a whole lot more than
you get on euchre in a standard “Hoyle” encyclopedia.
You do get a deck of cards in the deal – and that’s
That’s good advice as far as it goes, but all expe-
The instructions printed on the aces, tens and nines|
are OK (“Don’t get your hopes up,” to paraphrase);
but there’s a lot to quibble with on the kings and
Trump: Use to trump another player’s trick.
Use to protect higher trumps.
Don’t lead until higher trumps are gone.
Non-Trump: Lead if A[ce] . . . is gone.
Use to protect A[ce] . . . . [on the king!]
Not much help [on the queen].
But what does it mean – to a novice or “dummy”
And the hell
“don’t lead,” if your partner has
The subtitle of Euchre for Dummies is “A Card
The author is the co-author (with Omar Sharif) of
Games for Dummies. Why does he refer
to the card values of the “8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2”?
Why does he tell us we are playing with a 32-
Why does he instruct us to place the talon and
|whose deal it is next?
Why does he say the jack of trump is “often”
And what are these constant references to
Then there are the actual mistakes. Let’s
Euchre Anyone? Euchre Solitaire,
by Richard Buchko
http://www.createspace.com, Calumet, Mich., 2009, 92 pp., $9.99
The scary thing about this book is the “Volume
One” printed on the cover and title page, in large
type (but not advertised). Messages inside the
back cover announce that Volume Two will soon
follow (for $10) and that you can sign up for con-
tinuing monthly volumes at $30 for six months (with
free shipping). I was already wondering how anyone
could write 92 pages about one game of solitaire, and
now here comes a whole series?
But the book does not really present a game of
What Buchko’s Euchre Anyone? Euchre Solitaire
|dition to title and advertising pages, score cards, and a|
one-page introduction, with a little historical inaccuracy).
Each right-hand page, in the 82 pages of photo-
The next page (the overleaf) shows all four hands
The commentary, which appears on both presen-
|of euchre terms,
statements of mathematical proba-
bility, and occasional jest (and even with advertise-
ments for the author’s other work in half a dozen
instances, most of it not related to euchre).
No game score is given in any of the scenarios,
The hands and the instruction are basic – the book
But I have a problem with the photographs. I
|realize that color printing on every page remains|
prohibitively expensive, even with the “print on
demand” technology provided by the likes of cre-
atespace.com, booksurge.com and authorhouse.-
com. But desktop color laser printing is affordable
these days, and highly presentable. You could print
your book at home or in the office; and a book this
size can be “saddle-stitched” at home, like The Co-
lumbus Book of Euchre (you don’t have to send it
to a bindery). And it still can be sold on amazon.-
And aside from the black-and-white presentation,
|being played out.|
Even blurrier are color photographs of a lone hand in clubs, on the front cover, and of the author, on the back cover. All for $14.82 (with tax and shipping). Caveat emptor.
The Think System: A Light-Hearted Guide to Serious Double Deck Bid Euchre, by Bob Baiyor and Kevin Easley
Baiyor & Easley, location undisclosed, 2012, 80 pp., $11.95
| You can tell that this book was written by a cou-|
ple of engineers – from such phrases as “the heuris-
tic we’ve developed for counting how many tricks a
hand can take” to “the BEAM (Baiyor-Easley Ad-
vanced Mindmeld) Convention,” and from the divi-
sion of the book into sections numbered and titled
“§ 126.96.36.199 3 Low” and such.
And who but a couple of engineers would write a
whole book about a game that is played by a total of
probably only 27 people, all of them in southwest
Chimbley County, Indiana?
Anyway. Whatever. It’s all you ever wanted to
know about the strategies of bidding and reading
your partner in a game of euchre played with a 48-
card deck (with two right bowers, two left bowers,
two aces of hearts, and so on), in which trump is
made (or not, with both “high no” and “low no”
as options) by bidding, not by ordering or calling.
The guys could have used an editor. You’ll
find “trial” used as a verb, and a reference on
page 1 to a glossary but no mention of where
| to find it (not in the table of contents, for sure).|
And there’s no section on rules. You have to
wade through to the bottom of a long sixth para-
graph, on page 7, of a section titled “Indiana
Double Deck Bid Euchre Overview,” to learn
who wins a trick on which both right bowers
are played, or on which two aces of the suit led
are played (turns out it’s the first one played).
But who needs an editor? These guys are ex-
perts. Just ask them. They present a section of
“Statistics” on page 65 (§9.2) claiming to have
won two-thirds of the games they have played
as partners, with an “average bid” of 7.5, only a
1.4 “average underbid,” a 30 per cent “chance
of recovering from an early set” and an average
of only 0.33 “non-desperation sets per game.”
Not to mention the book’s pretentious title.
“With 60 years of double deck bid euchre ex-
perience between them,” they say in their book
description on Amazon.com and on their back
cover blurb (where you will learn from one Rob-
in Thompson, another engineer, that it is “The best damn
euchre book I’ve ever read!”), “the authors have a bit of
an obsession with the game. The game’s extensive use of
strategy, the synergy of partnering and the complexity of
the game have made them double deck bid euchre zeal-
ots. Shocked and dismayed by the lack of literature on
double deck bid euchre, the authors set out to correct this
grievous wrong in the world of books on card games.”
You should buy this book. The photographs of the
authors with their enormous cigars are alone worth the
price of the book (the one tiny snapshot on Amazon-
.com does not do the cigars justice). You can get it
on Amazon.com or here.
You know what we think, though, if you’ve read The
Columbus Book of Euchre: The only reason to play bid
euchre in the first place – whether with two decks, a full
deck, or only half a deck – is not having four players to
make up a regular game (or having five or more, and
wanting to get them all in the same game).
And if you have the time and energy to engage in part-
nership “message” bidding, and to hold 12 cards in your
hand and play 12 tricks per hand, why not just play bridge?
If I had known how many good books had been
written on euchre in the late 19th century, and if they
had still been in print, I might never have written The
Columbus Book of Euchre – there would have been
no great need of it.
I have recently, with the help of a collector of an-
tique books, been privileged to see three of these
old euchre books; and they all contain excellent in-
struction, even for today’s game. The only signifi-
cant differences between the game today and the
game as it was are that they played to only five
points in the old days, with a pack of 32 cards (as
“Hoyle” manuals specify even to this day). But
the principles of good play are not significantly
There were some options in the old days that we
|(a perfect two-bower ace-king-queen of trump|
hand, worth 16 points) – but even then those options
were rarely played.
More striking are the parallels and the similarities.
Equally striking, in the ancient literature, is the omis-
|sion of some of the
colloquial rules we see today –
like that dumb Michigan rule requiring a player to
have a trump before he makes it, that not-so-dumb
Canadian rule requiring the dealer’s partner to go
alone if he orders up, and that silly and unsophisti-
cated option called “stick the dealer.” There is no
ancient history of such.
The earliest euchre book I have had the privilege
The “Professor,” we are almost sure, was one
|was an appointee and devotee of Andrew Jackson.
Charles Meehan died in 1872, five years before
As well they should have. The Professor’s
“In playing the game on the Mississippi River, if
“So if your hand . . . should happen to be as red
serpentine wisdom – and publish it
not with impatient demonstrations, or vituperative
expressions against ill luck.” That is, don’t com-
plain about your cards.
“It may hap, once in while, that you will find your-
The “Professor” was fond of quoting from Latin
And I take it back: The Columbus Book of
|Euchre did need to be written – but not for avoid-|
ance of Latin, or French, or Shakespeare or Pope.
It needed to be written because it was the first book
ever written on euchre, including numerous manuals
of “Hoyle,” that recognized that real people play
euchre to ten points with a deck of 24 cards.
That is not to disparage the “Professor” one whit:
The “Professor’s” research satisfied him that the
seduced by notions of French origins; but recent
research has shown them to have been mistaken,
and the “Professor” to have been right.
Incidentally, the “Professor” explained why
|thor was unidentified, unless it was the same as the|
publisher) – contained four pages on euchre, which
was identified as “a German game.” Five pages of
printed instructions on euchre are found also in a
book published by Isaac M. Moss in 1844, a year
earler, also in Philadelphia, A Whist Player’s Hand
Book, by Thomas Mathews. The game described
in those books was very much like the game we
know today but for the usual archaisms, such as
playing to five points, with 32 cards.
Dealing in twos and threes was the way even way
Euchre: How to Play It
Griffith, Farran, Okeden & Welsh; London and Canberra, ca. 1886, 124 pp.,
“Price One Shilling” (but now out of print; it cost me 38 pounds in 2006)
Not only is the author of this book not identified,
but also the copyright page is undated. One of the
introductory pages bears a dedication, “To E. J. E.,
in Remembrance of ‘a Lone Hand,’ in London,
1886”; and that could be an indication of the date
This book copies liberally from the “Professor’s”
But the author takes issue with some of the “Pro-
And there is new material in this book: For
thing, it introduces us to “railroad euchre,” which may
be the first euchre game played to ten points (but it
was played with a 33-card pack, including a joker
as “best bower”), and to “French euchre” (a mis-
nomer) and “Napoleon,” both played with a 24-
And this book gives us our first glimpse of stealing
This book has a tedious eight-page description of
The Game of Euchre,
by John W. Keller
Frederick A. Stokes, New York, 1887, 82 pp., out of print
J. Todd Martin – a reader and avid player in
London, Ohio – found on e-bay a copy of John
W. Keller's The Game of Euchre, published by
Frederick A. Stokes of New York in 1887. Todd
bought it, and he was kind enough to share it with
me. Thus began our quest for ancient euchre books.
How much Todd paid for this rare book is confi-
Joe Andrews would not call Keller’s work a
ler, 78; Bumppo, 102 (now I have a book!), and
The “Professor’s” 1862 book is less dense yet
How is it, then, that Keller and Bumppo found
But I digress. Keller’s The Game
of Euchre is
quite an interesting book, for its antiquity. The most
interesting thing about all these 19th century books is
that euchre, it seems, has not changed all that much in
the last century and a generation. Keller, like his pred-
ecessors, describes a game played to five points with
32 cards – but so do modern “Hoyle” encyclopedias.
Keller’s book is a little top-heavy in rules:
The remaining seven pages of Keller’s are devoted
|of America brought triomphe with them and trans-|
formed it into euchre.” Today we know better – we
know that the Pennsylvania Dutch brought Jucker
from Alsace and that some influential writers mis-
spelled it “euchre,” possbily in part because of the
influence of the French game écarté (a derivative
of triomphe) on Jucker. (The “Professor” credited
the Pennsylvania Dutch.)
Besides, we all know now – thanks to 9/11 and
Keller does not shy from his proposition, however.
The “French euchre” described by Keller and his
|anonymous contemporary (the author of Euchre:
How to Play It) did reduce the deck to 24 cards,
the deck most people play with today. But you
played to 15 and made trump by bidding, not by
ordering, picking up or naming.
“Napoleon,” better known as “Nap,” has some
Nap, Parlett says, “evidently commemorates Na-
“Napoleon has long enjoyed particular social|
status as Britain’s national five-card game,” Parlett
The Napoleon described by Keller seems to be
Have you ever run into a Frenchman playing euchre
There are some intriguing differences between the
For one thing, you could go alone on your partner’s
For example, if the first or second play-
er ordered or assisted or named trump, his partner
could take the ball and run with it. That sure elimi-
nated those “Damn, p, I had a loner!” cavils. (Vice
versa was not allowed: The dealer’s partner could
not go alone on the dealer’s call, nor the first player
For another, they reported plays called “jambone”
What could you do with eight points in a five-point
A “jamboree” was a “perfect” hand:
and ace, king and queen of trump. It was worth 16
Keller described also a game called “set-back eu-
One more thing: The “progressive”
cutting cards). Players then
moved up or down to other tables, depending on winning or losing.
In some variations there was some switching of partners when the new tables were set.
Ultimate winners were determined by games won, not by total points scored.
(Loners were not allowed in Keller’s version.)
Since the scoring was by games, and not by points, the original “progressive
euchre” actually was a lot like euchre, unlike the “8 by 8 progressive”
format of today.
Écarté and Euchre,
George Bell & Sons, London, 1890, 79 pp., one shilling, out of print
This pocket book contains, first, 32 (Kellerian)
pages on the two-handed French card game écarté
and then, in a second section, 43 (Kellerian) pages
The pseudonymous author makes an argument, in
Later scholarship has disproved such notions.
Be that as it may, the author continues, “Although|
similar in many respects to Écarté, the system of the
game [of euchre] is far more elaborate” and “in its
phraseology and its method of play is peculiarly A-
merican. Boldness, self-reliance and cuteness are
some of the requisites of a good euchre player.”
He’s right about that – except for the phraseology,
Some of the similarities between écarté and
Aside from the historical error, the book contains
some solid instruction. But a drawback is that more
than half the euchre section of the book is devoted to
a description of, and instruction on, two-handed eu-
chre, which no one plays today if there are three or
more players available; and another six pages are de-
voted to a form of three-handed euchre that hardly
anyone plays any more even when four players are
Much of the two- and three-handed instruction is
|lem is, the probabilities stated are, in the main, obso-|
lete. Probabilities applying to a five-point game are
different from those applying to a ten-point game
(today’s norm); probabilities applying to a game
played with a 32-card deck are different from those
applying with a 24-card deck (today’s norm), and
probabilities applying to a two-handed game played
to five with a 32-card deck are greatly different from
those applying to a four-handed game played to ten
with a 24-card deck.
The text is interspersed with numerous graphic ex-
Euchre – and How to Play It
United States Playing Card Company, Cincinnati, 1897, 1903, 34 pp.
Despite the similar title to the British publication of
about 1886, and somewhat similar contents, this is not
quite the same book – although it appears to have
copied the pattern of that earlier book.
It’s tiny – “pocket-sized,” they say; and it really will
But it’s crammed full of description and rules of
“The game is five points,” it is written; but also,
|point to which little attention has been called is that|
the American players almost universally discard the
sevens, and many of them the eights, from the pack
. . . .” So, the 24-card deck was on its way.
Rules are given for two-handed, three-handed and
There is a “five-handed euchre” described, howev-
There is also a “six-handed euchre” described,
played by two teams of three partners each, to 25
points, in which trump is made by bidding – that is,
each player bids how many tricks his team will make
if allowed to call trump, and the high bider gets the
privilege of naming trump. Then there’s an “auction
euchre,” for four players, with partnerships, in which
trump is made by bidding.
There’s “blind euchre,” for three, four or five
Options of “lapping,” “jambone” and “jamboree”|
are offered for application in almost all the games.
These options have been described in reviews of oth-
er old books – see, for example, my review of John
W. Keller’s The Game of Euchre. (The book under
review and the British book of nearly the same title be-
fore it speak also of a “slam,” which is nothing more
than what we would call a “skunk” today.)
The rules set out for the four-handed game in this
The rules and description of four-handed euchre
to other tables after eight hands regardless of whether anyone has reached a score of ten
points, and in which the winners are determined by points scored, not by games won).
All the foregoing takes 20½ pages of this 34-page book, which finishes with 13½ pages of “Hints,” or strategy. The strategy chapter in the British book of similar title was “Hints to Tyros,” and they were nearly verbatim the same as the “Hints to Tyros” in the “Professor’s” 1862 book The Law and Practice of the Game of Euchre. The “Hints” in this book are not the same thing; but they’re pretty standard stuff, including “next” and “ordering at the bridge.” There is no new thing under the euchre sun.
There are no sample hands displayed or discussed in this book.
The “Hints,” although standard, are rigorously presented and excellent, and as good today as they were a hundred years ago. This is as good a compact euchre book as I have seen, and all one would ever need. Too bad it’s out of print.
produced by Vicki Kelchner
Discover Images Inc., Fort Wayne, 1996, 30-minute videotape, $19.95
Discover Euchre is a very well produced
There are a couple of mistakes:
|because allowing the loner to lead would give|
her “an unfair advantage.” That is Hoyle (in
some versions), but it’s not the reason (and
it’s not the way they play in Southern Indiana).
Being led to is, arguably, as big an advantage
as leading. If you want to cripple the loner,
put him in the middle so that he is led through.
The way they play in Columbus, the lead falls
with the position: It’s simply easier to make a
loner from some positions than from others.
And Mike tells us that the penalty for re-
The Columbus Book of Euchre,
by Natty Bumppo
Borf Books, Brownsville, Ky., 1982, 1999, Second Edition 90 pp., $12.98
The Columbus Book of Euchre
Andrews Ellis Gallagher Kelchner Keller Martin Wergin top
“Over hamburgers sold!”