| Links to, and reviews of, computer euchre, from
the publishers of The Columbus Book of Euchre
Hardware Stone idiots New
Euchre as we knew it once was popular on line, on various world wide web sites such as Pogo (form-
erly Excite), Yahoo!, Hardwood, Mystic Island and Games.com. The newest kid on the block, and perhaps the best, is a site called Trickster. There’s also a lot of software out there for solitary euchre masturbation, including some shareware listed below.
Once upon a time, you could play euchre (and other card games) on line, with and against other human beings, for free, and without a “download.” The premier sites were Yahoo! and Pogo. No more. Yahoo! began having conflicts with JAVA early in 2014, and it closed its game sites down in March with a promise of a “newer technology platform” to come. Not yet, and we despair of seeing a user-friendly Yahoo! site again. Pogo also is a site of the past.
Not only is Pogo unoperational, but also it became so corrupted by “TRAM” that it became nearly useless. “TRAM” is an acronm for “The rest are mine” and will sweep the board, without showing you the rest of the cards when the outcome of the hand has been determined. Yes, we realize that “Chris’s trick” (look it up in the book: The fifth trick when the trick count is already 3 to 1) is meaningless, but a card player wants to know who had the 9 of hearts, or the unplayed left bower, when the hand is over. Players on line have become so addicted to “speed” (you are more likely to get “booted” from a game for playing slow than for cussing out other players) that they adopt the “TRAM” option without thinking.
Horse on rider (get him off!)
No horse, no rider, no sitting be-
tween the markers, no elbows,
with a euchredoodledandy!
“TRAM” even tips hands: If it does not “swoosh” the cards at a certain point, you know that a trick-taking card is still out. For example, we ordered up a diamond holding both bowers and ace, and the king and nine of clubs outside. We had the lead and took the first three tricks with trump, of course, leading all other players out of trump. And there was no “swoosh.” That told us that the ace of clubs was still out (or the queen or jack “guarded”), and that it would be futile to try to sweep the remaining two tricks with the king and nine of clubs. So we led the nine, in hope our partner had the ace and could lead a lower club back to our king, or take the last trick with another high card. He did and he did, and we fsscored two points. Thanks for the tip, “TRAM”!
And the speed of “TRAM” and the automated action of the former Playsite is illusory anyway. The major delays in play on line are not in waiting for tricks to play out in a hand in which the outcome has been determined, but in internet congestion and in players’ leaving the table to go for a beer, go to the bathroom and go to the door to let in the police or let out the cat. And, have all these “speed” demons forgotten that playing cards is a pastime?
Yahoo! never was fancy. One of the critics of my critiques “dissed” Yahoo’s! “Commodore 64” graphics.
What’s worse is that all players on line consider themselves “experts” once the have won one game. Pay no attention to the man (or woman, or child) behindthe screen: The computer monitor will not screen out idiocy; and the rating” attributed to the person behind the screen is a measure of his or her play not withyou, or with other real euchre players, but with other idiots.
And the very worst thing about playing on line is the flaming. “Netiquette” is dead. The dumber your partners are, the more likely they are to think that they are smarter than you. And they will not hesitate to tell you so. In no uncertain terms: “my p sucks”; “you suck, p”, “my partner sux,” “you suk” – how many ways are there to spell that vulgarity, let alone say it (and who, these days, knows what it really means?).
And if you are a serious player, you can forget about Hardwood, “Mystic Island” and Games.com. They don’t give you card games; they give you video games.
Playsite, fortunately, is history. Mystic Island, we think, is for this generation’s equivalent of pinball wizards. Hardwood is, perhaps, the most “21st century” of the bunch but leaves pure card playing a little short.
Pogo allowed “booting” in the middle of a game just for making a smart remark, and you could be suspended or even terminated on the basis of another player’s complaint without an opportunity to defend yourself (in life and law, that’s called “due process”) or to point out that the player who reported you was the real jerk. But it was the most civil site there was on line.
If you want a journey to the past, go to Google Games Euchre. You play to 5 points, as most "Hoyle" encyclopedias still prescribe the game; and there is no going alone.
Yahoo!’s site was
the most popular, and – |
just like drinking Postum – there was a reason:
It was quick to load, and it always played to 10
points with a 24-card deck – the way real people
play (England, Australia and Pennsylvania aren't
real, are they? Think about it). The only options
were “Stick the dealer” or not and “rated game” or
not. Euchre on Yahoo! was the most like tabletop
American euchre before the wonks came along and
fried it. Yahoo! players were, by and large, better
than other players on line (but you would find stone
idiots rated “advanced” there, and even players with
losing records rated high.
Pogo’s rating systems were sim-
too often amounted to blaming the|
victim in those Dark Ages of the internet (which
were better, now we look back, than the New).
Pogo had a better site, with better graphics;
and it has a more intelligent way to deal with
the quitter: If you quit or got booted (by light-
ning, by your ISP, whatever), a computer or
other player would finish in your place; and
your rating would change as if you had finished
the game yourself (Yahoo! lately allowed ro-
bots to finish games, but it still penalized the
fried if the game was forfeited; and hosts with
only moderate intelligence knew how to keep
robots and volunteers out of your chair if you
Pogo’s default option was an 11-point game
– people actually play to 11 in England (and
Pennsylvania, but not even in Canada).
Trickster may be the best site now. It’s the newest. It has fewer bells and whistles than the others. It’s hard
to slow down, however; it’s hard to tell a spade from a club there – particularly on a card presented horizontally –
and it does not give you enough time to see what happened at the end of a hand. And the dumbest players on
Earth flock there.
There are three innovations on Trickster that we have not encountered in real life: (1) “Going under,” (2)
“Call for best” and (3) can’t order or call a suit you don’t have. Nos. 1 and 2 are options; No. 3 is a dumb rule
that cannot be avoided on Trickster.
By “going under,” you can discard the three weakest cards in your hand (if none of them is higher than a 10)
and trade for the “stock” (the three cards left under the turn card). This is fun, and occastionally enables you to
enhance a losing hand into a winner. (Some versions of this go to queens for low, called “bottom bitches.”) A
sister option (which we have not seen on Trickster) allows a second or third or fourth player to trade for the cards
thrown away by the first undergoer.
“Call for best” enables a player “going alone” to trade his worst card for his partner’s best card. It is required
if enabled, and it could result in a lost trick if the partner who called “alone” has a solid hand and his partner has
nothing. But usually it results to the loner’s advantage.
The third, not allowing you to order or call a suit you don’t have, is the dumbest of the dumb. If you cannot
call or order what you don’t have, you may not be able to call “next for my partner,” execute the “Columbus coup”
or “order at the bridge.”
The worst thing about Trickster, however, is that the robots – one of whom is likely to wind up being your
partner – are the stupidest players you have ever seen. They will not call “next for my partner.” They will not
lead trump to the partner who called it. They will lead their partners out of trump. And they will trump a low
lead from their right when they should know their partner should have the commanding suit card.
| Hardwood operates on required software,
and you have to pay for it. It’s not worth it, in
our opinion; but you used to be able to get a
free trial and decide for yourself (that has not
worked for us lately). Hardwood may be the
ultimate 21st century site, with the dumbest av-
atars yet to appear on line (that’s not good),
“music” louder and worser than Muzak (that’s
not good), options for 15-point games (that’s
not good), British rules (that’s not good), and
“TRAM” (that’s not good). What’s worse
(or worst, if you will) is its “foom” feature –
an animated graphics function by which you
can send kisses, four-leaf clovers, snow balls,
lightning, etc., to any other player – and by
which, with an easy code with your partner,
you can cheat, in ways undreamed of in the
olden days of mere IM and chat lines. Hard-
wood may be the most “realistic” euchre ex-
perience on line, with cheaters and idiots.
While Hardwood does not have a “last hand”
option – a feature by which you can examine all
tricks played to the last hand, card by card (and
annoy the hell out of the other players who are in
such a hurry), just as you can at a real card table
(Yahoo! had that), it does have a feature the
others would do well to adopt: It keeps logs of
games played, and you can review them – you
can watch an actual replay of any game you se-
lect (but you cannot do it during the game).
The Microsoft Network (MSN) Zone dropped
|find your way into a game
on the Zone – as you did on “WON,” which, like Playsite, is history in its entirety (“WON” stood for “World Opponents Network”).
We did hack and claw our way into the Zone once – with a crowbar and a grubbing hoe. The only thing right about the Zone was that it kept the score with markers
– but even so, once you’d scored six points, you’d find your horse
on your rider.|
Mystic Island is full of glitter (no gold found yet), and it requires a download (at least it’s free). The first time we visited, late afternoon on a weekday, we encountered a whopping total of 57 other players – like, it’s really popular. Other players we know have described the layout as “confusing” and “cluttered.” If you can figure out who’s dealing on “Mystic Island,” let us know. There were a Westwood Games People Play (GPP) and an I-Play, a gateway to Westwood, both of which appear to be history, like Playsite.
On Games.com, it's almost impossible to tell where you are sitting and where the other players are, let alone who they are, what is trump, who made it, and where the dealer is. It is impossible to see the score. But it's free and does not require a download.
Nidink is the dumbest of the dumb.
You will find yourself disconnected from all the sites on occasion. It’s not for nothing that being “Yahooed! ” has found its way into internet lingo. At least Yahoo! had a device that would give you an automated trip back to your seat if you had been “fried.“ If you’re fried on Pogo, you’re sautéed.
Another fault of all the sites is that you cannot renege on line. Novices, dummies and drunks are thus unduly protected and wind up with higher ratings than they deserve; and reneging on purpose – a tactic that might work in dire straits – is pre-empted.
In sum, playing on line is fried. You need to get back to a real card table.
Speaking of the ratings, they are somewhat less than accurate. We have played
on line with players with astronomical ratings who don’t know enough to lead trump
when their partner has called it; and we have played with players rated “intermediate”
and even “beginner” who know a lot more about what they are doing. We know how
to massage and manipulate the ratings without “cheating”; and if you don’t, we’re not
going to tell you – it’s bad enough as it is! We saw a team on Yahoo! on which one
player was rated 35,000-plus (that’s thirty-five thousand, not hundred) and his partner
was rated -12,000 something (that’s minus twelve thousand and change)! It was a hoot.
You can find a fuller description of such a scam in the archives of Natty Bumppo’s eu-
chre columns on line, including a report on a player with a 49.2 per cent winning per-
centage and a 20-game winning streak but a -192405 rating (that's minus one hundred
ninety-two thousand four hundred five)!
The ratings on all internet play sites are weighted according to the competition: That
is, the average of one partnership’s rating is weighed against that of the other’s; and more
or fewer rating points are awarded or deducted for each game depending on the rating dif-
ferential. For example, the players on a team with an average rating of 1800 will gain more
rating points beating a team with an average rating of 2000 than they will beating a team with
an average rating of 1600, and they will lose more rating points by losing to a lower-rated team.
That seems fair, doesn’t it? That you gain more rating points for beating a better team than
for beating a lower team; that you lose more for losing to “losers” than for losing to “winners”?
But, let’s think about it: Regardless of what happened in the past, the New York Yankees
and the St. Louis Browns started even every April. And even in September, when the Yankees
were in first place and the Browns in last place, if the Browns beat the Yanks they would not gain
more than a game on them in the standings, and the Yanks would not lose more than a game. So,
what’s with Yahoo! and Pogo? They know better than the American League? Give us a break!
Why should you lose more rating points to a good player who has recently changed his name and
come back with a low rating? Or to a good player who has a low rating only because he is new
to the web site? Or why should you gain more for beating some idiot who has trumped up his
rating by the good fortune of owning two computers on line at the same time? Or manipulated his
rating in some other fashion? Or merely been lucky? Let’s redemocratize.
One mistake you see again and again on line – by high rated players and low rated players both
– is the opening lead of trump (and, all too often, the right bower) on defense. Usually it just helps
the maker get the trump out, and often it strips the leader’s partner of a trump he could have used on
another trick (not infrequently an unguarded left bower). It’s a particularly bad lead against a loner,
but you see it. We call it the “internet lead” – because we almost never see it in real life!
Margo, rated 2130 on Yahoo!, and I had ’em down 9 to 8; but Pattycakes, on Margo’s right, had the deal and turned the jack of hearts. I held the ace of hearts, three diamonds to the ace, and a spade. Pattycakes picked up that right bower, and Margo led — ? The left bower. Which she held unguarded. School was out. Had Margoon led a black card, we’d have been still in the game, with the deal.
See other stone idiots encountered on line.
And, then, there are almost all the players you encounter on the “play” games (not the “compete” games on Trickster..
Playing euchre on line is a good way to learn regional differences in the game, but those differences can generate frustrating questions and arguments. Euchre on line is not nearly as satisfying as sitting around a table with people who know – or should know – the rules you play by, yelling, slapping, swinging elbows, and spilling beer on your opponents’ markers. And, how do you stab or shoot a partner who trumps your ace on line? All you can do is “flame” him, and that’s not “netiquette.”
Speaking of “netiquette,” we were marching on the first hand of a game when our partner mysteriously disappeared. Partner came back less than half a minute later, and the hostess switched the table from “private” to “public” to let him back in. “You shouldn’t have done that,” said the hostess’ partner. “We could have taken the forfeit.” Real polite. Real bright. (Hostess’ partner’s screen name was “Sisteract_99” – 1715 rating on Yahoo!)
There Is No Other Card Game: A
colorful site with rules, links (with helpful
commentary) and righteous “rules of thumb”
(these people could play in Columbus). But
there are other card games: Bridge, 7-up,
casino, 500 rummy — we even like to play
hearts (Bill Clinton’s favorite card game).
Shove-it.com has “back door” links to
Pogo games. “Back doors” enable you to
enter “full” lounges and to re-enter games from
which you have been booted even if the lounge
is “full.” While shove-it worked well on Ya-
hoo!, however, it has trouble with Pogo.
Euchrelinks.com is packed|
with links, strategy, and other information. It
features the Ten Commandments of Euchre
(“V: Thou shalt leadeth trump to thy part-
ner’s order” ) and a sort of “Ann Landers”
euchre column (“Ask Harv!” ).
If you are curious about the mathematics
of euchre, check out Bram Kivenko’s page
Davey Guild’s Euchre Page, now lost in
cyberspace, was a lot of fun: It included in-
structions on how to use 2’s and 3’s for mar-
kers for a 10-point game! Tim (“Metalhead”)
Hefner’s page was another fun site now gone.
If you are concerned about cheating, visit
Harvey Lapp’s Dark Side – an awesome,
graphic and comprehensive discussion of the
techniques out there for ripping you off (at the
card table. Cheaters on line still use mainly
the telephone and instant messaging; but there
are subtler techniques for pumping up one’s
rating on line, discussed elsewhere herein).
A fascinating history of the origin of euchre
by David Parlett, tracing its roots from the
Alsatian game of Jucker and earlier European
games, was published in 2007 in the Playing
Card (the Journal of the International Playing
Card Society) and is now on line. Parlett’s
book The Oxford Guide to Card Games,
published in 1990, also contains interesting
observations on the history of euchre.
| Card Games
is a truly comprehensive web |
site, on almost all card games, not just euchre.
But beware of the euchre rules here – they’re
The House of Cards is another general
card game site with links to many games inclu-
ding euchre, shareware, and euchre on line.
Euchre Science was a forum on line with contri-
butions from both mathematicians and the hoi polloi.
Anyone was welcome to join and post, and that was
the problem. As “good money drives out bad” in e-
conomics (Gresham’s law), numbnocks drive out
intellectuals in an open forum. You got a lot more
drivel than good advice, and there was no weighting
of one against the other. It was one of a number of
stupid euchre “groups” on Yahoo! (but it's gone now).
Luziana Fats serves up euchre party recipes (for snacks like atomic Buffalo wings and cocktails like the skylab fallout – he may tell you how to drink that, too), tells you how to handle “jamokes,” and will teach you, from time to time, how to handle a Mississippi mudpile and how to play bourré (a 52-card deck euchre game for two to seven players).
OhioEuchre.com has information on live tournaments (and not only in Ohio), information on how to run a tournament, rules, tips, links and a lot more, including a euchre quiz to test your mettle (you'll be graded, but you won’t see the right answers – and we think maybe that’s because the host does not know the right answers).
For more links, visit the Euchre Ring.
Gerry Blue’s Euchre Laboratory lets you|
set up and play any euchre hand you wish to
imagine, on line (you don’t have to download
anything). Good for experimentation; good for
practice. (Note: The Euchre Lab does not
work well on some versions of Firefox; try
Internet Explorer. It worked fine on Netscape
4.78. Off the wonks at Netscape/Mozilla.
They keep fixing things that aren’t broken.)
Scot Cunningham’s Euchre Dog is a com-
puter euchre game you can download free. It
is lightning fast and intelligently arrayed; you
can rename the players and adjust their “risk”
levels (i.e., how willing they are to take chan-
ces), and it has an “Advice” tickler on wheth-
er to order up or call trump. Scot says it’s a
“program I wrote in my spare time.” He must
have a lot of spare time.
WinSite has downloads for bid euchre
and other versions.
There are other computer programs out
there, with free shareware downloads usable
for a limited time and buyware downloads
with updates promised – and they’re cheap
enough, at $10 to $15 a pop:
Richard Gardner’s Euchre for Windows
has music, and other sound effects. It’s a bit
more razzly-dazzly than the Euchre Dog, and
for that reason we don’t like it as much. But
it also has risk adjustment and advice tickling,
and it keeps the score with markers: Are you
listening, Pogo? And the horse is not on the
Rob Briggs’ Cool Hand Yuke also
score with markers, but it uses two fives in-
stead of six (horse) and four (rider) – and it
mixes colors in each set of markers (oh, well,
Rob’s from Michigan!). What’s really neat
about Cool Hand Yuke is that you can pro-
gram your partner to play your own con-
ventions – e.g., to call “next,” always to lead
trump to you when you call it, always to pick
up a bower when he turns one, never to order
a bower into your hand, etc. And it features
not only a vast array of rules options, but also
a cast of characters from Humphrey Bogart to
Bugs Bunny for players, with their own voices
and remarks (which you can turn off, if they
annoy). Or you can create your own players
and deck and implant them in the game.
Fred Benjamin, author of the book Euchre |
Strategies, has put up a downloadable simula-
tor (with equally annoying sounds, that can be
turned off) called Euchre Challenge and
Teacher that serves as a computer game, a
practice field, or a robot table that will play
thousands of hands or games in a jiffy to show
you the results of certain plays. And he has
populated it with pretty good bots, unlike the
tinheads you meet on Pogo and Yahoo! But
they’re still robots; and they play with what Fred
Benjamin thinks is good euchre sense, not neces-
sarily what you or I might think. So you have to
take the simulation results with that grain of salt.
Benjamin, known on line as Sword_4_hire, has
posted also a probability chart of who will win
at any given score, which he says he developed
from 10,000 simulations each of hands played at
all 100 possible scores – i.e., from 0 to 0 to 9 to
9 (with this chart, of course, as with the simulator
itself, you must take into account that all players
are clones of Fred Benjamin).
Stephen Joseph Smith’s Euchre Baron is a
solitaire euchre program that lets you set up con-
ventions with your partner and expected behavior
of your opponents. A free trial is available. The
display is a little tacky; and it requires a 1,024-by-
768-pixel setup in 16 colors, for no good apparent
reason. It is much more sophisticated than proto-
type computer euchre games, but some early re-
viewers have commented that it asks a rather ex-
haustive list of questions about how you play, and
want others to play, to get started. And one re-
viewer mentioned that it “constantly leads trump
against loners despite my explicit instructions to
the contrary” (maybe that’s been fixed by now;
check it out). Tomas Mertens’ Solitaire-Para-
|dise euchre is another site worth checking out.|
The Euchre Dude offers software for tour-
nament organization in which you can enter entry
fees and compute payouts as well as enter brac-
kets and compute results. You can also design
and print custom score cards and charts with
Euchre Dude software.
CardsTourney.com is another site with
software for tournament organization and prin-
ted score sheets.
There are at least two Yahoo! groups that
display tournament pairing charts in their “files”
sections: The Euchre Club has a Microsoft
Excel file for 16-player pairings, and the Co-
lumbus Ohio Euchre group has a Microsoft
Word document file with pairings for up to 24
players. In each case you have to be a “mem-
ber” of the group to gain access to the file; but
joining a Yahoo! group is easy, and it’s free.
There are several "euchre boards" for sale
on line, mainly for scorekeeping; just Google the
A really well crafted piece of hardware is |
Todd Martin’s “euchredoodledandy,” a sim-
ple pegboard for scoring that does it right (see
illustration at top of this page). There is also a
euchredoodlebiddy, for scoring three-handed
bid euchre. Presently they are available only
from Borf Books.
Ryan's Ruminations on Euchre Robotics:
A credible commentator, Ryan Romanik, of Michigan, says about Gardner’s
We tend to agree with Ryan: No one has developed a really good computer
Briggs’ Cool Hand Yuke addresses these
problems: We’d rather play with
If all four players were programmed
(leaving out the guy with the mouse and
None of which is to say that the “’puters” that fill in when someone
The values of “next” and good hands
short of bowers may be programmable,
Bridge and chess can be programmed. The
basics of bridge and chess
But computer euchre may be better than solitaire.
Advanced euchre strategies: Read the author’s columns (archives)
Reviews of other books on euchre
“Over hamburgers sold!”