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Three-Handed Euchre Rules - Card Game

The complete rules of three-handed Euchre, also known as Cutthroat

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In Three-Handed Euchre, also known as Cutthroat, there are no permanent partnerships. Players win or lose on their own. (The rules of basic Euchre and Railroad Euchre are also available.)

Players

3 players

Deck

In North America, a 24-card deck is most common (using 9, 10, J, Q, K and A in all four suits).

Some players prefer a 32-card deck (adding the 7 and 8 of each suit). British Euchre uses 25 cards (the 24 listed above, plus a joker). There are other variations as well.

These rules are for 24-card Three-Handed Euchre and use North American customs.

Goal

To be the first player to score at least 10 points.

Card Values

The general rule is that Aces are the most valuable cards and 9s are the least valuable.

There are two exceptions. The Jack of the trump suit is the "right bower," and it's the most valuable card. The other Jack of the same color is the "left bower," and it's the second most valuable card. Both bowers are part of the trump suit.

For example, if hearts is the trump suit: the Jack of hearts is the right bower (most powerful) and the Jack of diamonds is the left bower (second most powerful). In this example, the third most powerful card would be the Ace of hearts.

Setup

The three players sit on three sides of the table, leaving the fourth side open. Randomly choose a dealer.

Five cards are dealt to each player, including the fourth spot, known as the "dummy." The remaining four cards are placed face down in the middle of the table. The top card is turned face up; this card initially sets the trump suit.

(Note on dealing: Some traditions have the dealer pass out cards as follows: three to the opponent on his left, two to the player opposite him, three to the opponent on his right, two to himself, two to the player opposite him, three to his partner, two to the opponent on his right, then three to himself.)

Gameplay

Players bid, starting to the left of the dealer and continuing clockwise, on whether or not to use the face-up card's suit as trump. Players have the following choices (perhaps obviously, the dummy does not bid):

  • The player to the left of the dealer may pass or say "I order it up." If he does, no other player may bid.
  • If the first player passes, the next player in order may pass or say "I assist." If he does, no other player may bid.
  • If the first two players pass, the dealer may pass or say "I accept." If he accepts, he takes the face-up card, replacing it with a card from his own hand (face down). The suit of the face-up card becomes trump.
  • If all three players pass, a second round of bidding will take place (see below).

If a player who is the dealer's opponent says, "I order it up," or the dealer's partner says, "I assist," the dealer has the option of picking up the face-up card and discarding one from his hand, face down. Whether or not the dealer picks it up, the suit of the face-up card becomes trump.

Second Bidding Round

If all players pass in the first round of bidding, the face-up card is turned face down and a second bidding round occurs.

In the second bidding round, the first player who names a suit has chosen trump. If no player bids, all the cards are shuffled together and the next player deals a new hand.

(Note: Some people play that if no one bids in the second round, the dealer must name a trump suit. In other words, the dealer cannot pass in the second round of bidding.)

The player who chooses the trump suit in either bidding round will play this round by himself. The other two players form a temporary partnership. The single player is known as the "maker." The partnership is known as the "defenders."

Combining the Dummy Hand

The maker may combine the dummy hand with his own, forming the best five-card hand out the 10 cards and discarding the remainder.

If the maker wants to go alone (see below), he does not use the dummy hand.

Going Alone

If you think you have an outstanding hand, you might want to "go alone." If you are the maker, this means that you do not use the dummy hand. If you are a defender, this means that your partner sits out, placing his cards on the table face down, and you play this hand without a partner.

Anyone may announce that they're going alone after trump is selected but before the first card is led. It's possible that two players, the maker and one of the defenders, will both choose to go alone on the same hand.

The Hands

The player to the left of the dealer leads first by playing any card from his hand. Exception: If someone has chosen to go alone, the player to that person's left leads first.

Players must play the suit of the card led if possible. If not, they may play any card. (Remember that the bowers are both part of the trump suit.)

The highest card played in the lead suit wins the trick, unless one or more trumps were played, in which case the highest trump card wins the trick.

The player who wins the trick leads in the next trick.

Scoring

The maker scores 1 point for taking three or four tricks. He scores 3 points for taking all five tricks.

If the maker fails to take three tricks, he is "euchred" and the defenders score 2 points each.

If a defender goes alone and wins three or four tricks, the defenders score 2 points each. If he wins all five tricks, the defenders score 4 points each.

Winning

The first player to score 10 points wins.

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