Canadians are a remarkably fun-loving people, and like all fun-loving people, the ways in which they entertain themselves can run the gamut. Maybe it’s due to the lengthier winters, but, especially when it comes to indoor games, the sky is the limit. From balderdash to cribbage, Canadians love to gather together for a friendly indoor board game or card game.
Whether you’re hoping to gain some Canadian friends on your trip to Niagara and you want to be able to hold your own should you all sit down to a game, or you just want to get a feel for what many of the locals enjoy doing in their spare time, here is a look at how to play the game of euchre, arguably Canada’s most popular card game.
A four person, partnered card game that’s played with a reduced deck, there are almost as many forms of euchre in Canada as there are hockey teams in the NHL. The most popular one, however, is the British form of the game. The deck is comprised of all the aces, kings, queens, jacks, tens, and nines, plus one joker. Five cards are dealt to each of the four players, and the goal for each partnered team of two is to take at least three out of the five tricks.
After the deal, the next card in the deck is turned over. At this point, the player to the left of the dealer can select that card’s suit as trump for the hand, or she can pass to the player on her left. If all the players pass, then the card is turned over, and each player now has a chance — in turn — to call up a different suit that then becomes trump. If all players pass, and the choice ends up with the dealer, he has to choose a suit that then becomes trump.
The cards rank as follows: The joker — also called the Benny — is always the high card, followed by the jack of the trump suit — the Right Bower — followed by the jack from the same color suit that isn’t trump — the Left Bower — followed by the ace on down to the nine. Suit must always be followed unless a player has no card in it, at which point he can trump in or play another suit. Tricks are won by whoever plays the highest card each hand. Three tricks wins a team one point, and five tricks wins a team two points.
When a team who called trump fails to get at least three tricks, it’s known as being “euchred,” and the opposing team gets two points. If a player “goes alone,” she plays without her partner against the other two. If she wins all the tricks, her team gets four points. If she gets three tricks, she gets one point. If she’s euchred, the other team gets four points. Each game is played to 11.
Strategy and keeping track of what cards have been played is key in the game of euchre, but like all games, the real goal is enjoying the company of the people you’re with.