Learn How to Read the Upcard in Euchre – Use Winning Euchre Strategy

In Euchre, it is important to learn how to read the upcard during the bidding process. It will provide you valuable information on which hands to pass or call. With some practice, you should be able to determine if your partner is strong in a particular suit. In fact, if you develop this skill, your opponents will begin to wonder if you are stacking the deck.
There are four components in reading the up card:
  1. Player Position
  2. Color of the Upcard
  3. Rank of the Upcard
  4. Opponent Aggressiveness

Player Position

Euchre is a positional game, perhaps more than other card games. The position is determined by the dealer. The player sitting to the left of the dealer is called the first seat or first base. The dealer’s partner is called the second seat, the player sitting to the right of the dealer is called the third seat. As each player passes during the bidding process, it will reveal the relative strength of each player’s hand.

Color of the Upcard

The color of the upcard helps determine the strength of your opponent’s hand. This idea may seem odd at first, but jacks play in two suits of the same color. If the color the upcard is red, and your opponents pass. You can estimate that their hands are relatively weak in hearts and diamonds.

Rank of the Upcard

The rank of the upcard says a lot in the strength of your opponent’s hand. Players are more likely to call trump if the upcard is an ace rather than a nine or a ten. Thus, if your opponents pass when an ace is showing, you can conclude that they do not have a bower in the color of the upcard.

Opponent Aggressiveness

If your opponents are calling hands very frequently and aggressively, then it is more than likely they are naming trump because they possess one of the bowers. Therefore, if they pass, they do not have a bower in the color of the upcard.

Euchre Position Chart

Reading the Upcard by Position and Bidding

First Round

First Seat

The first seat is a difficult place to call trump. It has the least amount of information to call. It gives the dealer a trump card and the ability for him to create voids. On the other hand, the first seat has the ability to lead the first card, which has an obvious advantage.
If you are going to call from the first seat, you should be holding a strong hand. It is useful to have an extra trump or ace to help you win three tricks. Going alone should be strongly considered.

Second Seat

If you are sitting in the second seat, you should instinctively try to call trump, because it would give your partner a trump card. This advantage enables the second seat to call riskier hands than normal. The only exception to calling a biddable hand from the second seat is when the upcard is a bower. If you know that the dealer will pick up the bower regardless of the strength of his or her hand, you should give the dealer an opportunity to go alone.

Third Seat

Do not call from this seat unless you have three guaranteed tricks. The third seat is the hardest seat to call because you improve the dealer’s hand, and you must rely on your partner to lead trump. If you can call from this position, going alone should be highly considered.


If you are the dealer, you should instinctively try to pick up the card. The dealer is technically playing with 6 cards, and thus, the seat has the most flexible hand. You can easily create voids, or discard the least valuable card. Even slightly risky hands should be considered because it doesn’t allow player sitting in the first seat to name trump.

Second Round

First Seat

After the dealer has turned down the upcard, a lot of information has been gained. If you are sitting in the first seat and the dealer has turned down the upcard, you can safely assume that your opponents are weak in the color of the upcard. If your opponents are weak in one color, then they are likely stronger in the color opposite of upcard. Therefore, you should consider calling the “next suit.” If you call trump in a color other than next, do not expect a lot of help from your partner.

Second Seat

The second seat should adopt a “reverse next strategy”. If your partner couldn’t call trump with the upcard, your partner is likely weak in the same color as the upcard. Therefore, you should call trump in color opposite of the upcard, often called “reverse of next” or simply “reverse next”. Calling trump in the next suit can be done, but don’t expect any help from the dealer.

Third Seat

If you are sitting in the third seat, you should adopt a “Second-chance Next Strategy.” In general, your partner wanted to call next, but their hand may have been too weak to call. So the third seat has another opportunity to call next. Your partner will likely have one or two cards in the next suit, and therefore it would make it easier for your partner to lead trump. If you name trump other than next, it is only considered to be slightly risky. Since everyone except the dealer has passed, you can assume that the bowers are buried or spread even around the table. Hence, if you have a biddable hand in any suit, you should name trump.


If you are the dealer, and the bidding has come back to you for the second time. Primarily, you should adopt a “Second-chance Reverse Next Strategy.” Your partner wanted to call a suit reverse of next, but their hand may have been too weak to call. So you have another opportunity to call reverse next. It also should be noted that the cards are very evenly distributed, and the Aces will likely go around the table without being ruffed. If the dealer is too weak to call a “Second-chance Reverse Next” suit, simply pass, or if you are playing stick the dealer, you should pick trump which maximizes the number of trump cards and non-trump aces.
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Do you know what to Call in Euchre? Learn the 4 Basic Hands

Knowing what hands to call in Euchre can be a rather difficult decision, especially for beginning euchre players. All too often, players pass a biddable hand or calling a hand too thin. In this tutorial, you will learn The 4 Basic Hands in Euchre. By understanding these four hands, you will be able to name trump with confidence.

Each of these hands follows the principle of Euchre’s Basic Strategy, and in conjunction with reading the up-card, you should be able to win a valuable point or two.


The Standard Three Trump

Three Trumps with Right Bower

Chance of Works Best
2 Points 1 Points Euchred 2 Suited
High High Low

Whenever you have the Right Bower plus two extra trump cards, it is said you have a Standard Three Trump call. The premise of winning this hand is straightforward. Lead the Right Bower where you clear most of the trump off the table. If your second highest trump card can with the second trick, then play it, otherwise lead a non-trump card. Use your remaining trump cards to ruff any future tricks.

The Standard Three Trump call is a low-risk high reward call. The majority of the time you will win a solid point, and possibly two points if your partner holds an Ace. The chances of getting euchred are relatively low.

Basic Buck

Right Bower with Trump and Ace

Chance of Works Best
2 Points 1 Points Euchred 3 Suited
Medium High Medium

When you hold the Right Bower plus an extra trump card with an Ace kicker, it is sometimes referred to as a basic buck or basic buckeye. Its name is derived from the popular euchre playing state of Ohio, “The Buckeye State”, and from the fact that you usually earn one point or one buck.

The idea behind this hand is to win the first trick by leading the Right Bower. Since the Right Bower will clear most of the trump from the table, the Ace can win easily win the second trick. The third trick can be won by your partner, or by trumping in on the fourth or fifth trick.

The basic buck comes with some risk of being euchred, but it will usually earn you and your partner a point.


Boiler Maker

Three Trump with Ace

Chance of Works Best
2 Points 1 Points Euchred 2 Suited
Low High Medium

When you call three trump cards along with an Ace kicker, without holding the right bower, it is known as a Boiler Maker. For a beginner, this hand seems extremely risky, and regardless if you won or lost, it would more than likely make your partner’s blood boil in anger. In actuality, when this hand is played correctly, it can be a solid call for you and your partner.

It is important to lead trump first in order to fish out the bowers, likely losing the first trick. Then your opponent will either lead into your non-trump Ace, or you will be able to ruff the next trick. Depending on how the hand unfolds, you should be able to win at least two more tricks with your remaining cards.

The Boiler Maker hand is an aggressive hand to call, but with some understanding, you should be able to win more points than you lose.

Pocket Rockets

Two Trump with Two Aces

Chance of Works Best
2 Points 1 Points Euchred 3 Suited
Medium Medium High

Calling a hand with two minor trump cards and two non-trump Aces (Pocket Rockets) is the quintessential high-risk high-reward call. This may seem scary for many euchre players, but there is logic in this hand.

Again with any hand you call, you should lead trump and clear the majority of the trump off the table. This will give “strength” to the Aces. Depending on how the hand unfolds, you should be able to win 3 tricks with your remaining trump card, two Aces, and your partner.

Pocket Rockets is a risky hand, and you will be euchred a fair amount. On the other hand, if you can read the up card, you will increase the likelihood that your partner will be holding the right bower. Giving a number of hands where you and your partner will win two points.

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Trump Your Partner’s Ace

A very common expression is “never trump your Partner’s Ace”. In fact, it is the Third Commandment in Euchre. But in this lesson, I will teach you an exception to the rule, where in fact you should trump your partner’s Ace.

Let’s look at an example of when you use this rule breaking strategy.


Up-Card 10


 K J
 K Q

Euchre Table


 10 J A

South (Dealer)

 A 9
 K 9


After the cards were dealt, West, North, and East passed. South examines his hand, and he sees that he will have 4 trump after he picks up the 10.  He is only two cards away from 4 points. South decides to go alone, and discards the 9.

West leads with A, and East shocks the table by throwing down the Q, trumping his partner’s Ace.

One could only imagine what is going through South’s mind, if never saw this scenario before. Many questions are going through his head like “why would you knowingly waste an Ace and a trump? Does East know how to play Euchre?” South takes the trick with A.

South then plays the J, forcing him to know the location of the Right Bower. West plays Right and East lays off with the 9.

West, keeping track of which trump cards that have been played, plays the K. East plays the 10 and South follows suit with the 9.

West then plays Q, East his J, and South Trumps in with his 10. The score is 2-2.

South plays his last card, the K, and it does not hold since East has the A. South is Euchred.

Since East trumped his partner’s Ace, South was forced to play a card he couldn’t afford, the left bower and A. By disrupting South’s hand, it was impossible for him to win three tricks.

Could have South played better?

The simple answer is no. South was Euchred when East trumped his partner’s Ace.

Even if South gave up all hope of earning 4 points and played the K instead of A, he still could be Euchred. East would likely play his A, and South would play one of his trump cards.

If South trumped with the  9 or 10, West would easily win the trick with his K, and then Euchre South by playing the J.

If South trumped with J or A, West could secure the 2 points, by playing K or Q. Playing one of these cards is not easy to find over the table, but it is not impossible to either.

If South led with 9 or 10, West would easily with the trick with his K, then Euchre South by playing the J.

If South led with left bower, West would trump with right bower, and Euchre South by playing the K. In all cases, South is Euchred with best play.


You should trump your partner’s Ace on two conditions.

1. your opponent goes alone

2. you should only trump with the Queen, King, Ace, or Left Bower.

If you trump your partner’s Ace with the Right Bower, 9 or 10, you won’t likely change the outcome of the hand. Therefore, you should play another card.

This Euchre strategy looks illogical, but if you play this lesson several times at home with a deck of cards, you will quickly learn that East played the only card that allowed his partnership to win.


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Keeping Score in Euchre

Euchre players traditionally keep score by using some of the remaining cards from the deck, typically the 6′s and 4′s. Each pip represents a point, and one card is used to cover the other so as to expose the number of pips corresponding to the team’s score.  The score cards are placed at the corners of the table, and one partner is assigned to keep track of the score.

Another popular method is to use the 2’s and 3’s to keep score.  Scores zero through 5 are rather self-explanatory. Point tallies for five or greater will be placed in the form of a “V” to represent the Roman numeral five. In any case, it doesn’t really matter how the scores are kept, as long as they are visible for everyone to see.

Six and Four Two and Three
0 Points 0 points 0 points
1 Point 1 point 1 Point
2 Points 2 points 2 Points
3 Points 3 Points 3 Points
4 Points 4 Points 4 Points
5 Points 5 Points 5 Points
6 Points 6 Points 6 Points
7 Points 7 Points 7 Points
8 Points 8 Points 8 Points
9 Points 9 Points 9 Points
10 Points 10 Points 10 Points
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Scoring in Euchre

The team that makes trump must take at least three tricks to earn points. Failure to take at least three tricks is known as a Euchre, which earns points for the defendiers.  The first partnership to score 10 points wins the game.

Scoring in Euchre Points
Trump Makers in partnership wins 3 or 4 tricks 1
Trump Makers in partnership wins 5 tricks 2
Trump Maker goes alone and wins 5 tricks 4
Trump Maker goes alone and wins 3 or 4 tricks 1
Defenders in partnership wins 3 or 4 tricks 2
Lone Defender wins 3 or more tricks 4
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The Play

Once trump is made, the player to the dealer’s left begins play by leading a card. Any card may be led, and each player in clockwise order must follow suit.  If a player cannot follow suit, then that player may play any card from their hand. The trick is won by the highest trump played. If no trumps are played, the trick is won by the highest card of the suit led. Please be aware, the left bower is considered a member of the trump suit and not a member of its native suit.

The player that wins the trick collects the played cards from the table and then leads the next trick.  After all five tricks have been played, the hand is scored. The player to the left of the previous dealer then deals the next hand, and the deal moves clockwise around the table until one partnership scores 10 points and wins the game.

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Second Round of Bidding

If all four players pass in the First Round of Bidding, the up-card is turned face down, and a second round of bidding will begin.  Each player in turn has a chance to name a trump suit or pass.  The suit named to be trump must be different than the suit of the up-card.  As soon as a trump is named, play will begin to the person sitting to the dealers left.

If all players pass in the second round of bidding, then it is a misdeal, and the deal is passed clockwise.

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First Round of Bidding

After the cards have been dealt and the top card of the kitty has been turned up, play starts to the person sitting to the dealer’s left. The up-card proposes the trump suit for that deal. It only becomes trump if one of the players accepts it. Each player in turn may accept the suit of the up-card to be trump by telling the dealer to “pick it up”, or they reject that suit to be trump by telling the dealer “pass”. If a player accepts the suit of the up-card to be trump, the top card becomes part of the dealer’s hand, who then discards a card face down to return the hand to five cards. In which then, play will begin to the person sitting to the dealers left.

If all four players pass, the up-card is turned face down, and a Second Round of Bidding will begin.

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The Deal

After a dealer has been selected, five cards will be dealt face-down to each player.  The dealer will deal clockwise until all the players received their five cards.  Traditionally, the cards are dealt in pairs of two’s and three’s.  Any player who was dealt two cards in the first pass will get three cards in the second pass and vice versa.  Example:

1st Player 2nd Player 3rd Player 4th Player(Dealer)
First Pass 3 cards 2 cards 3 cards 2 cards
Second Pass 2 cards 3 cards 2 cards 3 cards

The four remaining cards will be placed face-down in front the dealer, and the top card is turned face up. The stack of cards in front of the dealer is referred to as the kitty.  The card turned face-up is called the up-card.

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