GHOST HAND EUCHRE (3 PLAYER)



OBJECTIVE OF GHOST HAND EUCHRE (3 PLAYER): Be the first player to reach 32 points

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3 players

NUMBER OF CARDS: 24 card deck, 9 (low) – Ace (high)

RANK OF CARDS: 9 (low) – Ace (high), trump suit 9 (low) – Jack (high)

TYPE OF GAME: Trick taking

AUDIENCE: Adult


INTRODUCTION OF GHOST HAND EUCHRE (3 PLAYER)

Euchre is an American trick taking game that finds its origins in the Pennsylvania Dutch country of the United States.  While most people who play Euchre are playing Turn Up, Bid Euchre is a fun alternative way to play.  Four players typically play in teams of two, but it is sometimes difficult to get four players together for a game (especially four players who know how to play Euchre).  Ghost Hand Euchre is a great alternative for a group of three.  The team aspect is removed, and players are pitted against each other individually. 

THE CARDS & THE DEAL

Ghost Hand uses a typical Euchre deck built of twenty four cards. This deck ranges from the 9’s up through the Aces. 

Ghost Hand Euchre is played individually with each player trying to be the first to score 32 points.

The dealer gives six cards to each player by dealing one card at a time. A fourth hand is still dealt as if there is a fourth player.  This is the the Ghost Hand, and it remains face down.

Once all of the cards are dealt, players look at their hand and determine how many tricks they think they can take. 

THE BID

Rotating clockwise from the dealer, players claim how many tricks they are going to take this round.  The lowest bid possible is three.  If a player doesn’t think they can take at least three tricks, they say pass.  Players must overbid each other in order to determine trump and go first.  For example, if player one bids three, everyone else at the table must bid four or more if they want to determine trump. 

It is possible for a player to take all six tricks.  This is called shooting the moon.  Players do not “bid six”.  They simply say, “I am shooting the moon.”  This sends the message that you have the highest bid, and it sounds way cooler. 

If every player passes, there must be a redeal.  All cards are collected and the deal is passed to the left.

The player with the highest bid determines trump for the hand.  That person is responsible for taking that many cards.

THE GHOST HAND

In this game, if a player is unsatisfied with their hand, they may choose to exchange it with the Ghost Hand prior to making their bid.  They must immediately pass or bid on that new hand.

Once someone has switched with the Ghost Hand, no one else is allowed to do so.  The new Ghost Hand becomes a dead hand, and it is simply ignored for the rest of the round.

TRUMP SUIT

How the rank order changes for the trump suit is what makes Euchre so special.  Normally, a suit ranks like this: 9 (low), 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace (high). 

When a suit is made trump, the order changes like this: 9 (low), 10, Queen, King, Ace, Jack (same color, off suit), Jack (trump suit).  This change in rank will often confuse new players.

For example, if diamonds become trump, the rank order will look like this: 9, 10, Queen, King, Ace, Jack (hearts), Jack (diamonds).  For this hand, the Jack of hearts will count as a diamond.

THE PLAY

After the cards are dealt and a trump suit is determined, the hand may begin.

The player who made the highest bid goes first.  They play a card of their choice.  Whichever suit is led must be followed if possible.  For example, if a player leads with a King of spades, the other players must also lay spades if they can.  If a player cannot follow suit, they are allowed to lay any card from their hand.  

The highest card in the suit that was led or the highest trump card played wins the trick.   Whoever wins the trick goes first.

This continues until all tricks are played.  Once all the tricks are taken, the round is over.

Sometimes a player might break the rules and play a card they shouldn’t.  This can be done on accident or on purpose.   Either way, this is called reneging.  The offending player loses two points from their score.  Sly players with no honor will renege as part of their strategy, so you must pay attention to which cards have been played.

SCORING

One point is earned for each trick a player takes. 

If a player shoots the moon and takes all six tricks, they earn 24 points.

If a player fails to take the amount of tricks they bid or more, that amount of points is deducted from their score.  This is called getting set.  For example, if a player bids four, and they fail to take four or more tricks, they deduct four points from their score.

The first player to earn 32 points or more wins.  In the extremely rare event that two players reach the same score of 32 or more at the same time, play another hand to break the tie.  In this situation, it is possible for the player that is behind to win the tie breaking hand and win the game.  It would be an amazing comeback, and it would give that player bragging rights for years to come.

Mark Ball
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