OBJECTIVE: The first player to earn 10 points or more wins the game
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3 players
MATERIALS: A 32 card deck or a 24 card deck
TYPE OF GAME: Trick-taking card game
AUDIENCE: Ages 8+
OVERVIEW OF THREE-HAND EUCHRE
Although Euchre is traditionally played with four players in partnerships, a three player cutthroat version is also possible. In Three-Hand Euchre, all of the same rules apply except that a “go alone hand” is not an option for the player making trump. This is because whoever names trump is automatically playing alone against the other two players.
This game is not to be confused with Ghost Hand Euchre, in which you play euchre with 2 players and a dummy hand.
To use three-handed Euchre rules, you will need a thirty-two card deck and a way to keep score. The deck includes 7’s, 8’s, 9’s, 10’s, Jacks, Queens, Kings, & Aces in each of the four suits.
Playing with a twenty-four card deck that removes the 7’s and 8’s is also possible.
SETUP OF THREE-HAND EUCHRE
When playing Euchre following these rules, a player will deal out cards until a player receives a black jack. That player is the first dealer. Shuffle the thirty-two card deck and deal five cards to each player. Place the rest of the deck face down in the center of the table. Turn the top card over, the face up card’s suit will determine the trump suit.
The bidding round occurs first. Starting with the player seated left of the dealer, each player bids by looking at the turned-up card and decides whether or not they want that suit to be trump. If they want it to be trump, they tell the dealer to pick it up. They say pass if they do not want it to be trump. After picking it up, the dealer takes one other card from their hand and places it face down on the pile. That suit becomes trump and play begins.
It is possible for all of the players to pass. When this occurs, turn the trump card down. Another round of bidding occurs where player’s may pick a trump suit. This starts with the player seated left of the dealer. As soon as a trump suit is named, the round begins. If the bid passes to the dealer, they must pick a trump suit. The dealer is not allowed to pass on the second round of bidding.
In this game, the ranking of the trump suit changes. First, the trump-suited jack becomes the most powerful card in the suit. It is called the right-bower. Second, the jack that is the same color as the trump suit joins that suit and becomes the second most powerful card. This card is called the left-bower. For this round, the left-bower is treated as part of the trump suit.
The first trick begins with the player seated left of the dealer. They choose one card from their hand and play it to the center. Continuing left around the table, each player must follow suit if they can. If they cannot follow suit, they can play any card, including trump cards. Once the trick is complete, whoever played the highest card in the suit that was led or the highest trump card wins the trick. That player leads the next trick.
After the fifth and final trick, the round ends.
WINNING THREE-HAND EUCHRE
Whoever made trump (that is the player who told the dealer to pick up the face up card or who named the trump suit in the second round of bidding) is trying to capture three or more tricks. If the trump maker wins and captures three or four tricks, they earn 1 point. Capturing all five tricks earns them 3 points.
The opposite two players are called the defenders, and they act as a team. If they manage to capture three or more tricks, they earn 2 points.
After the score is tallied, the deal passes left for the next round. Play rounds until one player reaches a total of 10 points or more. There is a chance that two players reach a score of ten points at the same time. If this occurs, play another around until there is a winner.