Growing up in Indiana, or in other parts of the Midwest, learning to play the card game euchre (pronounced yew-ker) is practically a rite of passage. Many of us Hoosiers learned to play this four-person game with our families or friends as teenagers. My parents taught me how to play when I was a sophomore in high school while isolated at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. But now that I am in college, I realize euchre is not as familiar to students who have come to IU from other parts of the country or world. It is an easy game to learn and there are several reasons why students enjoy playing.
It is believed that euchre became popular in the United States during the early 19th century. According to Jason Boog of awl.com, the current version of Midwestern euchre is most likely derived from the game Juckerspiel, brought to the U.S. by German immigrants. There are other theories about euchre’s origin, but the linguistic similarities between the games euchre and jucker, suggest it is of German origin, card game historian David Parlett said.
The modern game of euchre consists of two teams who sit diagonally from each other and work together to win at least three out of five “tricks.” The deck is not your standard of 52 cards. Rather, you only use 24 cards, consisting of the 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace. Players take turns deciding on what suit will be “trump” for each round and the game ends when one team earns ten points. However, there can be many different variations of the game because each house usually has its own set of special rules.
Euchre is a fast-paced game typically lasting less than an hour. It is extremely common to get a group together to enjoy an all-nighter of euchre, food, and good times. The game is made for passing time without a lot of effort, allowing for connections and conversations while relaxing with friends and family.
Unlike games such as poker, euchre is difficult to replicate online. In fact, I tried playing online recently and it just was not the same — the interactions with your partner and other players are what makes the game so fun and entertaining. You will hear odd phrases such as “in the barn” and “screw the dealer.” Euchre nights are usually full of laughter.
It may be surprising to some, but this simple card game also teaches invaluable life lessons. While partly a game of luck, it also requires skill and strategy between you and your partner. You learn to trust and rely on each other to win their share of tricks.
Also, as in life, you may not always have a good euchre hand to play, but it is still possible to win rounds with the cards you are dealt. Sometimes you must make the most of what you are given.
Euchre is a game full of unexpected outcomes. You may think you have a winning hand, but the other team may have saved their best cards for last.
I have grown to love my time spent playing euchre. It has sparked many fun nights full of interesting conversations with my family and friends. If you do not yet know how to play, I highly recommend giving it a shot while here at IU. For those interested in learning more about the game, there are numerous websites that explain the rules. Or you can pick it up the way most of us did –– just find some friends who know how to play and get started.
Jack Davis (he/him) is a freshman studying journalism.