Bid Euchre

Introduction

Bid Euchre is the name given to a group of games played in North America which are based on Euchre, but with the trump suit chosen by whichever player is prepared to contract to win the largest number of tricks.

There is no standardization of the rules; most of the variation concerns the number of cards in the deck (quite often a double deck is used), and the exact bids allowed.

I will give the rules which are common to all versions of the game, followed by details of several specific versions.

General Rules

Players

Most often there are four players in fixed partnerships, partners sitting opposite.

Rank of Cards

As in Euchre, the highest trump is the jack of the trump suit (right bower), then the other jack of the same colour (left bower), then ace, king, queen, 10, 9. The other suits ranks ace (high), king, queen, jack, 10, 9 - except that the suit which is the same colour of trumps has no jack. When the bid is 'no trumps', all four suits rank A-K-Q-J-10-9. In some versions of Bid Euchre, the nines, or the nines and tens are omitted from the deck.

Usually a double deck is used - containing two of each card. When two identical cards are played to the same trick, the first to be played beats the second.

Deal

All the cards are dealt out equally to the players.

Bidding

Each player has just one opportunity to bid, starting with the player to the left of the dealer, going around the table clockwise, and ending with the dealer. A bid is a number of tricks (one or more), which the bidding side contracts to win if they are allowed to chose trumps, and a proposed trump suit or 'no trump' - for example '4 spades' or '5 no trump'. At your turn you must either pass or bid a larger number of tricks than the previous bid if any. There is no rank among the suits, so it is not possible to outbid a bid in one suit with an equal number of tricks in another suit (this is unlike 500 or Bridge).

In some versions there are additional bids to play alone; in which case your partner puts his or her cards face down and takes no part in the play. Sometimes these lone bids allow you to exchange some cards with partner. In this case the bidder discards the relevant number of cards face down and the bidder's partner passes an equal number of cards face down to the bidder to replace them. Both players must decide which cards to pass before seeing the cards passed by the other.

Play

The highest bidder is declarer and the trump suit is the suit named in the bid. The high bidder leads to the first trick. The rules of play are as in Euchre - you must follow suit, and if void of the suit led you may trump or discard at will. The left bower(s) count for all purposes as belonging to the trump suit. In double deck versions the first played of two equal cards beats the second.

Scoring

If the bidding side win at least as many tricks as they bid, each side scores one point for each trick they won.

If the bidding side fail to make as many tricks as they bid they are set, and lose a number of points equal to the number of tricks they bid. The other side still score one point for each trick they won. It is possible for a team's overall score to be negative.

Games are played to a target score. A team wins if at the end of a hand in which they succeed in a bid, or defeat the opponents' bid, their score is equal to or above the target. You cannot win by reaching the target by means of odd tricks made as the opponents of a successful bid. If you reach the target in this way, the game continues until either team fulfills the winning condition.

Specific Versions of Bid Euchre

Bid Euchre in Barrie, Ontario, Canada

John D'Ambrosio contributed this version from Barrie, a small city 100 km north of Toronto.

The game is played with 2 decks using the J Q K A only, that is 32 cards in all, so each of the 4 players is dealt 8 cards.

You can bid any number of a suit or no trump up to a maximum of 8. You can also bid to take all 8 tricks alone, calling for 1 or 2 cards, which you exchange with your partner as described in the general rules above. A bid to play alone is higher than a bid with a partner, and a bid calling for one card is higher than a bid calling for two. The highest bid of all is moon, in which you have to win all 8 tricks alone using the cards you were dealt.

The scores for playing alone are:

  • call for 2 cards: 12 points
  • call for 1 card: 18 points
  • moon: 24 points
You win this amount if you take all 8 tricks and lose an equal amount if you fail.

The game is 52 points. There are two versions:

  • the winners are the first team who achieve a score of 52 or more points at the end of a hand on which they won a bid;
  • the winners are the first team to reach a score 52 or more points, irrespective of whether they finish by winning a bid.

Double Deck Bid Euchre from the mid-western USA

This version was contributed by Craig Powers

48 cards are used: A K Q J 10 9 from two decks mixed together. It is played between two teams of two, with partners facing each other.

Play and scoring are as in the general rules. Bids are any number up to 12 in a suit or 'no trump'. In this version the bidding does not end after the first round, but continues for as many rounds as necessary. The bidding ends when no one wants to bid higher, or when 12 (the maximum) is reached, or someone 'goes it alone'. Passing does not prevent you from bidding at a later turn in the auction.

The highest bid of all is to 'go it alone'. This terminates the bidding, and you have to take all 12 tricks by yourself (your partner sits it out). If you make it you get 24 points, if you fail (even by one trick) you get negative 24 points. When going alone, before the play starts you have the option of discarding up to 3 cards and accepting replacement cards that your partner chooses to pass to you.

Hoosier Bid Euchre

This version from Indiana, USA was contributed by Paul J. Welty

The deck is 40 cards: 2 decks of A-K-Q-J-10. It is usually played by 4 people, partners sitting opposite each other. The target score for winning the game is 32.

Each person is dealt 10 cards. Bid and play as in the general rules; bids are any number of tricks from 1 to 10 in a suit or "no trump". A bid of 10 is called "shooting the moon" and is worth 16 points rather than 10, won or lost. Above this is a bid to "shoot the moon alone". The bidder's partner does not take part and the bidder alone has to win all 10 tricks. Shooting the moon alone is worth 32 points.

There is a 3-player variation, using 32 cards: 2 decks of A-J. 10 cards are dealt as usual, but there are 2 left over cards called the kitty. The player who bids highest picks up the kitty cards without showing them to the other players and discards any two cards face down in their place, before leading to the first trick.

Other numbers of people may play by adjusting the deck size so that each gets 10 cards.

Bid Euchre with a kitty

This version, from Kokomo, Indiana, was reported by Nick Long.

It is played with 48 cards: 2 decks of A-K-Q-J-10-9. There are four players, partners sitting opposite each other. Eleven cards are dealt to each player, and four cards are dealt face down into a kitty in the centre of the table. Each player bids, starting with the player left of the dealer. Bids are from one to eleven tricks and name the suit you wish to make trump; or you can call no trump high (cards rank from ace down to 9 in each suit) or no trump low (the ranks are inverted - from high to low: 9-10-J-Q-K-A). The high bidder picks up the kitty without showing it and discards four cards face down. The highest possible bid - above 11 tricks - is a shooter, in which the bidder undertakes to win all the tricks playing alone - this is worth 22 points. It should be agreed before the start of the game whether a player who bids a shooter gets the kitty; also whether a shooter can discard two cards and receive replacement cards from partner. The game is usually played to a target of 52 points.

Cutthroat Euchre

Terry Detrie reports that during his four years at Purdue University (W. Lafayette, IN), he played a version of bid Euchre that was simply called "Cutthroat Euchre". It was played by 3 players using 24 cards: one deck with A, K, Q, J, 10, 9 in each suit. Seven cards were dealt to each player, leaving 3 cards in the kitty. The rest of the game was the same as the 3 player version of Hoosier Bid Euchre described above (including shooting the moon - a bid of 7 - being worth 16 points).

Bid Euchre

This version is from Shawn's Bid Euchre Page, formerly at http://www.erols.com/shawncoons/bid.htm but now disappeared.

The deck is 32 cards: 2 decks of A-K-Q-J. There are 4 players, who are dealt 8 cards each.

The minimum bid is 3 tricks with a trump suit. It is possible to bid no trump, but the minimum no trump bid is 5 tricks.

It is possible to bid 7 alone or 8 alone in any suit or no trump. A bid of 7 alone ranks between the normal bids of 7 and 8, and a bid of 8 alone beats a normal bid of 8. No cards are exchanged with partner.

7 alone scores 14 points for the partnership if successful, and loses 14 if set. 8 alone wins 16 if successful and loses 16 if set. The target score is 32.

Bid Euchre, also known as 6 card Euchre, or Racehorse

This version is from Matt Schemmel and Erin O'Neil's Euchre Home Page

This can be played by 4 people using a 24 card deck (A-K-Q-J-10-9), or by 6 or 8 using a double deck of 48 cards. There are two equal sized teams, sitting alternately (each player is between two opponents). All the cards are dealt, so 4 or 8 players get 6 cards each; 6 players get 8 cards each.

Bids name a number of tricks, but not a trump suit. The minimum bid is 3. The dealer is allowed to equal the highest bid so far, rather than bidding higher. If everyone else passes, the dealer must bid at least 3.

The highest bidder names a trump suit, or 'no trump, high' or 'no trump, low'. 'No trump, high' is a normal no trump game; in 'no trump, low' the cards rank in reverse order: 9(high), 10, J, Q, K, A(low) in each suit.

The target score is 32 points.

Scott Alber's Bid Euchre

This is played by 4 players in fixed partnerships using a 40 card deck - two each of A-K-Q-J-10 in each suit. A bidder can choose to play with a trump suit, or in no trumps with aces high, or in no trumps with reversed card ranking (aces low). The minimum bid is 1 trick and if the first three players pass dealer must bid.

Higher than a bid of ten tricks is a bid to "shoot the moon", in which the bidder offers to win all ten tricks playing alone, having received one or two cards from partner. It can only be overcalled by the dealer also offering also to "shoot the moon". The player shooting the moon announces trumps and then asks for either one or two cards. Partner decides what cards to pass; the bidder takes these and then discards and equal number of cards so as to have a hand of 10 cards.

The play is according to the normal rules, with the first of equal cards beating the second, and the ranking of cards reversed if the bid was "low". Scoring is as usual, shooting the moon being worth 15 points if two cards were passed and 15 if only one card was passed.

The first team to reach 52 or more points wins. If both teams reach 52 or more in the same hand, the team who won the bid wins the game.

Books

Kevin Easley and Bob Baiyor's The Think System: A Light-Hearted Guide to Serious Double Deck Bid Euchre explains the game and its strategy, concentrating on a 48-card version played in Indiana.

Software

With Malcolm Bain's Bid Euchre Program for Windows, you can play Bid Euchre against computer opponents.

Here are John Ratliff's Bid Euchre Rules, and his freeware Bid Euchre Program for Windows, Mac OS-X or Linux with which you can play this version against three computer players.

You can download a freeware Bid Euchre / Pepper program from Thanos Card Games.

Other Euchre-like games with bidding

The game Pepper, played in Iowa, USA, is a really a kind of Bid Euchre, but with the possibility of more than one round of bidding, and some differences in the scoring.

Five Hundred is a more elaborate bidding game based on Euchre; it originated and is still played in the USA, but has become the national game of Australia.