The Origin of Euchrelinks.com's Official Rules and Laws of Euchre
Ever since I started my website; euchrelinks.com, I have received many e-mails regarding the rules of euchre. Quite often, the question is e-mailed to settle an argument that has occurred during a euchre game. "What do the official rules say when..." is the often asked question. The truth is, there really never were any "official" euchre rules that all players everywhere adhered to. People play euchre slightly different wherever a game can be found.
Unlike an invented game like bridge, which has a large national organization complete with official rules, euchre has continued evolving in the heartland where it is mainly played. Rules tend to change from home to home.
Complicating matters, many books using the name "Hoyle" are in publication today containing two pages of euchre rules straight out of the nineteenth century. 32-card euchre games that end when a side reaches five points, plus a few sentences about "irregularities." This is the information a player usually finds when looking up euchre rules. Unfortunately, most don't play this way.
This sort of communication breach between euchre players certainly doesn't make it any easier to create national (or international) leagues and tournaments. Euchre, I believe, is a game certainly worthy of large-scale competition.
The "official" rules of euchre (and the lack thereof)
Compiling the most common rules
I decided to compile the most basic version of euchre possible, based on the similarities amongst rules observed from all parts of the globe, and then add a separate list of variations.
However, my only personal experience playing live euchre has been in the U.S. and Canada, so I needed to find out more about how other people play elsewhere before I could begin this endeavor. Fortunately, the Internet made my investigation fairly easy. A countryclub in Australia provided a sample of rules from "down under." I also found a euchre league in the British Isles that features the rules they play by, in addition, a description of British rules are posted on John McLeod's site. The rest of my study also turned out to be relatively easy. I played euchre online frequently for a few months and asked everyone I played with where they were from. If they responded, I asked them if the euchre rules in their area were any different than the rules on the Internet, and if yes, how so. I took note of all the differences that were reported. I also met a gentleman from New Zealand, when I attended the 2006 World Series of Euchre, who set me straight about the euchre rules that are played in his country and in Australia.
I found that Canada and the U.S. play variations of the game that is most commonly found on the Internet. Many folks from New Zealand and Australia say they use a 32-card deck (including 7's and 8's) at home, but have no qualms about playing the U.S./Canada version on the Internet. The most unique version of euchre however, is in the U.K. where they use a joker and often play to 11 or 21 points.
I constructed euchrelinks "official" rules of euchre based on what is chiefly played in Canada and the U.S. because it uses the smallest deck and is the version most commonly found on the Internet.
I e-mailed Todd and expressed my interest in reading these old books, and he kindly sent me copies of five books to borrow and copy for myself. The books were all written in the 1800's, and one of them in particular, "Euchre and its Laws" by A. Professor (1862), contained a fascinating chapter titled simply; "Laws." The chapter was an excellent work that attempted to provide additional table rules to cover everything that could possibly happen during a euchre game. The work was so good in fact, it was apparently adopted as gospel in its day. Two of the other books Todd sent me, which were written by different authors roughly twenty years later, also contained the chapter "Laws" in verbatim, sadly, with no credit given to A. Professor at all.
The Laws of Euchre today
Although I believe that "Laws" is a masterpiece, I still felt it needed a few changes to consider it "official" on my website.
The very first law by A. Professor, was a method for cutting the deck to determine who would become partners in a euchre game. He decided the ace should be "low as in whist". I felt compelled to make major changes to this law. Although too lengthy to print here (plus I don't wish to educate potential cheaters), I am aware of a hustle that works against the same techniques described by A. Professor. The use of crimps enable cheats to intentionally become partners so that they can do their work together on the same team, thus making cutting the deck to determine partners a bad idea. I ended up including a method of allowing the deck to decide partners in law I of "The Official Laws of Euchre," but I describe a technique that I believe is safer from a game protection aspect. My version can also randomly select four players when there are more that wish to play.
I hate to change a masterpiece, but if it helps to protect the integrity of a euchre game, I believe that A. Professor would give me the "thumbs up" if he were around today.
In the second law, A. Professor wrote that the deck "must be cut by the player to the right of the dealer." I strongly believe that a player shouldn't be denied the right to be superstitious, so I changed the word "must" to "may." Some players will refuse to cut regardless of what the rules say.
I also felt that Law IX allowed players too much time to discover that someone had stolen the deal (after "the dealer has discarded and the eldest-hand has led", anytime before that, the cards could be turned over to the correct dealer if discovered). It's pretty much standard in modern leagues and tournaments, that once the upcard is turned, the deal stands. If you fail to notice that the guy dealing shouldn't be, then you aren't paying enough attention to the game. Also, the way A. Professor worded the law, the player in first seat, knowing that the wrong dealer is dealing, could wait until he sees his cards, then play a card if he likes his hand, making the deal stick, or call the error if he doesn't and get a fresh deal from the correct dealer. My apology to Mr. Professor, but that law called for change.
Aside from the preceding examples and some language, (for example the word "talon", which today is known as the "kitty"), I changed very little else. I would have preferred to print "Laws" exactly as they appeared in 1862, but after 144 years had passed, I think that a few things have changed. Thankfully, I found very little that called for editing.
Hopefully, league and tournament directors will find "The Official Rules and Laws of Euchre" to be very helpful, and players wishing to settle a beef in their home games will have an easily accessible resource on the Internet to resolve their dilemma.
I welcome any player who challenges any of the rules or laws contained on this site to present a valid argument for its change, and I will, with the help of my respected correspondents, put the suggestion up for consideration.