How to Bid for Tricks in Euchre
In a Euchre game, after the cards are dealt and you pick up your hand, you get a chance to make your bid. Everyone sees what card gets turned over for the trump suit and each player gets the chance to bid to take three or more tricks with that suit as the trump suit. If all players refuse, the bidding goes into its second phase. To make your decision, you need to value your hand for play in the trump suit.
Because the second phase of the game involves playing with the trump suit of your choice, you also have to look at your hand and value it for play in a different trump suit.
Starting the bidding
Each player in turn, starting with the player on the dealer’s left, can agree to play the suit of the upcard as trump on behalf of his or her partnership, or each player can pass. If any player accepts the suit of the upcard as the trump suit, the dealer picks up the upcard, adds it to his hand, and throws one card away face-down.
You follow these protocols during the first round of bidding:
The first player either plays with the predetermined trump suit, called ordering it up (meaning that he asks the dealer to pick up the upcard), or he passes by saying “pass.”
The second player, the dealer’s partner, can pass, or she can accept the current trump suit by saying “Pick it up.”
The third player follows the pattern for the first hand by ordering the trump up or passing.
The dealer accepts the choice of the trump suit by saying “I pick it up” and taking up the card to add it to his hand, or he rejects the card by saying “Over” or “I turn it down.”
If he rejects the trump suit, he takes the upcard and puts it face-up at a right angle to the deck below the other three cards to indicate what suit isn’t acceptable as the trump suit for the second round of bidding.
Knowing what to bid
The most delicate strategy in the game hinges on your decision to accept the trump suit and make a bid or not. As a general rule, you should expect your partner to help you get one trick. If you look at the tricks you think you can take from your hand and see two sure tricks, you have enough to consider bidding. If you hold three good trump cards, you definitely have enough to make a bid.
You must also consider whether a different trump suit may work better for you and your partner. If no one wants to play in the initial trump suit, each player has a chance to select a different trump suit, so evaluating your hand for both purposes is important.
You get rewarded if you succeed in your bid and penalized if you fail, so you want to get your decision right if you can. If you fail to get the required three tricks, you get euchred — hence the name of the game.
You shouldn’t accept the trump suit without at least three probable tricks in the early phases of the game. The non-dealing partnership gets first crack at selecting the trump suit on the second round of bidding if everyone passes the upcard, which is an advantage.
Keep in mind that the left bower (the second-highest jack) may be of more use to you during the second round of bidding, particularly if you aren’t the dealer. If you have the left bower, consider passing the trump suit on the first round and then selecting the suit of the same color on the second round. The dealer doesn’t get to take the upcard to improve his hand, and your left bower becomes the boss trump card, the right bower. Of course, you won’t enjoy a second round of bidding if another player accepts the initial trump suit, but that’s a risk you have to take if you don’t have a good enough hand to order up the trump suit.
A variation to the bidding is played widely in Australia, England, and Canada. If the partner of the dealer accepts the trump suit, she must accept on her own instead of accepting for the partnership.
Entering the second phase of bidding
If all four players pass on the trump suit, players can name any other suit as the trump suit. (You can’t bid the suit of the original upturned card during the second bidding stage.)
Again, the bidding goes around the table, starting with the player on the dealer’s left, who can pass or name the trump suit. If she passes, the next player has the same choices, and so on around the table. Whoever selects a trump suit wins the bidding — now all the partnership has to do is make the bid good. If all four players pass, you throw the hand in, and the next player deals a new hand.