Questions that are rarely asked

by on April 14, 2009 at 2:20 pm in Games | Permalink

Is euchre making a comeback?

I played frequently as a child, as I was taught by my partly Irish grandmother.  No one else in my grammar school knew the game.  Then I heard nothing about it for more than thirty years.  Now, twice in the last month, I've heard the game mentioned in public, "on the street" as it were.  What is up?

The alternative is that the question is rarely asked because, in fact, euchre is not making a comeback.

MM April 14, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Euchre has remained some degree of popularity throughout the Midwest. When I was a boy in Upstate New York, we would frequently play at school during lunch and formed a bridge club when we grew tired of playing euchre so much.

DRB April 14, 2009 at 2:30 pm

I learned to play it in college in upstate new york about 5 years ago. It was easy to pick up since I had played bridge before. I recently played with some people were from NC as well. Google trends doesn’t seem to indicate anything going on recently.

http://www.google.com/trends?q=euchre

Chris S. April 14, 2009 at 2:37 pm

It’s always been very popular in Indiana, except the further north you go, the more popular Spades gets. In any case, very few people here don’t know how to play it, and most people’s decks of cards are already sorted into euchre decks. You know…so you can get playing faster.

TIE April 14, 2009 at 2:42 pm

I know this much, it was very played with enthusiasm by a small group in a freshman dorm
at Cornell in the early 1990s.

d.cous. April 14, 2009 at 2:45 pm

I grew up in Michigan, and all of my friends and family (without exception) know how to play. Pinochle is also pretty popular (as it’s basically more complicated Euchre), but less so.

In college, it seemed that fellow Midwesterners knew the game, and almost nobody else did.

So, no. I don’t think it’s making a comeback, but I also don’t think it went anywhere (at least in the Midwest). The question is how you learned to play it growing up on the East coast.

James Hohman April 14, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Easy to explain. The exodus of Michigan residents causes its culture to be spread across the nation. Be on the look out for Bell’s Beer and Faygo Rock & Rye to be sold in a store near you.

http://www.mackinac.org/10274

Matt April 14, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Euchre is definitely a regional game. Midwesterners seem to know of the game more than others. I grew up in Western PA and have played Euchre since I was young. When I moved to DC many folks never even heard of it. Again, depending on which part of the country they were from.

AS April 14, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Another Hoosier who played euchre here. It does certainly seem to be a Midwestern game. I now go to school in New England and the only other people who have even heard of it are fellow Midwesterners.

I would add that one regional difference that seems rather well-defined is that 5′s are used for scoring in Michigan whereas 6′s and 4′s are used in Indiana. Each side, of course, considers what the other one does to be the height of silliness.

babar April 14, 2009 at 3:13 pm

wow, i wasn’t aware of the euchre/indiana connection until now. but i sure played it a lot in high school.

– babar, fort wayne in, northside high, ’82

James Hanley April 14, 2009 at 3:21 pm

One more voice here to emphasize Euchre’s midwestern basis. I currently live in Michigan, where all my students know it (and some play it online obsessively), and I grew up in Indiana, playing it in the same region and same time as babar above. Any time you want to play, Tyler, you’re welcome to come visit.

James H., Heritage High, ’83

richard April 14, 2009 at 3:30 pm

I went to college in Minnesota and my wife’s family is from Iowa. Both my classmates and my massive extended in-law family (they’re a catholic farm family) play euchre. It was probably the most popular game in college.

Andrew Fischer April 14, 2009 at 3:32 pm

The other odd thing is that most New Englanders are totally unwilling to learn how to play the game. However, the few that do always seem to really like it and try unsuccessfully to teach it to other New Englanders.

Trevor April 14, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Euchre, introduced to me as “Bridge for people with ADD” is the perfect game for the age of Twitter.

Drewj April 14, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Play euchre up here in northern Ohio about once a week. It is very popular on my college campus. I think its hard to catch on due to the complicated rules.

Kim April 14, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Ah, euchre! Played it on the school bus in high school and in the dorm at college (both in upstate NY) during the 1980s.

blabla April 14, 2009 at 4:06 pm

On the other hand, James Bond played euchre in his earlier movies but switched to Texas No Hold Em in Casino Royale.

Phil April 14, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Grew up in Cleveland, everyone could play.

David M April 14, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Euchre is quite popular throughout Ohio and Northern Kentucky as well. It generally follows German migration patterns roughly. There are teams at some schools and tournaments in Ohio.

Timothy April 14, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Euchre is popular in Wisconsin. Also a similar game called Sheepshead, with some interesting teaming rules for different numbers of players. Here’s a good summary: http://www.pagat.com/schafk/shep.html. Wikipedia has a good entry too. Sheepshead originated in Central Europe and presumably immigrants brought it to the Midwest.

Nicole Durbin April 14, 2009 at 4:59 pm

I clicked through to the comments to tell you guys that euchre is definitely an Indiana game, but it seems that has already been covered. Learned it in middle school growing up in Indiana, and for as long as I can remember my parents have had little euchre tournaments with their friends. Glad I’m not the only one who was surprised to realize no one else had heard of the game when I left the state for college!

Greg N April 14, 2009 at 5:25 pm

I always choose screw the dealer. I think it leads to more risk taking on the part of the dealer and partner. Is milking the cow popular outside of Indiana?

Red April 14, 2009 at 7:01 pm

I learned it from a college roommate (also in the early 90s) from small-town Ontario, so maybe the Euchre Belt extends northeast across the Great Lakes. By the way, we played stick-the-dealer.

Turn down the bower, lose for an hour.

Borealis April 14, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Everyone I have met played euchre was either from Michigan, or learned the game from someone from Michigan.

Eric H April 14, 2009 at 7:31 pm

I grew up in Michigan played euchre all through middle and high school. I then went to Michigan State and it was wildly popular threr as well. Still play it from time to time.

Tom Church April 14, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Euchre is definitely a Michigan and surrounding states game.

Tyler, ever heard of Mindi Coat? It’s Indian. Same thing as Euchre, but full deck, tens worth two points, and you call trump after dealing five cards. Lots of fun.

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Liz April 14, 2009 at 8:59 pm

‘Nother upstate NYer here (also attending college in upstate.) People play it all the time, but if I go anywhere else no one knows what I’m talking about.

allison April 14, 2009 at 9:05 pm

interesting. i learned euchre at MIT in the early 90s, from an upstate NYer. Now I live in the midwest and can’t find anyone to play with me.

Dennis Shiraev April 14, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Although I have never learned to play (not really a cards player), my friends here at Cornell play frequently. Perhaps it’s an upstate NY thing?

Jens Fiederer April 14, 2009 at 11:16 pm

I can go months without hearing of the game, but I’ve worked in two places where there were regular lunchtime euchre games, and another place where euchre was popular at company picnics.

While I will participate if asked, it’s hard to be satisfied with euchre once you’ve learned the German game of Skat.

John Cunningham April 15, 2009 at 12:29 am

I think it is a Midwest thing. I know at Mensa regional conventions in OH/IN/MI, there are usually euchre tournaments and deuchre also, a type of euchre [I am a non-player]

Dan Smith April 15, 2009 at 12:51 am

As a few other people already commented, I also grew in Michigan, and played Euchre extensively. Almost everyone knows how to play it there.

miretaa April 15, 2009 at 2:21 am

Boy, euchre! That takes me back. I used to play it in university residence in Ottawa, Ontario, back in the late 80′s.

Kevin April 15, 2009 at 7:31 am

Although I have no idea how to play it, I am aware of friends of mine who are in euchre tournaments here in Chicago on a weekly basis. The bar that they do it at is generally known as a Green Bay Packers bar, so I assume the Wisconsin connection is not coincidental.

John April 15, 2009 at 8:43 am

Grew up in Michigan, used to play it constantly all the way through college. It’s a game that goes very well with beer. Then I moved to California and no one had ever heard of it. Repeated attempts to explain the rules were met with blank stares. Now I live in Europe and I wouldn’t even try. I am all for a euchre renaissance.

Incidentally, whenever I play it on Yahoo Games, 9 out of 10 people are from the Midwest or Ontario.

Regarding ‘screw the dealer’ (as we called it): It was a variation that had to be agreed upon by all parties before the game. Typically we would play it as a means of speeding up the game when everyone involved was an experienced player.

Remember kids: pass on a bauer, lose for an hour.

plmcnulty April 15, 2009 at 9:36 am

We had a steady group of players at the U of Chicago in the early 90s that had learned the game from a classmate from Indiana. We always played the screw the dealer version, although would change it up when new players came into the group.

After moving to Atlanta in the late 90′s I found that the only other people who knew the game were transplants from the Midwest, and even back then, it was waning in popularity to the growing Texas Hold Em wave.

Dan Hill April 15, 2009 at 10:22 am

We played a lot of euchre when I was in high school in Australia in the late 1970′s, although being fickle teenagers we’d cycle back and forth between that and 500, as well as a little canasta.

Actually I think the primary motivation was that it was an excuse to spend time with some girls whilst being able to still give voice to our competitive male spirits.

Charlie Sawyer April 15, 2009 at 10:29 am

The game was once popular in the far West. It survived in the culture as a verb. “Those banks sure euchred the taxpayers out of a lot of money.”

Ken April 15, 2009 at 10:57 am

I learned euchre as a child in Northeast Ohio, and played quite a bit through high school. Hardly played at all since, although I wouldn’t mind playing again.

James Hanley April 15, 2009 at 11:09 am

Chappy,

Where I come from it was about 50-50. It seemed to depend upon how hard-core the players were. Causal euchre players were uncomfortable with stick-the-dealer (or, screw the dealer, as we knew it), while serious players nearly always insisted on it. To my own mind, screw-the-dealer is the only proper way to play. Of course I’m also deeply outraged by anyone who doesn’t use the 4 and 6 cards for scoring, so I may not be entirely rational about things.

Trevor,
Maybe, but it definitely predates twitter. It’s been around for a couple of centuries, and is said to have been popular in the U.S. well before bridge became popular. Maybe it’s only we midwesterners who are capable of recognizing the subtle elegance of the game.

El April 15, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Coincidentally, I too am from Toledo, OH like Kevin further up – everyone I knew played euchre a lot, especially to pass the time on buses and at random activities (though if there were steady flat surfaces, Egyptian Ratscrew usually edged it out). In fact, my high school’s end of the year celebration / festival day always had a euchre tournament. I also went to a summer camp at UMich during high school and everyone there played too.

We played stick the dealer and scored with 4 and 6 cards.

Chris April 15, 2009 at 3:36 pm

I grew up in southeast michigan and everyone played euchre in high school. You could break out a deck and play at lunch or while the teacher wasn’t looking – quick games so you’d get through fast. Also played at college in the UP- everyone knew how to play. My family also all plays.

In time-pressed or lazy environments (school) we always play screw the dealer to avoid the redeal. With my family the dealer is allowed to pass, but then loses the deal as well.

Other less popular rules are “ace no face” and “farmer’s hand” (one face card and all nines and tens) that allow the receiving player to call a misdeal.

My extended family in Nebraska doesn’t know Euchre but plays Shoot the Moon, a Penucle (sp) variation.

Michael E Sullivan April 15, 2009 at 4:21 pm

I knew of it when I lived outside of Toronto, and it was apparently fairly popular there, though I never learned.

All of my wife’s family knows the game, they are from the Detroit area in michigan, and I learned it from them. As a bridge player, it was quite easy to pick up and play well enough for social play after a few hands.

The short-deck simplified trick game popular in my neck of the woods (new england) is setback. It seems like everybody knows hearts, and african americans tend to play spades.

The bridge club I was in at rochester used to play most of these and a ton of other odd trick games after a few hours went by and some of us were too tired to play bridge well, but I don’t recall anyone ever suggesting euchre.

Jim Bouman April 15, 2009 at 6:22 pm

“Yooker”?

Never heard of it.

Here in Wisconsin, everybody native has has the gene for Sheepshead. If you lose interest in that (sign of anti-social tendencies and lack of Ass-Kicker/No-Tricker instincts), you are on the slippery slope to Texas Hold-em or other forms of slack-jawed degeneracy.

Yooker?

Never heard of it

Chris April 15, 2009 at 10:47 pm

I played throughout high school in Buffalo, NY. I always figured it was a Great Lakes thing – a lot of Michigan type always played in my Army days.

jamie April 16, 2009 at 11:11 am

Can’t believe I’m the first Canuck to comment. Euchre is a common game in Canada.

Sadly, most people in South Dakota have never heard of the game.

Dont recall much need for “stick the dealer”– if both opponents are too weak to order and your partner isn’t strong enough to go alone, pick it up.

BTW only babies count with 5′s– 2′s and 3′s for the serious player!

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