My thanks go to Matthew Daly, Ruth Ann Francis, Russell J. Alphey, Scott Rhodes and Jeffrey A. Wolfe for the variations they provided. Also thanks to John McLeod (who needs to be thanked anytime you see one of my posts).
Number of Players - 4 playing as partners.
Object of game: To score 10 points.
Deck - 24 card deck consisting of 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace in each suit.
Rank of cards: In trumps the rank is Jack (right bower), other Jack of the same color (left bower), Ace, King, Queen, Ten, Nine. In other suit same color as trumps the rank is Ace, King, Queen, Ten, Nine. In suits the opposite color of trumps the rank is Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten, Nine. (In many parts of the US the word "bower" has been corrupted to "bar".)
Preliminaries: Partners are seated non-adjacently.
Deal: 5 cards are dealt to each player. (Traditionally cards are dealt in groups of 2 and 3, though it doesn't matter if you deal the group of 2 first, the group of 3 first, or mix them up. Whether this method of dealing is required or not is up to the players.) There will be four cards left over. The top card is turned face up and the stack is placed on the table by the dealer.
Bidding: Bidding begins to the left of the dealer and continues clockwise. During the first round of bidding players either pass or instruct the dealer to pick up the face up card. They do this by saying "I order it up". If the dealer wishes to pick up the face up card they say "I take it" or just pick it up. Bidding ends when someone "orders up". Ordering up the face up card makes the suit of that card trumps for the hand. After the dealer picks up the card, they then discard one card from their hand. If all four players pass, the face up card is turned down and there is one more round of bidding. In this round a player may pass or name a suit other than the one that was turned up. Naming a suit makes that suit trumps for the hand. Bidding ends when someone names a suit. If no one orders up or calls a trump suit, the hand is abandoned and the next dealer deals. At the time of "ordering up" or naming a suit, the player doing so may state that they are "going alone", meaning they will play the hand without the help of their partner. The partner of the player going alone places their hand face down on the table and does not play during the hand. The team that "orders up" or names a trump suit is the declaring team, the other team is the defending team.
Play of the hand: If a player is going alone, the person to their left leads to the first trick. Otherwise, the person to the left of the dealer leads to the first trick. Going clockwise, each player plays a card to the trick. Players must play the suit of the card led if possible, if not, they may play any card. The highest trump wins the trick. If no trumps are played, then the highest card of the suit led wins the trick. The winner of the trick leads to the next trick. It is important to remember that the Jack of the suit that is the same color as trumps is considered to be a card in trump suit. Example: If hearts are trumps, the Jack of Hearts is the highest trump and the Jack of Diamonds is the second highest trump. The Jack of Diamonds is considered to be a heart for all purposes during the hand, including determining voidness in diamonds, and following suit to a heart lead. So, if diamonds led and the only diamond a player had was the Jack, they would not be required to play it. If hearts were led and a player had no hearts, but had the Jack of Diamonds, they would be required to play it. Also, remember the black jacks in this example would hold their normal ranks.
Scoring: If the declaring team is not playing alone and takes 3 or 4 tricks, they score 1 point. If they take all 5 tricks, they score 2 points. If they are playing alone, they score 4 points for all 5 tricks and 1 point for 3 or 4 tricks. If the declaring team fails to take at least 3 tricks, the defending team scores 2 points ( called "being euchred"). Scoring is traditionally done on two cards below a nine that add up to 10, such as a 6 and 4. The players simply arrange the two cards, by placing one over the other, turning one or both face up, or a combination of such so that the total number of spots showing is the teams score. The first team to score 10 points wins the game.
Here are some of the general variations to the game that I received or found. (Note: I plan on my book being about games that are popular in the USA. I have not yet decided how I am going to handle games such as Euchre, that are popular both in the USA and other English-speaking countries. In these posts I will simply put an asterisk in front of variations that are used almost exclusively outside the US.)
Variation in number of cards:
* The 7's and 8's may be included in the deck, making a total of 32 cards. Five cards are still dealt to each player.
* A joker may be added to the deck. The joker is the highest trump and is called the "best bower" or "benny".
Variations in dealing:
Cards may be dealt any way the dealer wishes provided deal is complete in two passes around the table.
A player dealt all 9's and 10's can (or must) declare a misdeal. Deal passes to the next player.
A player dealt a single ace with the remainder of the hand comprised of 9's and 10's can (or must) call a misdeal. Deal passes to the next player.
Variations in Bidding:
Dealer may not pick up face up card if it would be his only trump.
No player may order up or pick up the face up card unless they already have that suit in their hand. The left bower does not fulfill the requirement.
* If dealer's partner wishes to make the suit of the face-up card trumps, she must play alone. (She says "I order it down", to declare this.)
If no one calls trumps on the second round of bidding, the dealer must call trumps.
Either defender may declare that they are defending alone after the declarer has been decided. If the lone defender euchres the declarer the defending team gets 4 points instead of 2. (Some play that you may only defend alone against a lone declarer.)
During the second round of bidding a player may bid "high" or "low" instead of naming a trump suit. If either of these are bid, there is no trump suit. If the bid is "high", the highest card of the suit led wins each trick. If the bid is "low" the lowest card of the suit led wins each trick. A player may play "high" or "low" alone.
Variations in play:
The first person in play to the left of the dealer always leads, whether anyone is playing alone or not.
If a player is dealt any combination of three nines and tens, they may exchange them for the three face down cards before bidding starts. (In the unlikely event that this happened to more than one player, the first person to the left of the dealer gets the first opportunity to exchange.)
Variations in scoring:
* Game may be played to 11, 7, or 5 points. (7 and 5 are vary rarely used anymore.)
Obviously, the score may be kept with cards other than a 6 and 4, but one other method that seems quite common is to use a 2 and a 3. If the cards are layed crosswise, then 5 points are added to the score that is showing.
Variations in number of players:
Two or three players may play using the rules given. Each plays for himself. There is no bonus for "going alone" (since players will always be going alone). In the three-handed game, if the declarer is euchred each opponent scores 2 points.
Six players may play as two teams of three if the 32 (or 33) card deck is used. There will only be 2 (or 3) cards not dealt. If a player wishes to play alone, both partners discard their hands. *The declarer may ask one of his partners for a card. The partner then passes the lone player a card from her hand, the lone player then discards a card face-down from his hand. The score for winning all the tricks or euchring the declarer is 3 points. The score for making a loner is 6 points.
* Six-handed euchre may be played as above with a double 24 or 25 card deck (48 or 50 cards in all). If two cards of the same rank are played as high cards to a trick the first one played wins. If the jokers are red and black the one the same color as trump beats the other. If the jokers are the same, the first one played wins.
For 5 players add the 8's to the 24 card deck. There will only be three cards left after the deal. After trump is decided, the declarer names a specific card. The person holding that card is the declarer's partner. The partner is not revealed until the card is played (unless the declarer named the turned-up card). If the named card was in the stack of out-of-play cards, then the declarer does not have a partner for the hand, but does not get credit for a loner. If the declarer decides to go alone, she plays against all 4 of the other players. Everyone on the winning side of a hand scores the appropriate number of points (e.g. Declarer and partner take all 5 tricks so they each score 2 points).
Another two-handed variation can be played with the 32-card deck. Each person is dealt 4 cards face down in a row, then a card face up on each of the face down cards, then a normal five card hand. Bidding is as normal, though the "high" and "low" options are often used. Players may play cards from their five-card hand or from their face-up cards on the table. When a face-up card is played, the face-down card beneath it (if any) is turned up and is then in play. (Since some cards do not come into play until later in the hand, a player could be void in a suit for one trick, but not for successive tricks.) If declarer takes 7 tricks she scores 1 point, 10 tricks score 2 points and all 13 tricks scores 4 points. A euchre counts 2 points.
Additional note: I have seen at least three reference books that say "Bid Euchre" is another name for the game Five Hundred. From looking at rules on the WWW and e-mail I have received, though, it is obvious that players who play Bid Euchre are not talking about the game Five Hundred. I will be posting rules to both of these games separately.