Traditionally, Euchre is played with four players but in the absence of a fourth player, the game can still be played by three players. The players end up playing 2 vs 1 but there are no permanent partnerships and players lose or win on their own. The game is played in “hands” and each hand is played for five “tricks”. Scores are awarded to each player after five tricks, then each player is dealt a new hand for the game to continue. The first player to score ten points wins. There are several variations of three-handed Euchre, one of which is called Cutthroat.
Be the first player to score 10 points.
Three Handed Euchre Rules
Players must announce if they are going alone after the trump suit is decided but before the first card is led.
Number of Players Needed
The standard 24 card Euchre deck is used and consists of 9’s through Ace’s. The regular 52-card deck may be used too but the deck is stripped to remove all the other cards leaving just Ace’s through 9’s. The cards used for playing Euchre are A, K, Q, J. 10, and 9 of the four suits.
The game is set up similarly as the traditional four-player version. Players sit around the playing surface and a dealer is randomly chosen. The dealer deals five cards to each player, and also deals an extra hand of five cards as if there was a fourth player. The extra hand is known as “dummy” hand and is dealt to the right of the dealer. The remaining four cards of the initial twenty-four are placed face-down on the playing surface where they are accessible to all. The top card of the four is flipped and placed face-up. This flipped card initially sets the trump suit.
How to Play
The game starts with players bidding on accepting the face-up card’s suit as the trump suit. Bidding starts with the player to the left of the dealer and goes round in a clockwise fashion. Each player has two options, accept the face-up card’s suit as trump or pass to the next player to decide. Once any of the players accept, the bidding ends and the face-up card’s suit becomes the trump suit.
Once the face-up card’s suit is accepted by any of the players including the dealer, the dealer has the option to discard one of the cards in their hand and replace it with the face-up card. The discarded card is placed face-down on the playing surface.
If none of the players accepts the face-up card’s suit as trump, the second round of bidding is triggered. The face-up card is flipped and faced down and the first player to name a suit in this round of bidding has chosen the trump suit. If no player bids (selects the trump suit), all the cards are packed and shuffled, and the next player deals a new hand to everyone. The game can be played such that in the second round of bidding, the dealer cannot pass and must name a trump suit.
Whatever the case, the player who selects the trump suit either in the first round of bidding or the second round of bidding becomes the “maker” and will be playing against the other two players who will form a temporary partnership. These two players in partnership become “defenders”.
The maker has the option of either “going alone” or combining with the dummy hand. If the maker thinks they have an outstanding hand, they can “go alone” and play without combining with the dummy hand. If the maker thinks they don’t have a strong enough hand, they can combine their hand with the dummy hand. In this case, the maker gets to select the best five cards out of the combined ten to form a new hand. The remaining five cards are discarded.
Remember that there are two defenders in partnership, either player in this partnership can opt to “go alone” also. Should a defender opt to “go alone”, their partner sits out that hand. The defender that opted to “go alone” has to face the maker alone in that particular hand. The partner not playing in the current hand must place their cards face-down on the playing surface.
Once it is decided the number of players who will be involved in a particular hand (all 3 players or at least 2 players if one defender opts to “go alone”), the players begin to play their cards. Usually, the player to the left of the dealer leads first and gets to play any card from their hand but if any player has opted to “go alone”, the player to the left of the player going alone will lead.
The other players must attempt to play cards in the suit of the lead card if possible but they can play any card if they are unable to. The player who played the highest card in the suit of the lead card wins the trick unless at least one trump card was played. In the case of trump cards being played, the player who played the highest trump card wins the trick. Cards of the trump suit are ranked from the highest to the lowest as follow:
Jack (Right Bower)
The other Jack of the same colour as the trump suit (Left Bower)
The winner of each trick must lead the next one. Each hand is played for five tricks after which a new hand is dealt to each player. Scores are calculated and tallied after the fifth trick for each hand. The scoring system used is as follow:
If the maker wins three or four tricks, 1 point is awarded to the maker. However, if the maker wins all five tricks, three points are awarded.
If the defenders win three or more tricks, they get 2 points each.
If a defender “goes alone” and wins three or four tricks, each defender gets 2 points. If a defender that “goes alone” was able to win all five tricks, each defender is awarded four points.
The game continues until one player scores a total of ten points.
Winning the Game
The first player to score a total of ten points wins the game.