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Travels With An Airhead

Getting Euchered!

— by Notch Miyake

As promised, this month we are going to learn to play Euchre, the official card game of the Finger Lakes BMW Motorcycle Club. While this lesson is aimed at beginners, experienced players may also benefit from the unique strategies that will be introduced.

The game of Euchre is thought to have originated in ancient Egypt, which is why we use mostly the picture cards. The Pharaohs, who popularized the game, liked to see pictures of themselves while they were playing. This also explains why the pictures are so weird looking. And, of course, "Egypt" is where the name "Euchre" came from.

Some oddball people think Euchre is merely a simplified form of Trumps. It was thought that small children would find it easier to play Trumps if they didn?t have to keep track of all the number cards. This is the obscure "Trumps for Kiddies" theory.

By now you are wondering why I am giving you all this fascinating historical data. As you know, bluffing is an important strategy. When you start tossing around bits of history during the pre-game banter, people will think you know what you are doing and you can get away with a lot more than if they think you are an idiot.

To begin, we take a perfectly good deck of cards and throw away all the cards below nine. I don?t know of any card games that only use the low numbers so you might as well just toss them. Do not put them in the drawer with your old rubber bands and twist-ties, just in case.

If your cards are made of paper, you can recycle them in the blue bins. Plastic cards, however, cannot be recycled. Look for the familiar triangle to determine whether your cards are ecologically correct.

Now give the cards a good shuffle. This is tricky with a small deck of cards and is one of the major challenges of the game. Small children find shuffling a short deck much easier, so you might ask your kid to help.

The key to dealing is to remember that everyone should end up with five cards, like in poker. Unlike most games, the cards are never dealt one at a time. Instead, you must deal no fewer than two cards at a time. So if you deal two cards the first round, the next round deal three for a total of five. If you deal three cards the first round, reverse the order above. I warned you that this is a complex game.

Don?t get too excited when you pick up your hand. Remember there are mostly picture cards in the deck unless you forgot to throw away the deuces.

If you get any deuces, this might be a good time to say, "Jeez, I have to take a leak. I?ve been drinking too much beer."

Next we have to determine what suit will be trump. If you like the card that is turned up on the table, you say, "I order it up," or "I assist," or "Hit me," depending upon whether your partner was the dealer.

If you don?t like it, don?t say, "Shit!" Just let it pass. Stay cool.

If nobody likes the card that was turned up, sometimes the dealer will decide what will be trump. The trick here is to avoid having to deal until you figure out what the hell is going on.

In straight card games, the order of cards is King, Queen, Jack, etc. In feminist games, it is Queen, King, Jack. In gay games it is Jack, King, Queen. And, in Euchre, the high card is Jack. Hmm.

But not all the Jacks are high. Only the Jack of the trump suit (right bower), followed by the Jack of the opposite suit of the same color as the trump suit (wrong bower). So if Hearts is trump, the Jack of Hearts is the high card, followed by the Jack of Diamonds. Tell me, does this sound queer to you?

Before actually playing the cards, you have to decide whether to play with three hands or all four. This decision is dependent on your having worked out your hand signals with your partner in the bathroom before the game.

Picking your right nostril with your index finger might mean, "I have the right bower (high Jack)." Using your pinkie might mean, "I don?t have it," and so on. Be subtle. Act like you always do when you pick your nose. Your opponents won?t suspect a thing.

After all the preliminaries, actually playing the cards goes quickly. There are only five cards so it only takes a few seconds. It?s like sex, lots of foreplay for a brief, damp climax.

By the way, when you win by using the strategies I have just taught you, have a little class. Don?t say, "Wow, you sure made a lot of dumb moves in that last hand." Instead, you might say, "I?m so sorry you lost that hand. You really deserved better luck."

This approach will avoid the usual fistfights at the end of the game.

As you have seen, Euchre is a very interesting game. I am looking forward to seeing all the new players who have just been Euchred. Maybe they will let me play a game.

The experienced Euchre players all pack up their cards when I arrive. I think they are upset over being Euchred by somebody like me, who has never actually played a game of Euchre in his life.

But I am glad everyone has finally been Euchred and we can get back to motorcycling.

Euchre on!

— Copyright © 2000 by Notch Miyake.

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