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Euchre Column of the Month – January 2002

 

 

 

By Joe Andrews

 

 

 

The "Loner"

The Loner is the most powerful bid in Euchre, and, if successful, is worth four points -- 40% of a standard game. If a player has a particularly decent hand, especially with strong trump, it is usually good technique to go alone. Of course, the score will dictate the final decision (see below). For those of you who are newcomers to Euchre, the player who names the trump has the option of calling a Loner. In "live" play, the person declaring the Loner announces it as soon as he names the trump, and his partner immediately places his hand face down on the table. (Internet Euchre automatically converts the game to three hands, after a Loner is called.)

Some hands are "ice-cold" for five tricks. Examples are:

 

 

1.       The top five trump!

 

 

2.       The top four trump and a side Ace (not quite 100%, but a virtual "lock"!). Your Ace might get trumped -- a bit remote!

 

 

3.       Four trump, including the Right -- but missing the Left (which may have been turned down or in the "kitty"), as well as a side Ace (another high-percentage probability).

 

 

Then we have some "good, but not guaranteed" hands.

 

 

4.       Two of the top three trump, and two side Aces, or an A-K of a side suit. (A trump "stack" in an opponent's hand will limit your hand to one point.) The odds are still in your favor to take four points!

 

 

5.       Any hand with four trumps, including either the Right or Left.

 

 

6.       (Now it comes down to where the other Bower is, and what your fifth card is.)

 

 

7.       The Left and Right (only), and a side Ace (and a favorable lead!).

 

 

8.       A-K-Q of trump, and two side Aces.

 

 

9.       Any four trump, and a side Ace (now we are getting thin!).

 

 

Finally, here are some hands that can make Loner, but are a bit off the wall!

 

 

10.    The Left and the Right (only) and two side Kings.

 

 

11.    The Right and two small trump, and a side Ace.

 

 

12.    Three low trump, and two side Aces.

 

 

And we could continue to take this down the ladder.

Some of us have seen Loners made with the singleton Right and two side Aces; I saw one Loner walk through with the Left Q of trump and K-Q-J of a side suit! Once in a while, a 9 will become your fifth trick, if the opponents discard favorably.

Why play alone?  Well, as in the above examples (especially, the "ice cold" hands, and the "close" hands), the reward of four points is well worth the risk.  Hands that have significant trump weakness, and poor side-suit cards, are not recommended for Loners. If you have a hand which has a decent trump suit, and less than a King in a side suit, as your fifth card, a Loner is still not a good call. Let your partner help you to take two points instead of hoping for an errant discard or favorable card in the kitty.

Score considerations:

If you are losing badly, then the Loner may be your best chance for salvation. Now the borderline hands become candidates. If the opponents are "at the bridge" (nine points in a 10-point game), and you have a score of six or seven points, a Loner by your side is a virtual forced call. Sometimes, it is good technique to order up your partner, and then go alone. That takes a trump (which might be a Bower) out of the play. On the other side of the coin, bidding a Loner with a sizeable lead is folly -- unless the hand is a sure thing. And NEVER call a Loner when the score is 8-8!  This is a slap to your partner's face, and will agitate the opponents, as well…

"Round-Robin Play -- "Live Tournaments" -- Individuals Formats

The growth of Euchre "live" events has been phenomenal! Three of the last four tournaments that I attended had in excess of 150 players!  One favorite format is the "Individuals Tourney." Here, you play with a different partner, against two different opponents, in each round. The typical event has eight rounds of eight hands each. Instead of the standard 10-point game, your score is cumulative for each set of eight hands. If you can take eight points in eight hands, that is quite good, and any double-digit score for one round is exceptional.

LONERS ARE KING! In this format, you must be aggressive! Every zero you garner hurts! Every Loner you make is worth four fat, juicy points! If you get five zeroes and three Loners in the same round, you earn 12 points -- a superb score.  Some tourneys reward the most Loners by the same player with a nice cash bonus!  Now, the borderline hands are worth calling. The only downside to all of this is the number of Euchres you may surrender, or the 50-cent penalties you may incur for "set" bids. Bid, bid, bid!