Buck Euchre (also known as Dirty Clubs) is somewhat of a cross between Euchre and Rams. It’s a trick-taking game for four players. Unlike regular Euchre, however, it’s every player for themselves; there’s no partnerships!
Like Rams and other games in its family, Buck Euchre penalizes players for failing to collect at least one trick. If a player is not confident in their ability to take a trick, they can, in most cases, simply drop out of the hand.
Object of Buck Euchre
The object of Buck Euchre is to be the first player to reach a score of zero points or less. This is accomplished by either:
- Choosing the trump suit and winning at least three tricks, or
- Not choosing the trump suit, but staying in the hand and winning at least one trick, or
- Recognizing that your hand is total garbage and dropping out of the game to avoid a penalty.
Buck Euchre uses the same stripped deck that regular Euchre does. Starting from a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, remove all of the 8s through 2s. You’ll be left with a 32-card deck composed of ace to 9 in each of the four suits.
You’ll also need some way of keeping score. Pencil and paper works all right, but you can use any method that suits your fancy. Each player starts the game with 25 points.
Shuffle and deal five cards to each player. (You may deal this as a batch of three to each player, followed by a batch of two, if desired.) Turn the top card of the stub face up and place it on top of the stub. The suit of this card, the upcard, is the proposed trump suit.
Buck Euchre uses the same card ranking that regular Euchre does. In case you’re in need of a refresher, here it is:
Cards rank in a different order in the trump suit then they do in the other suits. The highest trump is the right bower, the jack of trump. The next highest trump is the left bower, the jack of the same color as trump. This is followed by the ace, king, queen, 10, and 9 of trump.
In the non-trump suits, cards rank (high) A, K, Q, J, 10, 9 (low). (In the suit that’s the same color as trump, the jack will, of course, be missing from the ranking, because it is considered a trump.)
If the upcard is a club, clubs automatically become trump. Otherwise, the trump suit is determined by the bidding round, as described below. Note that if clubs become trump automatically, since the bidding round is bypassed, every player is obliged to play the hand.
The player who fixes the trump suit is called the declarer. The declarer is obligated to take at least three of the five tricks in the following hand.
The player to the left of the dealer has the first opportunity to accept or reject the upcard’s suit as trump. If they accept, they do so by stating “I order it up.” If a player orders up, the dealer takes the upcard into their hand and discards any other card face down onto the stub. When a player declines to order up, the opportunity passes to the left. If the first three players pass, the dealer may accept the upcard’s suit as trump by drawing it and discarding, as before. Otherwise, they turn the upcard face down.
If the dealer rejects the upcard’s suit as trump, the player to the left of the dealer has the first opportunity to name another suit as trump. They may also pass, if they wish. If all four players decline to name a trump suit, then the hand is played with no trump.
If a trump suit has been decided, either by accepting the turned-up trump or by selecting one of the other three suits as trump, the other players then have the opportunity to drop out of the hand, going clockwise from the player to the declarer’s left. Any player who remains in the hand must take at least one trick. Failure to do so will subject the player to a penalty.
Play of the hand
The player to the dealer’s left leads to the first trick. Proceeding clockwise from the lead player, every player contributes one card to the trick, until all four players have played. Players must follow suit, if able; otherwise, they may play any card. (Note that the left bower is considered part of the trump suit. Playing it to a trick led by a card of its “natural” suit is not considered following suit.) The player who played the highest trump, or the highest card of the suit led if no trumps were played, wins the trick.
When a player wins a trick, they take the cards from it and place them face-down in a won-tricks pile in front of them. To keep it clear how many tricks the player has taken, it’s a good idea to put each trick at right angles to the one before it. After a player wins a trick, they lead to the next one.
Game play continues in this manner until all five tricks have been played.
When the hand is over, players score as follows:
- If any player collects all five tricks, the game ends, with that player winning.
- Any player who dropped out of the hand scores nothing, positive or negative.
- The declarer scores a penalty of five points if they failed to collect three or more tricks. They are said to have been euchred or set back.
- Any non-declarer that stayed in the hand scores a penalty of five points if they failed to collect at least one trick.
- Any player that doesn’t meet one of the conditions above loses one point for each trick they took.
The deal passes to the left, and another hand is played. Further hands are played until a player’s score reaches zero or less. That player is the winner. If two players reach zero or less on the same hand, the player that is further in the negative wins the game. If the players have the same score, they tie.