Euchre, resurrecting a traditional social game 1

Lois Petersen teaches with enthusiasm as she gives instruction on the card game euchre. Once the official card game of the nation, euchre is still widely played in the Midwest. Petersen and Frank Pratt are teaching Buffalo residents how to play the social game. 

Sitting at three tables in the day room at the Buffalo Senior Center, a group of Buffalo residents are playing the game that once was the national card game.

Questions are being asked and games are moving slowly – because this is more a learning class than a competition.

Lois Petersen and Frank Pratt are teaching Buffalo residents how to play euchre, a game best played with four participants (two sets of partners competing against each other). The deck consists of 24 cards. Special euchre decks can be purchased, or a traditional deck of 52 can be stripped down to the 24 top-ranking cards (9 though ace) in the deck to suit the game.

“It’s a simple game; you only have 24 cards in the deck, so you can get the strategies down fairly rapidly,” Pratt said.

When Pratt moved out to Buffalo from the Midwest, he discovered that not many people knew what euchre was, so he decided to teach anyone who might be interested.

“We got out here and we didn’t find very many people were playing it,” Pratt said. “So we’re trying to get some interest in it and see what happens.”  

The goal is to win at least three “tricks” or hands. If the team that fixed the “trump” (suit selected to be highest during match) fails to get three tricks, it is said to be “euchred.” Winning all five tricks is called a “march.”

“A hand is played quite rapidly, so you sit and chat,” Pratt said. “It’s a social game. It’s not like bridge, where you need to follow and keep track of all 13 cards in each hand. It’s much more of a social and quicker game, so we thought it would go over here.”

Euchre, and its variations, is the reason why modern card decks were first packaged with jokers. The jokers were originally designed to act as the right and left “bowers” (high trumps), according to bicyclecards.com.

Sitting at a table with her friends, Edie Taffner is learning to play euchre for the first time.

Taffner laughs.

“I think I’m getting it,” she says.

She says she enjoys playing social card games and plans on enjoying some time with the game.

“I always think I don’t have time,” she says. “But I’m going to start making time.”    

Pratt plans to host a euchre night at the Buffalo Senior Center the second and third Monday of each month, depending on turnout.

“Just come down, drop in,” Pratt said. “Anybody that hasn’t played, we’ll have a table that has instruction and we’ll help them get started. I’d say in one day’s time, as simple as this game is, they’d be ready to jump right in.”  

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