Because traditional Euchre is usually a game of two teams competing against one another, the variation known as Three Player Euchre is also frequently called Cutthroat. This is because it actually ends up becoming a two against one game.
How to Play Euchre with Only Three Players
To begin a game of Three Player Euchre, the dealer gives each player three cards, then two, and finally one, but any method of dealing out five cards is usually acceptable. The remainder of the deck is laid face down in the center of the table with the top card flipped over and laid beside it.
Just like the traditional format, this version requires a standard deck of cards with all cards numbered between eight and two removed. The player to the dealer’s left declares whether or not the revealed card is the trump, or may alternately pass. Whichever of the three declares the card the trump becomes the “maker” and will be playing against the other two players for the remainder of the trick.
A hand continues for five tricks, and then the points are tallied. Should the maker win three or four tricks, they are awarded a single point. If they have won all five they get three points. If the defenders get three or more tricks, they are given two points each. Keeping score is the responsibility of each player, and a game is won when a player reaches ten points first.
The way the trump suit is described and ranked in a game of Euchre is as follows:
- Joker=Benny, or Best Bower
- Jack=Right Bower
- Other jack of same color as trump suit=Left Bower
Play in a game of Three Player Euchre can then follow the traditional format. This means that the player to the dealer’s left leads the trick by laying down a card in the same suit (if available) or any other card. A trick is won by the player who played the highest card of the leading suit, unless trump cards were played. The highest trump always wins the trick. The winner of each trick leads the next one.
There are also a handful of variations on the three-person variety including the removal of all nines, playing with a dummy hand, using seven cards per person, an eight card “shooter” version and many others.
Traditionally, the most commonly seen variant is the “four hand” variety. This asks the dealer to give out cards to the players and also a fourth “dummy hand”. When a player decides to call trump, they can then pick up the dummy hand and make the best five-card hand for themselves from the ten cards they hold. In this variant, play continues much the same with the exception that a solo player gets four points for winning all five tricks.
Some other variations of the “four hand” variety limit the dummy hand to only three cards, which gives the trump calling player a few less cards to use, or a five card dummy hand from which the player selects three cards only.