Thursday, March 26, 2015

Five Reasons to Score Euchre with the 5's

A euchre score of three points. The flipped card is a 5, and each uncovered diamond is worth one point.


My dad’s originally from Michigan, so I grew up playing euchre (pronounced you-kur) the same as they do in the Midwest.  It's a fast-paced game played with two sets of partners, and only half the deck (9’s to Aces).  Since a team needs ten points to win a game, we grew up scoring with the extra 5’s, two for each team.  As shown in the pictures, players keep score by uncovering one symbol for every point up to five, then flipping the top 5 and scoring the remaining points up to ten.  It’s easy to score and easy to read.


A score of nine points (5 + 4).

Then I met some people from Chicago who grew up scoring with 6’s and 4’s, provoking an ongoing debate about which method works better.  I’ve tried both ways and will choose 5’s every time—here are some reasons why:
Which team's winning?  (You had to think about it, didn't you?)

#1. The 5's Are Easier to Read

The world uses a number system based on 10.  Half of 10 is 5, and it’s easier to think in terms of 5 than in terms of, say, 3 or 9, since we intrinsically read 5 as half of 10.  The uncovered top 5 clearly indicates that the game is more than half won, and makes it easier to add the bottom points to the top.  Using a 6 and a 4 slows the math down—it’s just that much infinitesimally easier to add 3 + 5 than to add 3 + 4, and such hurdles can slow you down when you're trying to count your opponent’s trump.

Who's ahead now?  (Had to think about that one too, didn't you?)

#2. No Confusion About Who's On Top

Like a good relationship, with 5’s it doesn’t matter which one’s on top: flip one over and you’re ready to go.  The 6’s and 4’s, however, beg the question of whether to score the 6 or the 4 first, and if both teams choose differently (see above), there’ll be a confusing imbalance if the 4-scoring team flips the top card first and the 6-scoring team has more points.



#3. Flipping Unnecessary Cards

This is really my biggest beef with 4's and 6's.  If you start with the 6 on the bottom and the 4 flipped over, you have to score the first six points, then flip the 4 over and put it on the bottom before placing the six on top to make seven (see above).  If you think you can avoid this extra step by starting with the 4, you're in for a rude surprise: you still have to place a card in back.


With 5’s, though, there’s one step.  Score the first 5, flip the top card, then score the second 5 (see above).  Easy.


#4. Finding the 5’s is Faster

But Ian, my Illinois readers might protest, when you’re sorting the cards for euchre, surely scooping the 6’s and 4’s out of the deck is faster, because you can find them more quickly, right?  Not so!   

Since there are only four 5’s in the deck, all the 5’s get used, and sorting a 52-card deck becomes a simple matter of dealing out the 9’s 10’s, Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces for regular play, and the four 5’s for scoring.  It’s a set, clean system with no extra cards.

Are you tired of endless, sloppy clutter during your euchre game?

With 6’s and 4’s though, there are eight possible scoring cards in the deck (four 6’s and four 4’s), so players doing the sorting have to remember how many 6’s and 4’s they’ve separated or they’ll end up with extras to throw back in.  There’s more cards to sort, and more cards to worry about.

Try scoring with the 5s instead!

#5. The Beauty of a Color Match

Two black 5’s for one team, two red 5’s for the other.  Each team has its own color, with no confusion on the board.  You can do that with 6’s and 4’s, of course, but you have to find the exact cards you need from a pile of extras.  Doing it this way also creates an odd imbalance, say, if one team has two hearts and the other has a club and a spade.  You can still have color symmetry, but it takes more work to do it—which is precisely how I feel about the whole 4’s and 6’s system.  It gets the job done fine, but it takes more work and effort that could otherwise be spent playing the game.

Allow me to copy the same photo I just used as proof of how clean this looks.

Don’t send a boy to do a man’s job.  Use the 5’s next time.

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