Euchre Strategy Tip: Combination in Trump

This month we return to our friend and card expert, Joe Andrews, for a hot topic in Euchre. Joe is former National Hearts Champion and author of many books on playing cards, including Win at Spades, Win at Hearts, and others available on

You have named the trump by picking up the turned card. There are only seven trump in the deck. It is really not difficult to watch which trump falls on the first lead. Then you can plan your play accordingly. It is assumed that you have at least three trump in your hand, and perhaps a side ace. A “two-suiter” is ideal. Let’s look at a selection of hands.

You are the Dealer in a new game (score of 0 – 0) and three passes come around. You have two hearts and a void. Here is your hand after you discard a low spade. The opening lead is the ace of spades and partner plays the jack, while the player on your right drops the spade queen. What is your plan for each of these hands?

Hand A:

(none) A 10 9 K A

Let’s start simple. What should we trump first?

Hand B:

(none) A J 10 8 K Q


This time we will go a bit further, with some more information. You have picked up the ace of hearts. You discard a low spade. Here is your hand after the discard and the ace of spades is led, as all players in front of you follow.

Hand C:

(none) A K Q A Q

You trump low, and your ace of hearts lead is followed with the 10 of hearts, the 9 of hearts by partner, and the right bower. Your opponent plays the ace of clubs. You drop the queen. He continues with the king of clubs. Now what?

Hand D:

(none) A 9 J K 9

In this borderline holding, you trump the spade ace with the nine. Now you lead the ace of hearts, and it fetches the right bower from the fellow on your left side, your partner’s queen, and the king. Out comes the ace of clubs and it wins, as everyone follows. Now the king of spades appears. Partner follows, and the fellow on your right dumps a small diamond. Now what?


Hand A: Trump the spade ace with the nine. Table the ace of hearts, hoping to bring the bowers together or to find partner with at least one of them. The idea is to protect that diamond ace. This is a thin hand; however, three trump is always a plus, and a side ace is a bonus. You will need to be lucky to bring this hand in!

Hand B: Now the trump suit is much better. Trump the spade lead with the heart ten. Do not touch trump! If the guarded Left is held by an opponent, you will be forced to hope for a trick from partner. The club suit must be played (there are those who will not lead the club suit on trick #2, and will try to drop the Left with the Right; this is a crapshoot). You are trying to set up your hand for an endplay (a lead from your Left hand opponent into your Right: ace of trump)!

Hand C: Trump with the queen, and lay the ace of hearts down. Once again, you are trying to promote another trump, and/ or protect the top diamond.

Hand D: This hand is a lot shakier. Win the first trick with your low trump. Now shift to the king of clubs. You are hoping that your Left hand opponent will win this trick. (If the king walks, your bid is secure.) If the king is trumped or loses to the club ace, you must now rely on a favorable split in trump. Now you will push another trump and try to use the nine of clubs to force out a trump (if necessary).

Basic Trump Play: You hold the three trumps after picking up the turned card. Suppose that you hold this combination in trump: Right – King – Ten. You trump an opponent’s side-suit ace with your ten spot. Now you lead the Right. If the ace and the Left drop, your king is good. No problem. If the ace drops, but the Left does not (or vice-versa), you must shift to another suit, hopefully an ace. DO NOT chase the Master trump here.

Once again, you hold three trumps. This time you have the Left – King – Queen. You use your queen to trump an enemy side suit Ace. Now you lead the Left. It fetches the Right but not the trump ace. You are thrown in with your own side Ace. DO NOT chase the Master trump. As a matter of fact, it is rarely good technique to chase the Master trump.

Play Championship Euchre Now

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