Did you know that the card game Euchre is the reason that we have jokers in our decks? Or that it was once considered the national game of the United States? If you live near the Great Lakes, chances are you've played your fair share of this game. But I bet some of you are scratching your heads because you've never heard of the game.
Euchre is a trick-taking game like Pinochle or Hearts. Unlike Hearts, you play Euchre with a partner. The game tends to go relatively fast. You play up to ten points, and you're usually done in twenty minutes or less.
The game was most likely brought to the United States by German immigrants who settled in Michigan. From there, it spread throughout the nation. In the 1800s, the majority of Americans knew how to play Euchre. Many thought of it as the national card game.
But it fell from favor after the turn of the century. Playing cards in general have become less popular, but the fall of Euchre--from the height of popularity to relative obscurity--has been especially dramatic.
The game retains a worldwide following, especially in English-speaking countries. People in Canada, Great Britain and Australia all enthusiastically play Euchre. But if two players from different countries met, they might find themselves arguing a lot about the rules. The game has a lot of regional variations.
The exact origin of Euchre remains pretty murky. Some believe it to be a cousin of the French game Ecarte, which also became a popular game in early America. The main evidence for this theory seems to be the similar names. But that's also the main argument for the rival theory, which is that Euchre comes from the Alsatian game Juckerspiel. Whatever its origin, the game is here to stay.