"Coping with luck"

Basic Euchre Strategy
Harvey "the Rabbit"
Vol. 6
A skilled Euchre player will often be perceived as "lucky", if not devious, simply  because he will (apparently too often) play the right cards.
Euchre, as a game itself brings with it an undefeatable force called "luck". When the luck goes bad, it can spell certain defeat for its victims while allowing the opposition to appear invincible.
"X.  Thou shalt not complaineth about the cards the Lord thy Euchre God hath bestowed upon you."
Anybody who has ever played a significant number of Euchre games must have, at one time or another, wondered why the luck of the deal seems like such an extreme rollercoaster ride in this game. Mathematically, as long as all of the players get to deal (and assuming no treachery is present), a Euchre player should expect to win around 50% of their games against decent opponents in the long-run. Quite often in Euchre, the cards go "hay-wire" where good plays lose and questionable plays win, and this is perhaps the most fascinating part of the game that draws us to it...

Euchre luck
The purpose of this page is to examine what luck actually is and to possibly remove some of the mystery of how it affects a Euchre game. Hopefully, this will give the reader a realistic expectation and the patience to endure the unlucky moments of Euchre.  NOTE: A good Euchre player should not expect to win much more than 60% of their games in a long haul (1000 games or more for example).
- Sometimes you will receive a hand that is not capable of scoring a point regardless of the upcard or the position of the deal.
A tip from the Rabbit:
Be sure to understand that luck is dealt to you.
Luck has nothing to do with the decisions you make, and no matter how qualified your own partnership is, you are still capable of losing through no fault of your own.
Facts (and some Philosophies) about Euchre luck:
- Although more rare than many players would like to believe, there will be entire games that you will play in which it will not be possible for your side to win without the opponent's help. No matter how you and your partner play the cards that you are dealt, the other team will have enough stronger hands (that match the upcard or are in position to make trump) to score ten points before your side can.
- Luck can only be attributed to the cards that are dealt, not to the way in which they are played. If the decision the player makes turns out to be incorrect, and the player had been dealt a choice that could have scored, the blame rests on the decision making, not the luck of the deal.
unfortunate player:
unfortunate player's partner:
- Sometimes, a great hand becomes bad news. If the other team is in position to make a different suit trump, your 5-card flush can be become instantly worthless.
- Perhaps the most frustrating fact of all; unlike many other games of skill, the two best Euchre players you can put together as a team, are quite capable of losing to any two novices paired-up (for a rubber or two).
The Random Shuffle:
Assuming that the dealer is not intentionally cheating (by use of breaks and peeks etc. --see "Cheating at Euchre: The Dark Side") during the shuffling process, it takes very little effort to mix the cards to a point that they could be deemed genuinely "random".

Picture this for a moment;
Two Euchre decks are given the exact same shuffle, leaving all 24 cards of each deck in exactly the same, yet randomly-mixed order. The dealer is handed the first deck and is instructed to deal them out as they are and play the hand normally with three other reasonably skilled players.
Next, the top card of the second deck is placed on the bottom (that's all, a single-card cut!). This deck is then handed to the next dealer with the same instructions.
You will likely find that the second hand plays out completely different than the first. So much so in fact, that the players are unlikely to recognize any relationship between the two hands at all. If the second hand had also been dealt by the original dealer, one card would be changed in each hand and the upcard would be different, likely creating a different trump suit, and a different outcome as well.
Either way, you can see how changing the position of a single card could dramatically affect the deal. So, even an old-fashioned country-style shuffle (with good intentions) should get the job done in your friendly Euchre game.
This equation answers the question, how many unique Euchre situations are there? There are over 62.3 quadrillion! Bram Kivenko
"I've been playing Euchre on Yahoo! and I thought I was getting bad cards more than anyone else. So I actually calculated and determined, that for whatever reason, I was correct, and Yahoo! does not shuffle the cards fairly -- for whatever reason. Which explains why I seem to be a better Euchre player on Playsite than on Yahoo! -- Go figure!"     Bram Kivenko
"Luck is a chance happening, or that which happens beyond a person's control."  - Wikipedia
The Internet Shuffle:
From personal experience, I have noticed bizarre hills and valleys in my card "luck" on various Internet web sites, but nothing much different than in a live game. I assume that there is no reason these sites would employ a program that would deal the cards unfairly. However, the gentleman who wrote the above respected math problem, wrote what I think, is an astonishing statement at the end of his work;
I've got my doubts, but I have yet to successfully contact Mr. Kivenko to see if he had adequate data to prove this claim. The work on his site is so incredible that I wouldn't want to try to disprove his statement anyway (not that I have the math skills to do so personally). There simply is no reason that I can fathom that would inspire sites like Yahoo! to deal unfair cards.
The Supernatural:
Okay, I admittedly shouldn't go here, but here I am. I must first explain that besides writing this column, this rabbit (yours truly) deals card and dice games in Las Vegas for a living by day. I started out in Louisiana, where I worked for just shy of 10 years. If you know anything about Louisiana (particularly New Orleans), voodoo is quite popular amongst the locals. I've witnessed many attempts by practitioners to influence the cards (or dice) by means of supernatural powers. However, I have yet to have been convinced.
I'm certainly not saying that there is no such supernatural force in existence, I just haven't witnessed success from it conclusively in a gambling establishment or in a private card game. Let's just move on...       Check out "Euchre Voodoo"
The Gambler's Fallacy:
When you have been dealt four or five crappy hands in a row, wouldn't it seem logical to conclude that you should receive a good hand on the next deal?
This is the train of thought that drives gamblers to wager a bunch on a bet that has lost multiple times consecutively.
The Gambler's Fallacy, is the false belief that the probability of an event in a random sequence is dependent on preceding events, its probability increasing with each successive occasion on which it fails to occur. If a fair coin is tossed repeatedly and tails comes up many times in a row, a gambler may believe, incorrectly, that heads is more likely on the following toss.
Once a dealer shuffles the cards fairly in a Euchre game, it doesn't matter if you haven't had anything but 9's and 10's or rock-solid loners -- 20 times in a row, your hand will be whatever it will be, with no memory of it's past.
To Sum this all up:
Stuff Happens:
Understand that you are susceptible to a factor that is beyond your control before heading into any serious Euchre game.
"Random" takes time to affect you:
If every Euchre player lived to be healthy until their 10,000th birthday, and each of them played the same number of games, they'd have roughly received the same amount of good cards as each other. Other than that, you might be living during your best or worst stretch of cards during an infinite span.  Luck = correct timing
Streaks exist in the past, not the present:
Do not change the way you bid or play your cards based on the results of previous hands. Just because risky bids have failed recently doesn't necessarily mean that you should become more conservative on the current hand dealt and vice-versa.
Big Wheel Keeps on Turning:
Do not let frustrations get the best of you. Drunken grannies will occasionally beat you and your favorite partner, and they will likely talk smack in the meantime. If you hang in there and keep playing your A game, the tide will change.
P.S.  When I play online, I notice that many of the other players wish each other "GL"  (good luck) in the beginning of a game. It seems like a paradox for me to wish something like this to my opponents. Sorry!  - Rabbit
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"In this journey through life, should dame Fortune's dark frown

Upon you be cast, let it ne'er weigh you down;

Should friends fail to 'assist' and 'pass' heedlessly by,

And you should Euchred be -- why still never say die."

                                                        - A. Professor 1862
Las Vegas Euchreplayers Association