OBJECTIVE OF UKA: Be the first team to reach 10 points or more
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 4 players in partnerships
NUMBER OF CARDS: 32 cards
RANK OF CARDS: (low) 7 – Ace, Trump Suit 7,8,9,10,Q,K,A,same colored J,J
TYPE OF GAME: Trick Taking
INTRODUCTION OF UKA
Uka is the Maori version of Euchre, and its rules are followed by players in New Zealand. Just like anywhere else in the world, there are variations for how to play Uka depending on the venue and geographical location. The rules described below reflect the rules established by the New Zealand Clubs organization as well as what was followed during the 2020 Tainui Games..
Euchre has been played for generations among the Maori. It has even received its own television series featured on the Maori Television Network. The show can be viewed online here.
THE CARDS & THE DEAL
Uka is a partnership game played with a 32 card deck that contains cards 7 – Ace in each suit. The game also requires four chips (two red and two white for example) as well as a way to keep score.
Partners sit across the table from each other, and each team is given their set of the same colored chips. The chips are placed in front of each player on the table. This marks the spot that each player will place their cards for the trick.
Cut the deck to determine which team deals first. The team with the highest card decides which player will deal. From that point on, the deal passes left each round. The dealer shuffles the cards and deals five to each player in packets of 3 and 2. This means to first deal 3 cards to each player. Then 2 more are dealt to each player.
The rest of the cards are placed face down on the table to form the kitty. The dealer turns the top card and places it face up on top of the kitty. This is the Turn-Up card.
Bidding begins with the player seated left of the dealer. They look at the turn-up card and decide whether or not they want that suit to be trump. If the player wants that suit to be trump, they tell the dealer to “pick it up.” If they do not want that suit to be trump, they say “away.” This passes the bid to the next player.
In order to tell the dealer to pick up the card, that player must have at least one card in the same suit as the turn-up. It is illegal to call trump without having at least one card of that suit unless the dealer chooses to pick it up on their turn. The dealer is the only player that can make trump without any cards of that suit in their hand. Telling the dealer to pick it up immediately ends the bidding. The dealer exchanges one card from their hand for the turn-up card. They MUST keep the turn-up card in their hand.
If all of the players pass, and the dealer turns down the turn-up card, a second round of bidding begins. Again, starting with the player left of the dealer, the player has the opportunity to name the trump suit. Remember, the player must have at least one card of the suit in order to make it trump. If that player does not want to call trump, they say “away.” If the second round of bidding returns to the dealer, they are required to pick up the turn up card and add it to their hand. That suit becomes trump for the round.
If a player believes that they can take all five tricks on their own, they may go alone. To do this, a player must say “I am going alone” when they call trump. If this occurs, that player’s partner does not participate in the round. They place their cards face down on the table in front of them and wait for the round to end.
Remember, card ranking changes for the suit called as trump. Beginning with 7’s as the lowest, next comes 8, 9, 10, then Queen, King, Ace, the off-suit same colored Jack, then the Jack. For example, if Hearts becomes trump, the Heart suit’s ranking changes to (low) 7, 8, 9, 10, Queen, King, Ace, Jack of Diamonds, and Jack of Hearts (high).
Play begins with the person sitting left of the dealer. They may play any card they want from their hand. The chosen card is placed face up on their chip. Each player must match the lead suit if they can. If a player is unable to follow suit, they can play any card they want. The highest ranking card in the suit that is led or the highest ranking trump card wins the trick. That card is flipped face down to show that it is the winner, and the trick winner leads the next card.
As play progresses, a pile of cards will form on each chip. At the completion of the fifth trick, the score for the round must be tallied.
Once the score is tallied, the keonhacai passes to the player seated left of the previous dealer.
It is required that the team calling trump captures at least three tricks. If they capture three, they earn 1 point. 3 points are earned for capturing all five tricks. This is called a March. If a player goes alone and captures all five tricks, they earn 4 points.
If a team calls trump and fails to get at least three tricks, they have been Euchred! The opposite team earns two points. The player who goes alone and fails to capture all five tricks is also Euchred. The opposite team earns four points.
Continue playing rounds until one team reaches 10 points or more. That team is the winner.