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Is Michigan the buckle of the euchre belt?

Feb 20, 2017

Get a group of Michiganders together, add a deck of cards, and chances are pretty good you'll wind up with a game of euchre.

It was once dubbed "the queen of all card-games" and was wildly popular in the late 1800s. But its popularity waned through the 20th century. That is, except in Michigan and a handful of Midwestern states, nicknamed the “Euchre Belt.”

Jason Boog, a journalist and euchre enthusiast who's written about "The People's Card Game," spoke to Stateside about the communal nature of the game, and why it remains so well loved in Michigan.

“There’s this euchre belt: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania,” Boog said. “The game has stayed alive among this little, tight-knit group of people. And it kind of tracks where German immigrants moved through the United States.”

Boog said euchre rewards cooperation and collaboration, and requires social strategy and communication.

In the game, the Bower (the Jack) is the most powerful card, overturning the King and Queen. Euchre scholars believe "bower" is an Americanized form of the German word for peasant, or farmer: "bauer." In euchre, the farmer (i.e. the common person), is the most powerful player in the game.

Boog said euchre remains alive in Michigan because of its connection to a culture of family and friends.

“If you live in the euchre belt, someone in your family knows how to play it, and they taught you how to do it,” he said.

Listen to the full conversation above.

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