What is Egyptian Rat Screw?
Egyptian Rat Screw is a matching card game for three or more players. The ERS card game involves the titular slapping action that happens once a certain condition is achieved, which shows its influence from games such as Slapjack and other more action-oriented card games.
How to Play Egyptian Rat Screw?
Egyptian Rat Screw can be played with 3 or more players, though 3 is the most common and most well-paced player count. All you need to play a game of Egyptian Rat Screw is the 52-card standard Anglo American deck.
The dealer is determined by random or by deck splitting. The dealer then deals an equal number of cards to each player, one card at a time. Players are not allowed to view their cards before playing them. All cards will be played to the centre of the table, equidistant from all other players, forming the centre pile.
The player to the left of the dealer goes first. On each turn, the player will play the top card of their hand to the centre pile. The cards must be played in such a way that all players see the revealed card at the same time.
The turn then passes to the next player in clockwise order, with each consecutive card being played on top of the last card on the draw pile.
The play continues until a face card (Kings, Queens and Jacks) or an Ace is played. The player playing the card then temporarily becomes the “challenger”. The next player then temporarily becomes the “challenged”. This player has a few chances to play another Ace or face card to win the challenge.
- Ace: 4 chances.
- King: 3 chances.
- Queen: 2 chances.
- Jack: 1 chance.
If the player fails to draw a face card or Ace within the allotted number of turns, the challenger takes the pile.
If the challenged manages to play the face card or Ace, then that player becomes the new “challenger”, and the following player in turn order becomes the new “challenged”, repeating the process.
Certain card combinations can be assigned to facilitate the slapping action. Slapping allows players to steal cards out of order, with the fastest players taking the card piles.
An example of combinations that allow slapping include the following:
- Doubles: two cards with the same rank, regardless of suit.
- Sandwiches: two cards of the same rank, with a different card in between the two.
- Runs: 1 or more cards in ascending or descending order played in succession.
- Wilds: A Joker card being played, an optional inclusion.
Due to the nature of the game, other optional combinations can be included as well.
To slap, the players must slap downwards, above the centre pile. The slaps, by nature, will be piled up above the card pile. Thus, the fastest player will be the player whose hand is the lowest in the pile.
How to win Egyptian Rat Screw?
The game ends once a player has claimed all the cards available in the game. Players are eliminated once they have no cards remaining.
Playing the cards to the centre pile should be exact and precise. If players play cards outside the specified range (generally meaning touching more than half of the last played card), they can be penalised.
Players are also allowed to contest card claiming. This is optional, and it does mean that players are allowed to bluff. If the bluff is called, they will need to give the top card of their hand to the player who called the bluff. If a bluff is mistakenly called, the calling player gives their top card to the bluffing player.
Players are penalized when they make a mistake while slapping. If the player slaps even though no valid combination was played, they will need to discard one or more cards as a punishment. The number of cards depends on the house rules.
Summary of Rules
In conclusion, the Egyptian Rat Screw rules are:
- Each player is dealt the same number of cards.
- Each player plays their top card to the centre pile.
- If a face card or Ace is played, the challenging process begins.
- If a combination is played, the fastest player to slap the pile takes the pile.
- The player who claims all cards wins.
Scoring & Points
Egyptian Rat Screw scoring is based on the winner of the most rounds. This assumes that the game consists of multiple rounds. Each round awards 1 point to the winning player.
Example hands in the ERS card game are shown below.
Player 1 plays the card Q ♣ , which initiates the challenge. Player 2, by rules, has 2 tries to play a face card or an Ace. Player 2 fails to play a card with the allocated turns, thus, Player 1 takes all the cards.
Say Player 2 manages to play a J♦ on the 2nd turn. Player 3 must now play a face card or an Ace within 1 turn. Player 3 fails to do so, thus, Player 2 claims the pile as the new challenger.
Player 1 plays 6 ♦, and Player 2 follows with a 6 ♠. Now, all players will slap since a Double combination has been formed. The player whose hand is in contact with the most cards will get all cards in the pile.
Strategy & Tips
- Egyptian Rat Screw strategy is about being alert.
- When challenged, do not worry too much, as the game then becomes a game of chance.
- Look out for bluffs, as these can help add to your card count.
- Slap as fast as you can to win.
- Know all the combinations that allow slapping.
- Don’t rush to slap when you see others do so unless you’re certain the combination is valid.
Frequently Asked Questions
When was Egyptian Rat Screw created?
Egyptian Rat Screw’s origin likely can be tracked down to the 19th century, likely in Britain, due to is influence from the game Beggar-My-Neighbour.
Why is it called Egyptian Rat Screw?
Egyptian Rat Screw’s name has an uncertain origin. The term “Ratscrew” is a form of future sight in Egypt, where the combinations of cards mean specific occurrences. Read more about Egyptian card games here.
Can I play Egyptian Rat Screw Online?
While some online simulators do exist for Egyptian Rat Screw, the necessity of physical interaction means that playing in person is more ideal.
How many players can play Egyptian Rat Screw?
3 players is the recommended amount, but higher player counts can be accommodated with more decks added