Slapjack is a unique matching card game, a sort of combination between games of the trick-taking genre, and the popular American games, Spit, and Speed. The name of the game in Slapjack is not strategy, but reflexes and speed.
How to Play Slapjack?
Slapjack utilizes the standard, 52-card Anglo-American deck. Although easiest with four Players, as many as 8 Players could play a game of Slapjack, or even more if multiple decks are to be used.
To begin the game, each Player is dealt one card at a time, face-down, moving clockwise from the dealer, until all of the cards in the deck have been dealt.
In the case of an odd number of Players, the hands of each Player are not required to be equally stacked. Players should then organize their hands into single-stack decks, face-down, and never look at their cards.
Playing the Game
Once the deck is completely empty and all Players understand how to play Slapjack, the game will begin.
- The Player immediately to the clockwise of the dealer, the first Player to be dealt cards, will place a card in the center of the play area.
- Each Player will draw one card from the top of their deck, and place it in the center of the play area face up.
This procedure will continue until a jack is turned up, with all of the player’s face-up cards forming a pile in the middle of the play area.
The moment that a jack becomes visible, Players must utilize their reflexes in order to “slapjack” or slap their hand down on top of the upturned jack.
The first player to touch the palm of their hand to the card, not the fingers, will win not only the jack, but all of the cards beneath the jack.
This pile of cards is then shuffled into the winning Players hand, and play continues.
If a Player runs out of cards, they may play until the next jack is revealed. If they fail to slapjack at that moment, that Player is out of the game.
Play continues until either all but one Player has “gone out” and run out of cards in their deck, or one Player controls all four Jacks in their hand. In either case, the remaining Player is the winner.
- If two people slap their hand on the card at the same time, the Player whose hand is immediately on top of the card will be the winner.
- Do not become overanxious to ‘slapjack’. If you slap a card, and it is not actually a jack, you must pay one card to the Player who placed down the non-jack card.
- The rules of Slapjack dictate that running out of cards gives you only a single chance to get back into the game. Failing to slapjack with no cards in your deck removes you from play.
- Jacks must be shuffled back into the deck with all of the other cards won in a Slapjack. This means that you may replay your Jack, simply by random chance.
Scoring & Points
Slapjack is not scored by point values, nor are there any points awarded for having more or fewer cards than other Players at the end of the game.
Slapjack is all or nothing, there are no runners-up. The only way to win a game is to control all four of the Jacks, or for all of the other players to run out of cards.
As the decks in Slapjack are randomized, the difficulty in the game is slapping at the right card.
Assume that the first jack in the game will not be played until after 13 cards have been played. Assuming it takes 2 seconds for a Player to turn up their card, there will be 26 seconds from the start of the game to the first “test” of reaction speed.
This can be quite challenging, as slapping incorrectly and “jumping the gun” is associated with a penalty. Players should train themselves to react to jacks only.
Strategy & Tips
- Slapjack is a game that combines luck, and reaction time, as well as physical kinetic speed. Although you have no control over when a jack might appear, by being the fastest player you can guarantee victory. There are no tips to substitute for physical speed.
- Slapjack is a physical game, and as such, a Player could practice their “draw” in order to get their hand on the jack as fast as possible.
- When you have no cards, you actually have a slight advantage. As you do not have to draw, you can instead focus completely on waiting for the jack to appear.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many cards do you start with?
This depends on the number of Players in a game. For example, four Players would each be dealt 13 cards, but three Players would be uneven. Two Players would be dealt 17 cards, while the remaining Player will be dealt 18.
What happens if you slap the wrong card?
As explained in the rules, there is a penalty associated with slapping the wrong card. The slapping Player must pay one card, from the top of their deck, to the Player who had their card slapped incorrectly.
Are Jokers used in Slapjack?
No, there are no Jokers in Slapjack. If you are using the 54-card Joker Variant deck, remove the Jokers before play.
Where can you play Slapjack online?
There is a mobile app for Slapjack on the Google Play Store. Mobile gaming is uniquely suited for Slapjack as the touchscreen on a smartphone will allow simulation of the physical reaction speed.