Screw Your Neighbor, also known as Ranter-Go-Round or Chase the Ace, is a Pre-Modern Shedding game first played in the 1500s, albeit by a different name.
Screw Your Neighbor can be played by at least 3 players. Due to the simplistic nature of the game, as many people may participate as are cards in the deck, though they require the space to form a circle and preferably would be able to sit around a table.
How to Play Screw Your Neighbor?
The Screw Your Neighbor card game is played using the standard Anglo-American 52-card Deck. A single deck will suffice in most games.
The game begins with each Player paying for and receiving 3 tokens. If playing as a gambling game, then these Tokens will have some constituent monetary value determined by the Players, such as $5 per token.
Once each Player has paid the appropriate amount of money for their tokens, the Dealer is chosen by drawing cards from the deck. The Player with the highest card will be the Dealer. Ties will redraw.
The ranking of cards in Screw Your Neighbor is the following high-to-low: K, Q, J, 10-2, A.
Aces are ranked the lowest and always are ranked the lowest.
After the Dealer is chosen, they will deal to each Player one card face-down. After the Dealer deals themselves a card, the Player to their immediate clockwise takes the first turn.
During their turn, players are able to keep their card, or “Screw Their Neighbor” and trade their card with the next Player.
If keeping their card, players simply say “Stand.”
Kings are a negation card, that cannot be traded. Kings are also the highest-ranking card, meaning a Player dealt a King cannot lose that hand. Players must reveal their King if another Player attempts to trade with them.
Each Player takes their turn, either Standing or Trading, until every Player but the Dealer has taken their turn.
Once it is the Dealer’s turn, rather than trading their card with the Eldest Hand, The Dealer instead may trade their card for the top card of the deck or Stand with the card in their hand.
After all Players have taken their turns, the Showdown begins.
All Player’s hands are flipped up and compared with each other’s hands at the table.
- The Player with the lowest ranking card must pay one token into the central pot.
- If multiple Players have the same lowest-ranking card, they will all lose one token.
Cards are collected and discarded. The Deck should not be shuffled unless it will be depleted by the Deal, in which case the deck should be shuffled.
The Eldest Hand becomes the new Dealer, and a new hand is dealt out.
When a Player has no more tokens, they are out of the game and will no longer be dealt a card.
Ending and Winning
Gameplay continues until all but one Player has lost all of their tokens. That remaining Player is the winner and takes the full value of the Pot.
If there is a tie in which all remaining Players have the lowest ranking card in the same hand, then they may either Split the Pot amongst themselves evenly or play one more hand.
In short, the crucial Screw Your Neighbor rules are as below:
- You may either Trade your card with the next Player in the rotation, or you may Stand on the card you were dealt.
- Aces must be declared and flipped up when they are Traded. Kings must be declared and flipped up when they prevent a Trade.
- The Player with the lowest ranking card at the end of a hand pays one token into the Pot.
- The deck should remain unshuffled for as long as possible. The Dealing position moves around the table.
Imagine the following card is traded to you:
And the card that was taken from you was: J♥
This is troubling because you know for certain that the card you lost is better than the card you received. However, there is also a greater degree of risk in attempting a trade.
There is a 58.33% chance that the card you trade for will be lower ranked than 8, with only an 8.3% chance of a tie.
This means the trade has a 66.66% chance of leaving you in the same position or worse.
Standing on an 8 is far safer than attempting to trade for a higher value.
Strategy and Tips
Remember that Screw Your Neighbor is not a game of winners, but losers. So long as you do not have the lowest card, you will not be the loser of that hand. There can only be up to four losers and many winners in each hand.
As it was expressed in the example, always trading is not a viable option, because you cannot know for certain the card that you will receive from your opponent.
This information combined with the tip above yields the following conclusion:
- Standing on 7 or 8 is far better than attempting to trade up.
- Anything above 8 should never be traded, and anything below 4 should always be traded.
- 5, 6, require a Player’s consideration before action can be taken.