Card Games/Egyptian Ratscrew

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This game is a matter of quick thinking and even quicker reaction time. It's not the type of game you'd play to relax. It is a mix of slapjack and war.

The Rules[edit]

There are many variations, but the basic goal is always the same - get all the cards. People take turns putting down a card, and at certain points one may slap the pile to gain those cards. Special rules apply when a royal card (J, Q, K, A) is played.


When a person plays a royal, the next person gets a number of "chances" to play a royal themselves. Otherwise the person who played the face-card gets the pile. If a royal is played by the second person, then the third person now has a number of chances, and so on...

  • Ace - 4 chances
  • King - 3 chances
  • Queen - 2 chances
  • Jack - 1 chance (!)

Some people play with Jokers, on which you have 5 chances. These also can count as wild cards for Consecutives and Flushes if you are playing with those rules.

When You Can Slap (in order of commonness)[edit]

  • Doubles - two of the same rank in a row.
  • Sandwich - two of the same rank, with one card in between.
  • Book, Big-Mac, etc - two cards of the same rank, with two cards between.
  • Tens/Ten Sandwiches - two cards that add up to 10, either in a row or with a card in between, e.g. 6-4. Ace-9 is sometimes counted.
  • Wildcard - A card that is slapped as soon as it comes down. Usually the 10 if there are no Jokers. Note that this rule does not work well in competitive play, as players will generally memorize the card that comes before the 10, making the player stay in indefinitely.
  • Flush - three cards that are the same suit.
  • Consecutive - two or three cards that are each one apart. (e.g. 7, 8, 9)
  • Marriage - a king and a queen played consecutively

  • Please note that this is a limited list of optional rules, and that many more exist in practical usage. Also, note that using too many slaps makes slapping on every card advantageous, as the reward often outweighs the risk, but with not enough slaps, you can often end up with unskilled players doing better than skilled ones when slaps do not appear for long stretches.


If you slap at the wrong time, or, for example, you see a double but someone else puts down another card before you slap, you must "burn" one or more cards, and put them in the bottom. Other penalties exist, including the inability to slap until someone else has, but this is the most basic. You can use burning strategically by memorizing your sandwiches, e.g. 9-8-9, then playing the 9, burning the 8, and playing the 9 and immediately slapping it. This is especially helpful when there are two players, as you can near-indefinitely stall a game with this trick. To combat this, some players make the burn penalty increase by 1 burn card every missed slap - your first missed slap incurs a penalty of 1 burned card, but your second missed slap incurs a penalty of 2 burned cards, and so on. This resets every time the cards are picked up. Additionally, to prevent people burning to their last card then immediately slapping it, many players use a rule that makes it so you can only burn once per player per card played.

Running Out of Cards[edit]

According to some rules, once you're out of cards, you're permanently out. In others, you can "slap in". The problem with this is that if you have no cards, you can't burn any. So "negative" cards are counted. At a certain point, such as -5 cards, the person is permanently out. Still others play with lock rules, where a person cannot slap in for 3 rounds. Some players increase the lock time by 1 or 2 rounds per missed slap. Additionally, players not originally in the game may "slap in," but are not told the rules in use.


  • Remove all rings.
  • Cut your fingernails.
  • Don't "hover" your hand close to the pile.
  • When you put down a card, flip it out so the other person sees it before you, and flip it as quickly as you can.
  • Speed is key, try not to deaden the pace over squabbles, etc. If there is a squabble, you can put the pile to the side and give it to the next successful slapper.
  • Don't pound with your fist, karate chop the pile, etc.


  • Can't see me
Instead of flipping toward your opponent, flip to the side. This is generally frowned upon.
  • Touchy
Touching the cards because you think they're yours is generally equivalent to slapping them. So when the opponents are at their last chance for a royal, slap right after they put down their last card. If they didn't play a royal, and there was nothing to slap, it's yours anyway. If they didn't play a royal but there was something to slap, you just won a lot of cards. If the opponent did play a royal, there's a 25% chance it was the same as yours, so it might be slappable.
  • Plan Ahead
Keep a mental note of whether you have back-to-back face cards in your deck. If you don't, always slap after you have played a face card and the next player has used up his/her chances. Even if your opponent's last card was a face card, you have nothing to lose — you know that your next card (to be burned) is a number card. Note: if you do have back-to-back face cards, then you run the risk of burning a face card.
  • Happy Slappy
If you're desperate (and willing to antagonize other players), slap every single card played. This is especially useful if there are many rules (and thus many chances) or if the burning level is low.