One of the things that makes rook so fun is challenging the same opponents over and over again until after many nights of repeat play, one team takes the overall championship. Last year, my wife and I took on a challenge to battle two of our good friends in rook with the first team getting to 100 wins would get a dinner purchased by the losers (a win would be getting to 500 pts). Over the course of many nights of play, we got all the way up to 88 wins, by the leading team and 83 wins by the losing team, but one of the teammates had regular life get in the way and had to move out of town. So we were left with a void to complete this epic series.
How disappointing! Only 20 more matches or so and a winner would be revealed. Truthfully, a free dinner was a fairly small prize for how much winning needed to be done to get to the finish line.
So now on to 2012, and in steps a new partner and a new match. With our eyes set on a smaller number we have 1 win down in our chase to 25 wins. Hopefully this time regular life will allow us to complete the series and crown the ‘dinner is served’ champion!
It’s rare, but every once in a while you get those rook hands that you would be willing to bid so high with. What do you do if you opponent has bid 170 though? Do you bid higher?
Well, looking at the above rook hand, you obviously want to take the bid. You are going likely be of no help to your partner if they take the bid, or to even stop your opponent if they take the bid. So it is absolutely essential to win this bid. This particular hand, you are missing both the 14s in your suits, but you have both 1s and 13s in both the trump suit as well as your off suit. You even have the 10 covered in green, so you are likely to only loose say 10 points per hand if you lose the 14s in both colors.
You are going to trump any other color that is played, so you really don’t expect to loose points elsewhere. So really, I would be willing to bid up to 180 in a max 200 round, with the possibility of taking all the points if my partner or the kitty has 1 or both of the 14s missing.
It seems as though the rook game keeps growing and growing. People I would never have expected to play the game I find out randomly play. Not only do they play, but they play well! The more and more people I find that play the game, the more I realize, I there are a number of different strategies and methods to go about tackling a win in the game of rook. For this reason, we have come to the realization that getting away from playing only with your one or two typical opponents can help expand your game into new and great places.
We are like the typical rook playing couple. We have two friends that we have played against over and over again. Not only do we play together a lot, but we keep a running tally of our total scores. Last I recall we are somewhere around 83 – 84 wins each team. While we love this, it is rare when we actually get together with other players or actually make a rook tournament to play with more than 8 players.
The last rook tournament we played was great! I have expressed how I felt we got unlucky with the cards we were dealt, however, there is for sure a portion of our loss which was attributed to this being the first time we played against some of these opponents.
There were two aspects that I noticed threw our typical play off a bit.
The Bidding: I found that bidding with different players is the hardest to handle the change with in a short period. Some people start the bidding at their maximum bid, leaving no room or manipulating. Some stop bidding really early rather than risking losing. Others can be very tricky and focus more on setting their opponent rather than taking the bid themselves. So they may fake the strength of their hands by passing early.
The way trumps are played. With my close opponents, we are very used to controlling the trumps. This usually means that we will play trumps until they are all gone. On the rare occasion trumps may last in an opponents hand until the end. It creates a very different style of play when trumps are not led hardly at all. Instead, a significant amount of trumping and overtrumping occurs. I don’t know if I recommend this strategy all that often, but I will say that it is extremely unpredictable. Sometimes it works, some times it doesn’t.
All of this being said, it is great to see the different strategies take place. They have brought to light a couple of different things. One, I am glad to incorporate a variety of new strategies in my style of play. Two, it allows you to be able to pick up on a person’s strategy at the table more quickly. So if you realize a person is trying to set you, play accordingly. As with anything you are trying to improve on, the more you play, the more experience you gain. The more experience you gain, this will ultimately lead to a larger wealth of game history. The trick is making sure you learn from your game history to lead your game play.
I was recently asked if it was smart to bid up your opponent in a 4 player, set partner, rook game when your partner has passed and you clearly do not have a good enough hand to bid on. Notice, if your partner has already passed and you are the last one from your team in the bidding, you do not want to let your opponents off cheaply. Do not just pass to their early bids without giving a fight. It does not make any sense to give your opponents and easy chance at scoring some decent points without at least having to work for it, or having the possibility of getting set.
Personally, we have a standard bid we will typically go to with almost any hand. In our game of 200 pts per round including the 2s 3s and 4s, this bid is typically 145. Although this has fluctuated from night to night. Some nights the average bid is 155. Some nights it is 135. But most of the time, we are right around 145 on a base bid with marginal hands.
One thing to always keep in mind is your opponents could possibly be baiting you into bidding with powerhouse hands. On a number of occasions, to gain the advantage of a set, one of your opponents may puposefully pass early in the bidding wars to indicate they have a weak hand when in fact they have a strong hand and are likely to set you and your partner.
This all being said, bidding when you do not have a great hand is usually best when your opponents are about to win the game and you need to stop them from going out. You may sacrifice getting set for the opportunity that next round you will get dealt a monster hand that you could possibly shoot the moon with!