Tag Archives: rook

Re-Deal: I Wish it Wasn’t So Hard to Get

The other day we were having a great session of rook.  The first time my original group of 4 people had played in over 2 years.  You know…life happens.   At any rate, it wasn’t the most competitive of sessions as we were too busy catching up on how everyone was doing.  What’s new in life, who got married, who had kids, who is having grand-kids…the norm.

So during the match we played, twice I was dealt some of the worst hands I could ever imagine.  Back to back, I was dealt 13 cards, none of which were over 12, and I only had one point card each time.  The first had I was dealt one 10 and the second hand I was dealt one 5.  Our requirements for a redeal in rook (since we play with the 2s 3s and 4s) is all cards must be 12 or under and you have no point cards.  People have different requirements for redeal.   Some do not even play with the redeal option at all.  It is so rare that we sort of like it.

The hands I was actually dealt though happened to be even worse than a redeal hand since I was forced to play them and I had no way of cluing my partner in that my hand was horrendous.  The only thing I could do was remove myself from the bidding early on, but the way the bidding went, it was not obvious how completely terrible I was sitting.

In fact, since my hand was so bad, it meant that everyone else’ hand was actually very good, including my partners.  So my partner bid strong thinking that if I could just help in a few places or the kitty filled in a hole or two, we would be fine.  Of course, I did not take a single trick.   And since I didn’t have but one point card each round, the opponents had a lot of point cards they could play on each other.

Needless to say, we did not win those rounds and got set pretty convincingly.  While we were just 100 points away from victory before these two games, we dropped all the back to being down more than 400 pts.  Luckily for us, our opposition was a bit rusty as well and we were able to set them back to -500 with some pretty ugly sets…including two rounds where trump was called by our opponents and I look down to see 6 of the trump cards ready for setting.

Since we had such a lead on them, we ended up winning the match for the night.  I just took a lot longer than it should have.  Yeah for another session of rook with the old crew!

Do you ever have those nights where the cards are just making really strange games?  A lot more setting than normal.  Some nights you can finish a round to 500 pts in an hour.  Some nights it takes almost 3 hours.  This night was one of those longer sessions.

Long term rook battles

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!

Review of 57 Cards: Deck of Plastic Rook “like” Cards

Over the years, we have played many, many hours of rook.  So many hours that we have seen our fair share of rook decks come and go.  In early years, the rook decks were fairly sturdy and would last for many months of playing.  In more recent years, the rook decks found themselves to be less sturdy, and simply would not last very long before become a burden to play with. In came 57 Cards, the plastic deck of cards that are perfect for the card game rook.

57 Cards makes a deck of cards that are exactly like rook cards, but do not have the name brand rook written on them.  They are still composed of the same 1 through 14 and four colors of black, red, yellow and green.  The difference is their rook card looks like a tree (not sure why they chose a tree).

The Pros

The quality of these rook like cards are amazing.  Being fully plastic, they do not lose their smooth and sleek feeling when played with over time.

The cards last a long time!  We have rarely had a time when we found a 57 card deck cause us issues.  We house many tournaments and now exclusively use 57 cards to play our tournaments.

Even after many months of playing, they still feel like the first time we played with them.

The Cons

They simply are not rook cards.  We are so used to using the term “bird” or the “rook” and it is a little different when there is a picture of the 57 cards logo – the tree – on there.

There is also only one colored deck.  We would love to be able to have two different colored decks so that while one deck is being played with, the other deck can be shuffled.  With the same backs, there is always the possibility that the decks will get mixed together.

The 57 Card decks are also more pricey than a regular rook deck.  It is almost double the price to get a 57 card deck than a regular rook deck.  If you are an occasional player of rook, it may not be worth it to buy the long lasting plastic deck that 57 cards offer.

Final Thoughts

We really like playing with 57 cards now.   As we have stated, we are exclusively using 57 cards in all of our rook tournaments now.

16 Person Round-robin Rook Tournament: Instructional Guide

Bracket with 4 TeamsDue to a request, I have decided to create a post for how a set partner rook tournament would go with 16 people.  With round-robin, you have two stages of the tournament.  The round-robin portion which basically produces two tournament brackets to complete the tournament.

Initial Notes

  • 16 People
  • 8 Teams
  • Broken up into two different groups
  • Final tournament to crown one team as champion
  • Each round should be played either for time or to certain points

The Setup

With 8 teams, you will ultimately need to break up your group into two divisions. Randomly place 4 teams in one division and 4 teams in another division.  These 4 teams will then play each other to seed themselves in the tournament bracket portion.

Round-Robin Stage

During the Round-robin stage, the four teams will play each team in their division.  So for group A that has teams 1 through 4, each team will play three rounds.  Team 1 vs 2, while team 3 vs 4.  Then team 1 vs 3 while team 2 vs 4.  Finally team 1 vs 4 while team 2 vs 3.

After the 3 games are played, the scores are are recorded and calculated to see the seeding.  The rankings of the teams from the round robin group are as follows:

  1. Most wins
  2. Point differential in games.  Add total points for and subtract total points against.  (If tied for wins)
  3. Who looks the best (if tied for point differential)

The top 2 teams from each pool then go on to the winners bracket while the bottom two teams go on to the losers bracket.

Tournament Bracket Portion

There will be a winners bracket and a losers bracket now.  Team ranked 1 from pool A will play team ranked 2 from pool B while team ranked 1 from pool B will play team ranked 2 from pool A.  The winners of this match will then play a final game vs each other to produce a winner.

Some people choose not to have a losers bracket, it is up to you if you want to play a losers bracket.  If you do, it would be the same concept where team ranked 3 from pool A would play team ranked 4 from pool B, and so forth.

Winner is Crowned

In total, you are looking at 5 total games to produce a clear winner with all the bragging rights for the day.  Congratulations to you, but you can expect you victory will be short lived as someone else is ready to take over your crown the next rook tournament.

Additional Notes

  • Some people choose to play games to 500 pts and do not time the games.  The downfall with this is one game could end in 20 minutes while another game could end in 2 hours.  Other people choose to just play timed matches.  40 minutes per match and whoever is winning by the end of the time get the victory.  This can throw a wrinkle in some strategies for extending games, but keeps time to a minimum.
  • You can expect that this tournament may take about 4 – 5 hours to crown a winner (possibly more with longer games).    So be prepared for a long night if you start a 10:00pm!

Taking a Rook Hiatus: Why Some Players Think Rook Has No Strategy

Rook Strategy

It has been almost six months since we played our last competitive match of rook.  Wow, since I learned to play 5 years ago, I never thought it would occur.   There are simply so many people that play rook and consistently great fun each time we play.  However, sometimes all it takes is one or two people getting tired of the rook game to cause a real stir in the game’s consistency.

One of our good friends that we play a lot of games with (board games, card games, etc.) has decided that the rook game lacks in strategic playing.  This is a real surprise to me as I have found that there enough strategy involved in the game that I needed to write about it.  And so I did.  I also find myself discussing strategies with other players during and after games, just to get their opinion on different decisions made.

Let’s take a look at the non-strategic game of rook

So what might make the game of rook more about luck than strategy?  Well, there are a number of elements about rook that can really cause a person to simply not find a lot of skill involved in the game.

  • The 5 card kitty – It is definitely true that the rook game’s kitty is an extremely lucky portion of the game.  Every player at the table is gambling on whether or not those 5 cards are going to make or break your hand.  Bidders can sometimes simply bid higher and “hope” that the kitty is strong enough to make their hand worthy of the high bid.
  • Your partners hand matching yours – Even the most “skilled” of rook players cannot stop a team when their opponents hands match perfectly.   One player has the 1 of trump.  The partner has the 14 of trump.  And each of them have 6 trump cards in their hand.  Then the off suit colors match as well.   Yes, there simply are those times when you cannot stop opponents with matching hands.

What makes Rook about Skill?

If these matters above weight heavily on your rook game playing, you may be missing out on some finer points of the game which send it to a level of strategy.

  • Playing with weak hands – Anyone can win when they are dealt monster hands, but being able to correctly predict your bid and make a bid when you do not have a lot of power is what really can separate those that think the game is just luck, and those that see the finer points in the game.  With 200 points, there is a lot of room to make mistakes, but when you are bidding higher and higher for the scale of your hand, it takes making as few mistakes as possible to make sure that you are going to  retrieve every possible point card you can.   Strategy kicks in when you can maximize the amount of points you and your opponent are able to take each round and correctly bid (or allow opponent to win bidding) accordingly.
  • Knowing when to try and set your opponent – Because rook is a game of rounds, you do not need to have exactly the same aggression in each round.  Some rounds you may find that you can take some extra risks in your bidding, while other times you may have a strong hand but try to sink your opponent with the hand to get your team a better chance to win.  When you play an entire game to 500, you have a bit of room to strategies in each game.  Try to mix it up to throw your opponents off and play around with your bidding strategies.
  • Know your opponent – Just like any card game, you don’t really have to see a person’s cards to gain insight into what cards they have in their hand.  If you know what cards they have in their hand, would that change the card you play?  If you know your opponent only is holing the 14 of a color in their hand, you would certainly play the 1 right then if you had it.  There are many cases where you can make educated guesses as to what your opponenet might be holding based on their playing history.   Some people like to play all their power cards right at the beginning.  Others you can expect they may save their power cards to the very end.  You may even catch different player’s strategies on what they leave in the Kitty (point cards, voiding a color, or dropping all low cards).  All of these different tendencies can lead you to some great insight on what your opponents are holding throughout the game.

No the game of rook is not like playing chess.  The game of chess is highly involved and simply has a vast amount strategy due to the possibility of moves involved in every play.  However, we have found that the players that believe that there is no strategy in rook are the same players that look at games by simply a matter of numbers and percentages.  They see that there is a high percentage of cards in both the kitty and teammate and they then say that therefore there is too much luck involved to allow for skill to play a significant role in the game playing.  It is these same players that find themselves over bidding their hands and getting sunk on what should be an easy win.  It is also these same players that miss opportunities to play point cards to your teammate by not being aware of bidding strategies or player styles.

We instead see so much potential for strategic playing.  You can get to know your teammate really well and that will help your overall playing ability.  You can get to know our opponents and make better decisions accordingly. Rook strategies are all around and if you are not thinking strategically when playing, you simply are missing a large portion of the game.

Rook Turned 105 in 2011

Old Rook Cards

Yeah, it’s not the big century mark, but this rook game website was not quite around in 2006, so we thought we would give a happy birthday shout out to rook this year.  105 years ago the greatest card game known to man was born.  The card game rook born to give non-gamblers a way to battle it out on the card table for many years was created 105 years ago.  And to this day, the variations of rook keep pouring in.

Playing Rook 6 to 8 Hours a Day: Too Much?

So, I happened to be speaking to a friend of mine about playing rook.  We were talking simply about things like who they play with and where they play, you know, small talk in the rook game world.   No strategy talk or anything.   Then, I asked them about how often they play.   I was amazed to find out that this person said they play about 6 to 8 hours every day!

Now seriously, I love rook, but to play it 6 – 8 hours every day?  That is like a full time job!  There have got to be other games out there, or other things to do out there that have got to make your enjoy your day a little bit other than just playing rook all day.

Yes, you guessed it, this was an older gentleman.  Granted, he did not have much else in terms of day-to-day activities to keep him preoccupied, but 6 – 8 hours a day?   Everyday?

My question for you is, how often do you get to play in a day?  OK, I mean how often do you get to play in a week?  Month? How much rook playing is too much?

Two color powerhouse

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.

Rook Strategy: Playing Against Different Opponents

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Rook Strategy: Poor Trump Distribution

There are times when you make a bid and you know you do not have the strongest of hands, but you are hoping that your partner has some help for you.  Maybe some extra 1s or a bunch of your trump color.  With these possibilities in mind, you set out to win a round that you typically would expect to loose.

The next thing you know, you partner has already shown that they are out of trumps, and not only that, one of your other opponents has already shown they are out as well.  You count down the amount of trumps in your hand and you know the sad truth, one of your opponents has exactly the same amount of trumps as you.

Do not panic, just make sure you are paying extra attention to all the cards being played.   You are going to need to know if your are able to slough that off-trump 9 or keep it and hope that it is actually going to win a trick.

A few things are extremely important to help avoid the inevitable set:

  • Know that if you trump in, you may be giving your opponent the last trick of the game if they are able to get the lead and lead trump to pull all of the trump from your hand.
  • Try your best to keep your opponent that has trump from getting the lead without them having to use trump.
  • Focus on getting the last trick primarily as it not only takes the 20 pts automatically, but it also takes the points in the kitty and the points of the trick (usually there are some nice points in the last trick).
  • If you have a choice between securing the rook or securing the last trick, choose the last trick and let them take the bird.
  • Count, count, count the points that have been taken.  On rare occasions, the partner may not have a lot of points to give.  So even though the opponent has a lot of trump and takes a lot of tricks, they may not have taken a lot of points.
  • You are not going to lose by simply losing a lot of tricks.  You are going to lose if you do not try and minimize the losses.  Conceding well timed losses may be the key to staying on track and not getting set.

Final note: Getting set is not the end of the world.  It happens to the best of us.  If you get set, don’t give up on the round.   Who knows, the very next hand you may be shooting the moon!