Tag Archives: Trump

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.

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: 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!

Pulling Trump

It is highly recommended that if you are the bid taker, you should attempt to pull all trump from your opponents and ensure you get the bird in the process. Pulling trump can be done simply by leading high trump early in the round. The strategy behind pulling trump is that you as the bid taker want to be the only one with trump when the last trick is played. That way you are more likely able to get the last trick. In addition, you have more flexibility with using your trumps throughout without being worried that an opponent will over-trump you. Finally, you can be sure that your high cards are not trumped by opponents by forcing them to play their trumps early in the round.

Choosing Trump

In the game of rook, choosing your trump color after getting your 5 card kitty is usually fairly obvious.  For the most part, you are going to choose the color you have the most cards in, unless they are very low (like to the 10 or something).   Otherwise, if you have 7 or more of one color, that is likely going to be your trump by shear numbers.   Every so often, it is worth choosing your second most color when it is extremely powerful.  For example, if you have the 11 through 1 of one color, than that is all, but then 7 of another suit, not as powerful.   You are taking a risk that you will have less trump than an opponent, but it is still possible that you can pull all trump in 3 or 4 tricks.

There is always a significant portion of luck involved when choosing trump.  There is a slightly higher probability that one of your opponents has a large amount of your trump rather than your teammate.  But what it boils down to is choosing a color that you can hope to force your opponents to play all their trumps early on without having to loose to many tricks. 

Depending on your bid, you may be willing to lose a certain number of points in your trump suit.    Count points to make sure you are going to make it.