Variations

Adaptation for standard playing cards

ROOK may be played with standard playing cards by removing the 2s, 3s, and 4s from the deck and adding the joker to be used as the Rook Bird card. Thus, each 5 is worth 5 points, each ace and 10 is worth 10 points, and the joker is worth 20 points. Aces play high in tricks.

One common variant for a standard deck is played by five players and is scored individually, not in teams. As above, a single joker serves as the Rook; however, it acts as the lowest trump (not the highest) and must follow suit as normal. The full standard deck is used; each player is dealt ten cards, and the nest is three cards. When the bid-winner puts down the modified nest, he also names any card not in his new hand: the player with that card becomes the partner of the declarer, but may not reveal herself except by playing the named card. The bid-winner may call a card in the nest to forgo the right to a partner. There are six trump options: any of the four suits, "high no-trump", or "low no-trump". In high no-trump, the Rook serves as the only trump, and high cards take tricks as normal. In low no-trump, the lowest card of the suit led takes the trick, and again the Rook serves as the only trump. At the bid-winner’s option, either he or the player to his left may lead on the first trick. A hand is scored as if the declarer and his partner (if any) were one team, and the other three players were another. As above, aces are worth 15 points, kings 10, tens 10, fives 5, and the joker is worth 20 points.

Western New York Rook

The 1s 2s 3s and 4s are included in with the deal. Every player should have 13 cards and the "nest" or Kat (Kitty) should have 5. The Rook card is the lowest trump and is worth 20 points however you must follow suit whenever possible even with the Rook. The 1s are the highest of that one suit and are worth 15 points. When discarding cards in the Kat all counts must be face up to show how much the last trick could be worth. The last trick of the hand is worth 20 points and who ever takes the last trick gets all of the counts in the Kat. There are a total of 200 points every hand. The game ends at 500.

2-High Rook

Played very similarly to Western New York Rook. 1s, 2s, 3s and 4s are included with the deal. Each player has 13 cards, with 5 in the kitty. The Rook is the highest trump and can be played at any time. If the Rook is led, all players must also play trump cards, if possible. The Rook is worth 20, 2s 15, 1s and 10s 10 and 5s 5, making a total of 180 points per hand. The cards discarded after taking the kitty are not counted. The game ends at 500.

Alternatively, you can play with a standard deck of cards, using the Joker as the Rook and dealing 3 cards to the kitty.

Woodson Patrick Rook

This form of Rook is played in Eastern Kentucky and some parts of Ohio. The 1s 2s 3s and 4s are not included in the deal. The Rook Card is the highest trump and is worth 20 points, however, unlike other forms of Rook, the Rook must follow suit whenever possible. Each player is dealt six cards with three cards placed in the "widow", or "nest". Players then look at their cards and bid for the nest. The bidding ranges from 65-120. If a player "Shoots the Moon", that is they bid 120, then they automatically win the game if he or she makes that bid. Players who take the bid may also call "turn it" before they make trumps. "Turn It" refers to the nest takers right to turn the top card of the deck and has to make trumps based on that color (this usually happens if a player has colors that spread out like 3-2-2, etc.). An optional rule is that players may swap one card before the bidder calls trumps. Players and bidders alike may not discard game of any sort. After a color has been named trumps players may discard cards that are not trumps or game (although they can throw down trumps if they wish) and try to draw for better cards. The game continues until a team reaches 300. This type of Rook is often referred to as Poker Rook. This version of the game was named after its inventor and a legendary player named Woodson Patrick of Hager, Kentucky.

Western Kentucky Rook

This style of Rook is played with all 1s, 2s, 2s, and 4s dicarded save for the Red 1. 4 players divide into teams of 2. All players are dealt a hand of 9 cards with a 6 card widow, or nest. If a players hand contains no counting cards 5, 10, 14, Rook, or Red 1 then a misdeal is called and the hands are redealt. Bidding, then, procedes to the left of the dealer. Players may bid up 150 with the minimum bid being 70. Also, bidders may pass, they choose not to bid for widow, pass in-favor, which allows bidding to comtinue normally until bidding returns to the player that has passed in favor who then places his bid normally, (Note: Only one player per team my pass in-favor) and "Shoot the Moon, which is a bid of 150 and wins the game if the bid is made. Play continues with the window winner leading out and calling trumps. Scoring consists of 5=5, 10,14=10, Rook=20, and Red 1= 30. The Red 1 captures the Rook in this style of play. The Rook is the second dominant card in the deck. If the bidder goes set or doesn’t make his/her bid then that team is set back their bid and and the other team scores what they drew in through tricks. Play continues until one team has a score equal to or over 500.

14 thoughts on “Variations

  1. Jason

    I was wondering if you ever heard of a variation where the 2’s, 3’s, 4’s are removed. But the red 2 is included. The rook and red 2 is worth 20 each, 5’s=5, 10’s=10, 14’s=10 and the 1’s=15 for a total of 200 points. There are 10 cards dealt to each player (4) and 6 in the kitty. Play in teams of 2. The rook is top trump and the red 2 is next followed by 1,14, 13, 12 etc. The trump color is determined by the one who wins the bid and gets the kitty. The starting bid is 140. My family is from southwestern va (Coeburn) and that is the way they have played since the 50’s or 60’s. I have not heard of this variation anywhere else.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      I have never heard of this variation but is sounds very fun. I like the added red 2 value. If I was to play with rook as high, I would prefer to play with this added element of the red 2 being 15. 6 in the kitty is a lot! That must really make the bidding crazy.

      If I were to name it, I would call it: Red “to” Rook or Red Two Rook :)

      Reply
    2. christy

      yes this is how we have always plays too. i was starting to believe that we were the only ones. we play with the red 3 as the little rook . i am also from southwest va. st. paul so it muct be our own way of doing things

      Reply
      1. Roon

        We play without all 2,3&4 except Black 2. Black 2 is Top trump , then Rook. Delt 10 with 6 in kitty. Team that wins the most books takes the points in the kitty. We are in N. AL and it seems like most know this style around here.

        Reply
  2. Staten

    In our family we play with 5-14 cards plus the red 1 and the rook card. Point cards are red 1=30 pts, rook=20 pts, 5=5, 10=10,14=10 which totals to 150 pts per round. We love to shoot the moon where you call your bid at 150 and you secure all the points, it will equal 500 pts. Of course if you are in the negative on points, playing to 500 pts. will not get you the game but it might place you near it. This way to play has always been fun.

    Has anyone heard of rules of re deal or misdeal if a player isn’t dealt count card of ten or higher? Just would like people’s take on that. Thank you!

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    1. Gary

      We play the Eastern Kentucky variation of Rook. All 2s, 3s, and 4s are removed from the deck, leaving 45 cards including the Rook card. 1s are the high card in each color, so the card ranking goes (from highest to lowest) Rook-1-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5. The Rook counts as highest trunp in whatever color is trumps.The card values are :
      Each 1 ……15 Points
      Each 14 …..10 Points
      Each 10…..10 Points
      Each 5…..5 Points
      The Rook…..20 Points
      A total of 180 Points are possible in each round, or deal.

      Reply
    1. admin Post author

      This is not possible. The bidder must discard 5 cards total. They must end up with the same amount of cards in their hand as the rest of the players.

      Reply
  3. Kevin

    Lancaster PA rules

    Four players, no set teams. Exclude 2s, 3s and 4s which leaves 45 cards including the Rook. The kitty has 5 cards and each person has only 10 cards in their hand.

    1=15 pts, 14 & 10=10pts, 5=5pts, Rook=20pts, and there are no points for tricks. This is 180 points total.

    To shoot the moon, you must announce this before you look at the kitty. Bidding 180 is not the same, because failing is -180 instead of -360 if you shoot the moon and miss.

    You announce trump and your partner after you swap cards from your hand and the kitty. You do not need to announce if you hide points in the kitty. You call your partner by the card (“the black ace is my partner”). No one but the partner knows who the teams are until that card appears.

    Now the fun part. Rook is 20 points and it is trump and it must follow suit. However, its value is 9.5, so it can take some tricks but not others if other trump is played.

    When playing two tables (four players each), we wait for each round to end together. Highest four scores form the “upper” table and lowest four scores form the “lower” table. With each subsequent hand, players can be promoted or relegated between the two tables. The entire group (all tables) plays to 500.

    Reply
    1. Matthew Miller

      In northern Indiana, we play the same as Kevin’s “Lancaster PA rules”, but with Rook at 10.5 instead of 9.5. (We normally call this game “Rook ten and a half”).

      We also play a five or six-player variant which follows the same rules except that the parters change every hand, with score counted collectively each hand but tallied individually. In addition to choosing trump, the winner of the bid calls a certain card, and the holder of that card is his or her partner. (And the other three players together trying to set.) The fun twist is that this is secret from everyone (including the bid winner) until the card is played, and if that card is (for example) an off-suit 1, it may not be apparent for several rounds.

      (This works best with 5, but if there are 6 people who want to play, better than leaving someone out!)

      Reply
  4. Kevin

    Oops… one more Lancaster PA rule. The partner receives only half the points of the bid (positive or negative). This leads to the behavior that every individual needs to take the bid to remain viable in the scoring.

    Reply

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