Over the years, there are two major adjustments people have made when playing rook which cause for completely different strategies in play. One is taking out the 2s, 3s, and 4s to make each round shorter. The other is playing with the rook as the highest trump, the lowest trump, and in some cases, in between the 10 and 11 trump. All of these variations have a fairly large following, however, in my experience, I have found that playing with the rook as the lowest trump can often create more strategic playing.
When playing with the rook as low, having the bird in your posetion when bidding is not quite as important as when the rook is high. If your opponent has it when the rook is high, you are basically guaranteed a 20 pt loss at some point in the session. Not to mention that many people play that you can play the rook at any point in the game, whether you are out of the color that was lead or not.
When the rook is low, you often do not have to have it in your posetion, but you can force it to be played by simply leading trump until the person holding the bird is forced to play it. Even if you only have a 2 of trump left, it is still enough to take that bird and get it in your posession.
Your bidding strategy will be semi-effected by whether or not your have the rook card in your posession at the start of the game. For the most part, you can bid fairly aggressively without the bird and simply hope that it is either in the kitty, in your partner’s hand, or can be forced out by one of your top trump cards. However, since the rook can many times get taken by the opponent, bids are often around 150 out of a 200 max by the shear fact that so many possible losses are out there. Making a 150 bid is often possible even with the worst of hands, given the right amount of luck from the kitty and support from your partner.
If you have not played with the rook as low before, I highly recommend giving it a try. It does create for different bidding and strategic play, but that is part of the fun of the rook game.