Official Rules

Four players are organized into two teams of two players each, sitting opposite each other. Players must keep their hands secret from all other players, including their teammates. The object of the game is to be the first team to reach 300 points by capturing cards with a point value in tricks. If both teams have over 300 points at the end of a round, the team with the higher point total wins.

Only certain cards have a point value. These are known as counters. Each 5 is worth 5 points, each 10 and 14 is worth 10 points, and the Rook Bird card is worth 20 points.

The Deal

The 1s, the 2s, the 3s, and the 4s should be removed from the deck, and the Rook Bird card should be added, for a total of 41 cards. The dealer shuffles and cuts the deck, then deals all of the cards, one at a time. After every player has received his or her first card, the dealer places one card in the center of the table. This is repeated until there are five cards (the nest) in the middle of the table. The remaining cards are dealt normally.


After the deal, players bid in increments of 5 points for the privilege of naming the trump suit. Bidding starts with the player to the left of the dealer and passes clockwise. The minimum bid is 70 points, and the maximum is 120 points (the number of points a team would make if they captured all the counters in the game). If a player chooses not to increase the bid, he may pass to the next player. A player that has passed may not make another bid for the round. The high bidder adds the five cards of the nest to his or her hand, then lays any five cards to the side. The high bidder then names the trump suit.


After the trump suit has been named, the player to the left of the dealer places any card of any suit face-up on the center of the table. Play proceeds clockwise, with each player playing one card face-up in turn. After each player has played, the player that played the highest card of the suit of the leading card takes all of the cards played, or “takes the trick”.

A player must either follow suit (play a card of the leading suit) or play the Rook Bird card. If a player has no cards of the leading suit, he or she may play any other card, including the Rook Bird card or a card of the trump suit. The highest card of the leading suit takes the trick, unless a trump card is played, in which case the highest trump card takes the trick.

If a player reneges, or fails to follow suit when he or she could have, the error may be corrected before the next trick is taken. If it is not discovered until later, the round ends, and the team that made the error loses a number of points equal to the bid, regardless of which team made the bid. The opponents score all the counters they captured before the error was discovered.

The person who takes the trick leads in the next trick. When a trick is taken, it is placed face-down in front of the player who took it. Tricks taken may not be reviewed by any player until the end of the round. The player that takes the last trick in a round captures the nest and scores any counters in it.

The Rook Bird card

The Rook Bird card is the highest trump card in the game. It takes any trick in which it is played.

You may play the Rook Bird card at any time, even if you are able to follow suit. It is the only card that may be played this way. If the Rook Bird card is led, all other players must play a trump card, if they have one. If the trump suit is led, and you have no other trump card, you must play the Rook Bird card.


When all possible tricks have been taken, each team adds the counters it captured. If the bidding team failed to make the number of points bid, the team loses a number of points equal to the amount of the bid, and does not make any points for counters captured in the round. The opposing team receives points for any counters they captured.

The first team to reach 300 points is the winner.

Print the official rules here

Kentucky West(ish) Rules

This game is for four players in partnerships, partners sitting opposite and kitty corner.

Order of cards

  • Ones are high in each color, so the card ranking is 1-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2.
  • The Rook card is the lowest card of whatever color is called as trump, ranking as a zero in that suit.
    (The Rook will beat any card that is not trump, but will lose to any other trump card.)

The card scoring values are:

  • Each 1. . . . . . . . .15 points
  • Each 14. . . . . . . 10 points
  • Each 10. . . . . . . 10 points
  • Each 5. . . . . . . . .5 points
  • The Rook. . . . . . 20 points

There are a total of 180 points available in each deal.


  • Cards are dealt to each person, one at a time, with five cards dealt face down in the middle of the table as a kitty.
  • Misdeal: If a player is dealt a hand with no point cards, he can call a misdeal and get a new hand dealt.


  • Person to the left of the dealer starts the bidding, and bidding goes clockwise around the table.
    At your turn, you can either bid or pass. If you pass, you cannot bid again in that hand.
    Bidding continues until three players have passed.
  • The lowest possible starting bid is 70 and bidding goes up in increments of at least 5.
  • There are 180 points total available. A bid of 110 – 120 is very achievable. A bid of 135-145 is do-able, but difficult.
  • If a team takes ALL the points in a hand, they are awarded 20 extra points, for a total of 200 points.

The Kitty and Choosing Trump

  • The winning bidder picks up the kitty cards, without showing them to the other players, and discards five cards of their choice face-down.
  • The bidder cannot put point cards into the kitty.
  • Exception: if the choice is between putting point cards and trump in the kitty, the bidder can put points in the kitty, but must inform the other players that points are in the kitty.
  • The winner of the last hand gets the points from the kitty.

Picking up the kitty can make the your hand better or worse:

  • You may be able to swap out cards to eliminate a color suit in your hand
  • You may acquire weak point cards which you have to keep

After discarding 5 cards, the bidder chooses trumps by naming a color.


  • The player to the left of the high bidder leads any card to the first trick.
  • Trump cannot be led until someone has played a trump card on a trick where they cannot match color.
  • The other players in turn must play a card of the same color if they can.
  • If they have no card of the led color, they may play any card.
  • The Rook card counts as a card of the trump color. (But this card will be beat by any other trump card.)
  • When everyone has played a card, the trick is won by the player of the highest trump, or, if no trump was played, by the highest card of the color that was led.
  • The winner of a trick leads next.

End of Round and Scoring

  • At the end of play, each team counts the total value of the cards they have won in tricks.
  • If the tricks won by bidder’s team contain at least as many points as the bid, that team score the amount of card points they took. If the bidder’s team takes fewer card points than the bid, they score nothing for the cards they won; instead they subtract the amount of the bid from their previous score.
  • The non-bidding team always scores the total number of points taken by their team.

Winning the Game

  • The game ends when a team reaches 500 points or more. The team with the highest score wins.

Score Sheet

Credit to for creating the original version of this printable sheet.

Rook Score Sheet [printable]

Buying Rook Cards

Rook cards are inexpensive.  Amazon has a number of decent decks available for around $10.  Here are some good places to buy.

  • 57 Cards: Best rook card option with high quality fully plastic deck.  Not exactly rook cards, but work perfectly to play the game.  Now with a bird!
  • Recent Hasbro Deck:  The latest rook deck available.
  • Older Hasbro Deck: For actual rook cards, I like this version the best.  It last the longest even though it is slightly more expensive than the more recent print.
  • 57 Cards at Amazon: These cards really do last a long time!

117 thoughts on “Official Rules

  1. Pingback: Was it Right to Pass My Bid at 175? | Rook Game

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      1. Bill Wittal

        Played a five handed rook game. I was leading and the second place player won the bud and called me as a partner. We made the bid. We both scored over 300 but I had more points (375 to 350). Who wins the game?

    1. Betty Whitten

      What is procedure for having your partner call trumps ? Is there a penalty ? Please Reply. Thank you ever so much.

          1. Mahayla Caudill

            We always played that if nobody wants it the dealer has to take it for the lowest bid, which would be 70

  3. James Abens

    My family has always played the following way:

    All cards are used
    Rook is low trump and must follow suit
    No points can be discarded in the kitty
    5’s worth 5, 10’s worth 10, 14’s worth 10, Rook worth 20, Tricks worth 30
    High bidder leads first

    Have you ever heard of this variabtion? Is there a name to it?

    1. admin Post author

      Are 1’s still worth 15? I have heard of playing with tricks as 2 pts each in 2 player rook, but never counted in 4 player. Sounds a little closer to bridge. Might be fun!

    2. Matt Dillon

      James, I play the same way. With older decks, I believe that was the only set of rules. With newer decks, there are several variations of the game. However, I think the way you and I play is still considered the gold standard.

    3. Adri

      I have played this way as well, I don’t know much about it. Thr only thing different that my family did was add the kitty.

  4. Mike Folkerts

    We have just begun playing with another couple. Usually none of us have good hands so the last person to bid has to bid 70. We take out the 1-4 cards as the rules state. What are we doing wrong? Once I bid 85 and lost even though I had enough trump cards and the 5,10 and 14. I led trump a lot…still did not make my bid.

    we would appreciate some hints for beginners

    1. admin Post author

      It doesn’t sound like you are doing anything wrong. There are different versions of rook, some that include the 1 – 4 and also have the last trick worth 20 pts.

      Point structure:

      Each 1. . . . . . . . .15 points
      Each 14. . . . . . . 10 points
      Each 10. . . . . . . 10 points
      Each 5. . . . . . . . .5 points
      The Rook. . . . . . 20 points

      This would make a total of 200 pts including the last trick.

      In your case it sounds like you only have 120 pts possible in each round. Therefore, if you do not have the rook in control, it would mean that it would be difficult to make a high bid. My best recommendation is to make sure you have a decent amount of high cards in each color so that you do not lose a lot of 14s and 10s from other colors besides your trump. Also, make sure that you are able to take the rook card.

      Do you play rook as the highest trump or lowest?

  5. Monica

    my grandmother loved playing Rook. now that she is passed away i have her Rook cards. i am trying to learn the game and it seems fun. this is a great family game night game.

  6. Soren

    My family in Minnesota plays with the following rules.

    Take out the 2s, 3s, and 4s because they slow down the game. 1s are high. Rook is the lowest trump and must follow suit.
    20 for the last trick.
    200 points per hand.

    5 card kitty for four person.

    Misdeal if: No points in a hand or no card ten or higher.

    Kitty: Can have a max of 15 points. You must say whether the kitty has points or not, but don’t have to say how many.

    Any suggestions or changes?

    1. admin Post author

      This is actually the exact version we play when our friend’s from Florida come to visit. Even with all the side rules about announcing points in the kitty, misdeals and points for last trick. Personally, I have always preferred playing with the 2s, 3s, and 4s included simply because I find it slightly more strategic and less about luck. When you take the 2s, 3s, and 4s out, the 5 card kitty becomes an even larger swing to the power of your hand. You are able to exchange 5 out of your 10 cards instead of only 5 out of 13.

      I still enjoy playing both version with and without all the cards.

      If you ever have an odd number of players (say 3, 5, or 7) you may want to try the game 8 up. It is similar to rook, but plays every person for themselves. Playing all 16 phases of the game is fairly long, but you do not have to play all phases if you do not wish.

      1. Rolf

        What are the complete rules for a 2 player game?

        Can the initial bidder pass? With 2 people that would mean the dealer could bid anything low as once you pass you can’t bid again, right?

  7. tom

    In North Carolina and East Tennessee, I have always seen it played with the Rook card as the high trump and the red 2 as the second highest trump card (no matter what color gets called trump). The red 2 is referred to as the “Baby Rook” and takes any trick other than the “Big Bird.” The other twos and the threes and fours are removed from the deck and the ones are the highest card of each suit. Nothing is said about how many points are in the kitty and a misdeal is being dealt with no points in your hand.

    Rook card-20 points
    “Baby Rook”-20 point
    No additional points per hand
    No additional points for the last trick
    Last hand takes the kitty

    After reading some of the other rules that people play out there in other areas, it makes the rules that I am used to seem rather cut-throat and these that I am reading about sound pretty tame.

    1. Michelle

      I think it’s pretty funny how many different ways it is played.
      We are in Western NC and pretty much everyone I have ever played with plays the same way.
      2s,3s and 4s are discarded
      1s are high and worth 15 points
      Rook is the highest card and worth 20
      Rook is considered the trump color and can only be thrown if you are out of the color that is played
      180 points at the end of the end
      Shoot the moon is worth 200
      500 points is the game
      You can not look back at cards that have been played
      Misdeal if no points in your hand or turned up
      Of all the hands I have played I’ve only been able to call a misdeal maybe twice. Usually have at least a 5 or one is turned up.
      You can discard whatever you want but if you lose the last trick the opponents get those cards. So it’s usually not wise to put a whole lot of cards in it just in case.

      1. Michelle

        My husband just told me I was wrong and he is right. Shoot the moon either wins you the game or takes you out of the hole no matter how deep in it you were.
        200 point game is when you take every trick.
        You also have to take every trick if you shoo the moon. If you don’t get it you go back 500 points.

      2. Shirley

        Finally found one that plays the same as I do. My parents from eastern TN taught me how to play. I moved from Illinois, (people there play these rules) to eastern TN, my close friends play these rules, I know that’s only four of us, but I did play in a tournament 12 tables with these rules.
        I had NO IDEA one card game could be played so many ways. Interesting. Shoot the moon, your hubby is correct according to the way we play, but have never known anyone to do it.m

    2. Chrystal

      This is the way we play here in eastern my. But we also play “shoot the moon” where you feel you can catch all tricks. If the only tick your opponents catch is the Rook trick then you can steal or “skin the bird”

  8. Darlene

    I use to play where 1-4’s was removed except the red 4 & it was highest in points then the rook was next. Has anyone ever played by those rules? If so can someone please refresh my memory on how the points was done. I believe the rook was 25 & the Red 4 was 50. I can’t romember the other cards points was.

  9. MamawW

    This is the debate at the Senior Center. I had read that you could not look back at cards taken once the next card is in play. Would like an answer please.

    1. admin Post author

      This rule is different from house to house. Our house rule is that as soon as a card is in play, you can look back on to only the one previous round of four cards. As soon as all four cards have been played, you can no longer look back to that round.

  10. Carol

    We played this game so much as kids and I just bought a deck of Rook cards and notice the rules are different than the way we used to play. We played that the 1’s were worth 15, we did not discard the 2’s, 3’s and 4’s. The Rook was the lowest of the trump cards. We did not do anything special for the last trick played. My sister and I frequently played with a dummy and usually we would bid around 100 points and with a good hand generally we were able to make them. We did not discard point cards and no one got the discards at the end of the game, not that there was anything in there worth anything anyways. I think I will keep playing this way.

    1. Debbie

      I can not find in the rules when your bid is “shoot the moon”. This means doubling your bid to 240 and you must pull every hand.
      Has anyone heard of this?


      1. Sue

        Yes! Debbie! I played his way all through college and tonight called “going alone” and “shooting the moon”. I got all the tricks – 180 and told my kids that I then got double the points for that hand. They didn’t believe me and we couldn’t find it anywhere in the rules online, so I gave up on th extra points. But good to hear you have also played this way.

  11. Daivd

    i guess its pretty wide open for the rules..we play take out 1-4 except black 1..makes 42 cards..rook is highest (how could it not be look at it :)) black one second highest (little rook) 5s= 5 pts, 10s and 14s =10 pts both rooks worth 20 pts for a total of 140… no points can be put in kitty (nest) unless there is no choice and if done must be turned up for all to see.. last hand winner gets nest…..we tried to allow for pts to go into nest without needing to be put there but winner of kitty almost always just runs everyone out of trump and gets 120-140 pts everytime, thats no fun to me–got to have a way to mess up winner of kitty somehow?

  12. Debbie

    I can not find in the rules “shooting the moon”. This means doubling Your score to 240 and you must pull every hand.
    Has anyone heard of this?

    1. admin Post author

      Shooting the moon is also different from household to household. In our game, we play that when you shoot the moon, you are bidding 200 pts (our total amount for the round). And if you succeed, you will gain double that (400). But if you fail, you lose 400 pts. So it is a very big risk. Some require that not only all the points must be taken, but all the tricks as well. In addition, some people require in order to shoot the moon that you as the bidder must win every hand and not even your partner can help. In our game, we play with the 1s, 2s, 3s, and 4s so it is even less likely that a person can shoot the moon. So we allow the partner to help.

      In the Call Partner game, shooting the moon happens much more frequently.

  13. Rondi Wellum

    Map grandparents from OK and TX taught us Rook. Everyone in my family plays. Here are our variations.
    1-4 removed
    rook is 10.5
    5’s=5, 10’s and 14’s = 10, rook = 20
    Bidding starts at 80
    Kitty also called widow – top card shown
    Widow can have points and don’t have to announce
    Person taking last trick catches points in widow
    90/95 pretty typical bid. Rarely does someone win bid less than 90.

    1. admin Post author

      I’ve heard of a similar variation to this. I like the idea of having the top card in the widow shown. Seems to add a fun element.

      In our game, if a card accidentally gets turned over during the deal, we will add it to the kitty and leave it face up rather than re-dealing. So we have rare occasions where we play with one of the cards in the kitty face up as well.

  14. buck

    i have a question:is there such a thing called shooting the moon. where partners rake all the tricks and double their points?

    1. admin Post author

      We play that you can shoot the moon if: 1) You bid for shooting the moon during the bidding phase. 2) You take all the tricks in the round between you and your partner.

      You then get 400 pts for successfully shooting the moon. If you do not succeed, however, we play you then lose 400 pts.

    1. admin Post author

      Shooting the moon is different from household to household. The way we play is you do not have to have the rook (since the rook is low) in order to shoot the moon. However, you do have to take it and all the tricks of the round in order to shoot the moon.

      1. Karen

        I have never heard of the rook card being low. We play it is the highest trump and is worth 20 points. So if you remove the 2, 3 and 4’s, are you saying the rook is below a 5?? Also we play that if you shoot the moon and succeed, you win the game. If you shoot the moon and aren’t successful, you lose the game. Have you ever heard of that? I am in Louisiana and have played this way for 60 years.

        1. admin Post author

          I have not heard of that version of shooting the moon. Shooting the moon is one of those rules that I have heard many different variations for though.

          With rook being low, it is still worth 20 points, but it is just below all the other trumps…so even the 5, 4, 3, and 2 of trump. It is often a challenge to get the trump in this version.

          Not to be completely confusing, but In another variation I have played with rook worth 10.5. It is better than the 10, but cannot be the 11. I actually really like this version.

          It is great to hear you have been playing for 60 years. It is such a fun game!

  15. Linda

    We take out 1-4’s, and play with a double deck. To begin playing, each player has 12 cards. What is ruling if the one winning the bid has 13 counters in their hand, knowing they can’t discard any of them? Is it a misdeal or do you throw away the smallest counter?

    1. admin Post author

      What an interesting scenario! I have not heard of this mainly because I have not played the version you are describing. With two decks and only the 5 through 14s. I would suspect that if you had 13 counters in your hand, you should only drop the lowest counter as you suggest. But because it has never happened and you probably don’t have a rule for it that everyone would know, the safest bet would be to simply to a misdeal, and brag about the fact that your entire hand was point cards.

  16. Marrs

    Rook-30 pts. Top card. Little black 1 is 20 pts.,
    14’s-10pts., 10’s-10pts., 5’s-5pts., top score 180. 500 wins the game. There are no 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, or 4’s in game ( except the little black 1). Which is second to win any after the big took bird. Yes you can sh joy the moon when bidding but you have to win every card, have a perfect hand to win & if you do you will win game.

    1. admin Post author

      Again, a unique option of having rook as 30 points and incorporating the little black 1. I love learning about all these other variations on top of the initial rules. I could see how this version would be fun as well.

    2. Michael Portman

      This is how we play in Western Kentucky.

      150 pts per hand.
      Big and little Rooks, (Rook and black 1)
      30 and 20 pts respectively.
      14’s and 10’s worth 10.
      5’s worth 5.

      Shooting the moon means going ahead or back 500 points.

      Makes for some crazy games and loads of fun.

  17. proracer11

    my family seems to follow the official rules pretty close with two exceptions. you must follow suit if able even if you hold the rook… and we play to 500 instead of 300…

    anyone else play this way?

    1. admin Post author

      That seems to be the way we play as well. Games to 300 were too short, so 500 seemed like the perfect evening.

      Regarding following suit, I’m not sure what you mean, but it sounds like the way we play as well. So if a trump is led and you have the rook, you have to play it if you have no other trump cards. But non-trump suits would not force you to play the bird.

  18. Ginger

    I’ve been playing for over 25 years with my in laws, their rules. Is the following a real version?

    Play with all cards
    1s are highest, 15pts
    14s, 15pts
    10s, 10pts
    5s, 5pts
    Rook, lowest trump, 20pts
    Total of 200
    No counters in kitty ever

    1. admin Post author

      This is a different version than I have seen once again. I didn’t realize so many people had their own variations!

      For the most part it sounds like how we play, however, the 14s are 15 points rather than 10 points and the last trick does not count for any points. It certainly makes for some different strategies, especially in those very close bids. 5 points here and there really add up.

      I would think that in this scenario, 14s are some of the more difficult cards to play. They are so important to secure because of their point value, and it would almost be more important simply to dump a 14 under your partner’s 1 rather than risking getting it trumped later in the match.

  19. jon

    We have always played that there is an option to call no trump. In this case, the rook is the high card worth 20, and the other cards are played as normal. if you don’t have a near perfect hand, it can be a little dangerous, since there is often no way to get the lead back once the rook is played.

    Something came up the other day when playing with friends, and that was the question of what happens if someone leads out with the rook during no trump. My brother and I couldn’t remember if you could play any card, or as my friend suggested, that in playing the rook you would have to call a suit for that trick for everyone else to play.

    we only play 5 through 14, with rook high, as in your initial rules. I’ve been looking for the “official” rules in the parker brothers set that I had, but they have gone missing. your iteration is as close as I’ve come to what I remember. for what it’s worth, my people are from north central Indiana.

  20. Evan

    I find it so interesting how there are so many variations on this game. Rook was a big deal at my college, with tournaments held regularly with these rules:

    -Play with all cards
    -1s highest/ 15 points
    -All other points as notated on cards
    -180 points through cards but last trick is worth 20 points (maximum of 200 points per round)
    -Winner of last hand also wins any points that are in the kitty.
    – Rook is 10.5

    This rule set seems to be another variation of Kentucky Rook, but does anyone else play” full deck, 200 point max hand, Rook mid,” or is that just the small community I’ve played in?

    1. admin Post author

      I have played this version often. I actually prefer this version you describe myself as it provides a more strategic game.

  21. Luke

    I think being part of my family genetically endowed me with the ability to play rook. My family has always played it with all cards and as follows.

    1s High – 15 pts
    14’s – 10 pts
    10’s – 10 pts
    5’s – 5 points
    Rook is low trump – 20 pts

    Team to catch most tricks gets 20 points for a total of 200 maximum bid

    But our nest is just 1 card. If its count you have to take it and you can’t discard count. If that one nest card is a 5, 10 or 14 in the color you didn’t have any of or were going to discard to be able to trump in, it can really screw you over.

    To play 6 handed, we just remove two of the 2’s and away you go. Bidding is more conservative and it can get pretty wild cause cards are spread out and people trump in quickly…so getting count in quick is paramount.

    1. admin Post author

      How fun! This is probably the farthest I’ve heard about minimizing the nest. Larger hands and only a single card in the nest. I like it! What do you usually start bidding at? 100? I bet a typical bid is probably 140 or so, correct?

  22. Steve

    I have played Rook since I was a young man and spent too much time playing it when I was in college. I have played many different ways. In college we played with the Rook and 5-14, 120 possible score. Rook was the highest trump. To make it more fun we would play high and low card. In high card the highest card wins and low card the lowest card wins. Either way we played the Rook always wins the trick in which it is played. We also played no trumps and the Rook only won if it was lead in a trick otherwise it could not catch a trick.

    I still play now but the group I play with adds the 1’s for a possible 180 score. We play all the variations I mentioned above.

    I saw several comments on “shooting the moon.” Our rule on shooting the moon is different than what I read above. The way we play it is you can shoot the moon or shoot the hole depending on the bidder’s score. If he is in the hole he can shoot the hole and if wins all the points his score is now zero regardless of how much he is in the hole. If he has a positive score and shoots the moon and makes it his team automatically wins the game. If he fails in either one, the game is over and the other team wins the game.

    1. admin Post author

      When you wrote “shoot the hole”, my mind immediately thought that you might be referring to the opposite of shooting the moon, so essentially trying hard not to take any point cards…I haven’t heard if that is actually an option of the game. That would be really cool too! I do like your variations described here. Playing low card is such a fun variation that adds a whole new layer of complexity.

      1. Steve

        I have played games where the bidder’s bid was that he would not catch any tricks. Adds a little fun to the game.

  23. John Sims Jeter

    Is there a time during the bidding wjem you can throw in your hand, that is, referred to as a bid of “puke?”
    If not rook, is that a convention in any other card game?

  24. Patrick

    The way I learned the game is as follows.

    140 was the highest bid you could make. Rook was worth 20, 14,10 was worth 10 and 5 was worth 5 of course. The nest was 9 cards with the four players holding 12 in their hand. Top card on nest was face up. The game was won by the first team to 500 points

    1. admin Post author

      Interesting, so you kept all the cards in…including 1, 2, 3, 4, but 1 is not worth anything, and it also sounds like it remained the lowest card, correct? Is rook the lowest or highest of trump?

      Sounds similar to many rook versions, though I sort of like the fact that this version has less points available each round.

      1. Patrick

        Rook is the highest of trumps 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9,11,12,13 were all no count just played as the card with the bigger value would win against another one. For example the 13 would beat the 2 3 and 4. All the cards stayed in the deck and my grandparents and great aunts and uncles would play this all afternoon on saturday and sunday.

  25. Ronn

    As a young adult, my favorite 2-player Rook game was “Over The Top”. The deck we now have does not include these rules nor can I find them online. Can you help me with this?

  26. Juan C Nieto

    I just bought the rook cards and was going through the instructions. I don’t understand the rule that says that if the rook card is led, the other players must use the trump card if they have it. I don’t understand why, and what if they have a trump card but don’t play it? How would the other players know that he or she had a trump card but didn’t play it? I must be confused about this rule. Please I would appreciate some clarification on this rule. I want to play this so bad but I want to be clear about all the rules first.

    Thanks in advance,


    1. admin Post author

      If the rook card is led, it is considered a trump card (typically the lowest trump). Therefore, the same rules apply as with any other card led, a player must follow the color that is led unless they do not have the color, then they may play any other card.

      However, the question you bring up is valid regarding “how would you know if a player had the color or not?” The answer is first you hope that everyone in the group is playing honestly. You can do your best to remind people of this rule, but occasionally players forget or make mistakes by mis-reading their hands. A typically question occurs when you expect somebody to follow the color led but they do not is, “Are you sure you didn’t have anymore {insert color}?”

      I am a bit of a stickler when it comes to this rule. I actually just get a tally in my mind of what colors people are out of. If I see them play that color later in the game, then I would have to call them out on it. We usually call it a misdeal if it appears to completely alter the hand and then just do not record the score for that round.

      Every house would have different rules for not following the color led including some sort of punishment, 20 push-ups or something!

    2. Cheryl

      I’ve been playing Rook for years. My family plays as follows. 120 pts. Rook 20 pts. And is the highest trump 10’s, 14’s are 10 pts. and 5’s are 5 pts. We take out 1-4. No counters in the 5 card nest. Highest bidder wins the nest adds the 5 cards to their ha d then discards 5 cards no counters ( point cards) . Makes trump a leads the first trick. Minimum bid starts at 70 with partners 50 pts if playing individually 3 to 4 players. When playing with 2 players we have a dummy player we deal all the cards out still have 5 card nest . Dealing the dummy hand to the right of the dealer. Stack the dummy cards in a single stack . Turning over the top card on its turn . This is very challenging because the dummy doesn’t have to follow the suit that was lead and may trump a trick.

  27. Will

    My friends have always played with 1’s high and worth 15 points, and the rock bird worth 10.5 of trump (as in it’ll take a 10 but is taken by an 11) for taking tricks and worth 20 points, giving a total of 180 (we don’t award points for taking tricks as such). We take the 2-3-4s out and put 5 cards in the kitty, and the person who takes it is allowed to put points in without restriction, and those points go to whoever takes the last trick.

    For 4 players, we play with set partners, as described before.

    For 5 players, on the other hand, we play that the person taking the bid gets to call one card, with that playing being his partner, and the other three on a team against them. Bids as high as 150 are common, and 160 is not unheard of. Our rules do make taking all tricks and earning 180 points fairly common, and there is no special reward for doing so, but on the other hand, the high bids make it possible to set them in one trick.

    We do have a rule where someone can “shoot the moon” by declaring that he will play alone and earn all 180 points, and succeeding awards 360 points (I have never seen someone attempt this).

    1. admin Post author

      What you describe appears to be one of the more popular version of the rook played with the exception of the rook being 10.5.

  28. Eunice Turner

    Playing 1-High Partnership. If a player calls “no trump,” when can the Rook card be played? Must players follow the lead color until he/she runs out of that color and then can play the Rook when that color is led again? Or can the Rook card be used to catch any trick?

    1. admin Post author

      The way we played it: When no trump is called, the Rook card does not have a color, and can be played at any time. The rook card cannot take any tricks. It still carries the 20 point value, but will never win a trick. The time to play it would be when your partner is guaranteed the trick. There are not a lot of rule specifics about no-trump though. This was just the version we used. I could see some groups playing with the rook only being able to be played when a user is out of a color and then either have it as the lone trump, or still have it as not a trump and needing to be taken by the partner.

  29. Sami

    Can you shoot the moon without actively having the rook in your hand in hopes your partner gives it to you as their best?

  30. Bill

    My family has played this game for 35 + years. It is very interesting to read all of the variations of rules.

    We play 120 points with 1-4 removed. Rook is low and only played as a trump card. We play up to 500 and you have to take the last bid to “go out” and win. You cannot put points in the kitty. 85-90 is the typical winning bid with 95-100 being difficult to make.

    We also play 180 rook with the same rules as above except adding in 1-4 with 1’s being low cards worth 15 points each. (We play this way only with those not familiar with our 120 version).

    1. admin Post author

      Depends on whether you are including the 1s in your game. See the various variations of the game of rook. In my house, we play with all the cards and the Rook is 20 and the last trick is 20 pts. Therefore, no trick team would get 0 and the team winning the bid would get 200.

  31. Nelmalena TURNER

    When in a game the bid has been taken and game about to start can a person call redeal. Or should redeal have been called before bidding starts.

    1. admin Post author

      I would say it should be called before bidding starts. Otherwise, it would seem that the person would wait to see if their partner has a good hand and then after seeing they too have a bad hand, they then call “re-deal”.

  32. Dawn

    I used to play a game called Dirty Bird Rook…we had a sheet of paper that had different instructions for each hand…ex..1 round might be green is automatically trump and another might be player to the left of dealer calls trump…has anyone ever heard of this… I can’t find it anywhere…

  33. Thomas sexton

    If a non trump color is led out can a player use the rook to capture the trick even if they have the color of the card led out in their hand

    1. admin Post author

      No, not in the version of Rook that we play. The person must play the color that is lead if they have it.

    1. admin Post author

      Funny, I actually hadn’t noticed that. I clicked on the link to the original rule PDF It states that the “original” rules uses the Powerful Rook Card. It also states exactly what you pointed out that the rook can be played at any time whether you have the color or not. My group has never played like that. For me, I’ve also always played rook as the lowest card and the original rules have the Rook as the highest card. I know there are many different variations, but I hadn’t noticed that the original rules allowed the Rook to be played at any time. I guess if your group decides to play the rook at any time, it seems that it was actually the original intention for the rook card.

    2. Yvonne

      I love playing rook! The game we always played was called The Red One, all 1, 2, 3,and 4, were removed except the red one which was worth 30 points, rook was 20 points. 14 & 10 were worth 10 points each, the 5 cards worth. 5 points making it a total of 150 points. Does anyone else know this game? It used to be in some of the old rule books.

      1. Gerri

        Yes, I learned the game from my parents in Louisiana and this is how we played. We also had a widow of 6 cards that went to highest bidder. The 6 cards discarded could contain points and there was no requirement to say there were points in the widow. The team who wins the last trick gets the widow and any points included.
        Did you require the starting bid to be 70 or could it start higher? Also was the rook and the Red One considered as part of the trump regardless of color?

  34. Stallings Kenneth

    What is the rule if you get bid and want your partner to name trump? I thought you had to discard the nest (kitty) first ten ask your partner and add 5 points to your original bid. Who starts you or your partner??

    1. Marshall Dudley

      We always played to add 5 points, and original bid taker leads. We allow the partner to refuse and send the bid back to the original bidder for an additional 5 points. One time in college I watched the opposing team send it back and forth until they reached the max bid. They went set.

  35. dorothy slaton

    I have played rook for a lot of years over 50 just started to play again my question is what else is the nest called we didn’t call it that heard kitty ,widow that isn’t what we used

    1. Matt

      In my community (church youth group), we play this way:

      Remove 2s, 3s, and 4s
      1s are high and worth 15 points
      Rook mid (10.5) and worth 20 points
      Last hand is worth 20 points

      So there are a total of 200 points. No restrictions on points in the kitty. Bidding usually goes to 155-165.

  36. William thomas

    What is the rule on mis-deals? When do you have to call a misdeal? Is it as soon as you pick up your hand, or can you wait until after the bidding is over, but before the first card is played?

    1. admin Post author

      This is likely a house rule, but we play a misdeal has to be called immediately prior to bidding. I could see that some houses may prefer to allow the bidding process to take place to see if the partner possibly has a monster hand. I don’t know the “official” rule though.

  37. Jennette

    Can you play Rook with 6 players and 2 decks? if so, what are the rules and do you use both birdies? We play 4 handed using the Kentucky West(ish) Rules. Also, do you have to kill with trump if you don’t have the suit played?

    1. admin Post author

      I am curious about the 2 deck option for rook. I have not heard of a way to do this. I have played 6-handed, 2-teams with one deck. This is pretty fun. I have also played 5-handed call-partner with one deck. 2 decks sounds like it could be very interesting though. I guess you would make the rule that in order to take a trick, you must play a card of greater value than what has already been played. So the first person to play a high 13 would have to be beaten by a 14 or higher. A second 13 in the same round would not cause any sort of tie, just a losing card.

  38. Chrissie

    I’m confused about the bidding. What if no one wants to bid? They all pass in other words. Is the dealer stuck with making 70 points? I have read many game instructions for Rook, but I have never seen a rule for that scenario—-? In the card game, Pinochle for example, the dealer is stuck with a 20 bid if no one bids. The instructions for Rook clearly states that any player can pass his or her bid and cannot enter the bidding after a pass so if everyone including the dealer passes, what happens?

    1. admin Post author

      I had not thought about this scenario. I would assume that if one player does not have a good hand, then at least one other player would have a decent hand, enough to bid on. But maybe there is strategy if no-one bids.

      My thought would be that in the case no-one bids, it would be a re-deal. But I could also accept your rule that the dealer is forced to take the bid. (penalty for dealing such poor cards!)

      There are many “house” rules for Rook that are not actually set-in-stone. This could be one of those “house” rules.

  39. Chrissie

    Thanks for replying! I like the strategy of penalizing the dealer, as in Pinochle, ha! (Except when it bites me of course). However, one rule I’ve seen in Rook declares a misdeal can be called if a player has no counters in his/her hand. A re-deal is then made by the same dealer; however, a misdeal is not mentioned if all players pass. Perhaps omitting a mid-high minimum bid amount would solve the matter. Players could bid what they want in increments of 5 until there are no more bids. Starting a low bid would eliminate the dealer “getting stuck.”

  40. Bobby

    What is the rule if someone doesn’t put enough cards into the kitty pile and plays out the hand. Is it a mis-deal or automatic set?

  41. D Forsyth

    We play with these rules
    4 handed
    – 1 -15 pts
    14- 10 pts
    10-10 pts
    5 – 5 pts
    rook – 20
    5 cards in the kitty(widow)
    bidding starts at 75, no limit to how high.
    180 points for the game + 20 for the most tricks, so 200 points for the round.
    If the winning team takes all tricks they are awarded a 100 point bonus calling it a 300 hand.
    If you don’t reach your bid, then you loose the points that you bid.
    We play to 500 and then switch partners and everyone has their own score.

    Also we play 5 handed rook
    Same points value for cards. Two in the kitty(widow) Every one bids independently. The person who takes the bid, gets to call for one card that he needs and the person who has that card is now his partner. so 2 against 3 for the teams.

    1. Jeremy Post author

      Nice! This sounds like a great version. Do you leave the 2s, 3s, and 4s in? Also, do you play rook high or low?

  42. mike l cooper

    if both teams go over 500 with the same score. Does the bidder win or is another hand played to determine winner? We had this occur during a game last night and the players disagreed on who won??

    1. Jeremy Post author

      I am not sure what the “official” rules state. We made a house rule that in order to win, the team must take the bid. This avoids teams just backing in to the 500 pt total and made the bidding more aggressive. However, it is not a perfect solution as a team that is losing could just keep bidding higher and higher to force the game to never end.

      In your scenario, I would suspect that if both teams cross the 500 line together, likely the team that has the most total points is crowned the winner.

  43. Owen

    My family plays a variation most similar to the official rules. The only difference is that you don’t know who your partner is until after the bid. Whoever wins the bid gets to choose one card to call for, and whoever has that card switches with the person across from the bid winner. You and your teammate for that round get the same number points added or subtracted from their score. Points are tracked individually instead of by teams because teams usually change every round.

  44. Marshall Dudley

    We play with the red one. It is worth 30 points the high trump and can take the rook. If no trump is called it and the rook are the only trumps. So if you have the red one and not the rook and call no trump, you can always get the rook. If no trump and the rook or red one is lead the others can play any card unless they hold the other one. We also play that if you call “shoot the moon” you get double score (240 or 300 points with red one) if your side takes all the point cards, but if you don’t, you go set twice the max. score.


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