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.

33 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.

    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 🙂

    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

      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.

  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!

    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.

      1. Craig Alexander

        That’s our game in North Central Alabama. Only game I’ve ever known but these variants look very interesting. I knew Rook was very flexible but not this flexible. One of the greatest all time card games. Easy to catch a cheater too. LOLZ

    2. Keith

      Yes. This is the exact way we play it. Our family is from Washington County KY. I’ve never played it any other way. It is interesting how many variations there are.

    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.

  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.

    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!)

  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.

  5. DJ

    Ok I am a longtime Rook Player from south central Kentucky and I can’t find anywhere on line where people play the game using the Rules that I have grown up with. I admit I a very biased as to my preference. I have played a lot of versions but none come close to the strategy and skill involved in playing the game we refer to as Rooker low. The rules are quite simple. 120 points per hand no 1s, 2s, 3s,or 4s in play, 41 cards. The Rook catches 10 and down in trumps (10.5) It must follow suit and it is worth 20 points. Low bid is 90 max bid 120. 360 points make a game. 9 cards are dealt 5 cards are placed in the nest or widow whatever you want to call it. High bidder gets the nest and discards 5 cards. Standard play ensures, you must follow suit unless you are void of a suit then you may trump. This makes for a very complex amount of strategy. It is important to capture the Rook but it is not a simple matter of if you have it you can bid. Many bids of 120 are made without the Rook, and may Bids of 100 or less are not made with the Rook. Everything is possible with or without it. It’s all about the strategy. I have seen people in our area play a lifetime and some become very skilled at the strategy and others do not. I urge you to try this variation and take your Rook experience to a new level. We call regular rook “kiddie rook” because of the simplicity of it.

    1. James Lancaster

      We play a lot of Rook in Northwest Central Kentucky. We play just like DJ describes it, but with a slight few changes. We exclude 1s, 2s, 3s, and 4s and we also exclude the Rook card, for a total of 40 cards. Each player is dealt 9 cards, usually 3 at a time, and only 4 cards are placed in the widow or nest. The first card laid cannot be a trump, and trumps cannot be played until one player is unable to follow suit. Partners sit across from one another as usual. There is only a total of 100 points in the game and the starting minimum bid is 65. We usually stop at 300, but some games, when drinking is involved, can go up to 500.

      1. NichySteves

        Finally I’ve met someone that plays the way my family does. This feels like a very rare version of the game, without the rook which the game is NAMED after. I play to 500 every weekend with my family after dinner. We’re from Michigan. It really is the best way to play. No chance involved, no bs stuck with ones. Only skill.

    2. Vicki

      We are from north central Arkansas and have always played exactly this way. You are right–it is the only way to play!

  6. admin Post author

    Haha DJ, “kiddie rook” nice! I have played the version you refer to, with rook being 10.5 and minus all the low cards. I like this version of Rook as well. The only downfall I have noticed is how much the Nest or Widow effects the game. 5 extra cards to trade when you only have 9 means almost 50% of your hand can change by the nest. We usually play that you can only trade 3 of the 5 cards, but that still gives you extra knowledge of what’s not in the other player’s hands.

    I personally prefer this same version of the game, but including the 1s, 2s, 3s, and 4s. The luck of a good or bad nest plays less of a role in my opinion.

  7. Robert Thatch

    We play a double deck, leaving out the 1-4 cards and 6-8, except for two 8s, leaving a deck of 60. There are two Rooks, valued at the 10-1/2 of trumps. Rooks must follow suit. there is no nest and no special use of “1” cards or the “Red 1.” There is more strategy, since even the 14 of trumps can be taken, if you are caught with a singleton and someone leads the other 14 of trump.

    1. admin Post author

      Wow, that sounds cool. What happens when two cards of the same value are played. Who wins it? For example, player 1 plays a 10, and then player 2 plays a 10 as well. Does player 1 win the trick or player 2?

  8. michael

    I have played rook 1 way since I was a kid and my family and myself love it! Remove all 3’s and 4’s except the black 4. Use a 6 card nest/kitty. Minimum bid is 180 with a max “shoot the moon” of 300. Play to 1000 or more (we usually do 2500 to make it longer and more fun).
    4 – 40
    Rook – 20
    2 -20
    1 – 15
    14 – 10
    13, 12, 11 (fillers)
    10 – 10
    9,8,7,6 (fillers)
    5 – 5
    The black 4 and rook count as whatever trump is called! Hope this variation brings some fun to yall like it has me all these years!

  9. Tim Wayne

    Ok, I see there are a lot of variations and some look really fun! The version we play in Iowa……yes, Iowa. Some of my buddies & I try to play once a week. We play the Red One Variation with enhancements on our part. To make the game better. We take out the 1’s(except the red one), 2’s and 3’s. The bird is included and the Red One is top dog (30pts) followed by the bird (20 pts.) Variation: the 13 becomes the count card, not the 14, allows for more skill. There are 6 cards in the nest and bidding begins at 70. 150 total points per hand. play to 500. Another twist we have is if you are dealt all four 4’s and you take the bid and make it you get an x-tra 100 points. You have to keep the fours in your hand. I tried it twice and got set! If you know of any tournaments up north let me know. Rook on!!!

  10. Brandon Wernert

    This is the version that I inherited from my family growing up in Southern Indiana. We exclude 1s, 2s, 3s, and 4s. The Rook is top dog but is not worth any points. Also, we play where 13 is the count card instead of 14 (5 = 5pts, 10 = 10pts, 13 = 10pts). Although the counters add up to 100, we bid out of 120. If your team wins a hand you get the amount you bid (i.e. if you bid 95 and win the hand, you get 95 pts for that round). In order for the non-bidding team to win the hand, they need to get 5 more than difference of 120 and the bid (i.e. if the bidding team bids 95 then the other team needs to capture 30 pts to win the hand). Not sure where this version came from or who else plays with these variations but it’s the only version I knew until I got older! Would love to get feedback and learn if anyone else has played with these rules!

  11. WGarrett

    For over 40 years I’ve been playing Rook in NW Georgia with my family with 46 cards in the deck. This is how my parents played, and it’s the same game my grandparents played throughout their lives. The 2s and 3s are removed from the deck. The 4s are removed, EXCEPT for the Green 4 – , which is kept as the highest counting card (always trump, same as the Rook card).
    Ten cards are dealt to each of the four players. Six cards go in the “kitty”, with top card showing.
    There are a total of 200 points possible, so bidding usually tops out around 145 points (150 for a good hand).

    The rank of the cards (and associated points) are listed below:

    Green 4 = 20 pts
    Rook = 20 pts
    1 = 15 pts
    14 = 10 pts
    10 = 10 pts
    5 = 5 pts

  12. Jeff Schmidt - Oklahoma

    We remove the 1s, 2s, 3s, and 4s. Play with 4 players (2 teams of 2). Deal out 9 to each player and 5 cards in the middle.
    14 = 15 points
    Rook = 20 points
    10 = 10 points
    5 = 5 points
    We bid up to 140 points and high bidder gets the 5 cards in the middle and the has to discard 5 cards. 14 is high and the rook card falls between the 11 & the 10. You have to follow suite. Typically you win a bid with 110 or 115

  13. Robert

    I’m from Michigan and was taught this game by some older gentlemen back in the early 90’s. Fishing brought us together. All three were more than twice my age at that time and are no longer with us. Rook is the best card game I’ve ever played. Been reading about all the different versions and none sounded like our version. We play with all cards. 200 points per hand. 1’s are high then 14 down to 2. Point cards are 1’s-15, 14’s-10, 10’s-10, 5’s-5 Rook was worth 20 and 20 for books. Bidding team must turn more tricks to win book. Tie goes to non bid team. Rook was trump worth most points but was lowest. Could be taken with a 2 of trump. After cards are shuffled and cut the dealer must bury the bottom card. All cards are dealt. Whomever wins the bid checks the buried card for possible help. *A point card can’t be left under or put back. We usually used the card deck box for that. After the hand anyone can ask to see what was buried. Boston is when all point cards and books are captured, =300 points. Renege in play opposing team gets double penalty team 0 zero.

  14. Roy

    I stumbled into Rook, in my college days (1986ish)-

    The way I was instructed, was the “standard rules” – BUT with one additional twist –
    After the winner of the bid called trump color – they called THE CARD OF THEIR PARTNER.
    I.E. you didn’t know who your partner was until the card was either revealed, or someone was clearly funneling points to you. It lead to some very interesting plays.

    I always thought that was “official” rules, and now, decades later, reading the “official rules” – our way seems more fun – more M Night Shyamalan-esque.

  15. Jim B.

    Is anyone playing rock in Conway Arkansas or nearby? Rook is my favorite card game.
    I’m trying to find some fellow Rook lovers.

  16. Chris K

    I grew up playing Rook in Clark Co , Ky. We played with the Bird 20pts, 1’s 15 pts, 14’s 10 pts, 13,12,11, 10’s 10 pts, 9,8,7,6, 5’s 5pts . We played to 500 and the winning bidder called trumps and led first. You could shoot the moon if you were out of the hole and you automatically won the game if you made it and lost if you didn’t.

  17. James

    I always played you took out 1,2,3,4 except for the Red 1 which Trumps
    Everything. Even though James.other colors called as Trump cards.


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