Card Games/Egyptian Ratscrew

Egyptian Ratscrew is a fast-paced card game that combines elements of turn-based gameplay with quick reactions. The goal of the game is to eliminate all other players and acquire all of the cards in the deck.


The game can be played with a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. If there are a lot of players, additional decks can be added.

The game requires players to be able to quickly reach the central play pile with their hands; players should therefore be arranged in such a way that the center of play is within arms reach of everyone playing.

It is also recommended that players remove any finger rings before play, as the game may feature rapid hand-to-hand contact, and wearing hard or sharp jewelry runs the risk of injuring others accidentally. It is also not recommended to play with sharp or fragile fingernails.

Deal the entire deck face-down to all players, attempting to ensure that every player has a roughly equal number of cards.


Unlike in most card games, players must not look at their own cards or change their ordering. They should keep their cards in a face-down pile in front of them at all times.

Players take turns. On their turn, a player must:

  • Take the top card from their pile, and bring it to the center of play.
  • Turn the card face-up, such that it is revealed to all players simultaneously. (It is good etiquette to flip the card away from yourself, so that you are the last person to see it; this prevents you from gaining an unfair advantage).
  • Place the card on top of the central play pile (or start that pile, if no cards have been played yet).

If the card is a Jack, Queen, King, or Ace, this is called a "challenge". The next player becomes the "challenged player". On the challenged player's turn, that player must reveal, one-by-one, a number of cards from their deck, depending on what card was played for the challenge:

  • Ace: 4 cards
  • King: 3 cards
  • Queen: 2 cards
  • Jack: 1 card

If the challenged player reveals a Jack, Queen, King, or Ace, they have met the challenge. They do not have to reveal any more cards, and the card they revealed now acts as their challenge to the next player. This can continue for as long as successive players manage to meet the challenge.

If the challenged player does not reveal a Jack, Queen, King, or Ace within the allotted number of cards, they fail the challenge. The player who issued the challenge wins the entire play pile, and must turn it face-down and put it on the bottom of their own pile. The ordering of the cards must not be changed.


When certain combinations of cards are at the top of the play pile, any player may "slap" the deck by quickly reaching in and placing the palm of their hand on it. The first player to do so wins the entire play pile. As with challenges, they must turn it face-down and put it on the bottom of their own pile.

The legal card combinations can vary depending on the preference of the players. The two most common combinations are:

  • Double: The top 2 cards of the play pile have the same rank. (Example: 7-7).
  • Sandwich: The top 3 cards of the play pile consist of 2 cards of the same rank with a third card of a different rank between them. (Example: 4-9-4).

Other possible combinations include:

  • Big Mac/Book/Hoagie: The top 4 cards of the play pile consist of 2 cards of the same rank with 2 cards of a different same rank between them. (Example: 8-3-3-8).
  • Run/Consecutive: The top 3 cards of the play pile are ascending or descending in order of rank (Example: 7-6-5).
  • Flush: The top 3 cards of the play pile all have the same suit, regardless of rank (Example: 2H-9H-JH).
  • Marriage: The top 2 cards of the play pile are King and Queen in either order.
  • Tens: The top 2 cards of the play pile add up to 10 (Example: 6-4).

It is up to the players to agree on which combinations are valid before playing. We recommend starting with a few simple ones and adding more later if players are willing.

Players may slap the play pile at any time, even if it is not their turn, and even during the middle of a challenge. To prevent players from gaining an unfair advantage with hand placement, a slap can only be performed if the hand is fully retracted first; players are not allowed to "hover" their hand near the play pile hoping for a quick slap.

Non-players may also slap the play pile. If they do so correctly, they win the play pile and can enter the game with their newly-won cards. This is called "slapping in", and is a way for players to get back into the game after they have been eliminated.

If a player slaps the play pile when a valid combination is not currently in play, this is a "false slap". That player must pay a penalty by "burning" a card: placing the top card of their own pile face-up at the bottom of the play pile.

Resolving slapsEdit

When a lot of players are playing, it is common for multiple hands to slap at once, making it difficult to tell who slapped first. The hand which has most contact with the card should be considered the winner of the slap. Hands that are slapped on top of other hands do not win.


If a player has no cards left to play, they are eliminated from the game. They can still come back into the game by "slapping in", as described above under "Slapping".

Winning the gameEdit

The game ends when one player has won all of the cards in the deck.


  • For a harder game, slapping in can be removed; players who lose all of their cards instead stay eliminated.
  • The burn penalty is usually one card; however, the penalty can be made more severe by increasing the number of burned cards by one each time (resetting it back to one whenever someone successfully wins the play pile). This can prevent players from strategically burning their own cards to gain an advantage, if they have memorized the ordering of cards in their pile.
  • Jokers can be used as a fifth "challenge card", usually requiring the challenged player to reveal 5 cards.
  • Jokers may also be used as wildcards to represent any rank or suit.
  • Players who attempt to slap in, but do so incorrectly, can be problematic as they have no cards to burn; they therefore can't be penalized for incorrect slaps. One way to get around this is to award them "negative cards" for incorrect slaps; if they accrue too many, they are no longer allowed to slap in.
  • Alternatively, players who attempt to slap in incorrectly can be penalized by locking them out of any further slaps for a number of rounds.

External linksEdit