Poker Home Games: Egyptian Rat Screw

December 7, 2008

Ever have your hands turn so red during a game of cards you needed to take time out to dip them in a sink of cold water?
It’s not Texas Hold ‘Em that brings something like that on.  It sure as hell isn’t Pass the Trash or Five Card Stud.
It is…in fact…the ultimate in physical punishment.  That is, at least, as far as a deck of cards can probably take you.
My favorite game of all-time – Egyptian Rat Screw.
A game that no doubt goes by many names in many circles across the globe.  I have no problem with that, call it what you like.  But just know that no name is as cool as – Egyptian Rat Screw.
All right, now that we got that out of the way, I can clarify something else.
This isn’t really a poker game.  But I’m tweaking the betting rules (actually adding betting rules) to give it a poker flavor, and kick up the relevance to this column. 
Trust me, though, the sheer terror of getting the back of your hand pummeled is enough incentive to keep the adrenaline pumping.  Any extra dollars or quarters is just a bonus.
Let’s go:
1) Any number of players can join.  You can have a dozen, it doesn’t matter.
2) The deck is dealt out completely, you shouldn’t have anything left by the time you’re finished.
3) Players gather their cards, face down.  Nobody looks.
4) In order (usually clockwise) players flip a card into the center of the table.
***Note, you MUST flip away from yourself.  Flipping toward you gives the advantage that you can control the speed and see what the card is first…which you’ll soon find out would amount to nothing more than cheating.
OK, I’ll change gears now to go over the rules:
Rule 1) Cards are flipped, one per person per turn, until a face card or an Ace comes up.  At that point, depending on what that card is, the next person must flip up a face card or an ace within a given number of cards, or the deck is forfeit to whomever flipped the first face card.
If an Ace is turned over by Player A, then Player B has 4 chances to turn over a face card.
If a King is turned over, the next person has 3 chances.
If a Queen is turned over, the next person has 2 chances.
If a Jack is turned over, the next person has only 1 chance to turn over a face card.
*If the Player B does turn over a face card, that becomes the new card for the next person, who has the same situation presented to them, with a limited number of cards to turn over based on the value of the last face card.  Needless to say, if a Jack is covered with a Queen, and then two low cards come up…whomever lost that Jack will be one unhappy camper.
Rule 2) If at any point two of the same card are turned up one after the other – doesn’t matter in which scenario – whomever slaps the deck first gets to clear it.
Rule 3) If you run out of cards, you are not out of the game.  You can slap your way back in.
Rule 4) When one player has all the cards, he or she is the winner and the game is over.
All right, so let’s add some betting flair into it….more like pot-growing flair.
- Each player must ante $5 (or however much you want, but I’d make it a good amount)
- Each time the middle is cleared, everyone except the person who clears must add $1.  The person who clears gets to take $1. (This is where the pot builds…the deck is cleared a lot).
- If you run out of cards but want to make yourself eligible for slapping back in, you must re-ante $5. (It’ll seem like chump change when there’s $50 in the middle.)
That about covers it….you might want to wear mittens, depending, of course, on how fast of a reaction you have.
Happy screwing.