How to Play Egyptian Ratscrew

Introduction: How to Play Egyptian Ratscrew

Here we'll teach you how to play the fast paced family-friendly card game Egyptian Ratscrew. It's a fairly unknown game with few sources to learn the rules from, so we've included all the necessary information as well as some pictures and instructional videos to help you along the way.

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Step 1: Materials

  • 1 deck of 52 playing cards
  • 4-8 people to play the game (ages 5 & up)
  • A flat playing surface to place the cards on 15-35 minutes to play (players may set a time limit if they want)

Step 2: Setting Up

  1. Place the deck of cards in the center of the playing surface.
  2. Players sit in a circle at an even distance from the cards.
  3. Make sure each player’s reach toward the deck of cards is equal.
  4. Decide who the Dealer of the game will be (this person will be responsible for handling the cards while starting the game).

Step 3: Dealer’s Responsibilities:

  1. After Setting Up, open the deck of cards.
  2. Remove the two Joker cards and put them to the side (they will not be used unless you decide to play with the Advanced Events).
  3. Thoroughly shuffle the deck of cards.
  4. Keep the deck of cards face-down (i.e. with the numbered side towards the playing surface).
  5. Deal out all 52 cards, making smaller decks by splitting them equally among all the players, including yourself.
    • Note: Make sure to keep the cards facing down, so none of the players, including yourself, sees who gets which cards. Players are not allowed to look at their hand of cards, except for ones that have already been set down (which will be explained in the next section).

Step 4: Basic Steps

  1. When the cards have all been dealt out by the Dealer, each player picks up their portion of the cards and holds them for the entire game, keeping them face-down.
  2. One-by-one, going clockwise around the circle, (beginning with the player to the left of the Dealer) each player takes a turn to flip over one card from the top of their deck and set it in the center of the playing surface face-up (i.e. with the numbered side up) directly on top of the previous player’s card each time, as if piecing the entire deck back together.
    • Note: Cards should be flipped and laid face-up on the pile very quickly, so the holder of the card cannot see its value before it is set down.
  3. As each player places their cards down, players have opportunities to win the cards in the pile and add those cards to their hand (the goal is to obtain as many cards as possible). Players can win the pile in two ways (both are explained in the sections below)…
  4. If a player wins the pile, that player will pick up all the cards in the pile and add them to the deck in their hand already. To do so, quickly shuffle the pile then neatly combine the pile with the player’s original hand of cards by placing the newly added cards face-down under the first card (so all cards are face-down).
  5. After each time any player has won the pile the game continues as it was, with the next consecutive player placing their card down and restarting the pile altogether.

Step 5: Slapping Rules

Each player has the opportunity to win the cards in the center by correctly slapping the pile of cards following the instructions provided below.

  • To slap the pile, simply touch your hand to the pile when one of the Events shown below occurs. If you are the first person in the group to touch the cards, you win the entire pile (so you’ll want to slap as quickly as possible).
  • If a player slaps the pile when no Event has occurred, they must add two cards from their hand to the bottom of the pile face-up.

Basic Events:


  • Two cards of the same value are played consecutively.
  • Example: 4 → 4


  • Two cards of the same value are separated by a single card of any different value.
  • Example: 2 → 9 → 2


  • A King and Queen are played consecutively (in either order).
  • Example: King → Queen

Step 6: How to Play a Face Card Challenge:

    A Face Card Challenge occurs when anyone plays a face card (an Ace, King, Queen, or Jack) on the pile and a slap does not follow. Once this happens, the next player in the group must try to place another face card (of any kind) onto the pile from the top of the hand. The Chance (i.e. number of cards they may flip over from their hand in an effort to place a face card) varies depending on which face card was played first, like so:



      • Up to 4 cards


        • Up to 3 cards


          • Up to 2 cards


            • Only 1 card

              After this, if the player fails to place a face card, the player who placed the last face card wins the pile. The pile starts over again. If the player does manage to place a face card during this challenge, the next player is now challenged and must draw a face card.

              Step 7: When a Player Runs Out of Cards:

                When this happens, the player is not eliminated from gameplay entirely. While out of cards, the player obviously cannot place any cards down on their turn, so they are simply skipped over. If a player runs out of cards, that player may still slap the pile during an event and take cards from the pile. If/when the player wins cards from the pile, they may re-enter the game exactly how they played before running out.

                Step 8: How to Win/End the Game:

                1. A player may win by obtaining all the cards in play (i.e. the entire 52-card deck).
                2. A player may also win by having the most cards in their hand at the end of the predetermined time limit.

                Step 9: For Experienced Players:

                  Once a group is comfortable playing with these Events, they may decide to add these optional, more difficult Events to the game.

                  Advanced Events:


                    • The sum of two cards played consecutively equals a value of 10.
                    • Example: 3 → 7

                    Four in a Row

                      • Four consecutive cards are played in numerical order.
                      • Example: 3 → 4 → 5 → 6


                        • A Joker card is placed on the pile.
                        • Example: J

                        ** This game may cause players to become incredibly competitive and slap violently without regard for others’ safety. Be careful of nail scratches and ruined friendships.**

                        Step 10: Have Fun Playing the Game!

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