Egyptian Ratscrew

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Egyptian Ratscrew, or ERS, is a fairly violent card game played all over the world. Its popularity was well established at CTY by 1985, when Egyptian Ratscrew and Spit were the two dominant card games played by students. Historically, Egyptian Ratscrew was one of the games that most students learned at CTY, rather than at home; this leads to the supposition that Egyptian Ratscrew was popular at CTY before in the outside world.

The nickname ERS is a common misconception, but is solid enough to stand. The actual name of the game is Egyptian Rat's Crew, commonly slurred together into Egyptian Ratscrew. Thus the abbreviation SHOULD be ERC, but ERS is used by all.

Common Rules


ERS is generally played with 2 to 6 players. More players can make the game more interesting, but two-player duels can be just as exciting. After a full shuffle, the entire deck is dealt out to all players in as close to equal measure as possible. Players then pick up their stack of cards and hold it in one hand without looking at it. Gameplay may begin with any player.


  • One player, either the winner of the previous stack or an agreed-upon player to start the game, places the top card of their stack face up in the middle to start the hand. Play continues from them either clockwise or counterclockwise.
  • What occurs from there depends on what cards are played and the sequence that they are played in:
    • Numeric Cards (two through ten): The next player plays a single card. Nothing special happens, except possibly a slap (see below).
    • Face Cards (Jack, Queen, King, Ace): The next player has a certain number of chances to play a face card from their stack. If they fail to do so, the player who laid down the face card takes the stack. If they do play a face card, the same rules apply to the next player in the rotation. This allows huge stacks of face cards to pile up.
      • Number for each face Card: Jack-1, Queen-2, King-3, Ace-4.
  • Slaps: If, in the rotation or in the Face Card put-downs, a pair of cards of the same number or face come up right after the other (such as 8 followed by an 8) or in a card- other card- first card sequence (such as 8-4-8), then all players are allowed to slap into the center of the circle on top of the cards. The first player to get their hand on the cards gets the whole pile of cards, and a new hand is started by the player who won the stack. Some rules allow bystanders or players who have been eliminated to "slap in" to the game and start play with this stack, but this is up to the players' discretion.
    • There are also other combinations which may be slapped on, depending on which rules you're using. For example, there were a number of people at Easton 09.2 who also slapped on 69s. During LAN 19.1, this practice was revived by a group of girls. In Easton 16.1 and 16.2 the practice of "marriages" (King-Queen) and in even rarer cases, "divorces" (King-something-Queen) were played with. Certain players preferred these "royal rules," and the rules being used were sometimes named for them: for example, the "gay marriage" ruleset would include gay marriage (King-Jack), incest (Jack-Queen), marriage, and divorce.
  • If a player slaps when there is not a pair or sandwich, etc., they need to "burn" a card by putting it on the bottom of the pile. This card cannot be used in a sandwich, even if it is applicable. In games where people who are not active players to "slap in", this generally disqualifies them from future attempts.
  • The game ends when one player has all of the cards in their stack.


There are many ways to help your deck of cards grow:

  • Quick slaps can quickly help a player gain cards.
  • Memorizing pairs can allow for very quick slaps.
  • If you have very few cards, it is possible to memorize your whole deck and have a definite leg up on the competition.
  • If you are not very good at slapping, playing your cards very quickly in order to possibly cancel out slaps by already playing the next card before anyone can slap.
  • Memorizing your last card win or any number of your bottom cards allows you to intentionally burn down to them. This allows for either a good card to be played, or it allows a quick slap. However, this strategy is risky and typically only works in last-ditch situations, when your hand is down to just a few cards.
  • Some cards, like aces, will inevitably result in a slappable combination. Face cards like Jacks will have less potential for slapping. Be on the lookout.
  • When you have no cards and want to slap in, slap at the slightest suspicion. Don't hold back; in most games, there are no penalties for overslapping when you have no cards to begin with. Depending on who you're playing with, there may be slight grumbles.
  • Commit useful information to memory, such as the card before a jack.
  • In 2-player matches, memorizing your opponent's cards is possibly even more useful than knowing your own.
  • After putting down a royal (especially a Jack), some players engage in the process of "safety slapping" at the last card, in which they will have to burn one from their own deck but potentially take the pile from someone who puts down a sandwich or a double.

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