How To Play Egyptian Rat Slap


Egyptian Rat Slap is a raucous and crazy game. It is a great party card game and can be played by from 2 to 10 players. This game also goes by the names Egyptian Rat, Egyptian Ratkiller, Rat Slap, Slap, ERS and many other names. It is believed that this game, often originally played as Egyptian Rat's Crew morphed to the even more nonsensical name Egyptian Rat Screw which is another common name for the game. As opposed to the majority of other card games, this game usually rewards the players with the fastest reflexes and coordination.

This game uses one standard 52 card deck. There is no real concept of relative card ranking when playing Egyptian Rat Slap, although certain cards do affect gameplay.

Being a party game, most players are not particularly picky regarding choice of seats at the table or the first dealer. If someone objects, however, all players can draw from a shuffled, face down deck with the player drawing the lowest card set as the first dealer. Thereafter the deal should rotate in a clockwise direction. After shuffling and cutting, the dealer would then distribute out the cards in a clockwise direction one at a time. He deals out as much of the deck as possible such that each player can receive the same number of cards. Any extra cards are then placed face-up in the center, to be captured by the first player to win the center pile. The players never look at their hands and instead square up all their cards neatly in front of themselves.

Once the deal has completed, the player to the dealer's immediate left makes the first play. A play consists of a player simply taking the top card of their stack and placing it face up in the middle of the table. Each player in turn does the same thing, adding the top card of their pile to the pile of cards in the center of the table. When placing his card on the center pile, the player must turn his own card outward away from himself such that he does not get the opportunity to see the card's value before any other player.

If at any time, a player on his turn places an Ace, King, Queen or Jack (called a letter card as it contains a letter vice a number on it's face) in the center pile the next player has a certain number of opportunities to play a letter card of their own to the center pile from their own stack. The number of opportunities is directly dependent on the previous card thus played (see below). If this player IS able to play a face card or Ace of their own in their allotted number of opportunities, the requirement for playing a face or Ace then immediately rotates to the next player in turn. This player then has a set number of opportunities to play their own letter card, based on the last letter card played. This continues until either a player is unable to play such a card or a slappable card combination appears (see below). Failure of the next player in turn to play such a card when required allows the player who played the last face card or Ace to take the entire pile of cards in the center of the table and place it face down at the bottom of his own current stack. The player who captures the pile then plays the first card to the center pile, with the turn then rotating in a clockwise direction from this player. The specific number of opportunities that the next player has in which to play their own letter card is specified in the following chart:
Letter Card PlayedPlay Opportunities
Jack (J)1
Queen (Q)2
King (K)3
Ace (A)4
      Egyptian Rat Slap
Slap Rule: At any time during the game, even when a player is playing his allotted cards, if specific combinations appear in the growing pile in the center, the first player to slap the pile of cards when the combination appears wins the round and can take all the cards in the center of the table. If no player slaps before the next card is then played, a slap is no longer valid (until the next slappable combination appears) and the game continues as previously. If there is any dispute over who slapped first, the following are the standard methods to help determine who was the first to slap: Slapping the Pile
  1. The lowest hand on the pile is considered to have slapped first.
  2. If it's still not clear who may have slapped first, the player with the most fingers on the cards (particularly the topmost card of the pile) wins.
  3. If still not obvious who slapped first, the player with the most total cards under their hand wins the pile.
  4. If, after all these conditions are considered but it is still not clear who was the first slapper, no one takes the pile and the game continues with the next player adding his card to the pile.

After a valid slap, the player who managed to slap first takes the pile, adding it face down to the bottom of his own current stack. He never shuffles the cards before adding them to his pile, but simply turns them over and places them under his current play pile. The player who captured the center pile then plays the first card to start a new center pile. The following is the valid combination which normally warrants a slap and thus potential capture of the current center pile of cards:

The center pile may be legally slapped anytime the top two or more cards are of the same rank (for example two nines).

Often however, additional combinations that allow a slap are also added (see the variations section below). If a player incorrectly slaps the center pile at any time when a valid slappable combination is not found there, he must take the two top cards from his pile and add them face-up to the bottom of the center pile (called burning cards). This can also occur when the next card is added, in turn to the center pile before anyone slaps a valid combination. When slapping a player must use the opposite hand from the one in which he is using to place his cards in the center of the table. If a player runs out of cards during play he may still remain in the game (but not having an actual turn) until the next slappable combination appears. If he fails to be the winner during the slap (and thus capturing some cards), he must then drop from the game.

At any point during the game, if a player manages to capture every card in the deck he is declared the winner of the game. Some players, who prefer a somewhat shorter game play such that if only one remaining player has cards in his hand (regardless if there are also cards remaining in the center pile), he is immediately declared the winner. Most games allow a false slap in an attempt to lure other players into actually slapping the pile at an invalid time. A false slap occurs when a player begins to make a slapping motion, but does not actually complete the slap or touch the pile. If a player actually does touch the cards when making a false slap, this is considered an actual slap and that player must burn two of his cards to the bottom of the center pile as in any invalid slap. As the general rules do not specify or prohibit any particular methods of slapping, some players do make adjustments indicating how the pile should be slapped. Due to the physical nature of this game and the tendency for the cards to potentially get bent or damaged, it is recommended to use an older or worn pack of cards when playing this game.

Variations and Optional Rules

Additional Slappables: Many players enjoy adding one or more of the following combinations on which a player can legally slap to win the center pile:
Texas Rules: Some players also used Texas rules. When using Texas rules, the goal is not so much to slap first but to grab as many cards as possible. Thus, after slapping the pile, the players then attempt to pull as many cards as possible towards themselves. They may not actually grip or grab the cards but use their slapping hand to attempt to slide as many cards from the center pile as possible to themselves. The cards able to be pulled away in this manner are then added to the bottom of the players own pile. Thus each player, on a slap, may capture the cards they are able to pull away from the center pile.

Invalid Slaps: Another rule that some players use is to change the behavior when someone incorrectly slaps the center pile. In this case, the player who does so must give one card from his stack to each other player in the game who still has cards of their own. They would place this card face-down at the bottom of their current pile

Slapping Variants: There are also versions of this game with the only difference being in how a player is required to slap the center pile. A few of these are as follows:
Three Slaps and Out: In this variation, a player who has no cards is not immediately eliminated if they incorrectly slap the center pile. Only after incorrectly slapping three times (while not having cards) must they drop from the game.


Although Egyptian Rat Slap is often played by adults, the game itself appears to have derived from the combination of several children's games. These include some of the following:

Beggar your Neighbor: This game appears to be a direct ancestor of Egyptian Rat Slap and often is known by the similar names Egyptian War or Egyptian Rat Killer. It is best when played by two but can be played by as many as 8.

After selecting the dealer and seating positions, the dealer should deal out the entire deck in a clockwise direction, one card at a time. Some players may get one extra card if the cards can not deal out evenly, which is acceptable. The players arrange their dealt cards face down in front of themselves and may not look at the values of the cards in their stack. Beginning with the player to the dealer's immediate left, the players take turns by adding one card face up from their stack to a center pile. If a player plays any numerical card (2-9) to the center the turn passes to the next player who then lays a card of their own. However, if a player plays any letter card (Ace, King, Queen or Jack) to the center, the next player must play a number of cards to the center dependent on the specific letter card played. After the opponent plays the required number of cards, the player who played the letter card then takes the entire pile and places it face down under his own pile. However, if while playing the requisite number of cards, he plays a letter card of his own, the next player in turn must then play a set number of cards to the center. This can continue until a letter card is not played, at which time the player who played the last letter card takes the entire center pile. This captured pile is always placed face down under that player's current pile. The number of cards a player must play is dependent on the specific letter card played as per the following chart:
Letter Card PlayedNumber of Cards Required
Jack1
Queen2
King3
Ace4
      How to Play Egyptian War

When a player runs out of cards he must drop from the game. Play continues until there is just one player remaining with any cards, who is the winner of the game.

SlapJack: Slap Jack is a perennial favorite among children everywhere. This game can be hard on the cards used, so it is preferable not to use your best deck when playing. Slap Jack, also called Slaps can be played by almost any number of participants. After the dealer is determined the entire deck should be dealt out as evenly as possible. The dealt cards are arranged by each player in front of themselves in a neat face-down stack but they should not view the faces of the cards. Any extra cards that could not be evenly dealt should be placed face-up in the center of the table to start the center pile. The player to the left of the dealer takes the first turn.

A players turn consists of a player taking the top card of his stack and placing it face up in the center of the table. If this card is any Jack, the first player who manages to slap the card captures the entire stack. He gathers the center pile, shuffles it and places it face down under his current stack. When slapping, a player must use the same hand used to play cards to the center of the table. If another card (non-Jack) is played before anyone slaps, the slap is considered an invalid slap and no one wins the pile until the next Jack is revealed. Slapping a card not a Jack normally does not incur any specific penalty, although specific variant rules are sometimes added.

If a player runs out of cards they may still remain in the game until the next Jack is played. If they are unable to capture the pile at that time, they must drop from the game. The game continues until only one player remains with cards, who is declared the winner.

Being a very popular children's game, it is not surprising many variations of basic Slap Jack have been developed. These include the following modified rules: Going to war in the card game War War: War is the classic children's game that along with Go Fish are probably the most widely known card games in the world. War is designed to be played by two players using one standard 52 card deck. The ranking of the cards in the deck is as follows from High to low; King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace.

One of the players then divides out the deck in half, each player receiving a stack of 26 face down cards in a neat pile, which is his play pile. Each turn consists of both players flipping over the top card of their stack and placing it in front of their play pile. Whichever card is of a higher denomination takes both cards and places them face down on the bottom of his own play pile. If both cards are of equal rank (such as two tens) this is called Going to War. When this does occur, the players then each place the next face down card from his play pile on top of their previous card and then another face up card on top of the face down card. The higher of these two cards then takes all six cards. If the new faced cards are again of matching rank, another face down card and face up card is played by both players. This continues until one of the player cards is a higher ranked cards who then captures all such played cards, taking them and placing them face down under his play pile. The game continues in this manner until one player captures all of his opponents cards, after which time he is declared the winner of the game.

Being such a widely known and played games, it is not surprising that there are a large number of variations of this game. Some of the more popular such variations follow:
Snap Slap: This is another game similar to SlapJack. Often called simply Snap, which is also the name for a different game described below. Snap Slap is played identically to Slapjack with the only difference being in the conditions in which a player may slap the center pile. At any time the top two cards of the center pile are a matching pair, the pile is liable to be slapped. The first player to slap the pile wins the center pile. He does not shuffle pile, but turns it over and adds it beneath his current pile.

A game of Snap Snap: Snap is another card game often played by children. Designed for from 2 to 4 players, the goal is to capture all of the cards. Once the seating positions and first dealer are determined, the dealer shuffles the cards and deals out the entire pack face down one at a time around the table. One or more players may receive one extra card but this is common in this game. The players do not actually look at their cards but keep them all in a neat pile face up in front of themselves. The player to the dealer's immediate left has the first turn.

On his turn, a player takes the top card of his face down pile and turns it face up next to his face down pile. When turning the card he must do so in such a way that the card is turned away from himself so he does not see the card before any other player does. On subsequent turns, he adds a card from him hand to this pile. The turns continue in a clockwise rotation around the table, with each player turning over his top card and placing it in a pile next to his face down pile.

At any time that the turned over card numerically matches the top card of any other player's pile, the first player to loudly shout "Snap" wins both piles, placing them both face down on the bottom of his current face down pile. After the pile is captured, the turn continues with the next player after the last who turned a card. If two or more players shout "Snap" at the exact same time, no one wins the piles and both piles are placed in a stack face up to the center of the table, one on top of the other. If there are already cards in the center from previous unwon ties, the new cards are placed on top of the existing cards. If a card is exposed of the same number as the top card of the center pile, the first player to shout "Snap Pot" wins the center pile and the pile topped by the matching card. He places these face down under his current face down pile. If this is tied, both piles are added to the top of the center pile.

If a player incorrectly shouts "Snap" or "Snap Pot" (when there are not two cards of the same denomination exposed) he must give one card from the top of his pile to each other pile. These cards are added to the bottom of the player's current face down pile.

If a player runs out of cards, they turn their face up stack face down, with this becoming his new play pile. If a player has no cards in either pile, they must drop from the game. The last player with cards is declared the winner.

Irish Snap: Although deriving from a conglomeration of various children's games, Irish Snap, like Egyptian Rat Slap is often played as a fun party game by groups of adults (best with 3 to 8 players). The game has some similarities to Egyptian Rat Slap, however the goal in this game is reversed, the players vie to get rid of their cards as fast as possible.

This game is played using one standard 52 card deck. Determination of seating positions and first dealer can be done using any mutually agreed upon method, with drawing for low card being common. Once this is determined, the dealer first shuffles the cards and then deals the entire pack, face down around the table one at a time. If one or more players receive an extra card this is acceptable and happens when the cards cannot be divided evenly amongst the number of players participating.

The player to the dealer's immediate left has the first turn with the turn continuing in a clockwise rotation around the table. On his turn, a player turns over the top card of his stack and places it in the center of the table. When doing so, he must turn the card outward away from himself such that he does not view the face of the card before any other players. In so doing, he also attempts to make this motion as fast as possible so the other players do not see the card too much sooner then himself.

How to Play Irish Snap As each player plays his card on his turn he must clearly state the next card in an ascending series, starting with Ace. Thus, the normal sequence is as follows: Ace, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Jack, Queen, King. The player after the player stating "King" would then start again with Ace, cycling through the series continuously until a valid slappable combination appears. Thus, the first player would state "Ace", the second player "Two", the third player "Three" and so on.

If at any point the card turned over to the center by the current player actually matches the denomination which is verbally stated by the player, all the participants attempt to slap the center pile. The last player to slap the pile must take the entire center pile, sliding it under his own current pile, face down. In addition, if the top two cards of the center pile are of the same denomination, the players must also slap the pile, with the last player doing so required to take the entire center pile. The player who takes the stack then starts the next sequence of cards to the center, beginning again, stating "Ace" as he plays his card. If a player attempts to slap the pile (even if they don't actually contact the top of the pile with their hand) when a slap is not warranted must then take the entire pile. This false slap is called flinching.

As players run out of cards, they no longer continue play. The game continues until only one player retains cards, with this player having lost the game.

An optional rule sometimes added to this game is the silent count. In this version a running count is still performed, however the players do not actually state aloud the current rank. Thus, the players must keep the count silently to themselves, and are still required to slap when the upcard matches the current rank in the ongoing sequence.

Extreme Irish Snap: This version of Irish Snap is played identically to standard Irish Snap but includes a number of additional rules which can make the game even more fast moving and challenging. These include the following: In addition, many games include the addition of one or more of the following rules when playing Extreme Irish Snap: As in standard Irish Snap, the last player who has cards remaining is said to have lost the game.

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