Instructions for Rook Card Game

By Andrea Reuter
You, a standard 52-card deck
cards image by Edvin selimovic from

Rook is a bidding and trick-taking card game created by Parker Brothers in 1906. The company developed the Rook deck because the face cards in standard decks were considered by some at the time to have occult symbolism, according to the book The Game Makers: The Story of Parker Brothers From Tiddledy Winks to Trivial Pursuit.

Rook Basics

The Rook deck consists of 56 cards numbered 1 through 14 in each of black, green, red and yellow and a Rook Bird card. The 5s are worth five points, 10s and 14s worth 10 points and the Rook Bird card worth 20 points. Those cards are called counters.

Team Play

With four people playing as two teams, cards numbered 5 through 14 and the Rook Bird card are used. Each person receives nine cards, and the remaining five cards are placed in a separate pile called the nest.

The player to the dealer's left starts the bidding to determine the trump color. The bid represents the number of points from counters the player thinks his team will take in tricks. Each bid is a multiple of 5 and must be at least 70 points. Players can bid or pass, and bidding continues clockwise until no player is willing to top the high bid. The high bidder takes the cards from the nest into his hand and forms a new nest with any five cards he chooses, then announces the trump color.

The player to the left of the dealer starts the round by placing any card from his hand face-up at the center of the table. Going clockwise, each player must play a card of the same color if he has one. The person who plays the card with the highest value wins the trick and leads the next round.

If a player doesn't have a card of the same color as the lead card, he can play any card. He may play a trump card to win the trick. If two or more people play trump cards, the highest trump card wins.

The Rook Bird card is the highest-value card in the game and wins any trick. It can be played at any time. If a person leads the round with the Rook Bird card, the other players must play trump cards if they can.

When all tricks have been played, each team adds up the points of the counters in the tricks it has taken and adds it to the score. The winner of the last trick takes the nest and includes any counters in his team's score. If the team that placed the high bid at the beginning of the round earned fewer points than the amount of its bid, it receives no points and the bid is deducted from its score. The first team to reach 300 points wins the game.

Individual Play

Game play for individuals is the same as team play. With two or three players, the cards numbered 4 through 14 are used. Five or six players use all 56 numbered cards. The Rook Bird card isn't used in individual play.

For a three-player game, 12 cards are dealt to each player. Five cards are placed in the nest, and three cards are put out of play. The deal is the same with two players, with the third hand being a dummy hand. When dealing to the dummy hand, half of the cards are dealt face-up and half face-down. The minimum bid is 50 points. A score of 300 points is needed to win a two-player game and 200 points a three-player game.

For five players, each person receives 10 cards with six cards placed in the nest. With six players, each person gets nine cards and two cards are placed in the nest. The minimum bid is 30 points, and the first person to get 150 points wins.

About the Author

Andrea Reuter has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from the New School. She has worked as a magazine writer and editor for such publications as "Diversion" magazine and "Original Logic Problems." Reuter currently writes articles about video games and consoles, board games and card games for various websites.