I've played Egyptian Rat Screw for years, and I've encountered one major discrepancy in the way others play compared to how I do. The combinations that were grounds to slap that I learned were -

Double: Two of the same card in a row. Sandwich: Two of the same cards with a different card in between. Ex.2,3,2. Joker: Any joker on the field. Straight: Four cards in order ascending or descending, excluding face cards or aces. Marriage: King and a queen next to each other.

Everyone I've played with who knew this game prior to me showing them played without the marriage. I've wondered for some time whether it was a valid part of the game. Does anyone know definitively? Thanks!

4 Answers 4


In the revised 2001 edition of Hoyle's Rules of Games by Albert Morehead, Geoffrey Mott-Smith, Philip D. Morehead there is no mention of marriages and also some discrepancies with the "standard rules" you and every player I've encountered myself know today. However the latest (at time of writing) version of the Wikipedia page for the game does mention it. When one examines the edit history however, the initially created page has no mention of marriages. After viewing the edit history I found what I believe to be the first mention of marriages on the page on the version published at 22:45, 19 October 2010 under the heading of "Rule Variations". The page has been massively reformatted and altered many times since and the mention of marriages has come and gone throughout these many edits. Since I cannot access the other referenced source on the current page, Encyclopedia of Play in Today's Society, Volume 1. by Rodney P. Carlisle, I cannot conclude whether or not it makes any mention of the marriage rules especially since the Wikipedia page's rules section does not specify from which references they are drawn.

While this is purely speculation given that I cannot find a conclusive source, my best guess would be that these rules are either a regional or group-specific variant. This isn't uncommon for playing card games since there are even games based off of this phenomenon such as Mao. Since it does seem to be an ongoing debate whether to include it on the Wikipedia page or not, I think it's safe to assume that it is at least a pretty well known variant of the game.

Note: Both Wikipedia links are to specific timestamped versions of the pages, this is done in case future versions (yet again) drop the mention of marriages.


I learned this game probably around 20 years ago, and have never heard of anyone playing with Marriages, or Straights for that matter. But hey, if you enjoy it, there's no reason why you can't play with those rules. I don't think Egyptian Rat Screw is really a game with a "definitive" rule set.


In the Klutz Book of Card Games entry for "Egyptian War" (same game, cleaner name), the only slappable combination is any double (face card or otherwise). Everything else is "house rules" giving more slappable chances for people who are paying attention.

  • Could you provide a quote from the book? May 31, 2017 at 20:31
  • If I can find my copy.
    – KeithS
    May 31, 2017 at 23:54

I learned this game in the late 1990's (Virginia). We had rules for the following combinations:

  • Doubles (obviously)
  • Sandwiches
  • Marriages (K+Q)
  • Gay Marriages (K+J) (This is what we called it back then)

We typically did not play with all of these at the same time, but we had rules for allowing them. For most games, I remember, we tended to agree on doubles only, and occasionally sandwiches. The other combinations were much more rare to see in an actual game (but everyone still agreed on how they worked).

The rules for sandwiches did allow sandwiches involving face cards, and those tended to inject the most excitement into the game. For example, you could slap a 3-K-3 while everyone else was instinctually waiting for the next two cards to be placed.

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