MATERIALS: Rook deck





Rook refers to a group of games that are played specifically with a Rook deck of cards. Rook cards were created by Parker Brothers and released to the market in 1906. The accepted hypothesis is that these cards were created to cater to members of fundamentalist religions as indicated by their stunning popularity in Mennonite communities. Some fundamentalist forms of Protestantism consider playing cards to be “tools of the devil,” and their followers were banned from playing with them. The addition of Rook cards to the market allowed some members to feel as if they could play cards, since they weren’t the standard Anglo 52 card deck. However, some considered playing any cards at all to be sinful.

If you enjoy playing this game try out Bridge!


The Rook deck comes with 57 cards total. They are divided into four different suits that are colored: black, red, green, and yellow. The cards within the suits are numbered 1 (low) through 14 (high). The 57th card is the rook card, this card is distinguishable because it has on it an image of a bird. The rook card has a value of 20 and is usually trump in trick-taking games.

The rook deck generally comes with a little booklet that describes the numerous games which can be played with the cards. The majority of these games are point trick-taking games. To learn more about trick-taking games and find links to a large variety of them click here

Below you will find the rules to a game that can be played with Rook cards but that is not found in a typical rook game booklet.


Kentucky Rook is a very popular card game in Eastern Kentucky. It is a 4 player game that is played with fixed partnerships. The twos, threes, and fours are removed from deck so that there are only 45 cards remaining (including the rook).

Card Rankings: 1 (high), 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 (low)

Rook cards are the absolute highest card.

Card Values:  

1 = 15 points each

14 = 10 points each

10 = 10 points each

5 = 5 points each

Rook = 20 points

Total of 180 points in each deal.


The dealer, who is chosen randomly, deals 10 cards to each player. The cards are dealt face-down and one at a time. Five cards are then placed face down in the center of the table, this is the nest. The dealer will add one card to the nest after each of the first rounds of the deal (there are five rounds).


After the deal, the players enter the bidding phase and have the opportunity to declare trumps.

A bid is a number; the minimum number one can bid is 100. Bids above 100 must be multiples of five. The player directly to the dealer’s left starts the bidding and the turn to do so passes clockwise or to the left. During your turn, you may bid or you may pass. Each bid should be higher than the previous one. Once you have passed you cannot bid if the turn comes back around to you. This continues until all but one player has passed. The player who bids the highest and their team member will then attempt to take at least the number of points that they bid during the game. These points are based upon the values outlined above.

If all players pass the dealer must make a forced bid of 100.

The player who won the bidding grabs the nest cards to make a hand of 15. They must not share their hand with any other player. After, they discard 5 cards, face-down, to the center to form a new nest. They are not permitted to put cards with point values into the new nest.

After discarding, the highest bidder declares the trump color.


The player to the left of the highest bidder initiates the first trick. Players try to follow color if possible. If one is unable to follow the color led with, they may play any card in hand. The rook is the ultimate trump card. Once everyone has played a card, the winner is the player who played the highest trump or the highest ranking card of the suit led with.

The winner of the previous trick leads in the next.

Once all tricks have been taken, teams total up all their point cards from the tricks they won. If the tricks that the bidder’s team took is equal to or exceeds their bid, their score is the amount of cards with point values they took. However, if they do not reach their bid they score nothing for the cards that they took during the game. Instead, they must subtract their total from the running score.  The team that did not bid takes exactly the number of points which they earned.

The game finishes once a team reaches 500+ points.

Nakoa Davis

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