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Scroker
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Games on this page:

Scroker

Spit in the Can

Longhorn Stud

Dealer's Choice

 

Official Rules for the 4 Games of

Scroker

    Those who know will be quick to point out that the new kid in town walks and talks much like the great boss. A shark already familiar with the terms "call," "check," and "fold," is already wise to Scroker lingo and within the first few minutes of play will recognize the familiar gait. Like Poker, some players choose to belly-up to the same brand of house Scroker every time the humidor is opened. Others enjoy sampling the wide variety of single-malts and lower shelf blends of Spit, Stud and even personal-stash games during an evening of Dealer’s Choice. Unlike Poker, no players have been shot—yet.

 
 

Scroker

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Players

Best with five to seven

Objective

Gambling. Hold (or bluff to hold) in your hand the largest word spelled with the most valuable letters in order to win the pot

Definitions

  • Bank: player who controls the distribution and accounting of chips
  • Pot: collection of chips in the center of the table that will be taken by the hand winner
  • Ante: contribute a chip to the pot before the deal
  • Open: bet first
  • Check: remain in the hand without betting
  • Call: remain or "stay" in the hand by matching the previous bet or bets
  • Raise: increase the bet
  • Fold: withdraw from the hand
  • Tap-out: run out of chips but remain in the hand (with some restrictions)
  • Draw: players discard up to three cards in their hands in exchange for ones in the deck
  • Stand-pat: choose to keep the cards initially dealt

Overview

Chips are obtained from the bank. All participants ante. Five cards are dealt to each player. In turn, each player is afforded the opportunity to check, open or fold. After one player opens, all subsequent players in turn must match or raise the previous bet in order to remain in the hand. Eventually, one player opens or raises and all other players match the bet or fold but do not further raise the pot. At this point, the dealer initiates the draw, followed by another round of betting nearly identical to the opening round. At the conclusion of that round of betting, nothing more is required except to compare the hands of the players that remain. The winning hand takes the pot and a new hand is dealt. Generally, there is no set number of hands to be played but rather a rough idea of how long the players care the game to last, usually decided before the game begins. At the conclusion of the last hand, each player reconciles his chips with the bank and decides for himself how well he did.

Setup

  • Normal 52 card deck ([Scrokers] are optional but normally excluded).
  • Establish the bank and distribute chips.
  • Agree on planned length of game and maximum bet amounts if desired.
  • Deal five cards to each player.
  • Place remaining cards as a facedown pile to the side to use during the draw.

Rules

  • A player must properly ante before the dealer issues him the first card.
  • The player to the dealer’s left leads, entitling him to one of three options. First, he may open. As an example, he might say "open for two" and move two of his chips towards the center, although not actually into the ante as it is important to ensure each of the players’ bets become equalized. A player must hold two Animals or a three-letter word (tadpole) to open. A second option the lead has is to announce "check" to indicate he wishes to remain in the game but is either unwilling or unable to open betting. Lastly, he may fold, in effect withdrawing from the current game with no money lost beyond contribution to the ante.
  • If the lead player does not bet, but rather checks or folds, the opportunity to open betting is passed to the next player clockwise around the table. This next player now is entitled to the same three options enjoyed by the previous player. Accordingly, each player in turn is afforded the chance to open betting until one player finally does bet. If this exercise comes full circle back to the dealer himself and even he chooses not to bet, the hand ends, all cards are tossed in and the next deal ensues.
  • More often, one player opens which instantly changes the available options for all players on subsequent turns. Actually, two options change and one remains the same. A player may still fold as before. The first change is that a player may no longer check. In order to remain in the hand, a player at a minimum must increase his stake to match that of the previous player. For instance a player might state "stay for two" and match the two chips bet by the opening better. The second change is that a player may now raise the stakes already set by a previous player. Continuing the example, the same player may have instead stated "stay for two and raise two" wagering a total of four chips. Logically, the next player must "stay for four" if he wishes just to remain in the hand.
  • This opening round of betting is concluded when one player either opens or raises and all other players call or fold but do not further raise the pot. When this occurs, the cycle finally stops just short of the last player to open or raise. He may not re-raise himself. The stakes should be equal for all players who remain.
  • The dealer initiates the draw after the first round of betting. Beginning on his left, he addresses each of the remaining players in turn to determine whether each cares to stand-pat or exchange cards. A player who wishes to exchange cards announces the number of cards (one, two or three) he desires and discards facedown the same number from his hand. The dealer then deals facedown that number of cards one at a time to that player from the top of the stack that was put aside following the initial deal. When the dealer reaches himself as the final player to participate in the draw, he must make it clear to all players the number of cards he exchanged.
  • If the draw is about to exceed the cards available in the deck, the dealer must stop short of the last card and combine it with all of the cards from any discards and dropped hands thus far, reshuffle and then resume the draw.
  • The player who opened the first round of betting is afforded the first opportunity to open the round of betting after the draw. He and subsequent players may fold, bet or check as before until one player bets. Thereafter, the round proceeds in identical fashion to the first round. As before, this second round of betting is concluded when one player either opens or raises and all other players call or fold but do not further raise the pot. Additionally, the round may conclude if no players bet but rather all check or fold.
  • Following the second round of betting, nothing more is required except to compare the hands of the players that remain. Any words a player claims to hold must be presented as a firm horizontal array clearly separated from any other cards he holds in his hand. The winning hand takes the pot and earns the right to see the hand of any player that stayed to the end. Conversely, the winner of the pot is responsible for being able to prove he was eligible to have opened. If unable, the second best hand wins the pot.
  • Only a player that stayed to the end may initiate a spellcheck. A spellcheck is only conducted if the spelling of the winning hand is in question. The opportunity to challenge the word moves clockwise around the table starting at the player currently holding the winning hand. No changes to bets or card arrangements may take place following a spellcheck initiation. If a winning hand was proven to be foul, that hand is treated as scum (a collection of five cards with no words present) even if a shorter word appears to be present. The loser of a spellcheck must contribute to the pot an amount equal to his stakes already in the hand. The destination of the pot is then re-determined given the current circumstance. Only one word may be contested at a time, however, multiple spellchecks may ultimately be conducted to determine the legitimate winner.
  • Sometimes a player will raise and all other players fold. In this instance, the hand immediately concludes. That player wins the pot and a new deal begins without the winner’s hand being revealed.
  • A player who inadvertently bets out of turn may not change his mind and bet differently when his proper turn is taken.
  • A player who depletes his supply of chips in the middle of a hand may be permitted to tap-out, if all players agree. He may participate in the draw and his bets in the pot remain active provided he notionally matches but does not raise the current bet. All subsequent bets by other players are kept apart from the main pot. If the player who tapped-out emerges with the winning hand, he will take only the main pot. In this instance, the remaining chips that were bet will go to the player with the second highest hand.
  • When the pot is taken, the hand is over and the deal passes to the player left of the previous dealer for a new hand.

Scroker Hands (from lowest to highest category)

  • Scum: no words present
  • Duck: 2-letter word
  • Two Ducks: two 2-letter words
  • Tadpole: 3-letter word
  • Frog: 4-letter word
  • Bullfrog: one 3-letter word and one 2-letter word
  • Slush: five cards of the same suit—no words necessary (strictly clean)
  • Scroker: 5-letter word
  • Flying Scroker: 5-letter word containing the [Unicorn]

Scoring

  • Words must be clean, but hot-’n’-sour lettering is allowed (except for a "Slush" hand). As a reminder of how these definitions are applied, Animal words may not contain Chili Peppers. Only the Lemons and Limes suits may contain chili pepper vowels. Furthermore, Lemons, Limes or Animals may not be mixed with each other in any combination to create a word.
  • A higher category Scroker hand always beats a lower category Scroker hand. For example, a Frog always beats a Tadpole.
  • A natural Scroker hand always beats a Scroker hand of the same category that attained its category using wild cards or hot-’n’-sours.
  • With all other factors equal, the highest-ranking card of the word or words used to establish the category will rule. For a "scum" or "slush" hand, merely the highest-ranking card in the hand will rule.
  • Wild cards and hot-’n’-sours cannot serve as the highest-ranking card.
 
 

Spit in the Can

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Players

Best with five to seven

Overview

Spit is a simple variation of basic Scroker where one card is "spit"—dealt face-up to be used by all players. Only two rule changes occur. First, four cards are dealt to each player instead of five. The last card is "spit" for all players to see and consider as their own fifth card. Second, instead of three cards, four cards may be exchanged during the draw. Otherwise, the Objective, Definitions, Setup, Rules and Scoring are identical to that of basic Scroker.

 
 

Longhorn Stud

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Players

Best with five to eight

Overview

The Object, Definitions and Scoring of Longhorn Stud are identical to that of basic Scroker. The Setup and Rules of both games closely parallel each other, although a few key differences exist. For starters, no draw exists. Instead, seven cards are dealt to each player allowing each to ignore two of his cards when considering the value of his five-card Scroker hand. Additionally, four of the seven cards (third, fourth, fifth and sixth) are dealt face-up for all players to know a portion of each other’s hands. Lastly, three betting rounds (vice two) proceed in a slightly varied format from that of basic Scroker. The opening betting round follows the fifth card dealt to each player. Then, two more rounds of betting take place following the deal of the sixth and seventh cards respectively. As in all Scroker games, the hand concludes following the final round of betting. The winning hand of all players that remain takes the pot.

Setup

  • Normal 52 card deck ([Scrokers] are optional but normally excluded).
  • Establish the bank and distribute chips.
  • Agree on planned length of game and maximum bet amounts if desired.
  • Deal five cards to each player—two facedown followed by three face-up (the face-up cards should be displayed as a vertical array towards the center of the table.
  • Place remaining cards as a facedown pile to the side to use for additional card dealing.

Rules

  • A player must properly ante before the dealer issues him the first card.
  • Following the deal of all five cards to each player, the two facedown cards are picked up for perusal while the face-up cards are kept on the table squarely in front of each player. Customarily, a player returns his two "hole" cards back to the table facedown, partially underneath and behind (towards himself) his face-up cards to indicate he is ready for the opening round of bets. A player is allowed to view his hole cards at anytime throughout the hand. As a general rule of thumb, however, the hole cards stay down on the table till the end of the hand.
  • The player with the highest possible card combination showing leads all betting rounds. Since three cards total will be dealt facedown, any two cards face-up of the same suit indicates the possibility of a "Slush" or "Scroker" hand. Therefore, the highest-ranking clean pair of cards will lead. Otherwise, the highest-ranking card will lead. The dealer always has the responsibility to identify the lead for a given round.
  • Unlike basic Scroker, no players may check during this opening stage. Instead, a player has only two options. First, he may open. As an example, he might say "open for two" and move two of his chips towards the center, although not actually into the ante as it is important to ensure each of the players’ bets become equalized. Second, he may fold, in effect withdrawing from the hand. He will forfeit his ante and pass the opening opportunity to the next player clockwise around the table. This next player likewise may now only fold or bet, and so on around the table.
  • Once one player opens, the available options for all players change slightly on subsequent turns. A player may still fold as before, but in order for him to remain in the hand, he must at a minimum increase his stake to match that of the previous player. For instance a player might state "stay for two" and match the two chips bet by the opening better. The second change is that a player may now raise the stakes already set by a previous player. Continuing the example, the same player may have instead stated "stay for two and raise two" wagering a total of four chips. Logically, the next player must "stay for four" if he wishes just to remain in the hand.
  • This opening round of betting is concluded when one player either opens or raises and all other players call or fold but do not further raise the pot. The cycle finally stops just short of the last player to open or raise. He may not re-raise himself. The stakes should be equal for all players who remain.
  • Following the opening round of betting, the dealer deals one more card face-up, clockwise, to each of the players that remain, finishing with one to himself. This deal is conducted with a bit more ceremony and care than the initial deal. With the deck squared-up and lying on the table, the dealer uses one hand to remove the top card from the stack and place it on the existing 3 face-up cards continuing the vertical array extending towards the center of the table. Customarily, the dealer will announce the high card present or the high card of any pair of clean cards as he lays each new card down. For example he might say, "Moose high" or "Snail high, maybe an Animal Scroker" or "L high, possible sour slush."
  • The second betting round proceeds nearly the same as the first with one slight variation. In addition to being able to fold or bet, each player may alternatively announce "check." to indicate a desire to remain in the hand but not bet. This round concludes when one player either opens or raises and all other players call or fold but do not further raise the pot. The round may also conclude because no players bet—all checked or folded.
  • The final card is dealt facedown as a third hole card, normally near and to the side of the other two cards already in the hole. When each player has finished looking at his third hole card, he returns it (along with the other two, if necessary) back to the proper hole position slightly under his face-up array to indicate he is prepared for the final round of betting.
  • The third and final round of betting proceeds exactly as the second round had.
  • Following the final round of betting, nothing more is required except to compare the hands of the players that remain. This process, like the dealing, is somewhat ceremonial and deliberate. First, the hole cards are turned over as a group. Then, one by one, each player arrays his cards from left to right in front of himself. He begins with the firm presentation of any words he claims to hold, separated and followed by any other cards that may make up his five-card hand, separated and followed by the extra two cards he turns facedown to indicate they are not part of his hand. The winning hand takes the pot and earns the right to see the hand of any player that stayed to the end.
  • Only a player that stayed to the end may initiate a spellcheck. A spellcheck is only conducted if the spelling of the winning hand is in question. The opportunity to challenge the word moves clockwise around the table starting at the player currently holding the winning hand. No changes to bets or card arrangements may take place following a spellcheck initiation. If a winning hand was proven to be foul, that hand is treated as scum (a collection of five cards with no words present) even if a shorter word appears to be present. The loser of a spellcheck must contribute to the pot an amount equal to his stakes already in the hand. The destination of the pot is then re-determined given the current circumstance. Only one word may be contested at a time, however, multiple spellchecks may ultimately be conducted to determine the legitimate winner.
  • Sometimes one player will remain after all other players have folded. In this instance, the hand immediately concludes. That player wins the pot and a new deal begins without the winner’s hole cards being revealed.
  • A player who inadvertently bets out of turn may not change his mind and bet differently when his proper turn is taken.
  • A player who depletes his supply of chips in the middle of a hand may be permitted to tap-out, if all players agree. He may participate in all subsequent deals that happen during the hand and his bets in the pot remain active provided he notionally matches but does not raise the current bet. All subsequent bets by other players are kept apart from the main pot. If the player who tapped-out emerges with the winning hand, he will take only the main pot. In this instance, the remaining chips that were bet will go to the player with the second highest hand.
  • When the pot is taken, the hand is over and the deal passes to the left of the previous dealer.
 
 

Dealer's Choice

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Players

Best with five to eight

Overview

Once familiar with a couple of the standard forms of Scroker, the next logical step is to shake things up a bit. Dealer’s Choice does this by giving each player the chance to name the game he cares to deal for a single hand before passing the deal to his left for the next player to name his own preference. The game may be a Scroker standard, modified standard or even a game of pure invention (within reason and consistent with the tenor of the game).

Dealer options

  • Call "chili peppers are hot" (may also be designated by just including "hot" in the naming of a game such as "Hot Longhorn Stud"). When chili peppers have been designated as hot, a slight variation in the scoring of a Scroker hand has occurred. Ties of a hand category (such as two Tadpoles) that would normally be broken by "high-card" are now preempted by the total value of chili peppers present in a given hand. The value of any given Chili Pepper corresponds directly to the number of chili peppers depicted on that card. For example, a word containing the [Five-chili-pepper-E] (worth five) would beat a same length word containing both the [Two-chili-pepper-A] and the [One-chili-pepper-U] (worth a total of three). A Chili Pepper Slush would also beat an Animal Slush. For any ties of chili pepper value, "high-card" will prevail as before.
  • Name a ruling card or set of cards. For example, saying "Chili Pepper E’s rule" would make a [Five-chili-pepper-E] rule any other card in the deck. In this same example, even a [One-chili-pepper-E] would still rule a [Unicorn]. Then, below a [Unicorn] normal rank would apply. Likewise, naming a ruling suit such as "Lemons rule" would similarly propel that suit to the head of the pack.
  • Designate wild cards.
  • Disallow hot-’n’-sours or limit them to only one or two per word.
  • Allow "Mixing the Juice." This variation allows Lemons and Limes to be combined in the same word while still requiring Animal words to remain clean.

Tips

  • Set some guidelines to disallow invented games that employ radically different scoring systems or deviate from basic Scroker beyond recognition.
  • For more serious games, limit the number of allowed wild cards to two or less.
 
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