Slapjack (sometimes called Heart Attack or shortened to Slaps) is an often loud, raucous game that is popular with children from about age 5 to 12. It's closely related to several traditional British children's games including Snap, Beggar-My-Neighbor, and Egyptian Ratscrew, all of which have been played for at least 100 years.
Slapjack can be played with as few as two or as many as 8 players, but is most fun with 3 or 4 players. It's typically played with a standard 52-card deck; because the gameplay is very physical it's best to choose a deck that's not particularly valuable: Slapjack has been known to cause damage to the cards. The goal of the game is to win all of the cards in the deck.
Slapjack is considered to be a children's game because of the simplicity of the rules and the childlike fun of actually slapping a playing card. Combining physical and strategic card play is not new; in fact, the game Snap has been a favorite for over 150 years. The original Snap was created in 1866 with a unique set of 66 cards illustrated by the same man (John Tenniel ) who illustrated the books Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
Shuffle the deck. Deal the cards one at a time, face down, to each player as evenly as possible. Each player now has a face-down pile of cards in front of him.
The player to the left of the dealer goes first and play continues clockwise from there. In turn, each player takes the top card from his pile and places it, face up, in the middle of the table.
When moving a card from his pile to the middle of the table, each player should do so by turning the card away from himself. This ensures that the player does not see the card before his opponents have a chance to do the same. (The player should also turn the card quickly so that he’s not giving himself a disadvantage.)
When the card placed in the middle of the table is a Jack, players race to be the first to slap a hand on top of the Jack. The first player to do so wins the entire pile of cards. That player collects the cards and adds them to his pile. He then shuffles the entire pile and sets it down in front of him.
There are a number of specific rules related to slapping:
- When more than one player slaps at a Jack, the player whose hand is lowest on the pile wins.
- When a player slaps any card other than a Jack, he gives one card from his own supply, face down, to the opponent who played the card that fooled him.
- When a player runs out of cards, he remains in the game until the next Jack is revealed. If the player with no cards is the first to slap the Jack, he wins the pile of cards and remains in the game. If he is not first, however, he is eliminated from the game.
There is no particular strategy to the game; the winner is typically a person who is assertive and willing to risk the possibility of losing. When one player wins all of the cards, he wins the game.