Seep

This page is based mostly on information from Ankit Bhageria.

Introduction

Seep, also known as Sip, Sweep or occasionally Siv or Shiv is a fishing game related to Casino. The first part of this page describes a version of Seep played in northern India, in which the total value of the cards is 100 points. Another, possibly older version, in which the total card vale is 30 points, is played in the Punjab, where the game is very popular, both in India and in Pakstan. This 30-point game is described at the end of the page.

Players and Cards

Seep is normally played by four people in fixed partnerships of two with partners sitting opposite one another. The deal and play are counter-clockwise. A 2 player variation also exists but is less common.

A standard English pattern 52-card pack (without jokers) is used.

Objective and scores

The aim of the game is to capture cards worth points from a layout on the table (also known as the floor). The game ends when one team has accumulated a lead of at least 100 points over the other team (this is called a baazi). Players can decide in advance how many games (baazis) they want to play.

The method of capture is to play a card from one's hand and to pick up with it one or more cards or groups of cards from the table that have a capture value equal to the played card. For the purposes of capture, aces have a capture value of 1, cards from 2 to 10 are face value, a jack has capture value 11, queen 12 and king 13. During the game it is possible to build sets of cards into piles called houses, which can then only be captured as a unit. Cards on the floor that are not part of a house are called loose cards.

At the end of the play the scoring value of the captured cards is counted:

  • All cards of the Spade suit have point values corresponding to their capture value (from the king, worth 13, down to the ace, worth 1)
  • The aces of the other three suits are also worth 1 point each
  • The ten of diamonds is worth 6 points

Only these 17 cards have a scoring value - all other captured cards are worthless. The total scoring value of all the cards in the pack is 100 points.

Players can also score for a sweep, which occurs when a player captures all the cards from the layout, leaving the table empty. Normally a sweep is worth 50 points, but a sweep made on the very first play is worth only 25 points, and a sweep made on the last play is worth no points at all.

The Deal and Bid

The first dealer is chosen at random. Subsequent hands are dealt by a member of the team that is currently losing. If the team that dealt the previous hand is behind or if the difference is zero, the same dealer deals again. If the team that dealt the previous hand is now winning, the deal passes to the next player to the right, who is now on the losing team. After a baazi, the turn to deal passes to the partner of the player whose turn it would have been without the baazi.

The dealer shuffles the cards and the player to dealer's right cuts. The dealer then gives 4 cards to the player on his right and places 4 cards face down on the table (floor). The player to the right of the dealer picks up his cards and looks at them and if possible must "bid for a house" on the basis of those four cards. The bid must be a number from 9 to 13, corresponding to the capture value of a card in his hand. If the player is unable to bid, having no card bigger than 8, he shows his cards and throws them in, and the shuffle, cut and deal are repeated until a bid is possible.

Example 1: if the player to dealer's right has spade9, club10, heart9 and heart4 then he can bid for a house of either 9 or 10.

Example 2: if the player to dealer's right has spade7, diamond6, club8 and heart2, then no bid is possible and the hand must be redealt.

If the to dealer's right player has bid, the four cards on the floor are turned face up. The bidding player must now do one of the following three things (see play and houses below for further explanation).

  1. Create a house of the bid value by adding a card from hand to the ones on the floor.
  2. Play a card of the bid value, picking up one or more cards or sets of cards of the bid value amount.
  3. Throw down a card of the bid value - this remains on the floor as a loose card. (If no house can be established or cards picked up, this is the only option.)

The dealer then completes the deal, dealing all the rest of the cards counterclockwise in groups of four. The player to dealer's right will then have 11 cards (having played one of his original 4) and the other players will have 12 cards each.

The Play

After the player to dealer's right has bid and played and the deal has been completed, it is the turn of the player to the right of the bidder (the dealer's partner). Play continues in counter-clockwise rotation. A turn always involves playing one card from hand, so the play ends after everyone has had 12 turns, and all the players' hands are empty.

In a normal turn, there are basically three possible types of play:

  1. Creating or adding to a house. The played card is used to construct a new house (a pile of cards which can only be captured as a unit) or added to an existing house.
  2. Picking up (capturing) houses or cards. If the played card matches the value of a house or a card or a set of cards on the table, those cards, together with the played card, can be taken from the table layout and added to the cards captured by the player's team. These captured cards are stored face down in front of one member of the team.
  3. Throwing a loose card. If the card played is not incorporated into a house and not used to pick anything up, it remains on the floor as a loose card.

Cards on the floor are face up, and are open to inspection by all players. That includes cards stacked into houses - players are emtitled to look through the cards of a house to check what it contains. When cards are picked up and added to a team's pile of captured cards, players still have the right to be shown those cards on request, until the next player to the right has played a card. After the next player has played, cards previously picked up cannot be looked at by any player until the score is counted (when all players have played all their cards).

Houses

Houses (ghar in Hindi) are piles of two or more cards on the floor which can only be captured as a unit. The smallest such house has a capture value of 9, and the biggest 13 (king). A player can only create a house if he has a card equal to the capture value of the house in hand, as that card is needed to pick up the house later and collect points.

Every house on the floor must have at least one owner. The owner of the house is player who established it, unless it has been broken (see below). If a house has been broken the owner is the last player who broke it. A cemented house can sometimes have two owners: this happens if it is cemented or added to by an opponent of the first owner. A player who owns a house must always keep a card in hand whose value is equal to the value of the house, until the house is captured (picked up) or broken.

Cards on the floor that are not part of any house are loose cards. At the start of the game the four cards placed on the floor by the dealer are all loose cards.

An ordinary (uncemented) house consists of a pile of cards that add up to its capture value. For example a 5 and a 4 can form a 9-house, or a jack and an ace can form a queen house, or two 2's, a 3 and a 6 can form a king-house.

A cemented house (pukka) is a pile that includes more than one copy of the capture value. Each copy could be a set of cards adding up to the capture value, or a card equal to the capture value. For example a cemented queen-house could consist of any of the following:

  • 4, 8, 2, 10 (because 4+8=12 and 2+10=12)
  • 4, 8, Q
  • Q, Q
  • 3, 3, 6, A, J, Q

An ordinary house can be broken, by adding a card to it that increases its capture value. A house can only be broken by adding a card from a players hand, never by adding a card from the floor. A cemented house cannot be broken.

There cannot be more than one house of the same value on the floor at the same time. If a play is made that would create a second house of the same value, the two houses are combined into a cemented house.

Also it is impossible to have a loose card and a house of the same value on the floor together. If the loose card was there first, the when the house was created the card would automatically be cemented into it. If the house was there first, then when the single card was played it would either cement the house or pick up the house.

Establishing an ordinary house

To establish an ordinary house, you play one card from your hand to the floor and combine it with one or more loose cards on the floor to make a pile which adds up to the capture value of the house, which must be 9, 10, 11, 12 or 13. You must also have a card of this value in your hand, and you must keep this card until the house is either broken or picked up. Example: on the floor are the following loose cards: 2, 3, 5. In your hand you have a 6 and a jack. You can play your 6 and establish an 11-house (jack house) by making a pile of either the 6, 2 and 3 or the 6 and the 5.

Note: you can only create a house for yourself, never for any other player, not even your partner. It may be known from the existence of a previous house that was broken or picked up that your partner must be holding a particular card, but you cannot create a new house of that value unless you hold a card of that value yourself. Example. The cards on the floor are king, 8, 7, 2, all loose. Your partner plays a 4 on the 7 to create a jack-house. The next player plays a 2 to break it and make a cemented king-house. You have a 9 in your hand but no jack. In this case you cannot play your 9 on the 2 to make a new jack-house for your partner. You could only do that if you had a jack of your own, and then it would be your jack-house. Lacking a jack, you will have to wait for your partner to establish a new jack-house before you can add to it.

Breaking a house

An ordinary (uncemented) house that belongs to another player can be broken by adding a card from your hand which increases its value. You must hold a card that matches the new value. For example, if you have a 2 and a king and there is an ordinary jack-house on the table, you can break it by playing your 2 on it, converting it into your own king-house.

Please note that:

  • You cannot break your own house, but you are allowed to break a house belonging to your partner or an opponent.
  • You can never break a cemented house.
  • You cannot use a loose card on the floor to break a house. Example: suppose there is an ordinary 9-house (belonging to another player) and a loose 2 on the floor. In your hand you have an ace, a 10, a jack and a queen. You can break the 9-house with your ace to make a 10-house for yourself. You cannot break the 9-house with the 2 on the floor to make a jack-house. Also you cannot break the 9-house with your ace and add the 2 on the floor to make a queen-house.

Cementing a house

There are three ways to convert an ordinary house to a cemented house:

  1. You may add to it a card from your hand which equals the value of the house. Example: on an ordinary jack-house belonging to your partner you may play a jack, cementing it. If you were the owner of the house, you would need two jacks in your hand to do this - one to play and one to keep.
  2. You may play a card from your hand which together with one or more loose cards on the floor adds up to the value of the house. Example: on the table there is an ordinary 10-house and a loose 7. If you have a 3 in your hand you may play it on the 7 and add these cards to the 10-house, cementing it.
  3. You may break another player's ordinary house by adding to it a card from your hand that makes its value equal to that of the house you are cementing. Example: On the table are an ordinary queen-house and an ordinary 9-house. If you have a 3 and a queen in your hand, you can play the 3 on the 9-house to break it and combine the resulting 12-house with the queen-house to cement it. This play is also possible without holding a queen if your partner owns the queen-house: in this case your partner remains owner of the house and is responsible for keeping a queen so long as it is on the floor.

While cementing a house in any of the above ways, you may also add any loose cards from the floor that match or add up to the value of the house. Example: on the floor is a jack-house, a loose 8 and a loose 3. You may play a jack from your hand, cementing the house, and at the same time add the 8 and 3 to the cemented house, since they also add up to 11.

If you cement a house belonging to an opponent (without breaking it) you become a second owner of the house. Both owners are now obliged to keep a card equal to the value of the house until it is picked up by one of them or another player.

Adding to a cemented house

When there is a cemented house on the floor, you may add further cards or sets of cards of equal value. One of the cards you add must come from your hand. Any of the above methods for cementing a house may be used. Example: on the floor is a cemented 10-house, a loose 6 and a loose 3. You may play an ace, combining it with the 6 and the 3 to make 10 and adding these cards to the 10-house.

Note that if the house belongs to an opponent you can only add to it if you also retain a card equal to the value of the house in your hand. By adding to it you become the second owner, reponsible for holding a card of equal value to the house until it is picked up. However, if your partner is already an owner, you can add to the house without becoming an owner. Example: if your partner owns a cemented queen house and you hold one queen, you may add it to the house at your turn.

Establishing a cemented house

It is sometimes possible to create a cemented house in a single turn, where there was no house of that value on the floor before.

  1. If you establish a house and there is already a loose card of the same value on the floor, that card is automatically added to the house, cementing it. The same applies if there is a set of loose cards that add up to the value of the new house - they are automatically added to the house and you have created a cemented house. Example: On the floor are a 4, a 3 and a queen. You hold a 5 and a queen. You can play the 5, combine it with the 4 and 3 making 12, and combine these three cards with the loose queen to make a cemented queen-house, of which you are the owner. The result would be similar if instead of the queen there were a loose 8 and 4 on the floor: when you play your 5 and create the queen-house, the 8 and 4 automatically become part of your house and it is thereby cemented.
  2. If you have more than one card that equals the value of a card or sum of loose cards on the floor, you can play one of these cards and combine it with the floor cards to make a cemented house. Example: there is a loose 9 on the floor and you hold two 9's. You can play one of your 9's on the floor 9 to make a cemented house.
  3. If you break a house and the result is equal to a loose card on the floor, or the sum of several loose cards on the floor, a new cemented house is created. Example: on the floor is a 9-house belonging to another player and a loose 4 and a loose 6. You hold and ace and a ten. You can break the 9-house with your ace and the resulting 10-house will immediately be cemented by the loose 6 and 4.

Picking up cards and houses

In order to score points, it is necessary to pick up (capture) cards. The purpose of building houses is to create piles of cards that can be picked up together, and to make it more difficult for the opponents to pick up these cards. When picking up, the player places the card being played face up on the floor, and then gathers up this card together with all the captured cards and adds them to the face down stack of cards captured by his team.

Any single loose card can be picked up (captured) by playing a card of equal value. Both cards are added to the team's stack of captured cards. Example: on the table is a loose 5 of spades. A player plays a 5 from hand to the floor, picks up both fives and stores them as captured cards.

A set of loose cards can be picked up by playing a card equal to the sum of their values. Example: on the floor is a loose 3 and a loose 4. You can play a 7 to pick up the 3 and 4, and add these three cards to your captures.

Any house can be picked up by playing a card of equal value. Example: if there is a 12-house on the table, you can play a queen and pick up the house. You take the queen that you played and all the cards of the house and stack them with your team's captured cards.

If there is more than item on the floor that matches the card you played, you pick up all of them: single cards, sets of cards and possibly a house. For example:

  • If there are two loose tens on the floor (which can only happen at the start of a game), you can play a 10 to pick up both of them.
  • If you find loose on the floor the cards A, 3, 5, 7, 8 you could play an 8 and pick up all of them (A+7, 3+5, 8) or play a queen and pick up all of them (A+3+8, 5+7).
  • If there is a jack-house and a loose 7 and a loose 4 on the floor, then by playing a jack you can pick up the house and also the 7 and the 4.

Note that when you pick up several sets of cards, those sets cannot overlap. Example: you find on the floor the cards 2, 3, 5, 6. By playing a jack you can pick up 2+3+6 or 5+6. You have to leave either the 5 or the 2 and 3 on the floor.

Note that a house can only be picked up by a card of equal value, not as part of a set. Example: on the floor is a 9-house and a 3. If you play a queen you cannot pick up the 9-house and the 3. Your queen would remain on the floor.

If a card is played and not used as part of a house, the player must pick up any cards that can be picked up. It is not possible to leave on the floor any loose card, set of loose cards or house that matches the value of the played card.
First example: the player to dealer's right is dealt 7, 8, 8, J, so must bid 11. On the floor is 2 of spades, 9 of spades, J, K. Having bid 11, the player must play the jack, and must pick up the 2, 9 and jack with this card. Unfortunately this risks a sweep (see below) if the next player has a king. But the first player is not allowed to pick up just the 2 and the 9 with the played jack, leaving the jack and king on the table. Nor is it possible simply to throw the jack and leave all five cards on the table as loose cards.
Second example: on the floor is a jack-house and some loose cards: 2, 4, 6, 9. If you play a jack to pick up the jack-house, you must at the same time pick up the 2 and the 9, leaving the 4 and the 6. Again this risks a sweep by the next player, but you are not allowed just to take the jack-house and leave the 9 and 2 on the floor with the 4 and 6. When picking up cards you must take all the cards that are captured by the card that you played.

Throwing a loose card

When it is your turn you must play one card from your hand. Normally you try to establish or add to a house or to pick up cards. But if the card you play is not used in a house and does not match any loose card, set of loose cards or house on the floor, it simply remains on the floor as a new loose card, which can be used or picked up by subsequent players.

Sweeps

A sweep (or seep) occurs when a player picks up all the remaining cards on the floor in one go. Normally, the player's team is awarded a bonus of 50 points for a sweep, but there are two exceptions.

  • If on the very first turn of a deal the bidder uses the bid card to pick up all four of the initial floor cards, this sweep is worth only 25 points.
  • A sweep on the very last turn of a deal, using the dealer's last card, does not score any points.

When a sweep is made, the card used to make the sweep is normally stored face up in the team's pile of captured cards, as a means of remembering when adding up the scores how many sweeps have been made.

A sweep in the middle of a game is particularly dangerous. The next player has to throw a loose card, and if the following player can match it, that is another sweep for the same team. If this pattern continues, the team making the sweep will brobably win the baazi on that deal.

End of the Play

The play ends when everyone has played all the cards in their hands. At this point all houses must have been picked up, because of the rule that house owners must keep a matching card in their hand. These matching cards eventually have to be played to pick up the houses. However, there may be loose cards remaining on the floor. In this case, any remaining loose cards are picked up by whichever team was the last to pick up cards from the floor.

Scoring

Each team counts its points for cards (all spades, all aces and the ten of diamonds - see above) and adds the bonuses for any sweeps. Provided that each team has scored at least 9 points, the difference between the scores of the two teams is then calculated.

The differences in successive deals are accumulated to give a running total of the score difference between the teams. If the winning team achieves a difference of 100 or more between the scores, they win one Baazi (one game) and the difference is reset to zero.

If in any deal a team scores fewer than 9 points, then that team immediately loses a baazi, irrespective of the previous score and whether or not they were winning or losing at the start of that deal, and the scores are reset to zero.

Example: The players are North, West, South and East. North deals first and the North-South team win with a difference of 20. So West deals next and North-South win again with a difference of 36. North-South now have a lead of 56 and West deals again. East-West win with a difference of 42, so the running total is now 14, with North-South still winning, so West deals yet again. East-West win again with a difference of 66 so now East-West are in the lead with a running total of 52 and the deal passes to South. East-West win again with a difference of 54 and so win a baazi, since the cumulative difference is now 106. The score is reset to zero and the deal passes to North.

Second example: North-South are leading by 10 and East deals. East-West wins with a difference of 124 (having made two sweeps), so East-West win the baazi since they have a lead of 114. Since East-West took the lead the deal would normally pass to North, but because of the baazi, the next dealer will be North's partner South.

Third example. North-South are leading by 99 points, and East deals to North. In this deal North-South manage to score only 5 points (East-West have 92). 5 is less than 9 so there is an instant Baazi with East-West winning. The scores are reset to zero and it is South's turn to deal to East.

Basic Tactics

  1. If possible, try to remember the number of cards left in denominations of 9 to king. Also try to remember the number of point-carrying-cards which have been picked up. This is the single most important strategy in the game. Once you are able to remember these things, you will master the game very soon.
  2. When possible, players should try to leave only 2 items on the floor - 2 houses or 1 house and 1 loose card or 2 loose cards. This gives limited options to the other team. If just 2 loose cards are left they should total at least 14 to avoid the danger of a sweep.
  3. Since the player who picks up last takes away the all the loose cards left on the floor at the end as well, the players should try to make sure that they are the last to pick up cards. For example, if the dealer is somehow able to cement a house which no other player can pick, then he should not pick up this house until his last turn unless absolutely necessary. Once you play lot of Seep, you will see that lot of points will be thrown away in the players' final turns as loose cards.
  4. Don't just rush into picking up points. Try to build houses as long as possible. But if you fear that a house may be broken or picked up by somebody else, then pick it up with your point carrying card, else you might risk throwing it away in the end as a loose card.
  5. If you are able to infer that you and your partner have all the four cards in a single denomination or if some cards have been played and the rest of the cards of that denomination are with your team, then you can use this greatly for your advantage. This is beacause, once you create a cemented house in this denomination, the members of opposing team cannot break this house or pick it up. So you can go on filling in points in this house to increase your score. For example, suppose that one king has already been picked up and you hold two kings. Now if your partner builds a ordinary king house, it means that all three kings are with your team only. What you can do now is cement that king house with some big-point-carrying-cards. Your confidence in placing these valuable cards in the house indicates to your partner that you have no fear of losing it, and therefore that the other team does not hold a king.

Variations

Two-Player Game

Two players can play Seep, in a slightly modified form. Four hands are still dealt, two hands to the players and two hands that are stored face down until needed. Play proceeds as normal until both players have played their first 12 cards. Any remaining loose cards on the floor are not picked up, but remain in place for the second part of the game: each player picks up one of the face-down hands and play continues using those cards.

Since the players are forced to pick up any houses before the second hands come into play, the transition from the first part to the second leaves the two-player game particularly vulnerable to sweeps.

Limited Houses

Some play with a rule that there can only be two houses on the floor at any one time. Normally one would prefer not to freate a third house, as this creates too many options for the opponents, but in this version it is actually illegal to do so. Once there are two houses, any player who cannot or does not wish to play a card in either of those houses has no option but to throw a card and pick up what it can take or just leave it as a loose card.

Scoring variation

The Sweep page by Karan Juneja, which was used as a starting point for this description, gives the 10 of diamonds a score of only 2 points instead of 6, and awards 4 points to the team that take the majority of cards (more than 26), so that the total is still 100. Also there is no mention of a different score for a sweep with the first play - presumably in this version a sweep at the beginning scores 50, the same as a sweep later in the game.

From the discussion appended to that page, it seems that some players allow a house to be broken using a loose card from the floor, provided that it is at the same time cemented with a card from the player's hand - for example if there is an uncemented jack-house and a loose 2 on the floor, a player who holds two kings can play one of them and combine it with the jack-house and the 2 to make a cemented king-house. This play would not be allowed in the version described on this page.

30-point Seep

I have information on this game from Dr Kamran Dodhy, Dave Barker and Surjit Sandhu. It is played in the Punjab, both in India and in Pakistan. There are only seven scoring cards:

  • 10 of diamonds: 12 points
  • 9 of spades: 9 points
  • 2 of spades: 1 point
  • each ace: 1 point

In addition, the team that captures more cards scores 4 points, so that the total value of the cards is 30 points.

The deal bidding, play and building, cementing and breaking of houses are the same as in the 100-point game above, except that after dealing the first four cards to the the first player and the table, the dealer must check the table cards (without showing them to the other players) to ensure that they do not contain the diamond10 or the spade9. If either of those cards is present, the first player's cards and the table cards are taken back, the whole pack is shuffled and cut again and the deal is restarted.

The score for a sweep is equal to the capture value of the card played - for example if you used a jack to take all the cards from the table you would score 11 points for the sweep. The score is the same for a sweep made with the first card played.

According to an anonymous contributor to Wikipedia, this game normally ends when one team has a lead of 30 points over the other, though the players may agree to play to a different target score of their choice. The 9-point minimum requirement to avoind an immediate loss in the 100-point game does not apply in the 30-point game. Instead, if one team manages to acquire all the 30 card points in one game, this is known as a 'Satthi', which is worth 60 points and is considered a demonstration of skill and prowess.

I am not sure about the target score for a game, but I guess that it must be less than 100. Perhaps you win a game by being at least 30 points ahead of the opponents. In any case, there is no equivalent to the 9-point minimum rule in the 100-point game: even if your team takes no points at all on a deal you do not immediately lose the game.

Qasim Shabbir Chaudry from Rawalpindi, Pakistan, describes a variation in which the 2 of spades is worth 5 points (instead of 1) but there is no score for the majority of cards, so the total is still 30. In this version, the diamond10 and spade9 cannot be used to capture loose cards or added to a larger house until the holder has first built a house of ten or nine respectively. Moreover the first ten-house can only be built by the holder of the diamond10 and the first nine-house only by the holder of the spade9. In this way all players know who holds these cards when the first 9-house and the first 10-house appear. Other players can make 9- or 10- houses after the first such house has been built.

Software and Online Games

It is possible to play Seep online at seepstation.com.

At sweepgame.com you can play Seep on Facebook against a live or a computer opponent: versions for iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone 7 are also available.