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Card Game: Sweep (a.k.a. Seep)

This is an Indian card game that looks a lot like a variant of an Italian game, Scopa, but the influence could easily be the other way around. Note this is also commonly known as ‘seep’, but our family’s theory is that it’s a bastardised version of ‘sweep’.

Players

The game is usually played by 4 players, in two teams, with partners sitting opposite to each other. It is played using the standard deck of 52 cards. It can also be played with a two player variant I’ll explain below.

Aim of the Game

Get as many points as you can through picking up cards which are worth points. First team to lead by 500 (or, more commonly, whatever other limitation you wish to put on it, e.g. time) wins.

Scoring

  • All cards of Spades ( ♠ ) have points corresponding to their face value – e.g., the King of Spades is worth 13 points, Queen 12, Jack 11, the 10 of Spades is worth 10 points, etc.
  • All Aces are worth a point – for all suits.
  • The 10 of Diamonds (  ) is worth 2 points. 1
  • Whichever team has the most cards at the end gets 4 points 2
  • Sweeps are worth 50 points (the mechanism for a sweep is explained below)

This makes for a total of 100 points per round (90 points from the spades + 4 points from the aces + 2 points from the 10 of Diamonds + 4 points from the most cards).

Gameplay

With 4 players, the teams are made up of players sitting opposite each other, like in Bridge or 500. This ensures play alternates between teams.

The method of play is the establishment and picking of “houses” – piles of two or more cards which add up to a ‘high-value’ card. The smallest such house is 9, and the biggest is King (13).

A player can only create a house if he has a card of the value of the house in hand, as that is necessary to pick up the house later and collect points.

Picking cards – whether individually or for a house – locks in the points from the cards for the team.

Establishing a house (“ghar”): This is usually done by adding a card to an existing one “on the floor” – The floor is where the gameplay occurs. For example, to establish a house of 9, with a 4 on the floor, you can throw down a 5. To establish a Jack (11) house, you would need to throw down a 7 on top of the 4, etc.

Only one unique value house can exist at any one time – so the two teams cannot have houses of the same value on the floor.

Gameplay begins: the dealer deals 4 cards to the player on his right, and 4 cards on the floor. The player to the right of the dealer picks up his cards and must bid for a house on the basis of the first four cards in their hand. If the player is unable to make a bid for a house, for instance if the player does not have any cards above 9, the round must be redealt.

If the player has made a bid, the four cards in the middle are turned up. The player who has made a bid must now either create a house by adding a card to the ones on the floor, or picking up a sum of cards to the value of the called amount (not usual, but desirable if this locks in significant points). If neither creating a house or picking up cards to that value is possible, the player must throw down their bid card to the floor.

The rest of the pack is now dealt, in groups of four. Play then continues as normal to the right of the bidding player.

Normal play affords a player a few actions:

  • Establish a house
  • Adding to a house
  • Breaking a house
  • Cementing a house
  • Picking up a card
  • Throwing a loose card
  • Picking up a house

Creating a house: when there are loose cards, the player can add a card from their hand to one (or more) on the floor and add this to an existing house. Simple arithmetic applies here – a 5 on the floor can be combined with a 4 for a 9 house, 5 for a 10 house, 6 for a Jack house, 7 for a Queen house, or 8 for a King house.

Note that this should only be done to houses which have either been established by yourself, your teammate, or one where you have the house’s value card in hand.

Breaking a house: Houses can be broken. If house of value 9, for example, has been established by your opponent, and you have a Jack and a 2 in hand, you can lay your 2 on the house to “break” the house and establish your own. This now becomes a house of Jack/11 – if you already have one on the floor, the broken house is added to the existing pile. Houses cannot be broken when they have been ‘cemented’ – see below.

Adding to a house / cementing a house (“pukka”): Houses can be cemented or fixed by laying a second “layer” of cards adding up to that value, or by laying a card of the exact value on top of an existing house. This latter action can only occur where you have at least two cards of the same value in your hand, as you still need a card to pick up the house later. Note that this can occur more than once, and is not restricted to the establishing team – an opponent cementing a house you’ve created indicates that they have another card still in hand capable of picking up the house.

Picking up a card: Any loose card can be picked up by a pair of that card. This is usually useful where one of the pair is a low (i.e. less than 8) Spade, as it locks away points.

Throwing a loose card: A loose card can be thrown at any time. When a player cannot perform any of the other actions available, they must throw a card from their hand. This card is loose on the floor and can be used by other players.

Picking up a house: When points have been tied up in a house, or there are many houses on the floor, it is (usually!) wise to pick up a house. A house can be picked by a player during his turn by playing the card with the number of the house, e.g. a house of 12 can be picked by a Queen. When picked, a house is placed face down in front of the player.

Picking up a house is usually left as late as possible, in order to extend the run of cards being added to a house – remember, points are awarded for the number of cards picked up.

Picking up also has a special situation, the Sweep.

The Sweep (or “seep”): if a player is able to pick up all remaining cards on the floor in one go, the player has “swept” it clean, and that player’s team is awarded 50 points as a bonus.

This typically arises where one house is left on the floor and the next player has the card of the remaining house, or occasionally where no houses are left after a pick-up and the loose cards on the floor all add up to the value of card in the next players hand.

Sweeps are kept in front of the player with the card used to pick up the sweep face-up, or recorded elsewhere on a scoring sheet.

Sweeps mid-game are particularly dangerous, as this forces the opponent to throw a loose card; if the next player has its pair, a second sweep occurs, and the pattern can continue disastrously.

End Game

The end-game of the last card usually has teams picking up the remaining houses. The last team to pick up (usually the dealer) receives any loose cards also remaining, and the last pick up is not considered a sweep.

Players count their points, remembering to add 50 for any sweeps. The losing team deals the next round, and play continues until one side reaches the target (500 point lead).

Two Player Variant

Two players can play this game, in a slightly modified form. Four hands are still dealt, but two are kept closed. Play goes as normal until the first 12 cards have been processed, and then play continues with the next hand – the last loose cards are not picked up, but rather serve as the seed for the next round.

As the players are forced to pick up any piles before the second hand comes into play, the transition from one round to the next leaves the two-player game particularly vulnerable to sweeps.

Alternative Explanations

If you’d like to refer to other sites –


  1. A number of commenters have pointed out that according to them, the 10 of Diamonds is worth 6 points. This isn’t how I’ve played, but to achieve this you would have to disregard the rule of 4 points to the team that picks up the most cards.
  2. See previous footnote – I think this is a better rule because it ties floor control with points.

80 replies on “Card Game: Sweep (a.k.a. Seep)”

Nice Effort Karan….

The above discussion is nothing but the variation of rules i experienced throughout Delhi-Haryana-Punjab region.
Different groups play with different rules of cementing and picking.

I heard about 2 very exciting variations of this game:

1) Reverse Sweep( Ulti Seep): In which you collect minimum points. And play such that the other team picks up most of the points. Though I haven’t played it.

2) Open Seep: some of your cards( i think 4) are visible on the table to all the players.

If anyone knows the above variations, please share.

good effort but I should point that “seep” is the most popular game in rural Punjab (Indian Punjab) – played by young and old alike – and diamond 10 is worth six points (and the link that you posted for Pakistani rules is actually the rule followed in Punjab – Indian part of Punjab and Pakistani part of Punjab)

I have a doubt!! We were all playing sweep today (my family of 4), i had a house of 11. There was a loose 3 and some other card on the floor. Can I throw a loose 8 or is it compulsary to add on to 3 (coz i knew my partner has 8 of spades, i wanted to give him a chance to pick it up)

2ndly, if it’s compulsary to add on…then sometimes wt happens is my opponent made a 12, and there is also a house of 13 on the floor, let’s say i also have a Q, and a loose 5 is lying, can i not throw a 7 loose now (coz if i add on it will be revealed that I also have a Q!!)

Not compulsory to add on to the 3, but you risk your opponents picking it up together with the house of 11.

For the 2nd one, you can add to the house of 12 – it does tell your opponent that you also have a Q, but it’s also a threat to them to say that you could pick up that house if you want to. If your opponent set up the house of 12 and you set up the house of 13, that is a signal to say you could sweep the floor if you wanted to do so.

@jua

Yes i know about the open seep variant.

In this you distribute four cards to each player and four cards on the floor. And like normal seep, one player will ask for a card from the floor.

The next part is different. The cards are then distributed in such a way that both player has five bundles of four cards each, but face down. So that the players won’t know about those cards. Then the first card, the uppermost card of each bundle is revealed. So in totality each player is in possession of 24 cards. But only nine cards are known to him(eight for the player who goes first) , and he can use only those eight cards per chance ;out of which four cards are visible to the opponent as well.

Now if a player uses a card from his hand, then it’s fine, but if he uses a card from the open house, then the card below it in the bundle will be unveiled. So that those five cards are always visible.

And the rest you play the same.

If you have any doubt I’d be happy to help, mail me at anmoljoshi14@gmail.com

if there is only a loose 6 and 1 on the tale and i have 7 in my hand then can i make a sweep????

Hi.. thanks for the information on the overall game
I have a question for a situation
If there is an uncemented 11 (9+2) one 12(Q) and and ace on the floor.. can the opponent do a seep if he has Q in his hand?

Hi Abaracadabra, you can’t pick up the uncemented house on the floor along with the Ace on the floor – you first need to combine that with a card from your hand.

In northran areas of Pakistan we play a little bit different..
There are total 26 points..
2 of spade.. 1 point
9 of spade 9 points
10 of spade.. 10 points
10 of Diamond.. 2 points
all aces… 1 point each
Those having greater number of cards at the end.. 4 point

Can we have more than two houses in the floor… Because I have seen some people allowing third or fourth. Whereas some don’t allow more than two.

You can have more than two houses (as long as it’s all different values) on the floor for sure, it makes for a little inefficient play but no reason why that would be restricted.

Can we sweep if there is a cemented ( pucca ) house of 9 and a loose 2 with J? Can a house (ordinary or cemented) ever be swept if the total of the loose cards and house equals the value of played card . Like say if there is a house of J (9+2) and 2 left behind..can i sweep it with a K.

There is a house with 7+ 4. Loose card 5 is lying on the floor. Can I make house 11 Pakka by adding 6 to 5 and putting them on the house with value 11?

Need a clarification here pls. We have on a floor a pukka house of 13 one card of 2 and one card of Ace. Now my opponent placed a card of 10 on card of 2 to make uncemented house of 12. Is this a sweep opportunity for me of 13. Can I sweep with a K card? My opponent is saying otherwise.

No, Anju, since there must be one action to push the Ace onto the house of 12 to make it a thirteen, and then a second action to pick up.

Hi karan, we were two players playing, one had made a 9 house, but forgot and threw the nine card. The other player picked up the nine card along with a four with a king. It is then the first player realised his mistake that he had to pick the nine. Is it a mismatch or has the other player won

The other player with the king has won – since the first player can no longer pick up the 9 house, he has conceded the round effectively. It’s like if you try to create a house for a value that you don’t have in your hand – the penalty is that you concede the turn and all points are given to the other team.

If at the last,suppose no cards left at the table, that means combination of cards is like that the team member picks up all cards, will that considered to be as seep or not?
For example: in the end of the game there is pukka of 9 and dealer picked that up, now no other cards left, so is this a seep on opponent?

After the first session of sweep game..if there is seep lying and the player misses it in the second session….and throws another card by mistake…which is picked up by the opponent and thereby again creating a sweep…Is it okay to consider it as sweep?

Sorry not sure I understood your question Arun – by session do you mean a whole hand having been played? There should be no cards on the floor at the end of the whole hand being played as the dealer has the final opportunity to pick up.

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