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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.

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

It is such a popular game i north India and among those also settled abroad, but it is unfortunate that it is nowhere available online.

My friends and I have been starting to play Seep. One rule we couldn’t quite agree on is the “throw a loose card” rule. You say you can only do this when you can’t do any other move. But we try playing with this rule and it just ends up with teams getting seep after seep because we’re forced to pick up cards and houses, leading to an empty board.

Can you really only throw a loose card if you have no other moves at all?

mpun, I think I’ve not been clear enough – you can throw a loose card at any time.

Throwing a card is a weak move because it doesn’t get you any points – but if the alternative is between throwing a card and giving away a sweep because you’re picking up houses and setting up sweeps, you would throw a card.

The only time you are forced to pick up a pile is towards the end of the game, when you’re running out of cards – remember, you can’t leave orphan houses lying around.

The point I wanted to make above was that if you have no other actions available, then you must throw. This is basically to enforce the fact that you must “use” a card on your turn.

how many houses can be made at a time???
and can I modify the house that I have made if it is not pukka.
that is suppose I made a house of 10 using 6 and 4.
now no one changed that house and it is still lying loose.
Now can I add 2 and make it to 12?

Only 5 houses can exist simultaneously – that’d be where you had a house of 9, 10, J, Q, and K.

And yes – that’s the “breaking the house” scenario described above.

hi,
thanks for the detailed description of the game. I need one clarification – Is a house considered cemented when you repeat a combination e.g if i throw a 10 on 2 and make a house of 12 and then in the next turn throw 3 on a loose 9 and put it on the 12 will the house be considered as pucca or do i have to put a Q to make it pucca?

If there is a non pucca house like just 9+2 = 11 and there is a pile of K and the other person throws a 2 will it be a sweep for the next person ??

Hi Tarn, no, this can’t be a sweep – as long as the house has already been made, the pickup can’t take a loose card with a house. The house would intentionally have to be broken.

Sorry, but you are mistaken. If the pile (house) has a 9+2 on it and someone throws down a 2 then it is seep (“sweep”) because the pile isn’t pukka yet so it is still free.

karan says: maybe that’s the way you play, but this would potentially lead to a lot more sweeps. Sweeps should be rare.

One more thing.

If you have a Q pile and there is a pile of J and and A down, If someone puts a Q ontop can that person take the J and A and put it ontop but they cannot pick it up.

karan says: ok, the start position here is that there’s a Q and J house on the floor, both not pukka, and someone’s thrown an Ace (very silly move, but let’s assume that’s happened). My move, I cannot sweep the floor with a Q in my hand – the move I’d have here would be to break the J house with the A using the Q card on my hand, and this would have to remain on the floor, combining with the existing Q house. You cannot break and pick in the same move.
This might be a very strong move only if I know for sure that me & my partner have all the Qs, but it would be a stupid move if the opponent could have a Q.

i have heard that if a person is already sweeped 2 times than he can’t be sweeped again, or the points of two best sweeps(i.e. in case when there is sweep at the very begining that is of 10 points) in case of three sweeps is counted. is this rule valid?please provide me some info about this.

karan says: Ridhima – the way we’ve always played, there’s no restriction on the number of sweeps against a team. Given the play is usually to a lead of 500, that’s potentially a lot of sweeps. However, your rule might be a good ‘house rule’ to keep the game fairer.

Karan do u knw any website to play dis game online?????

karan says: Manish, as I’ve mentioned repeatedly above, I don’t know anywhere it can be played online. If you find somewhere, do link to it here!

Ridhima: yes, you can, though it isn’t very common and could be considered impolite if you’re breaking your partner’s house. It might be easier to look for opportunities to make more houses.

i play with the rule that you are not allowed to break your own house.

the one rule that i cant get clarification on is can you add to another teams house? or can u only pick it up.

izoi, you can add to any house, but it’s not a good strategy to add points to your opponents’ house(s) unless you’re sure they won’t pick it up before you can – e.g., if them picking it up will lead to a sweep for sure, that’s the only time it makes sense.

I’d like to add a few points:
1.) Most players try to limit moves to so as to maintain two houses (or stacks). The advantage of this move is obvious, if the opponent picks up either stack he risks giving away a sweep. This therefore prevents the opponent from picking up his stack.

2.) Further I disagree on the cementing issue and a bit of common sense says that Karan’s rule is incorrect. Consider this scenario:

Person A adds 2 to a 9 to make 11 (J) then the next guy B, throws a 3, the first guys partner C then adds 8 to the loose 3 to add to the stack of 11 (J). Now suppose B’s partner has 2 and 13 (K).
So he decides to break the 11 to make it 13 and adds 2 to the stack. According to Karan’s rules this is perfectly acceptable. But there is something wrong here: the 13 stack contains 2+3+8 + 2+9 a total of 24 which is not a multiple of 13s i.e. it is not a stack of many 13s.

Therefore the correct rule is: When any stack (or House) becomes doubled it is considered cemented (or pukka). It may be doubled by adding exactly that no. (J on an 11 stack) or a stack of the same no. on it (8+3 on 9+2).

3.) Also I agree with Karan on his differing point with rishi. Even an uncemented stack and a loose card cannot cause a sweep. The uncemented stack and the loose card however may be used to break the uncemented stack.
i.e. if only 9+2 is in the 11 stack and 2 is loose on the floor and there is another stack of 13 then by adding a K one may use the 11 (9+2) stack and loose 2 to add all these cards to the 13 stack. (this however leaves the player vulnerable to giving away a sweep)
But he may not make a sweep with the K.

4.) Also I disagree with Karan that stacks are generally left for the later game. If you have a spade of the stack and the stack is free to be picked up (ie more that 2 stacks) then you should pick it up. Plus if there are some points in the stack you should pick it up. As they say, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. This is how most of the experienced players I have encountered, play. More basic logic to support this is that all the while that you may not pick up your stack if you have a spade you leave it open for someone else to pick it up. And by the end you may end up not even having a stack to pick up and hence must throw it down, resulting in a huge loss of points that should have been yours.

The exception rather than the rule, would be when you know the opposition will have a “Final” if you pick up your stack. Final here means a monopoly on a house forming number (9-13). Obviously this is most dangerous if the opposition has a monopoly on 13 since it is not breakable.

This is a tough game to learn and an even tougher one to master but it is fantastically intelligent, requires a lot of reading of the signals your teammate sends through his cards and also the opponents. Some say that this game is tougher, complex and intelligent even more than Bridge. So enjoy this particularly Indian masterpiece and keep your mind stimulated!
5.)

While picking up a house if there are loose cards of same value on the board, do we need to pick them also , or could we leave them to avoid seep?
eg there is a house of 12 and along with it there are some loose cards 7,5 and 3.
while picking up the house 12 do we need to pick 7 and 5 or we can leave them?

The rule of breaking your own house is incorrect. You cannot break your own house you’ve created. The other 3 players can. Your teamate can although not recomended.

Thank you for this useful description of Seep and the discussion.
Using this page as a starting point, Ankit Bhageria and I have published a new page about Seep at http://www.pagat.com/fishing/seep.html where we have tried to cover all details and to give examples to make each rule clear. We would be grateful for any comments, criticisms or suggestions, either here or by e-mail to the address given at the foot of the pagat.com page.

i agree that one cannot break their own house…
also, is there still not a site in which we may play seep online?

@ Snyde
The uncemented stack and the loose card however may be used to break the uncemented stack

I don’t agree with you on this. To break a uncemented stack you need a card of your own and once that is done, you can add loose card(s) (total to stack new value) to it.
You can never add loose cards and uncemented stacks that are lying on the table.e.g uncemented stack of J and 2 never make 13. You have to add 2 from your hand to make stack to 13, and if 9 and 4 are also present on the table you can add them to your new stack.

Thanks for putting this up. Coherent and nicely worded. I used to play this game as a kid, but had forgotten a lot of the rules. I agree with Snyde on the cementing issue though.

In this whole forum Snyde is taking most sense. However i do not feel that his point # 3 is correct. if 9 is there then 2 to make 11, then still this is not pucca. One can add 1 or 2 to make a house of Q and K respectively. If one can make 9 + 4 = K then one should be able to make 9+2+2 = K as first 9+2 is also not pucca. Good game. Playing since childhood. Nice effort by Karan to document.

In Pakistan, Playing seep with diffrent method, I have four friends and play seep once in a week. In our rule, seep has total 30 numbers, 10 spade has twelve number, spade 2 has five number, spade 9 has nine number ans every ace has one number. so the total poits are 30, and clean the table mean awarded bonus point of that specific number, for exemple if only 10 on the table and the opposite pick up the 10 it should awarded 10 points and if he pick up 5, it should be awarded 5 bonus points.

Sir
1.tell me if one can change the uncemented house of his own mate.
2.Also tell me if there is cemented house of thirteen and uncemeted house 10 and loose 3 card, is it valnurable for sweep.

I have a Query.

Suppose there are two houses. One ordinary house of 11(2+9) and one is cemented house of 13. Now suppose a person throws a loose card of 2. Then can next person can make a sweep by king? since there is cemented house of 13 and ordinary house and loose card makes 13.

Hey, I don’t understand the counting of points after the game.
Can anyone please explain that?

can 3 players play sweep… we have been doing so but the only problem arises when someone sweeps the floor. the question is who shall throw the card after that?

Hi Shams – no, 3 people can’t without significant modification to the rules.

Ahsan/BKM – as mentioned in the scoring section, the counting of points is based on the face value of the Spade cards, along with the special extras mentioned above. So a 2 of spades is worth 2 points, a 4 is worth 4, etc. What problems are you having exactly?

Nishant – no, they must first establish a second house of King (13) by using the card to collect the 11 + 2 into the original house. You cannot create a house and sweep in one action.

heyy… I play this game usually in ‘2 player game’ version. i wanted to know if for eg: the opponent asks for 10 but there is no card via which a house of 10 can be formed. so opponent drops a card. now the opponent throws a card. my first query. should that card be 10 only?
q2: if no, then if the opponent throws a card which makes the sum of all cards or combinations of cards as one number lets say 9, can the dealer sweep away all the cards leads by a sweep??? or that is not allowed??

q3: if that is allowed: then how many sweeps can be dealt????

do reply back ASAP…….

thanks robin
:)

have a happy gaming :)

I’d like to add few points:
1) One can’t break his own house

2)The loose card on the floor cant be used alone to make a house and pick the combined house from them.One must use his card for do that. suppose there are uncemented J house and 2,7,6 on the floor, then one cant pick J+2=K, this is illegal. One can use his/her ace to make a house of K in this case i.e. J+2+1=K. Point is one’s card must be invloved in making a house.

3) Sweep at the starting of the game have value of 10 points. Most people play with 10 point.
Swwep at the end have Zero point.

4) The minimum point to be required is 20 points. If team gets less than 20 ,it will be automatically lost whatever their points or sweeps. This is called Sukhee in HINDI.

If one have any doubt ,they are welcome.

@Robin
if you are unable to make the requested house, then you have to throw that card(house)

2.ya dealer can make sweep.

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