How to Play Scabby Queen

Deciding the Number of Raps

  • Reshuffle the pack of cards, and the loser draws a card.
  • The loser receives the same number of raps as the card. If it is a royal card, it is 10 raps for Jacks or Kings, and 21 raps for a queen.
  • If the loser draws a red card they receive soft raps.
  • If the loser draws a black card, they receive hard ones.


Remember the focus of Scabby Queen is on not losing. It doesn’t really matter if you come second or third as long as it isn’t last. At the beginning of a game, it is not usually worth worrying about tactics.

However, towards the end, these tactics might help:

  • Attempt to get an idea where the Scabby Queen is based on body language. Some players may be unable to hide their negative emotions when they receive the Scabby Queen.
  • Try and influence the player to your left to take a specific card, for example by placing it near the middle when you fan them out. Players are more likely to take cards from near the middle then a card you keep at the side, obscured by the side of your hand. However, this is far from foolproof. Certain players will actively try to avoid any psychological tricks like this.
  • If you pick the Scabby Queen, try to keep it until very close to the end of the game. If someone takes it from you near the end when they have only one card left, they or the next player after them, are likely to lose.

Or just see what happens—it is mostly a game of chance.

Did You Ever Play Scabby Queen or Similar?

As far as I can tell, Scabby Queen was most popular amongst British teenagers in the late 1990s/early 2000s.

I played Scabby Queen a couple of times when I was at school. I recall the threat of raps made me focus on not ever losing. Depending on how you see it, I was either too much of a wuss/too sensible (or both) to be truly enthusiastic about hitting people on their knuckles with packs of cards. However, some of my classmates really enjoyed the raps and were proud if blood was drawn.

If you ever played Scabby Queen, please comment. I would like to know if other people played this.

Other Names for Scabby Queen

The game is not always called Scabby Queen. It is sometimes known simply as ‘Raps” or as ‘Scabby Annie’. I wonder who Annie was?

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