The card game known as Bullshit (which also goes by the names Cheat, B.S., Bluff, and I Doubt It) is a card game designed for parties where players attempt to deceive each other about the kinds of cards they’re playing.
The reason that Bullshit goes by so many different names is that it is passed down through oral tradition and takes on different regional nicknames as a result.
Four or fewer players; however, five to eight players can play, provided two decks are combined.
Standard 52-card deck for 2-4 players, two standard 52-card decks for 5-8 players.
Aces high, 2 low.
The main objective of Bullshit is for the person laying down his or her cards to convince other players that they are putting down cards they don’t actually have, and ultimately to lose all cards from their hand. The first person to get rid of all their cards wins.
To set up a game of Bullshit for four or less players, a 52-card deck is split evenly among the players. If some players get one more or less card than other players, that’s fine.
All cards in the deck should be passed out until the main deck is divided into individual decks for each player. The players then hold these smaller decks in their hand to the point that they can see their cards.
For each turn, players put a card face down, announcing the rank of each card individually (for this game, the suit of the card is not important). At this point in the turn, if any of the other players suspect the person laying down cards is lying about what they’re putting down, they call bullshit.
If nobody calls bullshit, then the player is allowed to leave their cards on the pile, which accumulates gradually until someone inherits it. Each subsequent player must play a card with a rank higher than the previous card that was laid down (or pretend they have one).
At this point in the turn, the player who laid the cards down will turn them right-side up. If the cards are what the player announced they were and someone called bullshit, the person who called the bluff ends up inheriting the central pile of cards. If the person laying down the cards was lying and gets called out for it, then they are the ones who get the pile of cards as a punishment.
The card game proceeds in this way with each player announcing their bluffs until one of the players ends up losing all of their cards and becomes the winner.
Rule Variations of Bullshit
While the above section describes the basic rules for a game of bullshit, there are several different variations of the game that are played across the world that either add or remove rules to increase the game’s complexity. Here are some of the variations of bullshit played:
- Players are allowed to skip their turn if they’d rather not lie or if all of the cards of a required rank have already been played out in the course of the game.
- Players can put down a card of the rank either above or below the card that was previously played, rather than just the rank above.
- Players may place multiples of a card rank down in the same hand (ex. Two kings).
- Players may sneak extra cards with the card they put down and discovered cheats must be called accordingly (same as a player lying during a bluff).
- Players must continue to place the same rank of cards until a cheat is called or all players pass (Bolivian rules).
National Variations of Bullshit
Bullshit, cheat, or bluff has been around as a casual card game for hundreds of years and has been played all over the world. As a result, different international communities have different variations of the game that are played locally.
Here are some of the different variations of bullshit that are played across the world:
- Mogein (also known as Schwindein, Lügen, or Zweifein) is a German and Austrian version of bullshit that involves playing through the suits of cards as well as the ranks. In this version, each suit of cards is called from Ace through King in increasing rank until a cheat is called.
- Verish’ Ne Verish (translated into English as “trust, no trust”) is a variation on bullshit that involves a few major rule changes. In Verish’ Ne Verish, if players end up having to pick up the stack of cards, they are able to discard any four cards of the same rank. Skipping or passing is allowed, and if all players pass, the current stack is set off to the side, and a new stack is begun.
- 吹牛 (chuī niú, “bragging”) is a version of bullshit that is played in provincial China. The difference between this version of bullshit and the traditional card game is that there are no restrictions on the rank of card you put down in any given turn. This allows the player to theoretically go the entire game without lying.
- Fourshit: In this English version of bullshit, each player places cards of the same rank until there is a call, and the pile is picked up, after which the person to the player’s left picks up the game at any rank they wish. If at any time a player collects all four cards of a rank, they are then removed from play.
Strategies for Playing Bullshit
There are a few strategies you can take while playing bullshit that make it more likely you’ll succeed throughout the course of the hand. Here are a few tips that can help you play the game of bullshit more effectively:
- Don’t lie unless you have to. If you have cards of a certain rank and withhold them to place different cards down instead, you’re creating trouble for yourself later in the game. Calling true increases the number of times other players call your bluff incorrectly and also decreases the chances of you getting caught when you’re forced to lie later in the game.
- Arrange your cards in accordance with what parts of the suit you’ll be forced to play in any given round. That means if you’re playing with four people, count up the rank of every fourth card from Ace to King in order to figure out which ranks you’ll be responsible for coming up with. This lets you watch other players or perform a smooth bluff instead of hunting your cards.
- When you’re forced to lie, choose cards that are latest in the ranking sequence. If you are being asked to come up with sevens and you only have kings, queens, and twos, you’ll want to hang on to your queens because those are the next cards you’ll be forced to come up with, and you don’t want to have to lie twice. The best option to choose would be to bluff with the kings.
- Try to remember who has what. If you know that one person has at least three aces in their hand from having to pick up cards in previous rounds, you won’t be able to call multiple aces on your turn without expecting to have your bluff called. Pay attention to what has been played, and you’ll know what you can get away with bluffing.
If someone plays their last card, call bullshit unless you know for sure they’re not lying. In most cases, a player with only one card left will be forced to lie, so calling their bluff can force them to pick up the pile and keep playing, giving the rest of the table a chance to win.
Image Credit: Nicolas Karim