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How to Play the Card Game Cheat

Card games are great fun for the whole family! Learn how to play Cheat (or Bullshit) with these easy-to-follow instructions.

Card games are great fun for the whole family! Learn how to play Cheat (or Bullshit) with these easy-to-follow instructions.

How to Play Cheat

Cheat is one of my favourite simple card games. It is fun to play a game where the rules encourage you to lie! It's more commonly known as Bullshit in some countries and sometimes also called I Doubt It, Bluff, or Liar.

What You'll Need

  • One pack of cards
  • 3 or more players
  • If there are 6 or more players, it is best to play with two packs of cards

Getting Started

Shuffle the cards and deal all of them one by one to each player.

  • The player to the left of the dealer starts by placing between 1 and 4 cards face down in a discard pile in the centre. The player must state what the cards are but does not have to tell the truth. The player must claim the cards are of the same value. For example, a player could say they have "3 Kings" and place any 3 cards in the centre.
  • The other players can call 'cheat' if they think the player is lying about the value of the cards.

If Cheat Is Called

  • The played cards must be shown to everyone else.
  • If the challenger who called cheat is correct, and the player was lying, the cheater must pick up all the cards in the discard pile. The challenger takes the next turn.
  • If the challenger is wrong, that player picks up the discard pile. The player to the left of the player who played the cards takes the next turn.

If Cheat Is Not Called

  • The next player to the left takes a turn. They must declare the values of the cards to be either the same, 1 up or 1 down from the previous player.
  • For example, if the previous cards were Kings, the next player should play or claim to play Queens, Kings, or a certain number of Aces.
  • Or if the previous player said they played a 6, the next player would need to claim they are playing either 5s, 6s or 7s.

How You Win

The winner is the first person to get rid of all their cards.


Try to Be Aware of What Cards Are in Your Hand

For example, if you have 2 Jacks in your hand and someone else calls 3 Jacks, obviously, they are cheating.

Keep Track of What Other Players Are Doing

For example, if one player plays 2 tens, the next plays 1 ten and then the next player says they are playing another 2 tens, someone has cheated. The problem is it might not be the most recent player who is the cheat!

Be Alert to Patterns of Cheating

If you pick up the discard pile, you might be able to see who has been cheating. This will give you clues about the approach of different players.

Calling 'Cheat' Is Risky

If you get it wrong and there are a lot of cards in the discard pile, you have to pick them all up. The closer to the end of the game you get, the riskier it is. However, it is also risky for players to get caught cheating, so their play may be more cautious.


My favourite tactic is to try and trick others into thinking I am cheating whilst not cheating. To do this, say I have 3 10s in my hand. I play 3 different cards claiming they are 3 10s. If I get away with this, then on my next turn, I play 3 10s again, but this time I actually play 3 10s. If other players have been paying attention, they might realise that I have played the same thing twice and call 'cheat'. How this works depends on how gullible other players are and how well they can see through you.

Variations of Cheat

Play Without Limits to Value

This is my favourite version. Rather than limiting the play with rules about what values must be played each turn, players can play any value of cards they like. This means that players won't be forced to lie unless they choose to. However, lying will pay off as the winner is likely to be the player that manages to get rid of the most cards.

Playing Downward or Upwards

Players must only play one downwards or one upwards in rank. This version means that players are forced to cheat more often.

Allow Cheating on the Number of Cards

In normal Cheat, you should not lie about the number of cards you play. For example, if you said you were playing 3 10s and you actually play 4 cards, it is proper cheating. However, you could agree to allow this sort of cheating. Challenge this form of cheating in the same way as other cheating.

Include Jokers

Include jokers as wildcards. Players have to lie about their value to get rid of them.

Drinking Game

Cheat is commonly played as a drinking game. Same rules, but players have to drink if they are caught cheating or if they wrongly accuse someone of cheating.

Randomised Cheat

You need 2 identical packs of cards. Take a random selection of say 5 cards from one pack without showing anyone, and mix in those with the full pack. Then play cheat as before, but with greater uncertainty, as it will be possible to play 5 or more cards at once. Someone might even get 8 of a kind.

Questions & Answers

Question: What if you can't play a card in Cheat?

Answer: You need to lie and pretend you have a card/cards you can play! That's the point of Cheat.

Question: What will happen if I have a joker?

Answer: I usually play without any jokers, so I would remove any jokers from the pack before play. However, if you want you can keep the jokers in play and use them as 'wildcards'. You have to lie and say they are something else to get rid of them.

Question: Can you place cards down when it’s not your go in Cheat?

Answer: No, everyone needs to wait their turn.

I suppose you could try out a version where you could play in any order, but not sure how well it would work, might be too anarchic! You would need to have some sort of rule about the order of play.

Question: What happens if you have one card left when playing the game Cheat?

Answer: To win you need to play it without cheating or without Cheat being called on you!

Question: How do you get the discard pile in the card game Cheat?

Answer: You need to pick it up if you are caught cheating!

Question: Do you need to play the same amount of cards as the previous person?

Answer: No, not in most games of Cheat, although you could chose to play with this rule as a variation to make the game harder!

Question: How many cards do you deal in Cheat for 7 players?

Answer: You deal all the cards out so 4 players would get 7 cards and 3 nearest the dealer would get 8. However I think Cheat works better with more cards, so with that many players, I would try using two packs of cards.

Question: Could you claim to not having any of the required rank in Cheat?

Answer: No - if there is a required rank you always have to claim to have some of them (whether or not you do!)

Question: At the beginning of the game, how many cards should each player get?

Answer: You need to deal out the whole pack of cards so it will depend on the number of players. There are 52 cards in a pack so if there are 3 players, 2 will get 17 cards and 18. If there are 4 players everyone will get 13 cards.

If you have more than 6 or 7 players it can work better to play with 2 packs of cards together.

Question: Do you use all the cards to play Cheat?

Answer: Yes, you play with whole packsof cards.

Question: What happens when your opponent has all the cards when playing Cheat?

Answer: You will have no cards, so will have won!

© 2018 Anna Sherret


David Walmsley on March 31, 2019:

When a player is down to his/her last two cards, say, it is less likely they will be able to go and therefore must lie. Therefore they will be caught out.