How to Play the Card Game Cheat

Updated on February 18, 2018
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Marianne comes from Scotland and has always loved to play card games with her family and friends.

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 Need

One pack of cards

3 or more players

If there are 6 or more players, is best to play with two packs of cards

Aim of the Game

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

How to Play

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 say what the cards are, but does not have to be truthful. The player must claim the cards are of the same value, for example, a player would declare "3 Kings", and place 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, the player caught cheating must pick up any 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 player said they played 3 Kings, the next player would need to say they are playing a certain number of 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


Tactics

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. If one player plays 2 tens, shortly afterwards someone plays 1 ten and the following player says they are playing another 2 tens (without anyone picking up the discard pile) obviously somewhere someone is cheating. The problem is it might not be the most recent person who is the cheat!

Be alert to patterns of cheating. If you pick up the discard pile, you might be able to work out who has been cheating, and this might give you clues about the different players approaches.

Calling cheat is risky. If you get it wrong and there are a large number of cards in the discard pile, you will have to pick them 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. This has worked for me sometimes before, although does depend on how gullible other players are, and how well they can see through you.

Variations

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, it would be cheating to lie about the number of cards you play, for example, if you said you were playing 3 10s and you actually play 4 cards, that is genuine cheating. However, you can agree to allow this sort of cheating, which can be challenged in the same way as other forms of cheating.

Include Jokers

You can 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.

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