How to Play the Card Game 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 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 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.
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 as wildcards. Players have to lie about their value to get rid of them.
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.
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.