How to Play the Card Game Called Bastard (Also Known as Shithead, Shed, Palace or Karma)
There are many different versions of this card game, so it's possible that your friends do know how to play, they just call it something different! The game is played in many countries across the world. It is simple and easy to play once you have the hang of it. The main thing you must do is agree on what rules you are playing from the start to avoid arguments halfway through because one of the players knows different rules.
The Basic Rules of 'Bastard'
The basic rules for playing the game are below, with details of some of the variations you might want to try at the end.
- You need standard sets of 52 playing cards.
- If between 2 and 4 people are playing use one pack of cards.
- If between 4 and 9 people are playing use two packs of cards.
Dealing of the Cards
- Shuffle the cards.
- Deal 3 cards face down in front of each player.
- Deal 3 cards face up on top of the cards you have just dealt.
- If there are more than 3 players, deal out 3 cards for each .player
- If there are less than 3 players, deal out 5 cards
- Put the remaining cards in a pile in the middle
Your aim is to be the first player to get rid of all your cards.
How to Decide Who Starts
The player who gets to start is the first person who says they have a card of the value 3 in their hand. If no player has a 3, it is the person who has a 4, if no 4 then the player who has a 5, and so on. If more than 1 player has a 3, then go with the person nearest to the left of the dealer.
- The first person must start a pile of cards face up in the centre. They must play a card from their hand (or any number of cards of the same value in the centre).
- Once they have played a card they must pick up another card from the face down pile in the centre, so that they always have 5 (or 3) cards in their hand.
- The next player to the left must play a card that beats the previous card in the centre. If they cannot beat the card in the centre they must pick up the face up pile of cards, and it is the turn of the next person to the left.
What Cards You Can Play to Beat Another Card
The basic rule is that you must play cards of the same value, or higher than the player before you. For example, if the player before you plays a 6, you must play a 6's or higher. If you have more than one card of the same value you can play them together. Aces are high. Suits do not matter.
Some cards also have special properties, and you can play the game with different variations of the rules. (It is important to agree on these in advance of playing).
For the first time I recommend using:
- 10: burns the pack—this means that you can play a 10 on anything, and all the cards in the pile in the centre are removed from the game.
- 2: can be played on anything
- 4 of a kind: burns the pack—if someone plays 4 cards of the same value all the cards in the pile in the centre are removed from the game
Winning the Game
Once the pack of cards in the centre, and a player has no more free cards in their hand, they can start playing the 3 face-up cards that were dealt to them at the beginning.
Only once the 3 face-up cards have all been successfully played, can the 3 face-down cards be played. These must be played blind, and if they do not beat the card in the centre, the deck in the middle must be picked up. The winner is the first person to have no cards left.
Variations on the Rules
You can give other cards special properties. Remember to agree on what variations you are playing with at the start. It is usually best to have 3 or 4 special cards.
- 7s are invisible: This means you can play a 7 on any other card, and the person who takes a turn next to you must play a card that beats the card before the 7.
- 8 or wait: This means the player who takes a turn next must either play an 8 or skip a turn.
- 8 wait: This can mean that the player next to you skips a turn.
- 9 or lower: This means the player whose next turn it is must play a 9 or lower value card.
- Jack back: This reverses the order of play.
Questions & Answers
Can you put a queen on top of a king while playing Bastard?
No, a king is higher value than a queen.Helpful 3
What’s an ace worth in Bastard?
Aces are high, so you can only play another Ace on an Ace, or one of the special cards that you can play on any card like a 2 or a 10. (sometimes others depending what rules you play)Helpful 38
Can you put down the same card after picking it up in Bastard?
If you have to pick up the center pile, then it moves on to the next person's turn so you don't get a chance to put the same card down after picking it up.Helpful 14
What happens when you play a 2?
You can play a 2 on any card, and it resets the value the next player needs to play, i.e. the next player can play any card because it is worth more than a 2.Helpful 12
When an ace is played during the card game Bastard, and there are no options for further play, what happens?
If no one can play on top of an Ace (or any other card) the pile of cards in the centre is picked up by the player whose turn it is.Helpful 8