Cheat is a fun shedding-style card game in which Players attempt to discard all of the cards from their hand. Although Cheat is traditionally a drinking game, and the drinking game rules will be added here just in case that is a desired mode of Play, but it is not necessary. Cheat can equally be played for money, or simply for bragging rights.
The Game is popular in Great Britain, as well as the United States where it is known as “Bullshit.” There are numerous national variants of the game too, with versions of Cheat or Bullshit being popular across much of Europe.
How to Play Cheat?
Cheat is played using a standard, 52-card Anglo-American deck. This guide will be written under the assumption that there are 4 Players in the game, but more Players can be added with the addition of more decks. Generally, a new deck should be added for every 5th Player. 5 Players=2 decks, 10 Players=3 decks etc.
Once the number of decks is settled, The Dealer should be selected randomly or by the Player’s choice. The Dealer must then evenly distribute the cards to each of the Players. If there are an odd number of Players, some Players will have one or two more cards than other Players, but this is not a significant disadvantage.
The meat of the game comes from its distinctive feature: Legal Cheating. The game is designed purposefully such that cheating is encouraged, and is the only true way to win the game.
Once the cards are evenly distributed to the best of the Dealer’s ability, the “Elder Hand” makes the first move of the game. The Elder Hand is merely the Player to the immediate clockwise of the Dealer, and in the next round of the game will become the new Dealer.
Starting the Game
The Elder hand takes all of the Aces in their hand, and places them in the center of the table. The Player to their clockwise may then take their turn, and may place as many cards as are either a single rank higher or lower than the aces (Kings and 2s). This process continues, with Players each taking their turns in a clockwise order from the Dealer.
Players must discard one card from their deck, even if they cannot play a normally legal card.
However, this is also the where the gameplay mechanic of cheating comes into practice. All of this takes place with Players playing cards face-down. Players do not show other Players the cards they are discarding, instead they merely declare the cards that they are discarding.
After a Player declares and Place their card(s) into the discard pile at the center of the table, Players may at any time counterclaim the declaration, and call either “Cheat!” or “Bullshit!” depending on whether the game is being played in England or the United States respectively.
The Player which made the original declaration must then reveal their cards. If they were telling the truth in their declaration, the counterclaiming Player must take all of the cards in the discard pile. If playing the drinking version, the counterclaiming Player must also finish their drink.
If, however, the originally declaring Player lied about the contents of their discard, they are penalized instead, and must take all of the cards in the discard pile and drink.
Gameplay continues in this fashion, with Players cheating, discarding, and drinking until one Player completely empties their hand of cards. That Player is immediately declared the winner, and the game ends. If playing the drinking version, all losing Players must finish their drinks.
A new round may then be started if desired, with the previous Elder Hand becoming the new Dealer, and the Player clockwise to them becoming the new Elder Hand.
- Actively try to cheat. Cheat when you can get away with it. The NAME of the game is cheat, so don’t be afraid to go for bluffs.
- A declaration must be a legal move, even if the contents of the Play are not.
- Players may discard ALL legal cards in their hand at once. For example, if the previously discarded card was declared to be a 4, and a Player has two 5s in their hand, they may declare “Two fives” and discard both cards at once.
- If a Player cannot make a legal move, they must still discard and declare their discard.
- The entire deck should be distributed one way or another, regardless of the number of Players.
- If Playing the drinking game…Drink Responsibly!
Cheat is not a traditional game with a regular scoring system. Instead, the first Player to empty their hand of cards is declared the winner. Score can be kept by number of games won, but if playing the drinking game, there is a fun optional rule that can be included.
Like another famous drinking card-game, Kings, Players can save their cans/bottles of drinks on the table. At the end of play, the Player with the most bottles/cans on the table could be considered the “Worst Cheater” or “Worst Bullshitter” and be forced to face a penalty.
Regionally, in the Game of Kings, there is often a rule included known as the “King’s Cup.” Generally, this King’s Cup is a shot made from the components of everyone else’s drinks. The King’s Cup is most fun when everybody has something different to drink, as the resulting concoction is usually rather unpleasant.
The Worst Cheater/Bullshitter with the worst “score” (most bottles/cans) will have to take their shot from the Loser’s Cup, with everyone else being the winner.
Assuming one is playing with 4 Players, the following is a possible hand in Bullshit:
4♦, 10♣, A♠, 5♣, 3♥, Q♥,7♥,7♣,K♣, 2♦,2♦, K♦, 9♣
As suit (♥♦♣♠) does not matter in Cheat, for all intents and purposes feel free to ignore the suits. Assuming a Player with this hand takes their turn after the Elder Hand plays their Aces, this is actually quite a powerful hand. A Player can either discard their 2s or kings immediately, without lying.
Such a strong hand might seem like a bluff to another player, who may counterclaim and be incorrect. From there, there is a generally even distribution of cards, allowing this player to discard legally in many scenarios, possibly opening up other players to more false counterclaims.
Strategy & Tips
- Cheat is a game rich with strategy, owing to its design as a game of wile and psychology. The idea is to bluff your opponents successfully, and doing this properly is owed entirely to good long term strategy.
- If you tell a few anti-bluff successfully, that is, truthful discards that other Players think are lies, Players will be more hesitant to call out your discards in the future.
- The inverse is true however, so be careful. Getting caught in too many bluffs will psychologically make players more confident in calling out your bluffs.
- Depending on how long a counterclaim has gone undeclared, the discard pile can become quite large. Be extremely careful telling a bluff on a large pile.
- Just like in Poker, or other gambling games, a good “Poker Face” is key to Cheat/Bullshit. Nobody can truly know their own tells, but by working on keeping a neutral face in all situations, a Player may become completely unreadable.
How many cards can you discard at once in Bullshit?
Players can discard as many cards as are legal, in order to still be truthful in their declaration. There is a maximum of four possible cards for a Player to discard at once, legally, assuming they have every copy of the suited card in the game. Other players can easily counter a 4-card discard though, if they have one of the declared cards in their hand.
How many cards do you deal for Cheat?
Cheat utilizes every single card in the deck, regardless of the number of Players in a game.
How do you Play Cheat with kids?
As the name “Bullshit” suggests, Cheat may not necessarily be a game for children that are too young. The ability to tell convincing lies is usually something children lack, and as such they are unlikely to win many games.
This goes without saying, but children should not play the drinking game version. Even when Playing with soda, milk, or juice, the consumption of so much sugary beverages is not good for a child’s health.