The President card game, also known by its more colorful names of Asshole, Scum, or Capitalism, is a Trick-Taking and Shedding card game based on the “climbing” card games that are popular in South East Asia.
Similar to the Crazy Eights rules (another shedding-type game), there are specific circumstances in President that have special properties which alter the regular course of gameplay. Unlike Crazy Eights however, these specific circumstances are not cards, but instead the Players themselves.
In the course of a game of Presidents, there will be special titles awarded to Players depending on their position in the previous round.
Though these roles sometimes depend on the number of Players, there should always be a minimum of three Players, and as such there should always be a President, a Vice-President, and a Scum.
Below, the special titles are explained.
The Winner of the previous round, the first person to “go out.” The President must lead the first card of the first Trick.
The President may also take the highest ranking card from the Scum Player at the start of a round.
The President must then choose one card from their hand to return to the Scum. Players are awarded 2 Game Points for being the President.
The runner-up winner of the previous round, the second person to “go out.”
The Vice-President must always sit in the seat immediately clockwise to the President, but has no other special game conditions.
The Vice-President does, however, receive 1 Game Point for holding this position.
The loser of the previous round, the last person to “go out.”
The Scum must sit to the immediate counter-clockwise of the President. The Scum is required to surrender their highest ranking card to the President at the start of a round, and then will be gifted one card of the President’s choice in return.
The Player whom will be Scum in the next round is responsible for collecting all of the discards, shuffling the deck, and dealing the next round’s cards out to each Player.
The Scum Player also takes their turn last in the first trick of a round. Scum Players do not receive any Game Points.
Those Players which do not meet the requirements for the three main roles (i.e. most other Players if there are more than three).
Players that are Citizens do not have any special game requirements, and are not awarded any Game Points.
How to Play President?
The Presidents card game utilizes the same standard Anglo-American 52-card deck with which many are familiar. However, the ranking of cards is not traditional. Like in some Rummy variations, the 2 card (also known as the Deuce) is the highest ranking card in the game.
This guide will explain how to play President with 3 people, though more Players may be added one deck for every 4 Players in a game. 5 Players would use 2 decks, for example.
Shuffling and Dealing
The game begins with a shuffling of the deck, and then each Player drawing one card from this shuffled deck.
Rank will determine the starting order.
Assume that in the first round, all Players are citizens and do not receive Game Points nor is there card-trading. If there is a tie, the tying Players will draw two more cards from this deck until one ranks higher than the other.
The card’s ranks, from highest to lowest, is 2, K, Q, J, 10-3.
Once Play order is decided, the deck will be reshuffled and the Player which drew the lowest card will deal out cards, one at a time, to each Player until the deck is completely empty. Hands may be uneven.
Once each Player’s hand is dealt, the Player which drew highest will start the game.
Start of Play
Players leading a Trick may play either single cards, or sets of cards. A set is a group of at least two cards that are the same rank. For example, two Kings, or two Aces. Players must match the number of cards led in order to win the trick. For example:
- Player 1 Plays two King cards
- Player 2 Plays one 2 card.
Player 2 is not allowed to make this move. It is considered illegal and Player 2 will be forced to “pass” unless they have a set of Aces or a set of 2s.
Players may not exceed the number of cards in a set. For example:
- Player 1 Plays two King cards
- Player 2 Plays three Ace cards.
Even though Player 2 has exceeded the value of Player 1’s double kings, Player 1 led the trick and so Player 2 must follow the lead. A set of two cards may only be beaten by another set of two cards.
Players may also pass during the trick taking process. A Player has not won a trick until all other Players in the game have passed after they made a play for the Trick. This is known as a “clear.”
Gameplay continues until one Player “goes out” or uses all of the cards in their hand. The Player who goes out first will note their status as “first out” and then will sit by and watch while play continues between the remaining Players.
Assuming this is a game of 3, the game will continue between the two other Players until one of them goes out too. This Player will be “second out”.
Players will then assume the special titles for the second round according to the conditions listed above, and Game Points are rewarded. The President may choose their preferred seat at the table. Vice-President must sit next to the President clockwise, Scum counter-clockwise.
A new round starts, with the Scum now gathering, shuffling, and dealing cards. The new round begins with this new order, with the President leading the first card(s) of the first trick. The Vice-President then goes second, and the Scum goes third.
The base rules are listed below.
- Players may pass at any time, even if they have a possible legal move.
- President is worth 2 Game Points, Vice-President is worth 1 Game Point
- Sets can only be beaten by another set of the same number of cards, at a higher rank.
- Game Points determine the overall winner while the Tricks determine special title.
- The aim of the game is to discard, or ‘burn’ the hand as quickly as possible.
- Suit does not matter
Scoring & Game Points
Presidents is scored using a system of “Game Points.” These Game Points are rewarded for the number of times a Player has held a certain position.
- President awards 2 Points at the start of the round.
- Vice-President wins 1 Game Point in the same way.
- Scum and Citizen receive no Game Points.
- The game ends when one Player accumulates 11 total Game Points.
There are 2 special cards, based on their rank, with special properties. The Joker and the Deuce. The Joker is a Bomb, explained in the “FAQ”. Bombs are an optional rule.
The Deuce is the “clear” card, or an automatic win if it can be legally played on a trick.
The following is a possible starting hand for President:
2♥, 7♥, 8♣, 5♣, 9♦, 5♦, 8♥ A♣, 6♦, 7♠, 5♥, 8♦, J♦, K♠, Q♣, 6♥, 10♠
The Deuce in the hand is very valuable, and the four sets of two cards (5♣, 5♦/6♥,6♦/7♠, 7♥/8♣,8♦) are still valuable despite having low rank. At the only benefit of taking a trick is leading the next trick, and the aim of the game is discarding into tricks but not necessarily taking tricks, playing these four sets will still reduce the Player’s hand by eight cards, leaving them with 9, one of which is the “clear card” Deuce granting even further advantage.
Basic Strategy & Tips
- Taking tricks allows you to lead the following trick. Leading a trick confers a strong advantage: playing sets. A set can only be played if it leads, or if it is following a leading set. It is difficult to follow up sets, preventing opponents from discarding.
- If you lead with a low level set, and the stack is cleared through passing, it is likely your opponents have no sets of their own. In this case, try to play all of your sets, as you will discard many cards without your opponents able to respond.
- The 2 is the highest card in the game, and a set of 2s is the highest set in the game. As the goal is to remove as many cards from the hand, it is important to understand the balancing act of when to “drag” a trick, and when to clear it immediately. When dragging a trick, a Player could win at any time with their 2, but allow the trick to slowly increment in value in order to discard more cards before they play the 2 and clear the stack, allowing them to discard multiple cards and lead the next trick.
Frequently Asked Questions
What card clears in President?
The 2, also known as the Deuce, is the clear card of President. In order to “clear”, a Player must play their card and then have every other Player ‘pass’.
Clearing is simply another word for taking the trick. The 2 is called the “clear card” because it is the highest ranking card, and therefore cannot be outplayed, even by bombs if they are in the game.
2 is an “automatic clear” in this regard. 2s must still follow the normal rules however, where sets must be played upon sets. If Player 1 played two 6s, Player 2 must play two 2s.
What is the highest card?
In Presidents, the 2, also known as the Deuce, is the highest ranked card in the game. 2s beat Aces, and Kings.
What is a bomb in the Presidents card game?
Bombs are an optional rule for Presidents, implemented if there are Jokers in the deck. A bomb is distinguished by being only a single card, rather than being a part of a set. As Bombs’ reset the trick, but do not end it, it is possible for a Player with a 3 to play on top of a bomb when it becomes their turn. A Player which plays a bomb may take another turn immediately if they choose.
What is the main difference when being played as a drinking game?
When playing as a drinking game, at the start of each round the President will take 2 sips of their drink, the Vice-President will take 1 sip, and the Scum must finish their drink and get a new one.