Whether drinking games play a sizable role in your social schedule, or you haven’t so much as touched a Solo cup in years, certain times call for easy, boozy interactions around a deck of cards. Like, say, family time.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a list of our favorite drinking games to play around a deck of cards. Nothing fancy, no Cards Against Humanity (Aunt Sharon hates that), and no plastic cups, Ping Pong balls, quarters, or other weird props necessary.
Here are five of the best drinking games you can play with a deck of cards.
(Note: Drinking game rules, as many cultural rituals surrounding alcohol, vary by geography, personal opinion, and other highly subjective factors.)
Circle of Death
In some circles, this game calls for four beers per person, which we think is a bit aggressive; player discretion is advised. To set up, everyone sits in a circle with their drink. Pick a dealer. Players must refer to the dealer as the “dealer of death,” and if they call the dealer by any other name, they must drink for five seconds.
The game begins with the dealer of death distributing the cards clockwise and face up, starting with the player on their left. If a card dealt to a player matches a card on either side of it in number or suit, the card is “active.” All players with an active card must drink the amount of seconds matching the value of the card. The “dealer of death” is in charge of counting out the seconds as the cards go around. If the “dealer of death” is drinking, they can count the seconds by tapping the table.
F*ck the Dealer
For this game, all players sit around a table with their drinks. Everyone is dealt one card. The player with the lowest card is the first dealer, and they collect all cards and shuffle the deck.
Next, the dealer asks the player to their left to guess the card on top of the deck. If the guess is correct, the dealer takes four sips. If the guess is wrong, the dealer tells the player “higher” or “lower,” and the player gets a second guess. If the guess is incorrect, the player drinks the difference of their guess and the card. In other words, if the card is a 10 and the guess was jack, the player takes one sip. If the guess is correct, the dealer moves on to the next player. This continues clockwise until the deck is out.
If three players in a row do not guess correctly on their first or second guesses, the dealer abdicates their duties. The player to their left becomes the new dealer.
Beeramid / Pyramid
The dealer makes a pyramid of cards face down on a table. The bottom row has seven cards, and the next has six, and so on, until you have one card on top.
The remaining cards are distributed evenly (or as evenly as possible) among the players. Each player has 10 seconds to look at and remember their cards, in the order they’re given.
The dealer turns over the first card of the pyramid, starting with the bottom row, and calls out the card. Any player who claims to have that card can tell another player to drink. The player who is told to drink (the “victim”) can either drink or call the other player’s bluff. In other words, the player who claimed to have that card may be lying. If the victim calls “bullshit,” the player must reveal the card in question. If the player doesn’t have the card, they drink twice. If the player does have the card, the victim drinks twice. And so on.
For this quintessential drinking game, you’ll need a deck of cards, a cup, and plenty of beer. The cup is placed in the middle of the players sitting around it. Players take turns picking a card from the deck, each of which requires a designated action. Here is the rundown:
Ace: Waterfall. Everyone drinks in a domino-effect pattern; the person who picked the card determines the duration of this group-chugging effort.
Two: You. The player who picks the card chooses a person to drink.
Three: Me. The player who picks the card takes a drink.
Four: Floor. The player who picks the card and everyone else playing has to immediately touch the floor. The last person to touch the floor drinks.
Five: Guys. Whoever identifies as a guy gets to drink.
Six: Chicks. Whoever identifies as a “chick” gets to drink.
Seven: Heaven. The player who picks the card puts their hands in the air, as do all other players; the last to do so drinks.
Eight: Pick a mate. The player picks a “mate” to drink with them for the rest of the game.
Nine: Bust a rhyme. The player picks a word, i.e., “beer,” and each player takes a turn saying a word that rhymes with that word, i.e., cheer, clear, near, fear, deer. This continues until a player can’t think of a word, and thus has to drink.
Ten: Categories. Similar to nine, but the person who draws the card picks a category, such as “wine regions,” after which each player says a region — Bordeaux, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Jerez, etc. — until someone can’t think of one. That person drinks.
Jack: Never have I ever. Player who picks the card says something they have never done, i.e., “Never have I ever drunk frosé.” Whoever has consumed frosé has to drink.
Queen: Questions. The player who picked the card asks someone a question. Without answering, that person asks someone else a different question, and then they ask someone else, and so on. When a player answers a question or can’t think of another question to ask, they drink.
King: Make a rule. The player comes up with a rule to be applied to everyone for the rest of the game; i.e., players must drink using both hands; players must make a weird noise before they drink; etc. If anyone doesn’t follow this rule, they take another drink. This continues until the next player picks a king card and makes a new rule that must be followed until the next king is picked, and so on.
Of course, playing any old card game with a drink in hand works, too.
Asshole / President
This dirty-mouthed deck game is slightly more strategic. (Its predecessor is a Japanese game called Dai Hinmin, or “very poor man.”) You’ll need cards, beer, a cup for each player, and the titular “asshole” hat. A minimum of four players is ideal.
The aim of the game is for each player to get rid of their cards. All cards are ranked lowest to highest, starting with four. Ace is high. Two is a “clear” card, meaning, if someone throws down a two, it clears the table and resets the round. Three is a wild card, meaning it can be any number except two. However, two threes can be played as one two, meaning it can clear the round. Additionally, doubles or triples of any regular card exhibit a higher value than any regular card. For example, two fives is higher than a six, and three fives is higher than two kings. Four of any card can also clear the round.
In the first round, the dealer distributes all cards except the joker. The player with the four of clubs begins the game by placing that card in the middle.
Player two is whoever can produce a card higher than the first card placed in the middle. This continues until no one can produce a higher card. The first person to put all of their cards in the middle gets to be the president in the next round. The last person to get rid of their cards is the asshole, and they have to wear the asshole hat (often the cardboard beer case). The person who places second is the vice president.
In the next round, the president starts the second round by placing a card of their choosing in the middle. The president can first trade their worst cards for the asshole’s best cards. The president can also make the asshole drink at any time. The vice president can make any player drink except the president. The president should also never have to pour his or her own drink.