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How to Play Bullshit: The Lying and Deception Card Game

Card games are all about cunning and skill, but the game of “Bullshit” also adds lying and deception into the mix. Your aim in the game is to get rid of your cards before the other players, by making great use of your poker face and trickery skills. Since all cards are discarded face down, anyone can lie about what they just placed on the table. The only thing you have to avoid is being caught. In this article, we’re going to go over how to play Bullshit, as well as offer some tips and strategies that will help you best your opponents.

What is the BS Card Game?

The BS card game involves players doing their best to get rid of their cards as fast as possible. In short, it’s a game of trickery. Cards are placed face down when discarded, so no one really knows if the player who got rid of them actually played by the rules. This allows players to bluff about the cards they place down. If you think another player is lying, you can call Bullshit. If you’re right, said player will have to take back his cards, along with all the others that have already been discarded. If you’re wrong, you’ll have to add the discarded cards to your pile.

Bullshit is a great game for three or more players. As with most card games, it has a rich history, so people from all around the world play it under different names. The great Edmond Hoyle calls it “I Doubt it” while in other parts of the United States it is known as “Bologna.”

How to Play Bullshit

To start a session of the game Bullshit, you will need two to ten players and a standard deck of cards with the Jokers discarded. The dealer distributes cards until there are none left, which may leave some players with additional cards. However, this rarely increases their shot of winning.

two of clubs

The player who is holding the two of clubs begins the game by laying the card down on the table along with any other twos they may have in their grasp (face down). For instance, a player will set down three cards and say “three twos.” The next will have to set down threes, as many as he’s got, the following will claim to put down a specific number of fours, and so on. After reaching Aces, you start again with twos. Pretty straightforward so far.

Obviously, this is where the deception comes in. A player can discard whatever cards he or she wants and lie through their teeth about it. The only issue arises when another player challenges the claim by calling “Bullshit.” When this happens, the person who just played is required to show everyone the cards they just put down. If they were indeed lying, they will take all the cards from the pile and add them to their hand. If they were telling the truth, the player who made the Bullshit accusation has to add all the cards from the pile to their hand. When two or more people call out a player and it turns out they were wrong, the pile will be divided among them. After Bullshit is called, the next person in line will start another round.

The game gets increasingly more difficult towards the end, so winning usually comes down to luck. Most of the fun lies in faking it, though, so you’ll be in for a treat. The winner of the game is the player who manages to get rid of all their cards first. After that, the game can continue among the other players.   

Strategies and Tips

ace card

Eager to get ahead? Here are some tactics you can use when playing Bullshit to increase your chances of winning:

  • While this game is all about deception, being honest pays off every now and then. If it’s your turn to lay down nines and you choose to play fours instead, you may regret it the next time you need to lay down fours. You’ll get the gist of it after a few rounds.

  • If an opponent is on their last card, calling Bullshit is usually a smart way to go. If you don’t, they’ll win and basking in all the glory. They can end up winning anyway, but at least you took a shot.

  • It’s always a great idea to keep your cards stacked together, so the other players can never be certain about how many cards you have left. If they believe you have fewer cards, they are more susceptible to call Bullshit on you.

  • When the pile is getting big and you suspect that someone else is about to call Bullshit on you, call it on someone else first. If they are cheating, that’s a lot less of the pile to worry about. It doesn’t always work, but it’s better than nothing.

  • Work on your poker face. Never show your feelings, as being cunning will help you intimidate the competition. You can either keep a straight face all throughout the game or choose to smile as often as possible to throw off your competition. If you feel like being extra, wear a pair of sunglasses all the way through.

  • Never lose sight of what cards you are playing. You don’t want to be the person who calls out something they didn’t mean to say.

  • The best thing you can do in this game is to closely monitor your opponents and their changing moods. As long as you pay attention to their facial expressions, you will drastically increase your chances of winning.

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Variations to the BS Card Game

While these general guidelines on how to play Bullshit are great to get started, you can always mix it up by making your own rules or choosing one of the other variations of the game. Here are a few ideas:

  • If there are more than five players, consider shuffling two decks of cards instead of one, or even more. You can keep the Jokers in and use them as wild cards – a stand-in for any other card a player might need at a certain moment.

  • Consider changing the sequence of ranks. For example, play the cards in descending order of rank instead of ascending. That means that you will start with twos, then move back to aces, kings, queens, etc. Alternatively, you can also play by going with the next highest or the lowest rank of the person who went before you. For example, if one player puts down sixes, the next can go with either sevens or fives.

  • Take cheating to the next level. Allow players to try and put down more cards than they declare, as long as they think they can get away with it. Or let players discard cards at any time if they feel like the player whose turn it is takes too long to place theirs down.

The BS Card Game Around the World

The BS card game is played all around the world and many people change it to better fit their culture. Here are some examples.

British Bullshit

In England, Bullshit is called Cheat and has a very different gameplay. It mainly involves more opportunities to lie. For instance, the dealer can give themselves fewer cards than every other player, as long as they’re careful and don’t get caught in the act. If they’re figured out, they need to deal the cards again. Likewise, players can hide cards up their sleeve and dispose them as needed. Players can also lie that there was their turn immediately after someone is called out for lying, since being the first to put down your cards comes as an advantage.

Canadian, Spanish, Australian

In Canada and Spain, the game is known as Bluff instead of Bullshit. Australians call it “Fours hit” when playing with a single deck and “Eights hit” with two decks. Jokers can also be used – this is usually up for the players to decide. Dealers can give more cards to specific players, and the first player to set down their cards is picked by another player who they choose in the Canadian game. In Spain, the individual with the highest card will be the first to play. The main aim in these countries is not necessarily to win, but to not be the person who is left with the most cards when the game is over.  

More Bullshit Variants

In the Hawaiian version of Bullshit, a player can challenge another player regardless of whose turn it currently is. On the same note, players can take their bluffing to the extreme, by claiming that there are 14 Jokers on the table, for example. In other words, they can lie about the number of cards they are playing if they feel confident that other players aren’t paying attention. Granted, that doesn’t really work, but it makes the game a whole lot of fun.

Indian Bluff is similar to the US version, but it’s called Bluff/Challenge. In Russia, the Bullshit card game is known as “Verish’ Ne Verish,” which translates to “Trust, don’t trust.” In the Chinese version of the game, there is no restriction on the rank that may be called each turn. This makes it easier for a player to get rid of all their cards without lying once.

Perks of Card Games

group of people playing card game

Card games are excellent for family gatherings and to break the ice in social situations. Playing cards can help you establish a rapport with people you might not otherwise interact with, grow closer to your relatives, and improve your social skills in a fun manner. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. With Bullshit, there’s an extra layer of entertainment involved as you have to watch the other players closely and determine whether they’re lying or not. So, next time you‘re looking to get loved ones to relax, suggest a round of Bullshit and brace yourself for a couple of hours of non-stop hilarity.

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