Cheat (game)

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Alternative name(s) I Doubt It, Bullshit (B.S.), Bluff
Type Shedding-type
Players 3-8
Skill(s) required lying, card skills
Age range any
Cards depends on number of players
Deck Anglo-American
Play Clockwise
Related games
Valepaska, Verish' Ne Verish', Poker Bull

Cheat (also known as Bullshit, B.S., Bluff, I Doubt It, Chaarso Bis and 420[1]) is a card game where the players aim to get rid of all of their cards.[2][3] Normally played with at least three players, it is often classed as a party game,[2] and is a game of deception. A challenge is usually made by players calling out the name of the game, and the loser of a challenge has to pick up all the cards in the middle.

As with many card games, cheat has an oral tradition and so people are taught the game under different names. The game is called I Doubt It by Hoyle[4] and is sometimes known as Bullshit in the USA.[5]


Normally, a standard pack of 52 playing cards is used, but the game can be played with multiple packs of cards and often includes the jokers as wild cards. A dealer is chosen and the cards are shuffled and dealt (normally using a Western deal) until all the cards are dealt. The first player is either the first player dealt to or sometimes in variants the first person with a specified card. Play proceeds in the order of the deal. The objective of the game is to be the first player to get rid of all their cards.

On their turn a player places a number of face-down cards into the middle of the table, from their hand, and makes a claim as to what those cards are (e.g. "two sevens"). The player must call either the same rank as the previous player, or one rank above or below, with aces counting both high and low. This claim may be a lie, and may have to be a lie if the player has no cards of the required ranks.

Once a player has made a claim, every other player has until the next player starts their turn to call "cheat", if they think the player's claim was a lie (the phrase called out is normally the same as the game name). When someone calls "cheat", the play stops and the pile of played cards is turned face-up. If the most recent cards were a valid play and the same as the claim, then the first player to call "cheat" has to add the entire pile to his or her hand and play continues with the player who made the claim taking another turn. Otherwise, the player who made the false claim has to pick up the pile, and play continues.

The first player to empty their hand (and not lose a challenge on the final play) is the winner. The game may be continued to determine second place, third place, etc., and in some versions the game continues until a loser has been established.


Despite the name of the game, a common strategy is to play honestly. Players often do this simply because they are unused to cheating or consider themselves bad liars. Others may use honest playing as part of an intentional strategy of forcing those who wrongly call cheat to pick up. Others play mostly honestly but cheat occasionally without giving much thought to the method of cheat. Another strategy is to call "cheat" a lot of the time. Despite the obvious objection a player may have to this, if a player has all four cards of rank, they can safely call "cheat" on any player who claims to be playing even a single a card of that rank. Another way to use the advantage of owning all four cards of a rank is to play four other cards and claim them as that rank, as no other player will have the evidence to call that bluff. Since most variants of the game require a player to put down cards close to those of the previous player, a more advanced player may put down those cards in their hand which are far from the rank being played (while claiming they are legal cards) early in the round so that they have legitimate cards to play later, when being caught cheating has a greater penalty. A particularly effective strategy is to claim the cards are the rank of cards of which the player really does have several of in their hand. For example, if a player has 3 tens, they may put down 3 lower ranked cards and claim that they are putting down 3 tens. This is unlikely to be called, as only one player will have a ten. The cheating player may then use their actual 3 tens later on. Although the other players will realise that one of those turns was a cheat, they may be unsure which. The cheating player may even do this multiple times. This is highly effective, since every time the cheating player performs this move, other players find it increasingly incredible that they would be claiming 3 tens without actually playing them. In general, it is advantageous to direct the play towards those cards that the player has. For example, if play is currently on fours, a player with many high cards will find it useful to play a five (or to claim a five, even if they do not actually play it) to bring play closer to those cards in their hand. It is advisable to be cautious about calling cheat. If the call is correct, the advantage is shared between all players except the cheating player (although in some variants there is also the relatively small advantage of being allowed to decide the starting card); if incorrect, only the person who calls suffers. It is advisable therefore to require a relatively high degree of certainty before calling cheat. However, if a player is close to finishing, it is useful to encourage other players to call cheat, since if he is cheating, his victory will be slowed or prevented. Advanced players will deliberately cast doubt on the honesty of the turns preceding theirs, in order to make themselves look like an honest player.


  • In the most common variation, a player may pass, claiming that they do not have any cards of that rank. This does not have to be true.
  • A player may play any cards they choose, either in an attempt to bluff the other players. For example, if a player is supposed to play "two Kings" but only has one they can play any two other cards or one King and a Jack. In some variations a player may even put down three cards and say they are playing only two.
  • All plays are open to challenge, depending on the variation, either by the next player or any player. The challenging player calls out "bluff", "cheat", or "bullshit" and turns over any one card that was just played to see if they match what that player announced. If the card was correctly declared, then the challenger must pick up the entire stack; otherwise the bluffer must pick it up.
  • The first player claims Aces, the second player claims Twos and so on through Kings back to Aces.
  • When a player is caught cheating, the next player must claim the previous rank.
  • Optionally, jokers may be used as: a "wild card" which is played as the stated value; a separate rank from all others played between Kings and Aces, or; "null" that is not any value and must always be bluffed.
  • Another option allows any player to "check" and look at the most recently played cards without letting anyone else see them. If a player does this however, once they sees the card or cards, they cannot call "Cheat" even if they now know the call to be a lie.
  • Another variation is where if the player is caught cheating, their hand can be hit hard by the other players as they go to retrieve their card across the table.
  • In another version the beginning player may choose any number they want and play their cards, and each player following must either lay down at least one card of that number (real or cheating) or they must call cheat. A new number cannot be played until cheat is called. The only player who may call cheat is the one next in line of play. Calling cheat takes the players entire turn resulting in them not playing any cards. The next player to go may choose a new number or even continue with the old.
  • Another version allows for a player to remove a set of numbers from play if they have collected all four. This reduces the amount of cards in play and makes for a shorter game.
  • In a much rarer version of the game the players should only play one card and play the same suit as the previous player. The version's tactical elements are very different from the one dealt with in this article.
  • Another variant allows the players to play any number and rank of cards, with the previous person's played cards having no effect on the next player's choice of cards to play. In this variant the players can also lie about the number of cards, for example, saying "two Tens" when, in fact, they have placed down more than two cards.
  • Another version of cheat, where rules follow as in regular cheat save that royal cards (Jack, Queen and King) are not valid plays. The player is required to "cheat" out their royal cards and so increasing the tactical challenge of the game. The order of cards is altered so that 10 loops back to Ace to close the gap left by the royals.

National variants[edit]

British Cheat[edit]

A British variant exists where any form of cheating is allowed at any time.[citation needed] Players must still call out the cards that they are claiming to be laying down, and if unchallenged, the next player has to play the same or one up or one down. However, all other forms of rulebreaking are acceptable, so long as they are not noticed before the next player's turn. Examples include:

  • The dealer can intentionally mis-deal the deck in order to give themselves fewer cards. Other players can demand a redeal, if they notice. An experienced Cheat player may employ a variety of distraction techniques to try to reduce the number of cards in his or her hands.
  • The players can attempt to interfere with the cards dealt, in an attempt to pass cards on to other players without their noticing by sleight of hand.
  • At any point during play, a player may attempt to sneak a look at another's cards over their shoulder, in reflections etc.
  • When placing cards down on the table as part of their turn, a player can attempt to include extra cards in order to be rid of them. Opponents can visually inspect the stack after each move, but any physical contact counts as calling a "cheat".
  • Players are able to call out a series of derogatory comments stopping short of saying the actual word "cheat", in order to encourage others to call the last player.
  • Players are at liberty to try to steal the restart turn after someone has been challenged (and either caught cheating or has been proved innocent), by simply trying to bluff through and take a turn as if it was their go. This is a worthwhile tactic as on the restart, only that first set of cards are laid down, so a player who is playing out of turn loses nothing, they just get their own cards back.
  • Players can also attempt to steal the first turn (normally taken by the player to the left of the dealer).

The only sacrosanct rule is the fair explanation of the rules to new players.

Canadian/Spanish Bluff[edit]

Similar to Russian Bluff, it is a version used by at least some in Canada and known in Spain. The rules are rather strict and, while a variation, is not open to much variation. It is also known in English as Fourshit (single deck) and Eightshit (double deck), the game involves a few important changes to the general rules mentioned above. Usually two decks are used[5] instead of one so that there are 8 of every card as well as four jokers (though Jokers are optional), though one deck may be used if desired. Not all ranks are used, the players can arbitrarily chose which ranks to use in the deck and if using two decks, should use one card for each player plus two or three more. Four players may choose to use 6,8,10,J,Q,K,A or may just as easily choose 2,4,5,6,7,9,J,K, or any other cards. This can be a useful way to make use of decks with missing cards as those ranks can be removed. The four jokers are considered wild and may represent any card in the game.

All cards are dealt, some players may get more cards than others.

The first player can be chosen by any means.[6] Spanish variation calls for a bidding war to see who has the most of the highest card. The winner of the challenge is the first player. In Canada, a version is the first player to be dealt a Jack face up, and then the cards are re dealt face down.

The first player will make a "claim" of any rank of cards and an amount of their choice. In this version each player in turn must play as many cards as they wish of the same rank.[5] The rank played never goes up, down nor changes in any way. If the first player plays kings, all subsequent players must also play kings for that round (it is non incremental). Jokers represent the card of the rank being played in each round (if the first player played Kings, then a Joker represents a King, meaning there are 12 possible Kings to be played in that round. A player may place whatever they like face down on the table (the first player may choose Jacks, but he or she is not obliged to play any jacks), though it is important that if a challenge is made, the exact cards played can be identified. A player may also play more cards than they claim to play though hiding cards under the table or up the sleeve is not allowed. This is also penalised if the claim is challenged.

At any moment any player can challenge the last player to play cards on the table by saying "bullshit" and turning the cards around. If the cards played were correctly called, the challenger picks up all cards on the table, if the challenger was correct and the cards don't match the claim, the player who made the claim has to pick up all the cards. Whoever won the challenge (did not pick up cards) begins a new round by making a claim of any amount of any card rank.

If at any point a player picks up cards and has all eight natural cards of a certain rank, he declares this out loud when realised (players should always be checking for this) and removes them from the game (placed somehow to the side). If it is realised that a player had had all eight cards and leads a round with this card, he or she automatically loses the game and is severely penalised (i.e. will have to do something embarrassing, drink lots of alcohol or say something ridiculous to a common friend the next day).

With jokers included, a player may claim to have up to 11 of one card (seven natural ones and four jokers).[7]

Once a player has played all his or her cards, he or she is out of that particular hand. Play continues until there are only two players (at which point some cards have probably been removed from the game). The players continue playing until there is a loser.

The object of the game is not so much to win, but not be the loser. The loser is usually penalised by the winners either in having the dishonour of losing, having to do something undesirable or having to drink a quantity of alcohol or something disgusting (mustard in milk or equally revolting).

Egyptian version[edit]

In the Egyptian version of the game, the entire deck is evenly dealt to all players, the player with the ace of hearts goes first, the following player can play a card one rank above, below or the rank as the first player. Where Egyptian Cheat differs is when a player challenges a players call. If the challenger calls correct the player who put down the cards and got caught cheating picks up all the cards. The game is restarted by the challenger, who is rewarded for correctly noticing that the previous player was cheating. However if the challenger was incorrect the challenger subsequently picks up all the cards in the pile and the player who originally played down the cards restarts the game as a reward for deceiving the challenger.

Hawaii version[edit]

In Hawaiian bluff, like Russian Bluff, the entire deck is evenly dealt to all players and it does not matter who plays first. However, the next player only has options 1, 2, and 4. A player can challenge another player at any time, even if it is not their turn. Similar to Russian Bluff, bluffing can escalate to the point where there are 16 supposed "queens" on the table.

Indian Bluff[edit]

The Indian variant is called Bluff and is exactly the same, except that players do not have the "I Believe" option. Players say "Bluff" to challenge and once a player has called "pass" they cannot play until the next round.

Verish' Ne Verish'[edit]

In Russian the game is known as Verish' Ne Verish' ("Trust, don't trust"). This variant is also known as Russian Bluff, Chinese Bluff or simply as Cheat.

The dealer deals out all the cards to all players, as evenly as possible. The first player to go chooses any rank to start with, and places one, two or three of cards of that rank face-down, and calling out what they claim to have played. A player's claim need not be truthful.[8]

The next player may either call the previous player's bluff by saying "ne veryu" ("I don't trust") or simply turning over the played cards, or accept their play, either by saying "veryu" ("I trust") or taking their own turn without comment.[8]

If a bluff is called, the played cards are revealed to see whether they match the previous player's claim - if the challenger is right, the previous person picks up all the cards and the challenger starts a new round. If the challenge is wrong, the challenger picks up all the cards and the next person (in some variants, the previous person gets the right to start a new round) starts a new round with the rank of his choice. Whenever players pick up cards in this way, they may - if they wish - reveal four of the same rank from their hand, and discard them.[8]

If player accepts the previous player's call, they themselves must then play (or pretend to play) between one and three of cards of the same rank as the previous player.[8] In some variants, if the player does not have any of the rank in their hand, they may call "skip" or "pass" and the next player takes their turn. If every player passes, the cards on the table are removed from the game, and the last player to play a card starts the next round.

There is a variant rule where, upon a call of "I don't trust", the caller reveals one of the cards played at random. If the card is of the declared rank, the caller picks up the cards; if it is not, the previous person picks up all the cards and a new round begins.


  1. ^ Guide to games: Discarding games: How to play cheat, The Guardian, 22 November 2008, [1] retrieved 28 March 2011
  2. ^ a b The Pan Book of Card Games, p288, PAN, 1960 (second edition), Hubert Phillips
  3. ^ The Oxford A-Z of Card Games, David Parlett, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-860870-5
  4. ^ Hoyle's Rules of Games, Albert Morehead
  5. ^ a b c "Rules of Card Games: Bullshit / Cheat / I Doubt It". 2011-03-22. Retrieved 2013-06-24. 
  6. ^ "". Retrieved 2013-06-24. 
  7. ^ "Bullshit, the Card Game". Retrieved 2013-06-24. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Rules of Card Games: Verish' ne verish'". 1996-11-17. Retrieved 2014-02-22.