Jocu Game Night #003 – How to play ‘Cheat’

Welcome to the third edition of Jocu Game Night! We will be sharing with you how to play our favourite card games and how to pair them with your favourite Jocu decks.

Scala Quaranta proving too competitive? We have a solution for that – a quick, easy and lively game which was a favourite of mine back in my college days. Cheat requires players to lie, cheat and bluff their way to victory, eliminating any risk of anyone playing unfairly as pretty much anything goes!

Only one deck is needed, and if you’re playing at the pub or at a party make sure it’s a deck you aren’t too precious about. Cheat tends to get rowdy, cards are constantly being handled, grabbed, contested and slammed down on the table. This might be one for a well-worn in deck 😜 It only takes a few minutes to learn and is our shortest set of rules so far, but don’t let the simplicity fool you. Incidentally this is a great game for people who usually lose or don’t love games – the main skill involved is one of faking that your hand is something that it isn’t. Lying and cheating strongly advised – let’s get into it!

As always enjoy yourself and let us know what you think in the comments.

If you like the sound of the game, grab your favourite deck and give it a try on your next game night!

Deck of the Night – Hops & Barley Deep Amber Ale

Cheat was the game of choice across university campuses and parties in the early 2000s in the UK so I definitely associate this with a bit of a rowdy, pub-friendly game in a big group. I’d want a classic deck in this situation – nothing too fancy as it will likely get worked pretty hard with all the constant slamming down of piles of cards in the middle of the table and the regular grabbing of the pile as somebody calls cheat! with the loser having to slide the discard pile over to themselves.

We picked Hops & Barley Deep Amber Ale to match with the beer theme, and it’s our most classic-looking deck to boot.

What you need

  • 1x Hops & Barley Deep Amber Ale Deck (or any 52-card deck of cards)
  • A second deck if playing with more than 4 players. We’d recommend Hops & Barley Belgian Blond if sticking with the same!
  • Remove the jokers!


Most people growing up playing this game will know it as Cheat or else one of it’s more vulgar alternatives such as Bullsh*t or Sh*thead in the US and UK respectively. (I’m sure the Aussies have a colourful version too – let us know 😂)

The basic aim is to get rid of all your cards by playing them to a shared discard pile. The twist is that cards are placed face down, allowing players to lie about what cards they are actually playing. However if they get caught lying, they must pick up the entire discard pile and play starts again.

In some versions of the game each player plays the next rank of card above the previous one. However we’ll be playing by the rules I grew up with, where players can play either the rank above or below the cards last placed on the deck.

You won’t need long to pick this one up, and it’s great for kids and people who otherwise don’t like to follow the rules as… well… there aren’t many!

Players and Cards

The game is great for 2 to 10 players, although with more players a second pack of cards is recommended.


Nice and easy – all cards are dealt out one at a time to players. Some may end up with more than others, but this doesn’t matter.

The goal is to get rid of all your cards. Choose who starts however you like, and that person discards something from their hand face down, calling the value and quantity. For example, they may say ‘two sixes’.

The next person then must discard either fives or sevens. They may say ‘3 sevens’ and place a handful of cards down.

Play continues like this. However there’s a twist – they may not be putting down what they say. Perhaps the second player never had any sevens, perhaps they just wanted to hold onto their sevens for later.

You can cheat, lie and trick your way to victory – the only catch is if somebody calls it out.

If you suspect someone is cheating or lying, you can challenge them by calling ‘cheat!’. Play stops immediately and the accused’s cards are turned over. If the player was lying, he must collect the entire discard pile and play restarts from the beginning, albeit with some players having much shorter stacks now. If the player was telling the truth, it is the accuser who must pick up the pile, so there is a risk in calling someone out!

The first player to get rid of all their cards wins – however they can be challenged on their final cards, and likely will, so make sure you’re telling the truth for that last move


As stated above, some variants on the game lock you into using ranks only in one direction. This makes the game longer and more difficult – you have fewer options for telling the truth and thus must lie and risk being called more often.

If there are a lot of players, you may want to use two decks shuffled together to ensure everyone has enough cards. This makes the game a little more complicated as it’s possibile to now hold to eight of a value instead of four.

The game is pretty loose on rules and regulations, so there are a lot of variants out there and you might even come up with some yourself. Anything goes!

Tips and Tricks

Once you get the hang of it, you might need an edge over the other players. Here are some of my favourite moves that let you exploit your opponents more effectively:

  • Like in poker, knowing your own cards allows you a little insight into what your opponent holds by process of elimination. An obvious example is if someone calls ‘two kings’ but you have three kings in your hand, you know they’re lying as there are only four kings in a deck. This is the most basic way to catch a liar.
  • One of my favourite moves is to flip this on its head. If I have three queens, for example, I might discard three random cards and call ‘three queens’ knowing I’m less likely to be challenged as I hold them in my hand. The great thing about this move is, as the cards can move in both directions, if on your next turn you call again ‘three queens’ – legitimately this time, perhaps with a wavering/unconvinced tone in your voice – players are more likely to call you as they think you are simply a bad liar. After all – you can’t have had six queens in your hand! Use this sparingly, or it will be quickly picked up on. Or, flip it around and use that to your advantage!
  • One move I came up with independently years ago but is a core part of many variants is to place down more cards than you’re actually saying to get rid of cards quicker. Hey, there are no rules in this game! I like to do this when I actually have the cards, but add one or two more on top. Be sure to do this so that, if challenged, the correct cards are turned over first. However players may gang up on you once they figure out your trick!

Final Thoughts

This is a great, fun game for all ages. Be aware that when playing with kids for the first few times it can be difficult for them to lie convincingly which can cause frustration, but just show them how it’s done and they’ll soon pick it up. Either your own age group it’s no-hoilds-barred and I’m sure you’ll quickly figure out who the bulls*tters are in your group of friends 😜

Have a great Game Night everyone and we’ll see you for the next one!

Do you play this game already? What do you call it in your country? And do you have any recommended variations on the rules? Let us know below!

  • There are now four variants of Hops & Barley all available here!
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  • More of a whisky-drinker? Dram is the sister deck to Hops & Barley and will be coming to Inner Circle subscribers this year. Receive our most exclusive decks in a quarterly package and get a year-round discount off our entire store:

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