Gathering with friends and diving into card games can be a fantastic way to spend an evening. Among the plethora of card games that exist, Shithead stands out for its easy-to-learn rules and its ability to keep everyone on their toes and laughing. Whether you’re looking to understand how to play or seeking to refine your strategy, this guide will take you through the Shithead card game rules, ensuring you’re well-prepared for your next game night.

The Basics of Shithead

Shithead is a game played with a standard 52-card deck and can accommodate 2 to 5 players. The game’s objective is straightforward: get rid of all your cards. However, being crowned the “Shithead” comes with the misfortune of losing the game, a title no one wants to bear. Let’s dive into how to avoid such a fate.

Setting Up the Game

To kick off, each player is dealt three cards face down and then three cards face up on top of those. Players then hold three cards in their hand. The remaining cards form the draw pile. Importantly, players cannot look at the face-down cards until they have played all other cards in their hands and the face-up cards.

How to Play Shithead

The gameplay revolves around laying down cards in ascending order, with numerous twists that can change the game’s direction. Here�s a quick rundown:

  • The player with a 3 or the lowest card begins the game.
  • Cards are played in ascending order. Special cards (explained below) can alter the gameplay.
  • If a player cannot or chooses not to play, they must pick up the entire pile and end their turn.
  • Once a player has no more cards in their hand, they play the face-up cards. If unable to play a face-up card, they pick up the pile and restart with their hand.

Special Cards and Their Powers

Special cards add excitement and unpredictability. Here�s what they do:

Card Power
2 Reset the pile. Player sets the next card.
7 Next player must play a 7 or lower.
10 Clears the pile completely. Player goes again.
Joker Acts as a wild card. Can be any card.

Tips for Winning at Shithead

While luck plays a part, strategy is also key. Here are some tips:

  • Save special cards: They can get you out of sticky situations.
  • Be mindful of your face-down cards: Remember their possible values to plan your game.
  • Observe your opponents: Try to predict their moves based on the cards they play or save.


Shithead is more than a game of chance; it’s a battle of wits, strategy, and sometimes sheer luck. With this comprehensive guide to the Shithead card game rules, you’re now equipped with everything you need to know to avoid becoming the dreaded Shithead. So gather your cards, round up some friends, and let the games begin. May the best player win!


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