Shithead!

Back in February I went to Israel for a friend from work’s wedding.  Another friend from work also went and stayed in the same hotel, and one night we sat in the bar area playing cards together.  Playing cards is something I grew up with, especially on holiday, and I have accumulated quite a few games in my head (and have probably forgotten many more!)  Especially when I was at my granny’s and the whole family were together the card table (yes, we had a proper card table!) would come out and we’d have a round of something.  Its something I’m still adjusting to with my boyfriend’s family, they are either working (either at work, or doing something in the garden, or housework, etc) or watching TV.  All of their down time is spent watching TV.  It is so bad that whenever my boyfriend and I go on holiday, the first thing he does in a new hotel room is turn on the telly.  And even worse, I’ve started doing it to!

This weekend the same friend I played cards with in Israel sent me a text to ask me to write down a few of the games I know so she and her boyfriend could play on their holiday.  I thought as I have already taken the time to write them down I would publish them on here one at a time.  The aims being a) remind people the fun of card games; b) show myself I have something to give the world (even if it’s very tiny!); and c) to try to encourage myself to play cards more often, not just on holiday!

So, first up, the beautifully titled “Shithead”.  This game is actually mainly from my time at 6th form where we would sit round for hours during study periods playing this game.  I am pretty sure my granny had actually introduced it to the family a few years earlier after learning it on holiday, however she definitely didn’t call it “Shithead”!  I generally find that most people of a similar age to me know the game shithead but everyone plays different rules.  These are the rules we used to play at school, I don’t profess them to be accurate to the international laws of Shithead!

Set-up:

  • Can be played with 2 or more players
  • Deal each player 3 cards face down, 3 cards face up (on top of the face down cards) and 3 cards for their hand.
  • Remaining cards go face down in the centre in a pile
  • Each player can swap the cards in their hand with the cards face up in front of them (they can’t look at the face down cards at all). Generally it is best to have your best cards down laid out in front of you (see special cards below).
  • Players call their lowest card (excluding a 2 and ace is high) to decide who goes first. Black is lower than red (i.e. black 3 is the lowest someone would call) and if there is a tie, the person that called first gets to go first.

Play:

  • The person that goes first plays the card they called from their hand.   If they have multiple cards of the same number they can play them all together. They then pick up from the main pack as many cards as they put down (i.e. if they put down 2 cards they pick up 2 cards). Each player should always have a minimum of 3 cards in their hand.
  • The next player must play a card that is either the same number or higher (there is no restriction of how much higher), or an eligible “special card”, on the same pile. They also then replace the cards they’ve put down with cards from the main pack.
  • Play continues like this moving in a clockwise direction.
  • If a player cannot go, they must pick up all the cards that have been played. They don’t have to replace the cards they put down each time until they are down to having less than 3 cards.
  • If at any point 4 of a kind are put down (either in one go or by multiple players playing the same number), the pack is cleared and those cards are then out of the game. The person that placed the final number down then restarts play putting down any card they like.
  • Once the central pack of cards runs out, each player finishes the cards they have in their hand and then play the 3 cards that are face up in front of them. Rules are the same as when they were playing from their hand.
  • Once all three of a player’s face-up cards are played, they must play the face-down cards one at a time blindly.
  • The winner is the person that clears all of their cards in front of them first.
  • Play continues until there is just one person with cards left. They are then the “shithead”.

Special cards:

  • 2 – Can be played at any time, brings the number back down, i.e. allows a 3 to be played.
  • 5 – Can be played at any time, is “invisible”, i.e. the next player then has to play on the card that had been played before the 5. If multiple 5s are played one after the other, play has to be made on the last card that was played before a 5.
  • 9 – can only be played in order, the next player must then play a 9 or lower, play then continues as normal
  • 10 – Can be played at any time, clears the pack (in the same way as 4 of a kind) and then the player of the 10 gets to restart play, playing any card of their choosing.

Other rules:

  • There is no rule that says you have to play if you can and so a player can choose to pick up if they wish.
  • Ace is high, only another ace or a special card can be played on an ace.
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