This comprehensive guide will walk you through the setup, rules, and variations you need to know to master the game and become the ultimate President.
The President card game is played with a standard deck of 54 cards (including the 2 jokers), and it can be played with 3 to 8 people. The card ranking from highest to lowest is typically as follows: 2, Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3.
During the game, players often adopt various titles, which helps maintain the order of play. Sometimes, players even switch seats to align with their respective positions in the game hierarchy, preventing any confusion. Typically, there are at least three key roles:
- President: The winner of the previous round, irrespective of the number of players.
- Vice president: The second-place player, regardless of the number of participants.
- High scum: The player who finished second-to-last. For instance, in a game with seven participants, the high-scum is the player who came in sixth.
- Scum (asshole): The player who finished last in the previous round. If the scum is the previous round’s last-place player, they have the privilege of starting the next round.
- Citizen: Everyone else in the game.
For games with larger numbers of players, additional titles may be introduced, each with its own unique name. Rules related to card passing can be adapted to accommodate these roles as needed. While a game typically includes at least one citizen role, more can be added as required.
The dealer, whether it’s the President or the Scum, distributes the cards, beginning with themselves and proceeding in order of the player hierarchy, from the lowest-ranked player to the highest. This ensures that if the Scum is the dealer and the hands are uneven, the President starts with the fewest cards.
2. Play President Card Game
Once all the players have gathered around a table, it’s time to deal the deck one card at a time. Go around the circle until all of the cards have been dealt. Some players may have one more card than other players, which is fine.
- Start with the 3 of clubs. The player places the card down in the middle. This card always starts the first round. Other than this one card, no one else should reveal the cards in their hand.
- Put down cards of a higher rank clockwise. For instance, when the first player plays the 3 of clubs, the next player to the left must respond with a 4 or a higher-ranked card. It’s crucial to note that they cannot play a card of the same rank, such as another 3.
- Outrank a set of cards. A player can play multiple cards of the same rank together. The next player must match this by playing an equal number of cards with a higher rank. For instance, if someone plays a pair of 5’s, the next player is required to respond with a pair of 6’s or higher. They cannot play a single card that outranks the pair or a pair of lower-ranked cards. When all four cards of a specific rank are played in one turn, the entire pile is cleared. For example, if four aces are played, the pile is wiped clean, and the last player to act must place a new card on the pile.
- Pass. If a player is unable to surpass the top card, they should announce “pass.” They can keep passing until someone places a card. When all players pass, clear the pile, and the last person to play a card gains the freedom to choose any card for their turn.
- Play until everyone has run out of cards. Three distinct ranks emerge based on who manages to discard their cards first and last. Once a player has successfully emptied their hand of cards, they temporarily pause their participation in the game, awaiting the conclusion of the round as other players strive to do the same.
The first person to lose all of their cards is the president. They get 2 points. The second person to lose all of their cards is the vice president. They get 1 point. The last person to have any cards is the scum. They get no points, but they must trade cards with the president next round. If you decide to only play one round, the president is the winner. Traditionally, however, several rounds are played until someone gets 11 points and wins.
An alternative scoring system is often employed when playing the President Card Game with either 5 or 7 players. In this scheme, the scores assigned to players, ranging from first to last place, are distinct and determine the card exchange dynamics for the subsequent hand.
When playing with 5 participants, the scores are distributed as follows:
- First Place: 2 points
- Second Place: 1 point
- Third Place: 0 points
- Fourth Place: -1 point
- Fifth Place: -2 points
In a game involving 7 players, the scoring is expanded to accommodate the larger group:
- First Place: 3 points
- Second Place: 2 points
- Third Place: 1 point
- Fourth Place: 0 points
- Fifth Place: -1 point
- Sixth Place: -2 points
- Seventh Place: -3 points
These scores, in addition to determining a player’s rank for the current hand, also dictate the number of cards each player who loses the round must exchange with the winners at the commencement of the subsequent hand. The card exchange adds an intriguing strategic dimension to the game, as winners seek to strengthen their hands while losers attempt to improve their chances of ascending in the rankings.
In one variation, higher-ranked players reverse their card trades with lower-ranked players, where the President gives their top two cards to the Scum, and vice versa for the Scum to the President. This humorous twist is often called “Communism” or “Socialism”.
Some versions have the player holding the lowest card of a specific suit lead the first deal, while others insist the Scum always starts the game.
Certain variants penalize players for ending their turn with a 2 or a joker, automatically demoting them to Scum or Super Scum, regardless of who cleared their cards last. In versions featuring “quick-clears,” players can complete the cards on the table by playing the remaining cards of a quadruple, even if the last card played before the clear was face-down or face-up.
Other variant rules may require the President to give their lowest cards to the Scum or extend the game until all players empty their hands.