Shit head is a rather brainless card game. A new player will
invariably work out the optimum play algorithm after a few games. An
especially geeky or competitive player could gain some advantage by
memorising the cards that are picked up or are discarded, but this is
rare. The game is usually used to occupy idle hands while their
devote mental energy to socialising.
Unlike most other card games, the emphasis in shit head is on not
losing rather than winning. The last player to get rid of
is the "shit head" and the objective is to avoid this over the many
repetitive games that are usually played over a session. Multiple
losses increase a player's ranking which is may be tracked in many
different ways, e.g.
- double shithead, triple, quadruple, ...
- bronze shithead, silver, gold, platinum, ...
- lord shithead, duke, prince, king, emperor, ...
Or any other hierarchy that the players invent.
The rules in full
These are the rules that, in my opinion, make for the best
game. Many variations exist as detailed below. It is my
personal experience that every group of "shit head" players uses a
different set of rules.
Each player is dealt three cards face down in a row plus six extra
cards. Of the six, each player must chose three to place face-up on top
of their unknown cards. The remaining three cards form their starting
hand. All undealt cards are placed in a pile in the middle of the
Starting with the player holding the three of spades and moving
clockwise, each player must play at least one
card into a central pile. Under most circumstances this card must be of
equal or greater value to the previously played card. (Aces are high)
Should a player's
hand drop below three cards while undealt cards remain, the player must
pick up undealt card(s) for a hand of three. If a player cannot play
any cards they must pick up the pile of played cards.
There are four special cards to watch out for. These may be played
on top of any other card.
- 'Resets' the rising bar - anything beats a two.
- An 'invisible' card. The next player must ignore the four and
play against the previous card.
- The 'limbo dance' card. The player following a nine must play a
card of value nine or less.
- 'Burns' the cards currently in play. They are discarded and the
player may play another card.
It is permissible to play more than one card of equal value. If all
four cards of a given rank appear together on the pile the whole pile
is discarded as if a Ten had been played.
Once all the undealt cards have been picked up each player will
eventually exhaust their main hand. They then pick up the three visible
cards they laid earlier and carry on. When they have exhausted all
their cards the second time they do not pick up the
three unknown cards. Instead, each card must be chosen 'blind' in the
hope that it will be playable.
This game is also known as asshole, idiot and shitboots. Less
offensively, it is reportedly similar to the games pig pile, palace
karma. It has one possible root in the Finnish game Paskahousa
("shitpants") which includes "cheat"-like hidden card bluffing.
Common rule changes include:
- The Four and Nine cards are not always used.
- The ranks of the special cards are sometimes changed.
- The special cards (except Two) can lose their ability to be
played over higher ranked
- Jokers may be dealt, having the effect of reversing the
direction of play or skipping a player.
- Face-up cards can be played straight from the table, while face
down cards may be played as soon as they are uncovered.
- The cards can be dealt for a fixed hand of seven, with leftover
cards being ignored.
There is a freeware computer game based on shit head, called
It uses the Seven card in place of Four as the 'invisible' card and has
no Nine card equivalent.
* shed is available for windows at http://www.catch22.org.uk/software/shed.asp
A very good resource for card games may be found at http://www.pagat.com
Some rules variations from lj and from Noung's writeup