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The best drinking card games

From King's Cup to drunk Uno, from Screw the Dealer to Cards Against Humanity, these are the best drinking card games, perfect for any party.

Drinking card games a pile of cards with the ace of spades sitting on top

Looking for the best drinking card games? There are plenty of ways to spice up a merry evening with a pack of cards. Whether you want to add some extra fun to your night, or are looking for an easy excuse to down your pint, our recommended games will bring the party. This guide explains the rules for eight great games, as well as popular variants.

For a more potent party icebreaker, try our spicy Truth or Dare questions. If you don’t fancy something with quite as much sauce, we have guides to the overall best card games and best board games (with or without a bit of bubbly on the side).

These are the best drinking card games in 2024:

  1. King’s Cup – best for big groups
  2. Ride the Bus – best tactical drinking game
  3. Screw the Dealer – quickest drinking card game
  4. Killer – best mystery game
  5. Drunk Uno – best nostalgic drinking game
  6. Cards Against Humanity Drinking Game – best for filthy jokes
  7. Jacks – most creative fun
  8. Irish Snap – a game of slapped hands
  9. Loaded Kings – let the cards do the work

Remember, of course, to drink responsibly. You wanna have fun, but you’ll be able to enjoy yourself a lot more knowing everyone is comfortable and safe. Learn the basics of each game, so you can turn up to any party ready to play, and add some house rules to each game for more variation.

Drinking card games a game of King's cup being played, credit to Unsplash Taylor Friehl

1. King’s Cup

Best drinking game for large groups.

A classic drinking card game, King’s Cup is a staple of college kitchens everywhere. It’s so good that it’s made it onto our guide to the best drinking games, full stop, and we even have a dedicated guide to the King’s Cup rules.

Place a glass in the middle of the table, surrounded by a pack of face-down playing cards laid out in a ring – the ‘ring of fire’. You’ll take turns drawing cards from the ring and performing specific actions based on their value:

  • Ace – Waterfall: every player starts drinking, and can’t stop until the player to their left stops
  • 2 – You: pick two people to drink
  • 3 – Me: take a drink
  • 4 – Floor: the last person to touch the floor drinks
  • 5 – Guys: Everyone who identifies as a man drinks
  • 6 – Chicks: Everyone who identifies as a woman drinks
  • 7 – Heaven: the last person to raise their hand drinks
  • 8 – Mate: choose a player to pair up with. Whenever you have to drink, they also have to
  • 9 – Rhyme: pick a word and take turns saying a word that rhymes. The first person that can’t come up with a rhyming word drinks
  • 10 – Categories: think of a category (animals, theme parks, French political parties of the 1970s) and take turns naming items in that category. The first player who can’t think of an item drinks.
  • Jack – Everyone drinks: No explanation needed here.
  • Queen – Questions: anytime you ask someone a question, they must respond with another question or drink. Continue until someone else draws a queen.
  • King – Dirty Pint: Pour some of your drink into the glass as the center of the table. The person who draws the fourth, last King in the deck drinks whatever’s in the middle glass.

As an added rule, if you ever break the ring when you draw a card, take a drink. Once you’ve learnt the rules with a few games, create your own house rules for even more shenanigans.

Drinking card games a pile of cards, credit to Unsplash Jack Hamilton

2. Ride the Bus

Best tactical drinking game.

Ride the Bus is a drinking card game all about guessing. The whole game is split into four separate rounds, in which players take turns blindly guessing which category a card belongs to. To get started, sit in a circle, deal a face-down card to each player and play through the following rounds. Deal each player a new card at the start of each round:

  • Red or Black – each player guesses whether their card belongs to a red or black suit. If you guess right, pick a player to drink. If you’re wrong, take a drink yourself.
  • Higher or Lower – guess whether your second card is higher or lower than your first. If you’re right, you get to pick another person to drink. If wrong, you’ll be sipping.
  • Between or outside – guess whether your third card will be between the values of your first and second. You can probably guess what happens if you’re right or wrong.
  • Suit – finally, each player guesses the suit of their fourth card. Drinks are handed out the same way as the previous rounds.

That portion of the game can work well by itself, but as a final hoorah, move on to the ‘pyramid’ part of the game. Construct a face-down pyramid of cards in the center of the table – one card in the top row, two in the second, three below that, four after, and five in the final tier – and take turns flipping over each card from the bottom row to the top.

Anytime you have a matching card in your hand to the one that’s just been flipped, pick a player to take as many drinks as there are cards in the row. Replace the flipped card with another from the pack, and keep on going.

Drinking card games a man shuffling a pack of cards, credit to Unsplash Marin Tulard

3. Screw the Dealer

Quickest drinking card game.

Screw the Dealer will get the whole group drinking very quickly. One player, the dealer, grabs a deck of cards, and reads out the value of the top card. The person to their left then guesses whether the next card dealt will be higher or lower – aces are high in this game, so higher than a king.

If they guess correctly, the dealer takes a drink, and the game continues with the next person in the circle taking on guessing duties. If you ever guess wrong, you’ll take a drink and become the dealer.

Drinking Card Games - 52 deck of cards

4. Killer

Best mystery drinking game.

When you want to add an element of murder mystery to your drinking card games, play Killer. To start, deal out a black card to each player, but include one red card among them. Make sure the deal is random, and no one knows who got the red card – that player will be the killer.

The murder mystery game proceeds in two phases: in the first, everyone closes their eyes while the killer discreetly gets up to tap one other player on the shoulder. That player is dead, out of the game, and must take as many drinks as players have been killed.

In the second phase, players use their shrewd detective skills to determine who among them is the murderer. They must make one guess (decided by majority vote). If they’re right, the killer kicks the bucket and must take as many drinks as there are players remaining; if they’re wrong, that player dies and everyone takes a drink.

Drinking card games a bunch of Uno cards laid on top of one another, credit to Unsplash Third Serving

5. Drunk Uno

Best nostalgic drinking game.

For this one, you won’t need a classic 52 pack of cards, but a pack of everyone’s favorite color-matching, number-driven card game, Uno. Drunk Uno plays exactly the same as the normal game, with a few additional drinking requirements thrown in for good measure.

Anytime the following happens in Drunk Uno, take a drink:

  • If you can’t play a card from your hand
  • If someone plays a skip or reverse card against you
  • If someone plays a +2 card against you take two drinks
  • If someone plays a +4 card against you take four drinks
  • If you play a wild card everyone drinks
  • If you forget to say Uno on your last card, take four drinks
  • If you have the most cards by the end of the game, down your drink
  • If you forget the rules of Uno

Drinking Card Games - Cards Against Humanity box

6. Cards Against Humanity Drinking Game

Best drinking game for filthy jokes.

You might be familiar with the controversial comedy card game for adults Cards Against Humanity, but have you heard of the Cards Against Humanity Drinking Game? If not, that’s no problem – the rules aren’t too far away from the original game’s. Players are still dealt a humorous hand of cards; each round they must choose one to play in response to the black prompt card, to try to get that round’s judge to laugh.

Players take turns in the role of Card Czar, and the Card Czar for each round gets to pick the winning white card – or, in the case of the Cards Against Humanity Drinking Game, cards. In this version, the Card Czar ranks three white cards as winning first, second, or third place, and the players of those cards must take a drink equal to the place they ranked – so one drink for first, two for second, and three for third.

King's Cup Rules - photo of some playing cards

7. Jacks

A creative drinking game where you make your own rules.

Jacks, or Hi Jack, Good Morning Jack, Salute the King or any of the countless names this drinking card game and its variants go by, is a fantastic card game that’s hilarious and different each time you play it.

It starts out like Snap. (A bad start, we admit, but it gets better.) Each player takes it in turns to reveal a card, and when a Jack comes up, everyone has to slap it and shout “Jack”. The last person to do so has to drink.

From there, things get more complicated. The first person to slap the Jack gets to add a new action for another type of card. Popular options are saluting, saying good morning (to one of the face cards), or standing up – probably knocking someone’s drink over in the process. Alternatively, if you want to start out at the deep end, you can assign actions to every card at the start of the game for maximum chaos.

Drinking Card Games- the card game taco cat goat cheese pizza.

8. Irish Snap

A card-based drinking game for those with hands of steel.

Irish Snap has a few simple twists on classic Snap that turn it from one of the worst drinking card games to one of the best. Players take it in turns to lay a card, and all the players count up in card value (from Ace to King, and round again) as each person takes their turn.

When someone lays a card which matches the number they said, everyone has to jam their hand into the center. Last to do so must drink (duh) and pick up the cards.

The free for all means Irish Snap can get very nasty, with the person quick enough to get in first wincing under the crushing weight of everyone else’s powerful palms. Hopefully a few drinks will help to numb the pain.

In 2018, a commercial version of this game, ‘Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza’, came out and seems to have been doing very nicely for itself. This version spices things up further with silly actions and cartoon-y cards.

Best drinking card games - Loaded Kings cards with water spilled on them

9. Loaded Kings

Let the cards do the work

Loaded Kings is a commercial variant of Kings Cup (or Ring of Fire). Just as in those games, you’ll lay out a circle of 52 face down cards and take it in turns flipping them over, facing penalties as you do.

So what’s the point? Well, Loaded Kings is ‘drunk proof’. The playing cards are waterproof (and beerproof), so there’s no risk of destroying the deck midway through a game, and you can set the game up on a pool float if you’re on vacation somewhere with a good pool.

And unlike a game played with a regular card deck, Loaded Kings has exactly what you need to do written on each card. The longer a game goes on for, the more you’ll appreciate the reminder!

If you’ve got the table space, you could also consider these drinking board games. Or, if you’re looking for party card games that will suit a get-together even without a beverage, we can recommend plenty of funny card games that are good for a crowd.