How to Play “Idiot”

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Thank you, Derek and Tina, for teaching me this fun game!

The goal of the game is to get rid of all your cards. The last person left with any cards is the Idiot and must wear a funny hat. When you play another round and have a new Idiot it’s their turn to wear the hat (handed over with as much pomp and silliness as seems appropriate).

man wearing tiger hat

To start:

You will need one deck of cards for every 2-3 players. (We used 3 decks for 7 players and the games ran a bit long, but not bad. You will need to experiment a bit to find a balance you like.)

Deal 3 cards face down in front of each player. Deal 3 more cards to each player face up on each of those cards. Deal three additional cards face down to each player. Pick up the last 3 cards and hold them in your hand. You have the option of trading out cards from your hand with the cards showing face up in front of you. (strategy – You will want to choose higher cards, 2’s or 10’s for the piles. Ace is high. Ignore suits. Play by the numbers.) 

Put all remaining cards in a pile in the middle as a draw pile.

You will be playing from the cards in your hand. When those cards and all the cards from the draw pile have all been played, you can play the cards that are in the three piles in front of you. Play all the face up cards and then play all the face down cards (don’t peek, you have to play them blind). When all those cards are gone, you’re done. Sit back and watch the rest of the game.

To start play, move to the person to dealer’s left. If they have a three card in their hand, they may play it in the discard pile. If they don’t have a three card, ask the next player. Continue moving around the circle until someone is able to play a three. (If there is no three card, move on to a four card, etc.)

You must hold three cards in your hand. If you play a card or cards from your hand and you have less than three cards, draw enough cards from the draw pile to bring your hand back up to three cards. This rule is suspended when all the cards in the draw pile are gone.

To continue play:

With a three card played, the next player must play a three or higher card. Moving around the table, players must match or play a higher card. If a player cannot do so, that player must pick up the discard pile and add it to their hand. The next player starts play with the card of their choice. (As a strategy choice, you may also pick up the discard pile instead of playing a card.)

If you have multiples of the same number you may play them at the same time (or you may choose to play them separately- strategy, strategy, strategy).

If you play a card and draw the same card from the draw pile, you may play it to the discard pile as well and then draw another card.

As you move from playing cards in your hand to playing cards in the piles in front of you, the rules cover the transition. For example, if your last hand-played card is a two (specialty card, see below), you may follow up with a card from your pile. If your last hand-played card is a seven and you have a seven face up on your piles, you may play both of them.

Specialty cards:

2 – A two card resets the number in the discard pile (play the two card followed by another card from your hand)

10 – this is a burn card. All cards in the discard pile are moved to the burn pile (cards are permanently out of play). The next player starts with whatever card they wish.

Four or more of the same number on the top of the discard pile – the discard pile is moved to the burn pile when four or more of the same numbered cards have been played. 

The exception is the six card. Because “666” is evil, the discard pile is moved to the burn pile when there are three or more six cards. A certain amount of silliness is allowed in removing these cards. 

That’s it. The rules are easy. The strategy comes with play and practice.

Need cards or a funny hat?

Bicycle Playing Cards

Tiger Hat

image credit
man in tiger hat © Jerry / Adobe Stock