Asshole is an incredibly fun card game that ranks players from royalty to low-lives, hence its derogatory name. It’s played all over the world, and is an especially popular drinking game here in Canada. Due to its vast, global favoritism, there are many popular variations to the rules, as well.
If you aren’t familiar with the game, be sure to read our previous publication, How to Play Asshole, for a complete run down of traditional rules. Then continue reading here for some common variations that might make the game more interesting with your friends.
Common Asshole Rule Variations
There are many ways to change up the rules. Most are just slight alterations, but the more you incorporate, the more you can change the flow of the game.
Leader on Opening Deal Traditionally, the player left of a randomly chosen dealer will lead the first card on the opening deal. This variation calls for the player with the lowest card in the deck – the 3♣ – to play first, and lead with that.
On all subsequent hands, the Governor General (winner of last hand) leads any card. Another variation calls for the Asshole to lead on subsequent hands.
Single Rounds of Play Instead of playing around the table until no one can play a higher ranking card or set, you can play single rounds of play. In this variation, assuming there are five players, each plays or passes for one round. Of the five players, the one who played the highest rank will lead the next round, and may play any card/set they wish.
Obligatory Play In this variation, if a player can play a higher ranking card/set, they are obligated to do so. Passing is only allowed when there’s no other option.
Penalty for Passing Asshole doesn’t traditionally penalize players for passing, but this variation does. If a player passes, they are forced to skip their next turn.
Larger Sets Allowed In this popular version of the game, players can increase the number of cards played, but cannot decrease them. For example, if P1 plays 33 and P2 88, P3 could play JJJ. However, P4 must now play at least three Queens, Kings, Aces or 2s, or be forced to pass.
Larger Sets Overrule Rank Another possible variation is played where sets are more important than rank. For example, 44 would beat a single 10. Essentially, the more cards in the set, the stronger it is, irrespective of rank.
Playing Equal Rank In this variation, players are allowed to beat the previous rank by playing an equal rank. If someone plays 66, the next player could beat it with another 66, or any pair higher than 66.
Playing Equal Rank w/ Skip If a player beats the previous play using the equal rank rule variation above, the next player must skip their turn. For example, P1 plays 66, P2 plays 66, P3 gets skipped, P4 plays next.
Equal Rank by Suit Some players, when using an equal rank variation, will require stronger suits to beat equal rank cards. The rank of suits follows the rules of bridge, wherein suits are ranked highest to lowest, spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs. So if four players were to each play the same rank card, it might look like this: 9♣, 9♦, 9♥, 9♠.
4K Rank Inversion This unique variation involves reversing the rank of cards whenever someone plays 4 of a Kind, or four cards of equal rank are played successively (irrespective of passing). When ranks are inversed, the traditional rank (high-to-low: 2-A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3) becomes opposite (3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K-A-2). Players must now play a lower ranking card/set.
Ace High It’s not uncommon to see the rank of cards matching that of traditional poker rules. In this variation of Asshole rules, the 2 is low, and the Ace is highest (2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K-A). This rule has caught on mostly because it’s easier to remember.
Joker High Some people play with a single Joker in the deck. There are two ways it might be used. One variation states the joker is the highest ranking card, and can be played singly, no matter how many of the previous ranking cards were played. The second option is to make the Joker wild, replacing any other card necessary to complete a set.
Follow Suit In one of the most drastic variations of Asshole, players will have to follow suit. This version limits players to one card at a time – no sets. If a 5♥ is played, the next must play a higher ♥. This makes the game a lot more challenging!
Adalene Lucas: is our jack of all trades here at DBC. She is a skilled coder, gambler, writer and webmaster. She lives in Manitoba where she enjoys the lush landscapes and camping near Tulabi Falls. Nature gives her inspiration to write. When she's not immersed in nature, her favorite words are "game theory". She lives with her husband and their two Labradors, Kophy and Whisper.