You can rhyme “door” with 50 other words off the top of your head, list more vegetables than you’ve actually eaten, and know everything your friends have never ever done. It’s official: You’ve played King’s Cup way too many times. Thankfully, the ol’ Ring of Fire isn’t the only drinking game you can play with a large group and a deck of cards. Enter, Ride the Bus. While the rules may sound complicated on paper, the game is actually very easy once you get going, so it’s great for people to learn as they play instead of sitting on the sidelines. Here, the official Ride the Bus drinking game rules.
Phase One: Dealing the Cards
One player is assigned as the dealer. The dealer shuffles the deck and begins to the left, asking the first player “red or black?” The player guesses whether the card is red or black; if they’re right, nothing happens, but if they’re wrong, they take a sip of their drink. Play continues around the circle until everyone has their first card.
The dealer now asks player one, “higher or lower?” The player has to answer whether they think the card that’s about to be dealt is higher or lower than the first card they received, with Ace being the highest. Wrong guess? Drink. Play continues around the circle until everyone has their second card. If the two cards are the same, the dealer reshuffles the dealt card back into the deck and picks from the top again.
With the same format as the previous two rounds, the dealer asks “in-between or outside?” meaning, will the card that’s about to be dealt fall in-between the two previous cards’ values, or outside of the gap? For example, if your first two cards are four and nine, five would be “inside” while a Queen would be “outside.” If the card is the same as either boundary card, the dealer again reshuffles the dealt card and picks from the top.
For the final dealing round, the dealer simply asks each player to pick a suit, giving them a one in four chance of avoiding a drink. If the player guesses wrong, as they likely will, they drink. If they happen to guess correctly, they are rewarded with five drinks to distribute amongst the other players, either assigning each drink to a different opponent or stacking five sips onto one person.
Phase Two: Building the Pyramid
Players collect their four distributed cards and hold them privately. The dealer then builds a pyramid of face-down cards, with five cards at the base, four in the next row and so on until there is one card at the top. Drink values increase as you go up the pyramid, with cards on the bottom row counting for one drink each, and the single top card counting for five drinks—or one shot of liquor, if you want to up the ante.
Starting at the bottom row, one card is flipped at a time. Anyone who has a matching card in their hand can lay their card on top, gaining them the right to punish another player with the quantity of drinks associated with that row. Multiple cards can be laid down per row and on the same card, and the drinks earned can be distributed however the player pleases. Play continues up the pyramid.
Example: The dealer turns over a four on the second row of the pyramid, and a player has a four in their hand. They lay down the four, earning two drinks to distribute to multiple people in the group or to one person.
Players have the option of saving their cards in the hopes they’ll be able to match them to a higher pyramid value. But it’s a risky move, as having the most cards in your hand by the end of Phase Two means you have to ride the bus.
Phase Three: Riding the Bus
Once the pyramid cards are completely turned over and the final drinks have been distributed, players compare how many cards they have left in their hands. Ideally, they will have gotten rid of them all. More likely, they will still have cards left. The person with the highest number of cards has to ride the bus.
Note: In the event that two people have the same quantity of cards, the person with the highest value card in their hand has to ride the bus. If both players have matching highest cards, the loser is whoever has the next highest card.
The dealer lays 10 cards face down. One by one, the dealer flips a card over. If it’s a number card, nothing happens and the dealer continues to the next card. If it’s a face card or an Ace, the player riding the bus has to drink: One drink for a Jack, two for a Queen, three for a King and four for an Ace.