Ride the Bus Rules

Posted by Mike on Apr 10th, 2008

Ride the Bus is a drinking game played through using a standard pack of cards and enough alcohol to support the required players. The recommended number of players is between 3 and 7. If 8 play, one acts as dealer and receives no hand, this rotates each round.The object of the game is to have the fewest cards at the end of the round.

Setting Up

The first part of the game is for the dealer to set up the table of cards, called The Bus. This requires placing 10 cards face down on the table in a non-overlapping triangle. The triangle consists of 4, 3, 2 and 1 card per layer, with the apex facing the dealer.


The dealer deals five cards to each player, beginning on their left. Remaining cards are left aside in the pile. The pile is left aside as it will be used at the end of the round.

The dealer then turns a card in the furthest row of the Bus. All players with a card with the same face value may choose to play as many as they have. If a player has a playable card, they nominate any other player to take a drink of the victim’s choice.

Play continues with the Dealer gradually showing every card in the Bus, being sure to empty each row before uncovering the next.

The round ends once the card in the bottom row of the Bus has been acquired.

End of Round

Once play has finished, all players count up their cards. If no player has four or more cards, the round is over and a new round is begun as in Setting Up. However, if any players have four or more cards, someone must Ride the Bus. This person is chosen as the player with the most cards. However, if more than one player has the same number of cards, players each take the topmost card from the pile, continuing until one player has a card greater than the others.

Riding the Bus

All cards are collected and shuffled, leaving the pile separate. The pile is then use to deal out another bus until it is exhausted, the shuffled cards are then used to complete the bus. Whilst riding the bus, the following cards are designated the following ranks: Jack: 1 drink. Queen: 2 drinks. King: 3 drink. Ace: 4 drinks.

The chosen player must then pick one card from the longest row, picking one card from each row in order until they reach the short row. If the player selects one of the listed cards above they must take the required number of drinks, remove all upturned cards, replace them with cards from the shuffled deck, and begin from the top row again. They have successfully ridden the bus when the overturn the last card (the card in the shortest) without overturning one of the cards listed above.

Play then continues as in Setting Up.

An alternative method of Ride involves the Rider being dealt a row with a predetermined number of cards. Drinks are only taken with face cards, as above; however, additional cards are simultaneously added to the row, using the same formula: 1 card for a Jack, 4 for an Ace, etc. E.g. if a King is drawn, the Rider takes 3 drinks, and 3 additional (unseen) cards are added to the end of his row. This method is a simplified version of the previous, while maintaining the principles and integrity of the game.

In playing this method, the number of cards in the initial row is generally about ten. Any number of cards up to twelve ensures that the deck of cards will not run out before the bus is finished; playing with more cards introduces the possibility of the deck expiring and requiring reshuffling, leading to many more drinks, and the slim possibility of a never-ending game.

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