President Card Game: How To Play, Rules and Strategies

In this post, we’re delving into the intriguing world of “President”, an exciting and strategy-driven card game also known as Scum, Arsehole, or even Daifugō.

We’ll cover everything, from the basics of gameplay and rules, to clever strategies that can elevate your game. Ready to become a card game champ? Let’s dive in!

Overview of President Card Game

A players hand in a game of President
A players hand in a game of President, with cards organised in rank order.

A standout among card games, President, also known as Scum or Arsehole, captivates players with its unique blend of strategy and social dynamics. Involving anywhere between 4-7 players, the game uses a standard 52-card deck and tasks players with a seemingly simple goal – be the first to get rid of all your cards.

However, beneath this simplicity lies the true charm of the game. The real crux of President is its ‘capitalist’ style of play. It’s not just about winning a single round, but more about climbing up and maintaining your rank in the hierarchy that is determined after each round.

Players start as equals, but quickly find themselves in roles such as the President, Vice-President, and Scum, based on the order they finish.

The hierarchy influences gameplay in subsequent rounds, as the President is able to exchange their two worst cards for the Scum’s best two at the start of each round, reinforcing the status quo. This hierarchy and the struggle to change your station make President a thrilling and addictive game that keeps players coming back for more.

How to Setup President

Initiating a game of President is fairly straightforward. The process slightly varies between the first round and subsequent ones due to the unique dynamics of this game.

For the initial round, players select their seats randomly, and a dealer is picked to shuffle the deck and distribute the cards. If there are four players, everyone should have 13 cards. If more or fewer players are participating, some might end up with more cards than others – and that’s all part of the game’s charm.

President card ranking
Card rankings from lowest to highest in a game of President

The player with the 4 of clubs (the lowest card in this version of the game) starts the first round. The cards rank from 4 (lowest) through to 10, J, Q, K, A, 2, 3, and Joker (highest).

From the second round onwards, the game truly starts to reflect its ‘capitalist’ nature. Roles are assigned based on the results of the previous round. We’ll cover this in the next section in more detail.

Gameplay and Rules of President

Now that you’re set up, let’s get to the heart of the game. 

1. How to Play: The player who holds the 4 of Clubs starts by playing any card or a set of cards with the same rank. The game continues clockwise, with each player needing to play a card or set of cards that’s higher in rank than the previous. If a player can’t or chooses not to beat the previous hand, they pass.

2. Basic Rules: Players can only beat a single card with another single card, pairs with pairs, and so on. The Jokers are the highest cards, and can be played on any card or set. Once a Joker is played, it clears the pile, and the player who played the Joker gets to start anew. 

3. Round Ending and Role Reassignment: A round ends when all players, except one, have gotten rid of their cards. The roles are then reassigned: the first player to finish is the President, the second is the Vice-President, and so on. The last player to finish is the Scum. At the start of the next game, the President can now ask the Scum for their best two card and give back any two cards in exchange. The Vice-President and Vice-Scum also do the same, but only swapping one card.

4. Don’t touch the cards: A common rule that players include is that only the Scum can touch the cards in the centre playing pile. If anybody else touches the cards, they automatically become the Scum, and the Scum is given the option to immediately swap hands with the culprit, if they wish to do so.

5. Other House Rules: Players can add other house rules, or in some versions of President, may ask the reigning President at the end of each round to add a new rule. For example, “Scum starts next round”, or any fun twists you want to include!

Every good player knows, understanding the rules is just the beginning – strategy is key. Don’t worry, we will explore that in a later section.

Variations of President

Although the basic rules of President are widely recognized, the beauty of the game lies in its adaptability. As it’s travelled the globe, local variations have emerged, adding their own unique flavour to the game.

The most common difference is the hierarchy of cards, as many countries (such as Australia) play the game with 3 as the lowest card, and 2 as the highest card, with no Jokers present.

In Japan, the game is called Daifugō, and there are cards known as the “8 stop” that allows a player to clear the round and immediately take another turn.

An Australian classic is to add the “no 2s on Aces,” rule, where Aces can’t be beaten by 2s. This minor twist actually introduces a whole new strategic dimension to the game.

These variations keep the game fresh, engaging, and adaptable to the preferences of different groups. So, feel free to experiment with these or even create your own house rules!

Strategies and Tips

While President is a game of chance, it’s also a strategic battlefield. Here’s some advice to up your game:

Know When to Pass: Don’t be in a hurry to shed all your cards. Sometimes, it’s strategic to pass, even when you can play. This might allow you to control the game later with your high cards.

Keep Your Pairs: Pairs, triples, and quadruples can only be topped by pairs, triples, and quadruples of a higher rank. Holding onto these can give you a powerful advantage.

Role-Specific Strategies: If you’re the President, it’s wise to offload your low cards early. As the Scum, try holding onto some of your highest cards to disrupt the game near the end.

Watch Your Opponents: Try to keep track of what’s been played and guess what your opponents hold. This will inform your strategy throughout the game.

Remember, the more you play, the better you’ll understand the nuances and develop your own winning strategies.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can President be turned into a drinking game?

In some social settings, President is transformed into a drinking game with the losers taking drinks. For example, the Scum might have to take two drinks, the Vice-Scum one, and so on. Always remember to drink responsibly!

Where does the game President originate from?

While the exact origins are unknown, the game is believed to have Asian roots, particularly from China and Japan. It gained popularity in the western world in the late 20th century.

Can you play a single card on a pair or a triple in President?

No, single cards can only be played on single cards, pairs on pairs, and so on. This rule keeps the game fair and strategic.

What is the President Revolution rule?

This house rule is usually triggered by playing four of the same rank, and means the ranking of cards is reversed for the rest of the play. For example, a 4 would now become a higher card than a 7.

What is the best strategy when you’re the Scum?

As the Scum, it’s wise to decide at the start of the game if you stand chance of winning the round. If not, you will want to play to simply not lose, and your strategy should be to focus on this. The easiest way to do this is save your higher-ranking cards to the later rounds, where you can use them to win lower value hands when the other players might not have high-ranking cards left.

You can then get rid of your lowest ranking cards as you will start the next turn.

How are the roles assigned in the first round of President?

In the first round, roles are assigned based on the order players get rid of their cards. The first one to do so becomes the President, the second one is Vice-President, and the last one to finish is the Scum.

Remember, every group might have different rules or interpretations, so always clarify before you start playing. If you have more questions, feel free to ask in the comments!


Now that you’ve learned the ins and outs of the President card game, it’s time to gather your friends, shuffle that deck, and start climbing the ranks from Scum to President. Remember, while the goal is to win, the spirit of the game lies in the fun and camaraderie it fosters.

I hope this guide has been informative and engaging, providing you with a strong foundation to enjoy this fantastic game. Feel free to share your experiences, strategies, or even your own variations of the game in the comments section below. We can’t wait to hear your tales from the card table!

Happy playing, and may the best President win!

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