Shit-Boot, aka Boot, is a card game reminicent of Uno, but with more interesting, convoluted, rules and more challenging strategy and gameplay. The origins of Boot are uncertain, but a card game this complicated could have only evolved as it passed from one group of players to another.

Dealing and selecting hands

To play boot all you need is a deck of fifty-two cards and two to five people (playing with more than four people makes for a poor game and is discouraged). The object of the game is to get rid of all of your cards. To start, deal each player nine cards. Without looking at the faces, each player selects three cards from their hand, and places them, face down, on the table in front of them. Once that is done, they can look at the remaining six cards in their hand and choose three cards to place, face up, on top of the three face down cards. The remaining three cards constitute their starting hand for the game. The three face down cards are called the "underhand". The three face up cards are called the "top hand".

Next the dealer turns over one card from the deck and places it face up on the table. This is the beginning of the discard pile that people play on. If the card is a "magic" card, it should be added back to the deck, the deck re-shuffled, and a new card drawn.

Basic gameplay

The player to the dealer's left goes first and plays one or more cards from thier hand. If more than one card is played, they must all have the same face value, ie, all 3's or all Queens. In general, to play a card, it must be of equal or greater value to the card that is on top of discard pile. Aces are high. (Magic cards may have other rules about when they can be played.)

If a player is unable to play any of their cards, they can, at their option, draw the top card from the deck (if any cards remain in the deck), and play it instead. If they elect not to do so, or if the card they draw cannot be played, then they must pick up the entire discard pile and add it to their hand.

Players must keep at least three cards in their hand. So once a player plays some cards, they have to take cards from the top of the deck to bring the number of cards in their hand up to 3 again. And if there are no cards left in the deck, you of course don't draw anything even if you have less than three cards.

Play continues around the circle.

Once a player has disposed of all cards in their hand, they move on to selecting and playing cards from their top hand. As with cards played from their hand, two or more cards can be played at the same time if they have the same face value. If you can't play from your top hand, you pick up the discard pile, and must get rid of all the card in your hand again before you can return to playing your top hand.

Once they have no other cards in their hand to play and all three cards of the top hand are gone, the player moves on to playing cards from their underhand. To play a card from the underhand, you pick one, pick it up, look at it, and play it if you can. If not, it remains in your hand, you get to pick up all the cards in the discard pile, and you cannot play from the underhand again until your hand is empty.

The first player who gets rid of all cards in their underhand, and has no cards left in their hand, wins the game.

Magic cards

Magic cards are special cards that make the game interesting. Here are all the magic cards:
card effects
2 A 2 can be played on any card, and reduces the value of the discard pile to 2.
3 A 3 can only be played on top of a card of the same color. It cannot be played on a 2, and cannot be played if there is no card to play it on top of. (Ie, after a player has just picked up the discard pile.) When a 3 is played, it increases the value of the card it is played on by 3. For example, a 3 played on a 6 makes the 6 have a value of 9, and so the next player will need to play a 9 or higher. Multiple 3's are addative, so two 3's played on a 4 make the value be ten.

There is a single exception to the rule about 3's only being played on a card of the same color - two or three 3's are played at the same time, even if they are of different colors. For example, you can play one black 3 on a black Jack, and put a red 3 on top of that black 3. This can only be done if you do it all in one play, though. The next player is not allowed to put a red three on top of the black three you just played.

Finally, it sometimes occurs that when you play some 3's, the value raises above Ace. This is referred to as "infinity", and generally means the next player picks the discard pile, unless they have an appropriate magic card to play on it.

7 A 7 simply reverses the direction of gameplay (the person who played just before you plays next, and so on). If an even number of sevens are played at once, they cancel each other out. In a two player game of boot, a 7 is not a magical card.
10 A 10 can be played on any card, no matter how high its value. it makes the entire discard pile of cards be removed, and placed in the boneyard (aka Netherlands, this is a pile of cards off to the side). After playing a 10, you may play any other card you wish (except 3's and Jokers of course).
Jack Jacks with two eyes are not magic cards.

One-eyed Jacks are just like their two-eyed brothers, except when they are played, the person who is to play after you must draw four cards from the deck, or, if the deck is used up, from the boneyard.

Optionally, after playing a one-eyed Jack, you may play another card on it, (has to be equal or higher value or a magic card, of course). If you do so, play progresses to the person after you. If you decide not to play on the one-eyed Jack, the person after you is skipped (so they had to draw four cards and then were skipped too, nasty!). This rule does not apply in two player games, and no Jacks are magic cards in such games.

Other Rules

If four cards of the same face value end up one on top of the other on the discard pile, the pile is put in the boneyard, and whoever played the last one gets to go again (same effect as playing a 10).

Optional rules

These rules are optional, they just make the game a little bit more complicated.

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^ Up to Kite JH Joey Hess

Last modified: 07/Feb/99