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How to Play Ride the Bus [Step-by-Step Guide]

Have you ever heard of Ride the Bus? It’s a popular card game that requires strategy, luck, and a bit of boldness. The game is simple to learn but challenging to master, making it a favorite among groups of friends looking for a fun and challenging way to spend an evening.

In this blog post, we’ll break down the rules of the Ride the Bus game and provide some tips and tricks to improve your gameplay. Whether you’re an experienced card player or a novice looking to learn a new game, Ride the Bus will provide hours of entertainment. So, let’s get started and learn how to play Ride the Bus!

Definition of Ride the Bus

Cheerful three girls at home playing ride the bus game
Mladen / Adobe Stock

Ride the Bus is a popular drinking game that requires players to use their logic and luck to avoid becoming the unlucky player who has to ride the bus. The game involves guessing and card-playing, with each player being dealt four cards throughout four rounds.

The objective of the game is to have the least amount of cards at the end of the game, or else you’ll have to answer questions and take penalty drinks.

The game has a simple setup, with only a deck of cards and alcohol needed to play. Despite the game’s relatively straightforward rules, it can be challenging to avoid becoming the player who has to ride in the third or fourth row of the bus. But, the game is a fun way to spend time with friends and provides a great opportunity to socialize and enjoy drinks. [1][2]

Brief History of the Game

Excited young woman celebrating win at ride the bus game
Studio Romantic / Adobe Stock

Ride the Bus is a drinking game that has gained popularity. Although it isn’t clear when or where it originated, many people credit it to college campuses across the United States. As the game spread, people in different regions began developing their own rules variations.

Some versions incorporate extra decks of cards, while others require players to perform specific actions or tasks. Despite the diverse set of rules for this game, the objective remains the same: don’t be the player with the most cards left at the end of the game.

In a sense, Ride the Bus is a game of strategy mixed with a bit of luck. While playing with friends is fun, this game is only for adults. ” Drinking games responsibly is crucial; players should always know their limits. [3][4]

The Objective of the Game

Friends with non-alcoholic beer playing ride the bus game
Syda Productions / Adobe Stock

The objective of the Ride the Bus drinking game is simple: get drunk and have the least amount of cards in hand. As a party game, it is perfect for groups of 4-8 players ready for a good time. Despite the seemingly complicated rules, Ride the Bus is a lot of fun to play and is quickly learned as you go.

Players must use their logical skills and a dose of luck throughout the game to get plastered. Each round poses a different challenge that demands players to strategically guess the value of the next card to avoid penalties and distribute drinks to other players.

The final phase involves a pyramid of face-down cards of increasing value, where players on the bottom row can lay their cards to match the top row values and earn the right to punish other players with the number of drinks associated with that row. The player with the most cards after the pyramid phase has to ride the bus and complete all four rounds correctly to avoid additional penalties. Playing Ride the Bus is a surefire way to liven up any party while having a good time with friends. [5][6]


Materials Needed (Matching card, drinks, table)

Are you planning a night in with your friends and looking for a fun twist on a new drinking game to spice things up? Look no further than Ride the Bus! This game only requires a few materials, making it convenient and easy to set up. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A deck of standard playing cards (52 cards).
  • Some drinks you choose (beer, wine, or your favorite mixed drink).
  • A table or surface to play on.

That’s it! You can start playing Ride the Bus with just these three items. The bus drinking game setup is ideal for four to eight players, so gather your friends and prepare for fun. Of course, if you want to add some excitement, feel free to add additional rules or penalties. But with just these three simple materials, you’re already on your way to a great night in. Give it a try. Try this classic drinking game, and see who can ride the bus to victory. [7][8]

Preparation of the Cards

  1. Gather a standard deck of cards
  2. Remove any jokers from the deck
  3. Ensure that the deck is complete with all 52 cards
  4. Shuffle the deck thoroughly to ensure randomness
  5. Fan the deck on a flat surface and have players select a card to determine their seating arrangement.
  6. The highest card will sit in the first available seat and continue clockwise around the table.
  7. Once seating has been determined, have the dealer reshuffle the deck for the actual game.
  8. Based on the number of players, start removing cards from the deck so that each player will receive four cards during the game.
  9. Keeping track of the drawn cards will ensure the game is fair and balanced.
  10. Using a marker or pen, write the different penalty actions on designated cards, known as “penalty cards.”

Overall, always make sure to handle the cards with care to prevent any unnecessary damage. Following these steps will help smooth gameplay and ensure everyone enjoys the game without discrepancies. [9][10]

See Related: Plan Your Commute: A Guide to the 545 Bus Schedule

Shuffling the Deck

  1. Don’t just rely on the riffle shuffle. While the riffle shuffle is the most common and traditional way to shuffle a deck of cards, don’t be afraid to switch it up. Try mixing in some overhand shuffles or the Hindu shuffle for a more random distribution of cards.
  2. Make sure you’re shuffling thoroughly. It’s crucial to shuffle the cards enough times to ensure that they’re well-mixed and that no particular arrangement of cards remains intact. Aim for at least seven riffle shuffles to ensure a good mix.
  3. Riffle shuffle with precision. To properly riffle shuffle, divide the deck into two halves and riffle the corners of each stack together. This ensures a more thorough mix than simply interweaving the cards.
  4. Use a shuffle machine. Shuffle machines are an option for those who struggle with shuffling or want a more efficient method. But it’s crucial to note that shuffle machines can sometimes damage cards and may not ensure a genuinely random mix.
  5. Don’t be too aggressive. Shuffling with vigor is crucial, but don’t get too rough with the cards. Over-shuffling and bending can damage the cards and lead to uneven wear and tear.

Remember, a well-shuffled deck is crucial for fair and fun gameplay, so take the time to shuffle the entire deck properly and mix things up in your shuffling technique. [11][12]

Rules of the Game

Happy friends playing table board game while drinking beer
Mirko Vitali / Adobe Stock

Dealing the Cards

Dealing with the cards in Ride the Bus is a crucial part of the same card game and can determine who ends up “riding the bus.” Here’s a step-by-step guide to the game night card dealing process:

  • Designate the dealer: Choose someone to be the dealer who will shuffle and deal the cards.
  • Shuffle the deck: Ensure that the deck of cards is properly shuffled, randomizing the order of the cards.
  • Deal the cards: Starting with the player to the dealer’s left, each player is dealt one card face down. The dealer then sells one card face down to each player in a clockwise direction until everyone receives four cards.
  • Follow the rounds: After all, cards have been dealt, follow the rounds of play as outlined in the game rules.
  • Collect cards for the pyramid: After the final round, collect the four cards from each player in preparation for the pyramid.

Following these steps and properly dealing with the cards, you can ensure a fair and fun game of Ride the Bus. [13][14]

Rounds of Play

Ride the Bus is a fun drinking game requiring players to use their logical skills and a little luck. The game consists of four rounds determining who rides the bus – the unfortunate losing player must take on the ultimate challenge. Here’s a breakdown of ride-the-bus rules for four games of play:

  • Red or Black: The dealer will ask each player if they think the card they are about to receive is red or black. If the player is correct, they can distribute a drink. If not, they must take a drink.
  • Higher or Lower: Players must guess if their second card is higher or lower than their first card. Guess right, and you can distribute a drink. Guess wrong, and you take a drink.
  • In between or Outside: Players must guess if their third card fits between the value of their first two cards or outside. Correct guesses allow the player to distribute a drink, and incorrect guesses mean another drink.
  • Suit: In the final round, players must guess the suit of their fourth card. Correct guesses allow for the distribution of five drinks, and incorrect guesses mean a penalty drink. [15][16]

Rules per Round (First, Second, Third and Fourth Round)

Want to become a Ride the Bus pro? Understanding the rules per round is crucial! Here’s a breakdown of what to expect:

  1. First Round. The dealer starts by asking all players whether the dealer asks which player guesses correctly next card will be red or black. Correct guesses allow players to pick someone to drink, while incorrect guesses result in the player drinking alone.
  2. Second Round. Players guess whether their next card of the horizontal row will be higher or lower than the first card of the second row they received. Correct guesses allow players to pick someone to drink, while incorrect guesses result in the player drinking alone. If the player’s second card is of equal rank to their first card, they must drink.
  3. Third Round. Players guess whether the drink values on their third card will be in-between the importance of their first two cards or outside. Correct guesses allow players to pick someone to drink, while incorrect guesses result in the player drinking alone. The player must drink again if the third identical card is similar to the two cards pulled so far.
  4. Fourth Round. Players must guess correctly the suit of their final card, with correct guesses allowing players to get multiple cards to make five people drink, while incorrect guesses result in the player drinking alone.

With these mini-game rules per round, you’ll be ready to play like a pro and avoid riding the bus! [17][18]


Penalty Cards and Actions

Penalty Cards and Actions in Ride the Bus Drinking Game:

Ride the Bus includes the same number of penalty cards, bus rules, and actions to make the game more challenging and fun. Here are some of the most common penalty cards and activities you should know about:

  • Identical Cards
    You’ll receive an automatic penalty if you draw a card that matches the previous cards in your hand. The penalty could be a sip of your drink or a specific number of drinks, depending on the house rules.
  • Incorrect Guesses
    Throughout the game, you must make guesses about the upcoming cards. If you guess incorrectly, you’ll be penalized by consuming a specific number of drinks.
  • Riding the Bus
    At the end of the game, the player(s) with the most cards left in their hand must “ride the bus.” This means they’ll have to answer four questions in a row. If they answer incorrectly, they start over from question one and must consume drinks each time they fail to answer a question correctly.
  • Pyramid Punishments
    When the dealer reveals each card of the pyramid, players with matching cards can lay down their cards and assign damage to another player. Again, the penalty will be determined by the game’s house rules.
  • Save Your Best Cards for Last
    Since the player(s) with the most cards in their hand will be penalized, saving your best cards for the final rounds is a good strategy. That way, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding penalties and having the fewest cards in hand at the end of the game. [19][20]

See Related: Bus from Boston to Portland Maine: A Comprehensive Guide

Strategies and Tips

Young friends playing ride the bus game
DisobeyArt / Adobe Stock

Observing Other Players

Observing the other players is a crucial aspect of Ride the Bus. By watching their responses and behavior during each round, you can gain valuable information about the cards they have been dealt. This makes it easier to anticipate the types of questions that will be asked and make an educated guess on the correct answer.

But, it is crucial to note that observing other players should not involve cheating or collusion. The game is meant to be fair and friendly, involving teamwork and camaraderie, not deception. So, keep it lighthearted and have fun with it! You never know; the game ends, and you might even learn a thing about your friends you never knew. Just remember to drink responsibly and never pressure anyone to consume alcohol if they do not wish to do so. [21][22]

Variations of the Game

Alternate Rules for Different Decisions

Countless ways to customize the game of Ride the Bus to suit your group’s preferences. As an illustration, some players assign different values to the pyramid cards or switch up the questions asked during each round. You might even consider adding penalty cards and actions to make the game more challenging.

Another popular game variant allows players to pass on their turn if they correctly guess the card value or suit, giving them a chance to dodge a penalty. Additionally, some players choose to play Ride the Bus with non-alcoholic beverages, making it a fun and accessible game for people of all ages.

No matter how you play, the game’s objective remains: to have fun and avoid becoming the unlucky player who has to take one drink and ride the bus. So grab a deck of cards, pour yourself a drink (or not!), and get ready to enjoy this entertaining and unpredictable drinking game. [23][24]

Recap of the Game’s Objectives and Rules

Ride the Bus is a fun and exciting drinking game involving luck and strategy. The game starts with each player guessing the color and value of their first two cards, then predicting whether the third card’s value will fall between the importance of the first two. The final prediction involves guessing the suit of the last card, and every incorrect guess means taking a drink. As the game progresses, the dealer builds a pyramid of face-down cards, and players can lay down their matching cards to earn drinks and punish other players.

But, players must be careful not to get completely drunk or accumulate too many cards, as those with the most cards in their hand by the end of the game must ride in the fifth row of the bus and face multiple penalties. The game aims to avoid taking too many drinks and have fun with friends while playing. So, gather your friends, grab a deck of cards, and let the games begin! [25][26]

Key Takeaways and Benefits of Playing the Game.

Playing Ride the Bus can be a great way to liven up any party or social gathering. This game requires a combination of luck and strategy, which can keep the players engaged and entertained for hours. Aside from being a fun drinking game, Rides the Bus can also help players improve their decision-making skills and strategic thinking. The game requires players to make educated guesses based on the cards they have received and anticipate what could come next.

Besides, Ride the Bus can also help players bond and build stronger relationships with one another. By sharing drinks and laughs, players can create memorable experiences they will look back on for years. Overall, Ride the Bus is a game anyone can enjoy, as long as they’re up for a challenge and some good old-fashioned fun. [27][28]

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