Beer Games: Beer 99

The object of the game is not to drink, but to cheat.

Beer 99 is a card game in which deception and sleazy tactics succeed, and honesty often fails. Each player is dealt four cards. The value of a card is the same as in blackjack: aces are one or eleven, face cards are ten, and all others are the value shown. The first player throws one card face up on the discard pile and announces the value of his card. The next player then plays a card and announces the sum of his card plus the first.

The game continues in this fashion, with each player adding his card’s value to the total. The object is to build the pile until it totals 99. When this happens, the person next in rotation must drink. If a player discards and sends the pile value over 99, then he must drink.


There are several ways to avoid topping 99. By the rules, kings, tens, and fours all have special properties. A king can give a total of 99 to anyone the player chooses. A ten lowers or raises the count by ten, so someone who gets99 can play a ten and announce 89 to avoid drinking. A four allows you to skip a turn: if a player receives 99 he can play a four and pass the 99 to the next player. When 99 is reached, the cards are reshuffled if necessary, and the pile value starts over at zero.


A player must drink if it comes to his turn to discard and he has no cards left. So, to keep a full hand, a player should always draw after playing a card. The only time you’re permitted to draw is immediately after your discard, so stay alert.


Now, about cheating. This is where most of the fun and skill come into Beer 99. A good cheater will always have a large supply of cards in hand, shoe, sleeve, sock, etc. He can get them from anywhere. The easiest place is from the draw pile. Deft players will also pilfer two or three cards from the discard pile or from fellow players. Players may also miscalculate the pile total as they discard.

If a player is accused of cheating, the others vote on his guilt or innocence. If more than half the players register “thumbs down,” the accused must drink. Otherwise, all those showing thumbs up drink for their false accusation. Cheating infractions tend to increase as a game continues into the night and alcohol obliterates any sense of integrity.

Source: The Complete Book of Beer Drinking Games

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