horse race drinking card game with betting rules

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Horse Race is an old favorite drinking card game.  It’s great because a table and a regular 52 card deck is all you need to get playing.  Oh and some beer or the libation of your choice.  It doesn’t really even matter how many people play because the only “active “player is the announcer. Everyone else is just placing bets and winning or losing.  But really, I don’t think drinking with buds and having fun can ever be considered losing.  So let’s get to the actual rules and how-to’s of playing Horse Race.

Set-up

First, an announcer needs to be chosen.  Best bet is to pick the friend with the most showmanship.  I mean this is representing a horse race so it needs to be someone that can really set the mood. You know, build a little drama.  So now that the announcer is chosen, that individual will sort through the deck to find all four Aces.  The Aces will be placed face up next to each other at the end of the table.  This will represent the four horses at the gates of the track.  Now place a variable number of cards (like 7 or 8) face down end to end along the length of the table.  This represents the edge and length of the track.  Each of these cards is called a link.  Now that everything is in place, it’s time to place those wagers.

Betting

Alcohol in the form of number of drinks is the typical type of wager placed when playing Horse Race.  There should be an agreed amount of volume that constitutes one drink.  It’s helpful to use a regular 12 ounce beer as reference for instance if 1 ounce is a drink then one beer will be equal to 12 drinks.  You can be as diligent with this as you need to be.  Just grab some shot glasses.  A shot is typically 1.5 ounces so just don’t fill it the whole way to the top.  You get the picture.  Or be a little less particular and just have a swig.  So now that you have the definition of one drink established place your wager.  How many drinks will you put on the Ace of diamonds to win, etc.

Another betting option is to wager the number of seconds you will drink.  I feel like this betting could be as simple or complicated as desired depending on each player’s knowledge of the wager process.  Maybe it’s just straight win bets, but it could be a little more interesting to bring in some across the board or place bets.  It could be really interesting to add some money to the bets.  All of these options will depend heavily on the people playing and the type of betting they enjoy.

Playing The Game

So, the bets are placed and it’s time to open the gates.  Let’s get those ponies running!  The announcer begins by turning over the top card in the deck.  Your only looking at the suit here, nothing else matters.  The Ace with the matching suit leaves the gates and moves up to the first link.  The announcer (always with much enthusiasm) continues turning over cards and moving the Aces accordingly until the winner crosses the finish line.  Please know that the viewing players are more than encouraged to cheer on their horse.

A little caveat of play that may be incorporated is called a stumble.  When an Ace moves ahead to a new link for the first time, the link card can be turned over.  The Ace with the corresponding suit will then ‘stumble’ by moving back one link.  This is a great little trick to play which can definitely throw a wrench in the outcome of the game.

Winning/Losing

When the race has ended, it’s time to cash in those bets.  The winners double their bets and hand out those drinks or seconds to the losers.  The losers also drink their bets.  Obviously if money has been wagered, it goes to the winners based on any previously agreed upon odds.

Summing It Up

Horse Race is a truly fun and energetic drinking game.  Each round is pretty short, so players can come and go easily, which makes it a great choice for parties of all types.  The number of players is versatile and the equipment is something everyone has.  Who doesn’t have a pack of cards?  So gather some buds and some suds and make a night of it!

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