Cops and Robbers Card Game: Rules and How to Play

There is nothing better than having a night in with your pals and playing a drinking game like the Cops and Robbers card game.

Often the simplest games are the ones that create the most enjoyment, and this one is definitely the case too.

Beginners should be able to pick up the game instantly and with such quick gameplay, you will get many games in, which makes it ideal to play with your friends.

And after several games, you will all become experts in no time at all.

For more on game setup and rules, have a look at our complete guide to Cops and Robbers the card game below.

What Is The Cops and Robbers Card Game?

Cops and Robbers is a very simple card game that requires players to be very aware of their surroundings to avoid having to face the ultimate punishment – downing your drink.

If you’re a cop, be extra vigilant of the other players to catch them in the act, otherwise, you may struggle to guess who the robber is.

Number of Players Required: 6 – 10 players, can be played with teammates also.

Who Can Play It: Adults as it is a drinking game.

Difficulty: Easy.

Length of Play: 5 – 15 minutes.

Similar to: Nertz card game, Idiot the card game, Garbage

Main Goal: The designated cop in the group tries to catch the robber so they avoid drinking their drink.

Why we love it: When you’re looking for a drinking game to play with the pals, the easier the better. This is why the Cops and Robbers card game is ideal, the gameplay could not be more simple and there is plenty of opportunity for drinking if you are so inclined.

Playing Cops and Robbers – What You’ll Need

Cops and Robbers require the bare essentials for any good adult card game.

Get yourself set up in no time by ensuring that you have the following:

  • Cards
  • Table or flat surface
  • Enough alcohol to last

Choose your favorite alcoholic beverage and pair it with a deck of cards. These playing cards from Bicycle are all you’ll need. They include multiple packs in case of damage through spillage.

Bicycle Playing Cards - Poker Size - 4 Pack

How To Set Up the Cops and Robbers Game

The setup part of Cops and Robbers is where this card game differs from the more conventional games, such as Follow the Queen Poker or Pitty Pat card game.

Before play, get your deck of cards ready as you’ll only need the number of cards equal to the number of people playing.

Ensure that you have taken out the king and ace, and randomly choose different cards for the other players.

So if you’re playing with 6 players, you will need a king, ace, and 4 other cards that are of different value.

Add the rest of the cards to a discard pile to use for other rounds of the game.

Cops and Robbers Rules and Gameplay

The best thing about Cops and Robbers is that the game order gets decided by the cards, so who the cop and robber are is completely random each game.

Starting the Game

Start by shuffling the cards, then hand out each card to the players. Ensure that everyone is silent about what card they have until they can turn it face up.

Whoever has received the ace is the robber, and whoever has received the king is the cop for the round.

Place the unused cards into the discard pile, and begin.

How to Play Cops and Robbers Card Game

Once everyone has received their card and seen what it is, the robber will wink at a random player who says the phrase ‘’the deal has been made’’.

At this point, the cop then must try to catch the robber by placing their king card face up and start guessing who has the ace.

Once the cop guesses which player is the robber, they select a player who then reveals what card they have.

If they are wrong, they must drink the number of fingers of their drink equal to the number displayed on their card.

If correct, the robber drinks the number of pre-determined fingers of their alcoholic beverage as their punishment for getting caught.

Redraw from the discard pile if you’re planning on playing further rounds.

Scoring In Cops and Robbers

Scoring is straightforward in this card game and depends on the numbers on the extra cards picked that isn’t the ace or king card.

For example, if the cop incorrectly picks a players ‘10’ card then they have to drink 10 fingers.

This can make the game either harder or easier for the cops and as these cards get picked by whoever sets up the game they adjust the difficulty on a whim.

Give out points to each player based on how many games they win to see who the ultimate cop is in your friend group.

playing cops and robbers card game image

Frequently Asked Questions

What do ‘fingers’ mean in drinking games?

‘Fingers’ is when a player holds their 4 fingers up to their drink to where they have to drink down to.

So if ‘6 fingers’ gets called, players measure how much liquid is equal to 6 of their fingers held up against the drink and they have to drink that amount.

Can you play the Cops and Robbers Card Game without alcohol?

Although Cops and Robbers is primarily a drinking game, it’s not a key component to gameplay and as such isn’t necessary.

You could even replace the drinking with silly forfeits for those robbers who get caught by the cops, adjust the game to fit in with your group of friends.

Alternative games to Cops and Robbers

The Cops and Robbers card game is definitely a game you can include in any game night worth its salt, and there are plenty more games that also fit the bill.

Check out the Nertz card game rules for another game using a 52 card deck that can be easily adapted into a drinking game if you’re looking for more options.

Also, have a look at more tactical games such as Idiot the card game which offers longer gameplay and a chance to work with teammates.

For more hilarious adult-themed card games, have a look at how to play Unstable Unicorns which involves strategies such as when to use attack and defense cards. It should be ideal for most friend groups who enjoy card games.

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