Blackjack Drinking Game ‘Brain Damage’

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Brain Damage a unique drinking game with cards that’s ideal for hangouts with friends. It’s also known as a Blackjack drinking game, because its rules are quite similar.

Brain Damage focuses on accumulating 7.5 points, a change from the usual 21 points in Blackjack. This introduces new strategy and unpredictability.

This guide will show you how to play Brain Damage. It’s easy to learn yet offers a challenging experience. We will cover the game’s objective, required materials, setup, card values, and detailed instructions, including rules and winning tips.

Your Game Information




20-30 party cups, 2+ ping pong balls


5-10 minutes







How to Play the Blackjack Drinking Game

Setting up a game of Brain Damage is easy, but it’s important to get it right to ensure a smooth and enjoyable gaming experience. Here’s a step-by-step guide to setting up the game:

Setting Up

Setting up this Blackjack drinking game easy, yet key for a smooth, fun game. Here’s a quick setup guide:

1. Modify the Deck:
Take a standard 52-card deck and remove all red 10s, 8s, and 9s. This tailored deck, now perfect for the 7.5-point goal of “Brain Damage,” makes the game distinct from traditional card games.

2. Choose a Dealer:
The dealer role rotates among players, giving everyone a chance to experience different aspects of the game. This keeps gameplay fair and interesting.

3. Deal the Cards:
The dealer gives one card face-down to each player, starting left and going clockwise. They then deal one card face-down to themselves.

4. Set Betting Rules:
Before drawing the first card post-deal, decide on betting rules. These can vary from a simple drink sip to more creative stakes like dares or funny accents. This adds excitement and variety to the game.

Brain Damage Card Rules

Brain Damage card values are quite different from traditional card games. Here’s a quick rundown of the card values:

  • Aces (A): Each Ace is worth 1 point. They’re crucial for reaching the 7.5-point target.
  • Face Cards (Jack, Queen, King): All face cards are valued at 0.5 points, unlike in traditional games. Collecting face cards can help approach 7.5 without much risk of going over.
  • Cards 2 through 7: These cards are worth their face value. For instance, a 4 is worth 4 points. They’re vital in building your strategy.
  • 10s (Wild Cards): 10s act as wild cards. Their value can be preset or decided by the group, adding a fun twist. Wild cards can lead to surprising game turns.
  • Removed Cards: All red 10s, 8s, and 9s are removed. This ensures the highest two-card total is 7.5 (a 7 and a face card), fitting the game’s goal.

Next, we’ll look at the gameplay mechanics of Brain Damage, explaining how to play, bet, and navigate each round to win.


This blackjack drinking game is a blend of strategy, luck, and social fun. Here’s how to play:

1. Starting the Round: After setting up and understanding card values, the dealer shuffles the deck. Each player, including the dealer, gets one card face-down, starting from the dealer’s left.

2. Placing Bets: Before drawing post-deal, players agree on a bet, which can range from a drink to a playful task. It’s important everyone agrees on the stakes.

3. Playing the Hand: Players, starting from the dealer’s left, secretly view their cards and choose to ‘hit’ (take another card) or ‘stay’ (keep their hand). The aim is to get as close to 7.5 points without going over.

4. Dealer’s Turn: After players, the dealer shows their card and chooses to hit or stay. Like in Blackjack, the dealer plays against all players.

5. Determining the Winner:

  • Players exceeding 7.5 points lose the bet.
  • If a player hits 7.5 and the dealer doesn’t, the dealer loses.
  • Players with equal or fewer points than the dealer lose.
  • If the dealer has fewer points than a player, the dealer loses.
  • Dealer exceeding 7.5 points loses the bet.
  • A 5 Card Charlie (5 cards without busting) beats the dealer.

6. Resolving Bets: Based on the game’s outcome, players fulfill their bets, whether it’s a drink or a task.

7. Next Round: After each round, reshuffle and rotate the dealer role, ensuring everyone gets a turn.

8. Ending the Game: Play until everyone’s been the dealer, or decide as a group when to stop.

Tips To Get Better

Even though this Blackjack drinking game mainly evolves around luck, there are some things to keep in mind that might help your game. Here are some tips to get better:

  • Hit when far from 7.5, but be cautious as you near it. The closer you are to 7.5, the riskier it is to hit.
  • Observe the dealer’s strategy. If they’re taking risks, consider playing it safe, and vice versa.
  • Though challenging due to the altered deck, tracking played cards can hint at what’s left in the deck.
  • Be mindful of the risk of going over 7.5, especially with high stakes. Sometimes, it’s wiser to stay than risk busting.
  • Strategically use 10s (wild cards) based on your hand and what may get you closer to 7.5 without exceeding it.
  • In a social game, it’s easy to get sidetracked. Keep an eye on the cards played and your opponents’ moves.

By keeping these strategies in mind, you can improve your chances of winning at Brain Damage while also enjoying the social and fun aspects of the game. In the next section, we’ll explore variations and custom rules you can introduce to keep the game fresh and exciting.

Variations and Custom Rules

You can easily modify this game to suit the preferences and atmosphere of your group. Introducing custom rules and variations can add a unique twist and keep the game fresh and exciting. Here are some ideas:

  • Adding Jokers: If your deck includes Jokers, consider adding them as extra wild cards or assigning them a special action, like automatically reaching 7.5 or being able to switch cards with another player.
  • Penalty for Busting: Besides the standard bet resolution, you can introduce additional penalties for players who bust. This could be an extra drink, a dare, or any other creative penalty that the group agrees upon.
  • Progressive Rounds: Implement rules that change with each round. For example, increasing the number of cards dealt, changing the point target, or adding new betting stakes.
  • Custom Bets: Get creative with the bets. Apart from drinking, include funny or challenging tasks, like singing a song, doing impressions, or sharing an embarrassing story.

While Brain Damage is a fun and engaging drinking game, it’s essential to remember the importance of playing and drinking responsibly. Alcohol consumption can be a part of the game, but it should always be managed with care and awareness.

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