Equipment: Ordinary playing cards, including 2 Jokers; two
six-sided dice; pen and paper for scorekeeping; a table;
and a copy of the Pink Floyd album Atom Heart Mother.
Primary Object: Have fun.
Secondary Object: Have the most points at the end of the game.
The beginning You're Bogus player is often distressed by the large
number of rules. Rest assured that as you gain experience you will
begin to see that the rules form a logical and harmonious whole.
In order to have fun as soon as possible
we begin by describing the mechanics of the game. After the method
of play is clear it will be easier to explain the various rules.
The players sit around a table. In the center of the table is a
pile of playing cards (face down) and a stack of playing cards
(face up). The dice are somewhere on the table.
The scorekeeper is
making a reasonable effort to keep the scorepad away from the rest
of the equipment.
Each player has from 0 to 7 cards.
Play proceeds clockwise.
turn consists of the following actions, in the given order:
**0) Pick up the dice
1) Make a declaration
**2) Roll the dice
*3) Pick up cards
4) Call an exchange
5) Declare a win
*6) Place cards on the stack
7) Specify a parity
**8) Pass the dice
The steps marked ** always occur, and the steps with * usually occur.
If you are a beginner then you should only worry about these steps.
The game is begun by shuffling the
cards and placing them face down in the middle of the table.
The players use any reasonable method to determine who goes first.
Z. Atom Heart Mother Rules
These rules are always in effect, can never be violated,
and are taken to have higher priority than all other rules.
Violators of the Section Z rules must resign from the game and listen
to the album Atom Heart Mother in its entirety.
Z1. No player may have more than seven cards.
Z2. Players may conceal their cards,
but at the request of any other player they must correctly state the
number of cards they have. Such requests may be made at any time.
Z3. If a dispute arises, it is settled by the uninvolved players.
Z4. If a situation arises for which there is general agreement that
the rules are unclear, then no penalties are assessed, and the players
must reach a consensus as to how such a situation should be handled in
If one of the Original Inventors of the game is present then he may
dictate the clarification or interpretation of the supposedly unclear
Z5. Permanent changes in the rules can only be brought about by
the unanimous decision of the Original Inventors.
Z6. If there is a conflict between rules, then the first rule,
in the order given in this list, is taken to have higher priority.
A. Rolling the Dice
A1. The dice are rolled from the hand onto the table in a reasonably
bouncy fashion. If a player consistently rolls the dice in a timid
manner then the other players may poke fun at this behavior.
Suggested rejoinder: "You are rolling like a Milquetoast."
A2. If a die rolls off the table then the player loses points equal to the
amount showing on that die. If both dice roll off then both are counted.
If either die rolls off then both must be rerolled.
If any player
actively interferes with a die that is in play,
player must drop the offending die on the floor and he or she loses
double the amount shown. Both dice must then be rerolled.
Note: If a player rolls a die off the table and someone else
attempts to catch
it then only the catcher is assessed a penalty, and both dice
must be rerolled.
A3. If a player actively interferes with a die that is not in play,
and that die is directly above the surface of the table, then no
penalty is assessed. If the die is not directly above the surface of the
table and a player actively interferes with its path then the die must
be dropped on the floor and the player loses double the amount shown.
Note: If a die goes off the table for any reason, a penalty is always
assessed to someone,
regardless of whether or not it was in play at the time.
A4. If no table is available then another suitable playing surface, such
as a box of notebook, may be substituted. If the game is played on the
floor then the players may use their discretion to determine the
boundaries of the playing area.
B. Picking Up Cards (when no declarations have been made)
B1. If the roll is >= 7 then pick up 2 cards from the pile.
B2. If the roll is <= 6 then don't pick up any cards.
B3. If the roll is a pair then you may choose to pick up 1 more
card than is indicated by rules B1 and B2.
Examples. Roll 2-2, pick up 0 or 1; roll 4-4, pick up 2 or 3.
Note: If you roll a pair then first pick up the specified
number (0 or 2), then decide if you want another card.
Note: The "have no more than seven cards" rule has higher
priority than all other rules, so modify the rules in this section
Note: It is not permissible to use sleight-of-hand to pick up
a different number of cards than the rules indicate.
C. Making a Declaration
The Notes following the two rules in this section should be skipped on
There are two sensible declarations which a player may make. They are:
"I want to acquire the top card" and "I want to discard two."
Any reasonable paraphrase is acceptable. A player is not required to
make a declaration, and on most turns no declaration is made.
At most one declaration can be made per turn, and it only
has an effect if it is made after the dice are picked up
and before they are rolled. Declarations other than the above can be
made, but they are only good for humor purposes and have no effect on
C1. Suppose a player declares "I want the top card." If the
roll is >= 9 then the player takes the top card on the stack.
If the roll is <= 8 then the player
does not pick up any cards. If the roll is a pair
then the player first does the action just described, and then may
choose to take an
additional card from the face down pile. After the player picks up the
appropriate number of cards then the usual discard rules apply,
subject to the modifications described in the note below.
Note on discarding after a card has been acquired: If the card
acquired was a non-Seven non-Joker then the status of the
stack is determined by the non-Seven non-Joker which is now highest in the
stack. If no such card exists, then the stack is treated as empty.
If the card acquired was a Seven or a Joker, then the stack is played
as if the top card had
not been removed, except that the non-Seven non-Joker which is now
highest in the
stack is treated as the card immediately beneath the (invisible) Seven
Note: If the player successfully acquires the top card and wishes
to discard it immediately, then it is not necessary to actually pick up
the top card. The discard rules are applied as if the card was picked
up and then discarded. It is possible that this discard is Bogus, even
it the original discard of that card was not Bogus.
C2. Suppose a player declares "I want to discard two." If the
roll is <= 5 then the player
puts two cards on the top of the stack.
The top card should conform to the discard rules, and the bottom card
may be hidden. No cards are picked up, and
no more cards are discarded, even if the player still has >= 5
If the roll is >= 6 then no cards are picked up and
the usual discard rules are followed. If the roll is a pair then the
player may choose to take the top card from the face down pile. Then
the player either discards two (if the roll was <= 5), or follows
the usual discard rules (if the roll was >= 6).
Note: A common use of the "discard two" is to hide an Ace under
the top card. It is not permissible to use sleight-of-hand to discard
two when no declaration has been made.
Note: If a player discards two then only the top card is used to
determine the legality of a discard or to assess a penalty. A player
with 0 to 2 cards who discards two can be declared Bogus under
Section D rules.
Note: A player can be declared Bogus if a declaration is made,
the roll is sufficient to permit the declared
action to occur, but the declared action does not occur.
D. When to Discard
D1. If you have <= 2 cards then you should not discard.
D2. If you have 3 or 4 cards then you have free choice whether
or not to discard.
D3. If you have >= 5 cards then you should discard.
E. How to Discard
E1. If there are no cards on the stack then any card may be discarded.
E2. Jokers and Sevens can always be discarded. See the next section.
E3. An Ace should only be discarded on an odd non-Ace of the same
E4. A non-Ace, non-Joker, non-Seven, should only be discarded on
a card of the same parity, but with different rank and suit.
Note: If the stack lacks a property, then that property is ignored
when determining the legality of a discard. See the notes following
rule F2 for examples of when this can happen.
Note: The rules in Sections C and F can affect what cards may
be legally discarded.
Note: There are two parities: even and odd.
The even cards are 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, Q. Jokers have no parity.
The other cards are odd.
Note: As the player discards, the top card must be placed so
as to conceal the other cards on the stack. Players failing to do
this should be chastised.
F. Discarding Sevens and Jokers.
F1. Sevens have special properties. They may always be discarded, and the
discarder may use it to change the parity of the stack. If, after
discarding a Seven but before the next player picks up the dice,
a player specifies
"odd" or "even", then the stack is played as if the top card had
the parity specified, and all other characteristics are inherited from
the previous condition of the stack. Any other specifications the
player makes will have no effect on the status of the stack. The
next player uses the discarding rules of the previous section, except
that the parity may have been changed if the top card is a Seven.
Note: If no declaration is made then the stack behaves exactly
as if the Seven was invisible. The phrase `previous condition' was
used because several Sevens can be played in succession.
Specifying "odd" or "even" after the next player picks up
the dice has no effect on the stack.
F2. Jokers can be used to completely alter the status of the stack.
If, after discarding a Joker but before the next player picks up the
dice, a player specifies a parity, rank, or suit, or any combination
of these properties, then the specified properties determine the
status of the stack. If no specifications are made then the stack is
considered to have no properties, and any card may be legally discarded.
If a rank and a parity are both specified then the specified parity
overrides the implied parity from the rank. If a rank is specified, but a
parity is not, then that rank is used to determine the parity.
Alternatively, a player may precede their specification with the
word `transparent.' Then all unspecified
properties are inherited from the previous condition of the stack.
Note: If a Joker is discarded and the player specifies a rank
of "Seven", then the status of the stack is "Seven"; the
rules concerning discarding Sevens are not applied. The principle is that
the specification being made imparts qualities to the stack, not to
Note: If no suit was specified, then the stack is considered to
have no suit, and cards of any suit may be discarded. The corresponding
situation holds if no rank or parity was specified. Parity has higher
priority than rank, so a specified parity or an inherited parity
overrides the implied parity given by the rank.
Examples: Suppose a Joker is discarded. If the player specifies "Five",
then any odd non-Five, including any Ace, can be legally discarded.
If the player specifies "Five of Hearts", then the legal discards are
determined exactly as if the top card was the Five of Hearts.
If the player specifies "Even Five of Hearts" then any even non-Heart
can be legally discarded.
If the player specifies "transparent Five" then the parity and suit
of the stack are determined by the previous top card.
G. Declaring Someone Bogus
G1. A person can be declared Bogus if they discard or bid improperly,
or otherwise commit a non Atom Heart Mother infraction.
This includes failure to discard with >= 5 cards, discarding
with <= 2 cards, and disobeying the How to Discard rules.
G2. To declare someone Bogus, shout "You're Bogus" as the
next player rolls the dice. If nobody shouts "You're Bogus", then
the play is considered correct and no penalty is assessed.
"You're Bogus" must be shouted as the dice are being rolled or
are rolling or bouncing
along the table in order for the declaration to have an official
effect. Shouting "You're Bogus" at any other time, including
immediately before the dice are rolled, has no effect on the game.
Note: You can only declare someone Bogus when the next
player rolls the dice.
H. Scoring Bogosity
H1. Points are assessed whenever someone is declared Bogus.
H2. If the offender admits to being Bogus and the infraction
involves an Ace, then the offender loses 10
H3. If the offender admits to being Bogus and the infraction
does not involve an Ace, then the offender loses 5 points.
H4. If the offender denies being Bogus then an inquiry is held.
The players use whatever methods necessary to determine if the offender
was actually Bogus. If the offender was not Bogus then all players
who shouted "You're Bogus" lose 5 points.
If the inquiry finds that the offender was Bogus, then
5 additional points are lost.
I. Calling an Exchange
I1. If a player draws from the pile a card of the same rank as the one
currently on the top of the stack then the player is permitted to
call an exchange. One exchange may be called for each card of the same
rank which is picked up.
Note: A Joker is only the same rank as a Joker.
I2. If the card picked up is of the same rank then it should
be shown to the other players immediately. This preserves the option
of calling an exchange, but does not require that an exchange be
I3. An exchange is officially called after all cards have been
picked up, but before a discard has been made.
I4. There are two legal exchanges: Pass Right and Pass Left.
If the exchange Pass Right is called then all players give one card
to the person on their immediate right. The player who called the
pass chooses which card to give, but all other exchanges are done
randomly. The usual method is for the person receiving the card
to do the choosing, but any reasonable method may be used to ensure
that the exchange is random.
If the call is Pass Left then the above process is reversed.
I5. Players with no cards are skipped during an exchange.
I6. The card which a player receives is not made available for the
next player to choose.
I7. If more than one exchange is called, then the first exchange
must be completed, and exchanged cards must be incorporated into the
players hands, before the next exchange begins.
J1. Bidding may be done at any time.
J2. All bids should be prime numbers.
K. Declaring a Win
K1. In order to declare a win a player must have seven cards,
all of which have the same color, and none of which are Aces. Jokers
can be specified to be any card.
K2. A win must be declared during the player's turn. To declare a
win put your cards on the table, six of them face up and
one face down, and state "I declare a win of n points", where
n is determined as in the next section.
K3. All non-winning players lose 5 points for each Ace in their hand.
K4. After a win is declared, accepted, and scored, the player who
declared the win reshuffles the cards and places them in the middle of
the table. Play begins again with the player to the winning player's
L. Scoring a win
L1. The six face up cards are used to compute the score.
L2. A three card straight-flush counts for 10 points. All such
straight-flushes are counted. For example, a six card straight-flush
is worth 40 points because it contains 4 three card straight-flushes.
L3. Let (a,b), with a<= b, denote the number of cards of
each suit the winning player has. The possibilities are
(0,6), (1,5), (2,4), and (3,3). The winning player
receives 30a/b distribution points for the hand.
L4. The score for the hand is the sum of L2 and L3, with a maximum
of 50 points. The winning
player is responsible for determining the value of the hand.
If the winner claims a smaller
value than is actually possible then the amount claimed is credited.
If a win is claimed and a win is not possible then 5 or 10 points are
deducted, depending on whether the offending player has an Ace,
and play continues.
M1. If a player must take a card from the pile, and there are
no cards on the pile, then the top card on the stack is placed
on the table and the player who needs a card shuffles the cards
from the stack. Those cards become the new pile. The stack now
consists of only of the previous top card, and the stack is played
as if that card was the first one discarded.
M2. If there are 5 or more players then it is permissible to
mix together two decks of cards. Every possible straight-flush is counted
when computing the value of a win.
M3. The only time when it is permissible to look through the stack
is when someone has been declared Bogus, the Bogosity is challenged,
and the stack must be examined to determine if Bogosity has occurred.
Only that portion of the stack which is relevant to determining
Bogosity should be examined.
M4. The players use any mutually agreed upon method to determine
when the game ends.
M5. If a player consistently plays in a manner which is legal,
but significantly decreases the fun of the game, then the other players
may make a temporary rule outlawing the unacceptable behavior.
should be made to persuade the player to stop the unacceptable behavior
before making the new rule. The new rule is only in force for the
current playing session and does not set a precedent for future play.
Example: If an experienced player reads through the discard rules after
every discard, then the other players may outlaw this behavior.