Brain Damage

Learn how to play the drinking card game Brain Damage with easy to follow instructions and video.


– One standard deck of cards, but with all the 8s, 9s and the red 10s removed

– A lot of beverage



Brain Damage is played just like Blackjack, but to 7.5 points. Face cards are valued at half a point, Aces are worth one, black 10s are wild and 2-7 are at their face value.

The cards are placed face down, and everybody picks a card to determine the sequence of dealing. The highest card deals first, and then dealing will maintain from the next highest draw to the lowest. Black 10 is the highest card (7.5 points), trailed by 7, 6 etc, down to Ace (1 point), then face cards (worth half a point). You cannot quit the game until you have dealt. Hence why dealing first is good, whereas dealing last has been known to result in “Brain Damage”.

The dealer grabs the deck, and deals 1 card face down to the first player, and 1 card face down to themselves. The player views their card, then bets any quantity of beverage, a large shot glass is generally a good threshold. Ensuring their card concealed from the other players, they can take as many hits as they want. But, if they go over 7.5, they must declare that fact, and then drink the bet.

However, should the player gets a “5 card Charlie” (5 cards, not busted), they win instantly.

Should the player not go over 7.5 once they have taken as many hits as they want, the dealer will turn over their card, and then hits up until they believe they have beaten the other player. If the dealer busts, just like the player had to, they drink the bet.

When the dealer is assured with their hand, the player turns over their card, and the lowest total drinks the bet. If the totals are even, the player must drink. The dealer then moves on to the next player, replicating the process until the deck is finished.

Play continues until each player has dealt.