Up the River, Down the River

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Up the River, Down the River is a fun game that lets you visualize what it would be like to live in a van down by the river. All you need is a deck of cards, some drinks, and friends and you too can know what it’s like to be 35 and divorced!

Jokes aside, it’s a fun game and all you need to play is a deck of cards, some friends and drinks to share!


  • Table, circle, rectangle, anything you can fit a bunch of people around
  • Deck of Cards
  • Drinks

How to Play

A nice leisurely stroll along the river is actually the second part of this game, but don’t worry you get to give out drinks all along the way.


  • Not a lot of setup here, just shuffle up your cards, and gather everyone around the table.
  • Pick someone to be the tour guide. They will still be playing the game, but also in charge of giving out the cards. Feel free to add multitasking to your resume.
  • If you need help picking the first tour guide, the obvious choice would be whoever knows the most types of trees.

Getting Started

Gameplay will be split into 2 parts, first where you receive all your cards, then you try to give them all away!


Round 1
  • During round 1, the tour guide asks players 4 questions, based on the cards they are going to be given.
  • Starting with the player to the left, ask them question 1. Once they give their answer, give them their card, and see if they were right or wrong.
  • If they were correct, they can choose anyone in the room to give the a drink to. If they were incorrect, they must take the drink themselves.
  • Go around the circle, asking all players the first question. They give or receive their drinks as soon as they get their card.
  • Once all players, the guide included, have answered question 1, the process is repeated for questions 2-4, based on the cards they already have.
Questions for Round 1:
  • Question #1: Red or Black? Players must guess if the first card that they receive will be red or black. Seems unnecessary to explain but if it is a heart or diamond it is red, if it is a spade or club it is black.
  • Question #2: Higher or Lower? Players now guess whether their next card will be higher or lower than their first card.
  • If it is a tie (i.e. they have a 6 and receive a 6) they have to drink double. They can guess for a tie but the odds of success are pretty low.
  • Question #3: In between or out? Now that players have 2 cards, they must guess whether their third card will be in between these 2, or out. For example, if you have a 3 and a Jack, odds are you would say in between because that includes all cards from 4 through to 10.
  • Players can guess a tie here as well, as there are now 2 cards that could be tied with!
  • Question #4: Which suit? Players just need to guess whether their final card will be a Heart, Diamond, Spade, or Club.

This concludes Round 1! All players can now pick up their cards, as they will need them for Round 2 and may want to keep them secret.

Round 2
  • For Round 2, the tour guide now lays out cards upside down from the remaining deck in 2 lines, each with 4 cards. Like this:
Setup for Round 2 of Up the River, Down the River
Setup for Round 2 of Up the River, Down the River
  • There are 2 sides to the river, 1 that makes you drink, and 1 that lets you give drinks to other players. The river giveth, the river taketh away.
  • Flip the first card on one side. Players who have a card of the same value must place them down on top of the flipped card, and take 1 drink.
  • Then flip the first card on the other side of the river. Players who have a match for this card must place it on top, and get to give out 1 drink to another player.
  • Go back and flip the second card on the other side of the river. Players who have a match for this card must take 2 drinks.
  • Repeat this for the remaining cards, with the third and fourth being worth 3 and 4 drinks respectively.
  • If a card that is flipped has already been flipped before in the river, replace it with new cards from the deck until it is a new value.

Once everyone has taken their drinks and vendettas have formed, pass the role of tour guide to the next player in the circle, and play again.


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