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31 Card Game Rules and How to Play

A fun card and a casino favorite 31 (also known as Scat) is sure to be a great choice on your next game night. In this guide, we’ll outline all the 31 card game rules you need to know. While 31 isn’t an overly complicated game, it has a bit of a learning curve. 

So, before you start playing, make sure you check out our guide. That way you can ensure you don’t just have fun, you also have a better chance of winning! 

What is The 31 Card Game?

What is The 31 Card Game

31 is a classic card game, played with a regular deck of playing cards. The name likely already gives you a clue as to what the aim is. You have to score 31 or as close to it as possible to win. However, things aren’t quite that simple. 

Under standard 31 card rules, you can only add cards of the same suit. You can also only hold 3 cards at a time. There is a lot more strategy involved with 31 than you might think. It is also a very old game. 

The first known documentation relating to it was from 1440. It’s believed the game was likely of Italian origin. Like many similar card games, it eventually spread across Europe and later the whole world. 

There are a few different ways to play 31. Due to its age, there are several regional rules. Still, in this guide, we’ll be sticking to the traditional casual rules. But before we examine the 31 card game rules, we’ll first take a quick look at what you need to play.

What You’ll Need? 

To play 31, all you need is a regular deck of playing cards. You don’t use the Joker cards, so you are just using the standard 52 card deck. Finding a deck of playing cards should be very simple as they are widely available in most shops and online. The product below is just one example of what you could buy. 

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The Cards 

It might seem a bit redundant to talk about the playing cards. After all, I’m sure most people are familiar with them. However, playing cards work very differently in a game like Poker when compared to 31. 

So, before we talk about the 31 card game rules, let’s go over how the cards work. In 31, all the cards aside from the Jokers are used. Since the game aims to score 31, all you need to do is know the values of the cards. 

The numbered cards carry their face value. The face cards (King, Queen, and Jack) all have a value of 10. And finally, the ace cards have a value of 11. So, now you know how the cards work, let’s take a look at how you play. 

The 31 Card Game Rules and Gameplay 

The 31 Card Game Rules and Gameplay

The Aim of The Game 

The aim of 31 is deceptively simple, you need to score 31 or close to it as you can. However, there are 2 rules to remember. You can only hold 3 cards at a time, and cards need to be of the same suit. 

Setting Up 

The first thing to do is choose a dealer. Under the traditional 31 card game rules, there is no set way to do this. You can roll a dice, all choose a card, or choose between yourself. 31 can be an excellent 2 player card game, but it’s usually more fun when played with a larger group. 

Once the dealer has been chosen, they should shuffle the deck and deal 3 cards to each player. They should then place one card down to create a discard pile. The remaining cards should be placed next to this pile. These cards will be the stock. 

Playing 31 

The player to the left of the dealer will start first. When it’s your turn, you have to do two things. The first to draw a new card. You can take a card from either the stock or discard pile. You will also need to add one card from your hand to the discard pile as well. 

However, if you choose to draw a card from the discard pile, you can’t discard that card again during this turn. If you draw a card from the stock, then you can discard it. This will effectively leave your hand unchanged. 

Whenever you believe your hand is strong enough, you can knock. To do this, announce that you are knocking to the other players. The other players will then have one final turn each to draw and discard a card from their hand. 

Since you have knocked, you won’t be able to. Each player will then reveal their score. The player with the lowest value will lose a life. If the player who knocked has the lowest value, they will lose 2 lives. 

If the knocker and another play have the same lowest value, then the knocker is safe. While the other player will lose a life. If more than one player has a tie for the lowest value, then they all lose a life. 

After a player has lost a life, the deck should be reshuffled, and the game should begin again. Under traditional 31 card game rules, every player will have 3 lives. However, you can set as many lives as you like at the start of the game. 

If at any time you have a score of 31, you should declare it right away. Every other player will then lose a life. If you do not declare 31 when you get it and later have to reveal your cards, it won’t count. It will only count as 30, not 31. 

Rule Variations

There are numerous rule variations you can try when playing 31 as well. Some popular rules say you can only knock if you have 3 cards of the same suit. Another rule says that 3 of a kind across any suit will count as 30.5. Others say the three cards in the same suit that follows a sequence will automatically have a value of 30. 

31 – A Fun, Fast Card Game 

31 is a great card game that is ideal for larger groups to play. The gameplay loop is simple but offers plenty of room for strategy. There is a lot to consider and think about every turn, making it a fun card game anyone can enjoy. 

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Bar Games 101 is a website devoted to helping you learn about the best games to play with your friends. We review the games, research the rules, and uncover helpful tips and strategies.

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