Skat is a German trick-taking card game from the 1800s. While many card games are designed for two people, the Skat card game is best played with three. To win at Skat, you need to bid wisely and strategize every move.
Before we look at the rules and examine what you’ll need to play, let’s briefly look at how the game works.
What is the Skat Card Game?
Skat is best played with three people and uses a reduced deck of standard playing cards. You should remove the following cards from the deck:
This means you will have the Ace – Seven cards remaining. Ten cards are dealt to each player, although they need to be dealt following a specific pattern. We’ll talk more about this in the rules section below.
Each player will need to bid, but this is a little more complicated than in other trick-taking card games like Spades. Your position on the table will dictate what you can do and how it affects the gameplay.
The goal in Skat is to win as many tricks as possible; if you win a trick, you lead the next one. Once you’ve played the agreed number of deals, the scores are tallied up, and the player with the most points will win.
The scoring in Skat is also a little more complicated, so we’ll talk all about how it works in the rules section below. But before we go over the complete game guide, let’s look at what you’ll need to play Skat in more detail.
What You’ll Need To Play?
To play Skat, you’ll need a deck of cards, but as we mentioned earlier not a complete deck. Any deck of cards, we’ll do the job, but if you’re playing at a pub, we recommend some waterproof playing cards or some plastic cards.
If you’re looking for some recommendations, why not give these Bee MetalLuxe Playing Cards a try? Bee playing cards are very well known by playing card enthusiasts, so it’s easy to recommend these cards for your next game of Skat.
Rules and Gameplay
The Aim of The Game
Skat is a trick-taking card game. The goal of Skat is to win tricks, but there is a lot more to learn.
Please make sure the three players are seated, and each has a pen and paper with them. One player should be chosen as the dealer; if you’re struggling to choose one, have every player choose a card from the deck at random.
The player with the highest value card will become the dealer. The dealer should deal ten cards to each player, but cards need to be dealt in a specific way. Follow the steps below to ensure cards are dealt correctly.
- First, deal three cards to each player.
- Secondly, deal two cards into the middle of the play space; these form the Skat.
- Third, deal four more cards to each player.
- Finally, deal a final set of three cards to each player.
The Card Ranking
Working out the scores and ranking in Skat can take time. But to make things a little easier for you, we have listed the card rankings below.
- Jack of Clubs
- Jack of Spades
- Jack of Hearts
- Jack of Diamonds
- Ace Cards
- 10 Cards
- King Cards
- Queen Cards
- 9 Cards
- 8 Cards
- 7 Cards
The Bidding Phase
Before we go over the bidding phase, remember the below carefully.
- Player To The Dealer’s Left – Forehand
- Player To The Dealer’s Right – Middle Hand
- The Dealer – Rear Hand
The Forehand player will determine the trump suit. Then, the Middle Hand player will state the bid amount. The forehand can accept the bid amount or pass once the bid amount is set.
This process continues till the Middle Hand or Forehand passes. The player who didn’t pass will then repeat this process with the Rear Hand. Finally, the bid winner will decide what type of game you’re playing for the round.
The winner will also get the opportunity to exchange two of their cards for the two Skat cards if they so desire. The two players who lost the bid then become partners. This essentially means they will be working together.
The Game Types
Skat can vary considerably in each round depending on the game type chosen. We recommend sticking to a regular Trump-style game if you’re new to Skat. We’ve listed the four main game types below.
- Trump: The trick winner will decide what the trump suit is.
- Grand: With this type of game, only Jack cards count as trump cards.
- Null: The bid winner will instead try to avoid taking a trick during the game.
- Ramsch: With a Ramsch game, Jacks are again the only trump cards. The player with the most points also loses the round, and there are no partnerships. The two Skat cards are also not used.
The Forehand player starts by playing a card into the middle. Every player will follow by playing the lead suit whenever this is possible. The trick winner will be the player that plays the highest-ranking trump card.
If no trump card is played, the winner is the player who played the highest-ranking card in the lead suit. The player who wins the trick will then lead the next trick. The winner of the game will typically be the player with the most points after the agreed-upon number of deals has been played.
The two players who lost their bid should combine their cards. The bid winner should count the Skat cards. The card values are listed below.
- Aces – 11 Points
- 10 Cards – 10 Points
- King Cards – 4 Points
- Queen Cards – 3 Points
- Jack Cards – 2 Points
The bid winner will need 61 points or more to win the round. The winner is awarded the base value of the cards and will add them to their score.
Skat – A Complex, Trick-Taking Game
Skat is an amazing three-player game. While it has a learning curve, once you’ve got the basics down, it’s sure to be a good time.