Skat card game rules

Skat is a tactical card game for 3 players that is particularly popular in Germany. This card game also originated in Germany in the 19th century. Skat takes its name from 2 cards laid side by side on the table. Together they are called skat. In this article we will explain how to play skat.

Skat card game rules

General rules Skat

  1. Skat is played with 3 players.
  2. Skat is played with picket cards. These are the 7 through ace of each suit. So a total of 32 cards are played.
  3. The order of cards in a game without trump from high to low is ace, king, queen, jack, 10, 9, 8, 7. In a game with trump, the order from high to low is jack, ace, king, queen, 10, 9, 8, 7.
  4. Each card has a point rating and relative height. This will be explained in more detail later.
  5. The goal of the game is for the player who has won the bid to gain at least 61 out of 120 points and at least the number of points of the winning bid, the contract. The goal of the opposing players is to avoid this.


Each player receives 10 cards. The dealing order is as follows.

  • Each player receives 3 cards.
  • Two cards are placed face down in the middle of the table. These cards form the skat.
  • Each player receives 3 cards and finally 4 cards.

Game value skat

Before we explain the bidding round, let’s discuss the game value in this card game. During the bidding round, players bid for the game value of that round. This depends on the game and multipliers.

Basic value trump games

The trump games in skat have the following base value.

  • Diamonds: 9
  • Hearts: 10
  • Spades: 11
  • Clubs: 12
  • Grand: 24

In a trump suit game, all cards of the trump suit as well as all the Jacks are trump cards. In a Grand game, only the Jacks are trump cards.

Skat multipliers

The base value of the game is multiplied by the following factors.

  • Bid won: 1.
  • The number of highest trump cards continuous from jack of clubs: 1 for each trump card. Skat cards count for matador.
  • Hand game: 1 If the declarer does not take the skat.
  • Schneider: 1 If the declarer scores at least 90 points in tricks.
  • Schwarz: 1 If the declarer wins all the tricks.

For hand games, the following multipliers are also possible.

  • Schneider announced: 1 This is announced by the declarer after the bidding.
  • Schwarz announced: 1. This is announced by the declarer after the bidding.
  • Ouvert (open): The declarer plays with open cards and tries to win all tricks 2. The declarer must announce Schwarz in order to announce Ouvert.

In a table, this looks as follows.


Skate game

Hand game

Bid won




1 for each highest trump

1 for each highest trump


Hand game (skat is not picked up)





Schneider announced





Schwarz announced





Multipliers count cumulatively. For example, if you won the bidding (1), hearts is the trump suit (10) have 2 matadors (2) and pass Schneider (1), the game value is as follows:

10 * (1+2+1) = 40.

If the declarer bid a contract with a game value of 40 or lower and gained 61 points in tricks, they win the round.

Null games

Special games are the null games. In these games, the declarer announces no tricks. In null games there are no trump cards. These are the null games with corresponding game values:

  • Null (simple): 23
  • Null hand game: 35. In this contract, the skat is not picked up by the declarer.
  • Null ouvert: 46. The declarer exposes his cards before the game.
  • Null ouvert hand game: 59.

Bidding round skat

  • After dealing, the bidding round starts. The player to the right of the dealer asks the forehand (the player to the left of the dealer) if he can reach a certain game value, starting from 18. As long as the forehand says yes, the caller must bid higher.
    • If the caller cannot bid higher, he passes.
    • If the forehand answers that he cannot reach a certain game value, then the forehand passes.
  • After this, the dealer may ask the remaining player if he can bid higher. As long as the remaining player says yes, the caller must bid higher.
    • If the caller, in this case the dealer, cannot bid higher, he passes.
    • If the remaining player answers that they cannot reach a certain game value, then the remaining player passes.
  • The player who wins the bidding round is called the declarer and may choose a game.
  • A player may make a bid as high as his cards allow. It may never exceed the value of a player’s cards. If a player overbids, bids higher than the total value of his cards, it results in an automatic loss.

The game of bidding is called rising. The caller may choose how much higher to ask. So the raising may go in increments greater than 1. Only legal (possible) game values may be bid. Therefore, the order of possible bids is 18-20-22-23-24-27-30-33-35-36-40-44-45-46-48-50-54-55-59-60-63-66-70-72-77-80-81-84-88-90-96-99. Higher bids are possible, but rare in practice.

Game play skat

After the bidding round, the declarer can make some choices.

  • He can exchange the skat, the two cards lying in the middle with 2 of his own cards.
  • If the declarer does so, he decides to play a skat game.
  • If the declarer does not, then he decides to play a hand game. The skat may then not be viewed.
  • The declarer chooses one of the following games.
    • Trump suit game. The declarer chooses a trump suit for that round.
    • Grand: 24. In a Grand game, only the 4 jacks are trump.
    • Null game. In this game, also called null, the declarer’s goal is to get no tricks.
  • In a trump game, in addition to the chosen suit, the Jacks of the other suits also count as trumps. The order from high to low is jack of clubs, jack of spades, jack of hearts and jack of diamonds. A jack always takes precedence over another trump card in a trump game.
  • At the beginning of the game, the player comes out to the left of the dealer.
  • A player must always follow suit. If a player cannot foloow, they may throw another suit of their choice.
  • The player with the highest card wins the trick. If there is a trump, the player with the highest trump card wins the trick.
  • The winner of the trick may come out the next trick.

Points cards

To win a round, the declarer must score at least 61 points in tricks in addition to the game value of the contract (unless they choose to play a null game). The points of cards are as follows:

  • Ace: 11 points
  • Ten: 10 points
  • King: 4 points
  • Queen: 3 points
  • Jack: 2 points
  • 9,8,7: 0 points

The skat’s cards count toward the declarer’s points in both a skat game and hand game.

Scoring skat

The score is always awarded to the declarer. The score is based on the actual game value (and not the bid game value). If the declarer has achieved his contract and at least 61 points in tricks in trump games and Grand games, then that one has won. In this case, that one earns the game value.

If the declarer does not gain the 61 points, then he loses the double game value. If the declarer failed the contract, then the double game value is also deducted from his score.

If the declarer announces a null game and wins, then he earns the game value from the null game. If he loses, then he loses the double game value.

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