Sheepshead Game Rules

Sheepshead Game Rules

(Above is the typical set up for the game Sheepshead)

(Above is the typical set up for the game Sheepshead)

Card Game Rules

Sheepshead is a trick taking game for 5 players. It requires a unique 32 card deck, with Aces to 7s in each suit. The objective of Sheepshead is to win 61 or more points.

If you are looking for cards to play Sheepshead with, check out a standard deck here or check out one of our recent arrivals here.

For more trick taking games, check out our guides for Bridge and Euchre.


Before gameplay can begin, a dealer must be selected. To do so, players must choose a random card from a shuffled deck. The player with the lowest card becomes the dealer. Ties are broken with repeated drawings. The dealer shuffles the deck and then passes out, faced down, six cards, in 2 sets of three, to each player. The remaining two cards are placed in the middle of the gameplay area.

Card Ranks

In Sheepshead, the trump cards are Queens, then Jacks, and then Diamonds.

Within the Queens and Jacks, the suit rankings are Clubs, Spades, Hearts, and Diamonds.

Within the Diamonds and non-trump cards, the rankings are Ace, 10, King, 9, 8, 7.

Card Points

In Sheepshead:

Aces are worth 11 points
10s are worth 10 points
Kings are worth 4 points
Queens are worth 3 points
Jacks are worth 2 points


Before the game can begin, a Picker must be chosen. The player left of the dealer has the option to be Picker. A player can choose to be the Picker if they believe they can win 61 points in the game. If the player decides not to be the Picker, the options rotates clockwise. 

When a Picker is decided upon, they pick up the two cards in the middle. The Picker then receives a teammate by calling out a non-trump ace that matches a non-trump suit in their hand. The Picker's teammate does not reveal themselves until they play their non-trump ace. The other three players form the opposing team.

Teams tally their points at the end of the game with the objective of wining 61 points.

The Picker then discards two of their cards. These cards will count towards the Picker's final point tally.

How to Play

The player left of the dealer leads the first trick. Going clockwise, players must follow suit if possible. The winner of the trick leads the next one.

In tricks, trump cards are all one suit, so if a player leads with a King of Diamonds, the next player can play a Jack of Clubs, beating the King.


At the end of the game, points from tricks won are tallied. Below is how scores are awarded based on card points. Players can keep playing until a player has reached and agreed upon score.

(A scoring chart for Sheepshead)

(Chart provided by gathertogethergames)

For more information about Sheepshead, check out's article here or The Sheepshead Association's website here.

Looking for more card games to play?  Check out this article:

40+ Great Card Games For All Occasions

About the author: John Taylor is a content writer and freelancer through the company You may view his freelancing profile here. He has a B. A. in English, with a specialty in technical writing, from Texas A&M University and a M. A. in English from the University of Glasgow. You may view his previous articles about card games here and his LinkedIn profile here.

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Last update date: 08/29/20

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