Thirty One Game Rules

Posted by John Taylor on

(In Thirty One, only cards of the same suit count. The hand above shows 13 points)

(In Thirty One, only cards of the same suit count. The hand above shows 13 points)

Card Game Rules

Thirty One, or Scat, is a casino type card game for 2 or more people and is played with a standard 52 playing card deck. In Thirty One, Aces are worth 11 points, face cards are worth 10 points and numbered cards are worth their pip value. The objective of the game is to have a hand equal to or as close to 31 as possible.

For more casino type games, check out our guides for Blackjack and Seven Card Stud.

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

 

Set Up

Before gameplay can begin, a dealer must be selected. Each player draws one card from a shuffled deck. The player with the lowest card becomes the dealer. The dealer shuffles the deck and passes out three cards to each player in a clockwise fashion. 

The remaining deck forms that stock and it is place in the middle of the play area. The top card of the stock is flipped over, placed beside it and becomes the discard pile. 

 

How to Play

The player to the left of the dealer begins gameplay. When it is their turn, players choose to either pick a card from the stock or from the discard pile and then they must discard one of their cards, all in an attempt to get a hand as close or equal to 31.

Only cards of the same suit count as points. For example, if a player has an Aces of Spades, an 8 of Spades, and a King of Hearts, the player’s hand is worth 19.

If a player has a three of a kind, the hand is worth 30 points.

When a player is comfortable with their hand, they knock on the table. All other players then have one more draw to try and improve their hand. The player with the lowest hand loses for that round. If the player who knocks has the lowest hand, they give up a lost of 2 rather than 1. When a player loses 4 times, they are out of the game. The last player standing wins the game and, normally, a monetary prize made from the players’ contributions.    

For more information on Thirty One and its rules, check out Wikipedia’s article here or Pagat’s article here.

History

Thirty One is one of the card world’s oldest games, dating back to the 1440’s. Considered a gentleman’s gambling game, Thirty One was mentioned in one of Bernadine of Sienne’s anti-gambling sermons. Many games scholars consider Thirty One to be an early ancestor of the games Blackjack and Cribbage.

If you are interested in the history of Thirty One and other Elizabethan games, check out Northern Arizona University’s article 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 Upwork.com. 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: 08/30/20

15 comments


  • If I knock with a 24 and one player has a 25 but the rest of the players have lower like 14 and 13 I know the lowest player pays one chip, but do I pay one chip also since I was beaten by 1 point ???

    Janet on

  • Playing 31 the player knocks they lay there cards. One player is low, the other player is high,the player that knocks is lower then the player that’s higher. Who pays. The low player or low player and the player who knocked.

    Rita on

  • When you o ly have two players left I. The game and one knocks and the others player ties who’s the winner

    Sissy Beldock on

  • Hi there,
    In the game 31, I got 32 points. 2 aces and a Jack. What does that mean? Can this happen? Do I lose? What happens if you get 3 aces or over 31?

    Bre on

  • In 31, when a player knocks and two different players get 31 tie. Who pays?

    Paolo on

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