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.


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 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


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

    Paolo on

  • Player that knocked only ties but doesn’t beat others. What is rule?

    Dave Bruntz on

  • How is 3 of a kind worth 30 if the idea of the game is to get cards in the same suit? Would 3 deuces be worth 30? How does this work?

    Avis Tetrault on

  • Our family plays that if you get 31 it’s an immediate win. The player shows their cards on their turn.

    Yes, we knock on the deal if a hand is good, typically 24+. Whoever does have the highest hand wins and if you knocked, but lost – you pay double.

    Nancy Powell on

  • If the goal is to have all your cards in the same suit and have the highest score then how can a three of a kind which would be in several suits be worth 30 points since you have to go with one suit to pick from?

    Judy Ellis on

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