Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

# Skat

Skat is the most popular card game in Germany. It is also played in American regions with large German populations, such as Wisconsin and Texas.

It is a three-player game of tricks using a 32-card deck.

The game of skat is not related to the simple American card game called scat, which is a draw-and-discard game.

The deck of 32 cards consists of the cards 7, 8, 9, 10, jack, queen, king and ace in the suits diamonds, hearts, spades and clubs. Suitable packs can be bought prefab in Germany.

Although the game at first sounds quite simple it has great depth. To be a good player it is necessary to practice for several years. Good players can recognize most of the unknown cards of the other players within a few tricks, thus being in advantage.

## Organization of players

Very often it's possible to join spontaneous rounds in pubs in Germany, although players will often be unwilling to play with beginners.

## History

Skat was developed around 1810 in Altenburg in Thuringia, Germany and was based on the three-player game of Tarock and the four-player game of Schafskopf.

The first official rules were published in 1886, also in Altenburg. Nevertheless, the rules continued to differ worldwide. Since 1998 both the ISPA and the DSkV use the same rules.

## Game Rules

### Dealing

The game begins with the dealing of all cards to the three players. The cards are shuffled and dealt face down so that every player has 10 cards. The remaining 2 cards stay separate as the skat. Rules insist that dealing follows the rule 3, Skat, 4, 3 (the numbers referring to the number of cards each player gets).

### Bidding

The bidding system (German: Reizen) defines which of the 3 players plays alone against the other 2.

If several players are interested in playing the game, then the calculated height of bidding defines which player succeeds. Bidding always starts with the lowest possible game (18). It then follows a question and answer pattern.

The height that a player is allowed to bid is a multiplication of the suit (clubs=12, spades=11, hearts=10, diamonds=9) and a count of jacks plus one. The jacks are always counted from top down (clubs, spades, hearts, diamonds). This is best demonstrated with a few examples:

Therefore the highest count in jacks is either with or without all four jacks whereas the lowest count is either the jack of spades without the jack of clubs or vice versa.

The resulting score for bidding would then e.g. be without 2, plus 1 is 3 times clubs, 36.

The bidding roles are fixed in this order (clockwise) dealer, listener, bidder, next bidder. The listener will answer each bid with "yes" or "pass". After either has passed the third player will continue to bid until only one player remains.

Bidding begins with 18 (with or without 1 jack is 2 times 9 (diamonds)) and continues with all possible combinations: 20, 22, 23, 24, 27, 30, 33, 35, 36, 40, 44, 45, 46, 48 etc. Included in this row is the special game null and its variants null hand, null ouvert and null ouvert hand. They will be discussed further down.

The player who has won the bidding may now take up the two remaining cards (the skat) sort out any two cards from his hand and then define which suit will be trumps. Trumps can be any of the four suits with the jacks as highest trumps or only the four jacks.

### Play

The player to the left of the dealer lays the first card. Every player lays one card together as a trick to the middle of the table. The winner of the trick is the player who can start the next trick. The suit shown by the first card must be held, if possible. If not, it is possible to discard a card of to trump the trick. If trumps are drawn, every player must also play trumps.

If at least one card of the same suit was shown or more than one trump is in the trick, then the higher card wins. the suit cards are sorted (lowest first) 7, 8, 9, queen, king, 10, ace. The trumps are sorted the same, only that the four jacks as diamonds, hearts, spades and clubs are higher still.

The finished tricks are kept face down in front of each player until the 10th trick has been made. The tricks of the two players who are playing together are then put together.

### Counting

To win the player who is playing alone must achieve 61 points. The other players need only 60 points. The cards have the following score: 7=nil, 8=nil, 9=nil, jack=2, queen=3, king=4, 10=10, ace=11.

If a player bid more than he had (e.g., because he found a jack in the skat) he loses. There are several methods of bidding and scoring higher:

If playing hand schneider, schwarz and ouvert can be called after bidding and then count towards the jack count.

### Special games

There are also the following special games:

### Scoring

The score for each game is assigned to the single player (who had won the bidding and consequently declared the game). If the outcome of the game matched or exceeded the initial bid, and the player therefore had won the game, then the player scores as many points as a bid value on this exact outcome could have reached maximally. Otherwise, if the single player failed to reach the goal set by the initial bid and therefore lost, then the player is penalized by twice as many points.

In league games, winning the bidding is rewarded separately, so that it becomes far more important for each participant to bid the given hand to its best.