scat


a standard 52 card deck is used

for scoring hands, the Ace is worth 11 points, the Kings, Queens, and Jacks are worth 10, and all other cards are worth their pip value.

from 2 to 10 people can play. the game is perhaps best when played with 3 players

players have a three card hand and the aim is to collect cards in a single suit worth 31 points or as near as possible to that total

the value of a three card hand is calculated by adding up the value of the cards held in any one suit. so

examples:
♥K ♥8 ♥5
value 23 (sum of all three cards)
♠Q ♦9 ♦8
value 17 (the Diamonds, 9 + 8, are worth more than the Queen)
♣A ♠6 ♠4
value 11 (the Ace is worth more than the Spades)
♣J ♥7 ♠4
value 10 (the Jack)

deal

determine the first dealer. the turn to deal passes on clockwise after each hand

the cards are shuffled and are dealt out one at a time, starting with the player to dealer's left and continuing clockwise until everyone has a hand of three cards

the next card is turned face up on the table to start the discard pile, and the remaining undealt cards are placed face down next to it to form the draw pile or stock

during play, the discard pile is always kept "squared up" so that only the top card is visible and available to be taken


play

the player to dealer's left begins and the turn to play passes clockwise around the table. a normal turn consists of:

  1. drawing the top card either
    - from the stock pile (without showing it to the other players)
    - or from the discard pile
  2. discarding one card face up on top of the discard pile

note that if you choose to take the top card from the discard pile, it is illegal to discard the same card, leaving the position unchanged - you must keep the card you took and discard one of the cards that was previously in your hand

however, if you draw the top card of the stock pile, you are free to discard the card that you drew onto the discard pile, leaving your hand unchanged

knocking

if at the start of your turn, you believe that your hand is not the lowest and that at least one other player will be unable to beat your hand even if they are allowed one more turn, you can knock instead of drawing a card. knocking ends your turn. you must keep the hand you had at the start of that turn, but each other player gets one final turn to draw and discard

after the player to the knocker's right has discarded, all players reveal their cards. each player decides which suit is their point suit, and totals up his/her cards in that suit

the player with the lowest hand value loses a life

there is just one case where it is possible to pick up your own discard. this happens when there are only two players left in the game and your opponent knocks. the card you discarded just before the knock is still on top of the pile, so it is now available for you to take back if you want it - for example if you had just broken up a suit for tactical reasons you can now restore it

declaring 31

if after drawing and discarding a player achieves hand value of 31, s/he shows own cards immediately and claim victory. in this case all the other players lose a life

a player who makes 31 after another player has knocked still declares it and every other player including the the knocker loses one life

a player who is dealt 31 in their original three cards declares it - there is no play and all the other players lose a life

if it happens that two or more players get 31 on the initial deal then all the players other than those with 31 lose

a player who has 31 in their hand and does not declare it as soon as they make it or are dealt it cannot claim it later during showdown. an undeclared 31 in a player's hand effectively counts as 30 - if another player declares 31 the holder of the undeclared 31 will lose a life along with the other players

draw pile exhausted

if the stock pile runs out the play can continue as long as each player wishes to take the previous player's discard

if the player whose turn it is does not wish to draw the top discard, the play ends immediatly and all players show their cards and the hand is scored

if no one has knocked then the player who has the lowest score loses one life, or if there is a tie all the players with the lowest score lose a life


scoring

the normal way of scoring in scat is that each player begins the game with three pennies. when you lose a life, you have to put one of your pennies into the kitty in the centre of the table. if you knock and lose, having the sole lowest hand, you pay two pennies (if you have that many)

if someone declares 31, all the other players have to put a penny in the kitty

if someone declares 31 after another player has knocked, the knocker just pays one penny, like everyone else

if you have no money left, having lost all three of your pennies, you are said to be "on the county". if you lose while "on the county", you are out of the game

if you lose two lives when you only have one penny you are also out of the game

the game continues until only one player has not been eliminated, and that player is the winner

there is a theoretical possibility of a draw if all the remaining players are "on the county", the draw pile runs out before anyone knocks or makes 31, and all remaining players have equal scores. if this unlikely situation were to arise and it was necessary to determine a winner, the hand would to be replayed


variations

some play that in case of a tie for lowest score between a knocker and one or more other players, the knocker loses two lives while the other players in the tie lose one life. if a player declares 31 after a knock, the player with 31 is safe, knocker loses two lives and the other players each lose one life. in this variant it is possible for all the remaining players to lose their last life simultaneously, in which case those players play another hand (in which they will all be on the county) to break the tie

some play that in a tie involving the knocker, only the knocker loses

some play that a knocker who has the lowest score only loses one life, not two

some play that 3-of-a-kind of any rank counts as 30 (or 30.5) points. when it counts 30, it ties with three ten-point cards of the same suit. if it counts 30.5, it beats all hands except a 31

some play that there is a minimum score with which you are allowed to knock - for example 17, 19 or 21

some play that a knock is only allowed by a player who has three cards of the same suit

there is a variant called Gin is which a knock is a promise to have the highest score. and a player who has lost three lives is out of the game. after a knock each of the other players takes a turn and if after this the knocker's hand is highest or equal highest, everyone except the knocker lose life. if another player beats the knocker, the knocker loses life. a player who has 31 declares it and everyone else lose life. in this variant a "three-of-a-kind" is worth 30.5 points

there is a French Canadian version in which after a player has knocked and everyone else has taken a turn, the player with the highest score is awarded one life. if there is a tie the player who did not knock wins it. presumably if there is a tie between two players neither of whom knocked they get a life each. a player who makes 31 declares it and score a life immediately. the game apparently goes on until someone reaches a score of 31 - a really long game