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German card game, Skat playing cards fanned out
Skat Playing Cards
A three-player trick-taking card game

What cards are in Skat?

Skat uses a deck of 32 cards, including all four standard playing card suits; Clubs, Spades, Hearts and Diamonds. But only includes specific cards of the suits; 7, 8, 9, 10, Jacks, Queens, Kings and Aces.

The ranking of the cards is important, see below:

  1. Jacks
  2. Aces
  3. 10
  4. King
  5. Queen
  6. 9
  7. 8
  8. 7

How do you play Skat for beginners?

Skat is a three-player trick-taking card game. It's the national game of Germany and is considered one of the top trick-taking games. Here’s our beginner guide for playing Skat:


Every player is dealt 10 cards, with 2 extra cards placed in the centre, known as the "skat". The dealer will shuffle the deck, the player to the dealer's right will cut, and then the dealer deals in batches of 3 cards to each player, then 2 cards to the skat, then 4 to each player, then 3 to each player. The deal then passes to the left.


Once all cards are dealt, a bidding phase occurs to decide who will be the "declarer" for the round. Bidding begins with the player to the dealer's left and continues between the dealer and that player until one admits defeat. The winner of that bidding will then bid against the final third player.

Bidding is based on the game value of the declarer's proposed contract - a combination of suit, mode of play (with/without the skat), and trump. The least possible bid you can have in Skat is 18 points.


Once every player has bid, the declarer picks up the skat, you can choose whether to exchange cards with it, and then announce the trump suit. Trump cards include the 4 Jacks plus all cards in the chosen suit. Non-trump suits rank from Ace to 7.

The declarer leads the first trick, if other players can, they must follow suit. But if this is not possible then they can play any card. The trick is won by the highest-value card of the led suit, unless a trump is played, in which case the highest trump will win. The winner of a trick leads the next trick.


After all tricks have been played, the declarer's total trick points are added up. The fundamental goal by the end of the game is to take at least 61 points in tricks. If successful, the declarer's game value is added to their score. If unsuccessful, the game value is then subtracted from their score. In certain situations, the declarer aims for different goals, e.g., to take no tricks at all ("Null" game), or to take all tricks ("Schwarz").

This is a simple guide for beginners to start playing Skat, once you have got a handle on the basics then you can start developing your skills further for the complex strategies of the game.