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Skat is a strategic, trick-taking card game played with three players. Bid wisely and play correctly to maximize your points. Find the video tutorial and written explanation for how to play the card game skat below.

Skat Tutorial



32 card deck (Aces - 7s); three players, pen and paper for scorekeeping


Ten cards are dealt to each player. First, three cards are dealt to each player. Next, two cards are dealt face down into the middle to form the Skat. Then, four more cards are dealt to each player, and finally, three more cards are dealt to each player.


The object of the game is to win the most points by winning the bid and making the contract announced.

Card Rank

Highest to lowest - Jack of clubs, Jack of spades, Jack of hearts, Jack of diamonds, Ace, 10, King, Queen, 9, 8, 7



The player left of the dealer is called the forehand, the player right of the dealer is called the middle hand, and the dealer is called the rear hand.

The opportunity to determine trump, or call null, is given to the forehand. The middle hand gets the first chance to steal that opportunity by stating a bid amount.

If middle hand bids, forehand can accept the bid or pass. If forehand thinks he/she can make that many points, he/she will accept it. At this time, middle hand can increase the bid, and forehand has the option to accept it again. This goes back and forth between middle hand and forehand until one passes.

The winner between forehand and middle hand will then repeat the process with the rear hand.

If middle hand and rear hand both pass without making a bid, Ramsch (see below) may be called by forehand.

The winner of the bid will get to choose the game type for the round and can exchange cards from his hand with the cards in the Skat if he/she chooses. The two players that lost the bid become partners.

Game Types

  • Trumps: the bid winner will determine a trump suit for the round. All the jacks are always considered part of the trump suit.

  • Grand: jacks are the only trump cards for the round.

  • Null: the bid winner will try to avoid taking a trick during the round. Card rank changes to Aces, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7.

  • Ramsch: jacks are the only trumps, and the player that wins the most card points loses the game. There are no partnerships in this game style, and the Skat is not used.

Game Play

Forehand plays the first card into the middle. Every player must follow the lead suit by playing a card in the same suit that was led whenever possible. If a jack is led, a jack or trump suited card must be played to follow the lead.


The winner of the trick is the player who played the highest ranking trump card. If no trump card was played, the winner is the player with the highest ranking card in the lead suit. The player that wins the trick leads the next trick.

The winner of the game is the player with the most points after an agreed upon amount of deals. Each player should deal the same number of times.


Players review the cards taken in from the tricks they won. The two players that lost the bid combine their cards won. The cards in the Skat are counted by the bid winner. The value of the cards are calculated.

  • Each Ace = 11 points

  • Each 10 = 10 points

  • Each King = 4 points

  • Each Queen = 3 points

  • Each Jack = 2 points

The bid winner needs a card total of 61 or more points to get the win for the round.

If the bid winner gets the win, he/she is awarded the base value of the game chosen times the appropriate number of multipliers.

Base Values

  • Diamonds - 9

  • Hearts- 10

  • Spades - 11

  • Clubs - 12

  • Grand - 24


  • Win - getting 61 or more card points

  • Matadors - how many of the top cards a bid winner was with or without in his hand. Matadors Examples:

    • A player whose highest card is the Jack of Hearts is without two matadors. This equals a two matador multiplier.

    • A player with the Jack of Clubs, Jack of Spades, and Jack of Hearts, but without the Jack of diamonds is with three matadors. This equals a three matador multiplier.

    • A player without the Jack of clubs, but with the jack of spades is without one matador. This equals a one matador multiplier.

    • A player with the Jack of clubs (top ranked card), but not the Jack of spades (next top card), is with one matador. This equals a one matador multiplier.

  • Hand - playing a trump or grand game without using the Skat.

  • Schneider - winning 91 or more card points.

  • Announcing Schneider - announcing you will get 91 or more points before the game play begins. (Can’t use Skat)

  • Schwarz - winning every trick

  • Announcing Schwarz - announcing you will win every trick before the game player begins. (Can’t use Skat)

  • Open - Placing your cards face up on the table for everyone to see during game play and winning all the tricks. (Can’t use Skat)

Announcing and making Schneider gives the player both the Schneider and Announcing Schneider multipliers. Announcing and making Schwarz gives the player the Schneider, Announcing Schneider, Schwarz, and Announcing Schwarz multipliers. Playing open gives a player every multiplier.

Going Set

A player loses double the game value played if he/she does not get 61 game points, gets less points than bid, does not get Schneider when announced, or does not get Schwarz when announced.

Null Game

If successful in avoiding all the tricks in a null game, the bid winner is awarded 23 points if the Skat was used, or 35 points if the Skat was not used. The points are doubled if the player plays the hand open.


The player that got the most card points in the round would lose 20 points if each other player took at least one trick, or 30 points if one player took zero tricks.


  • If a grand game is called, only the jacks are trump. This means if a jack is led, a jack is required to be played to follow suit.

  • The minimum bid is 18. Every hand will have a minimum multiplier of two for the win, and being with or without a matador. The lowest base valued suit is the diamonds at nine. Nine times two is 18.

  • A player’s matador multiplier could change based on the cards in the Skat, even when a player does not look at the skat. For example, a player that was without two matadors could get the jack of clubs in the skat at the end of the game. This changes his/her without two matadors to with one matador.

OBJECTIVE OF SKAT: Fulfill your contract by winning or losing tricks.


NUMBER OF CARDS: 32 card deck

RANK OF CARDS: J, A,10, K, Q, 9, 8, 7//A, K Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7

TYPE OF GAME: Trick-Taking



Skat is a popular German trick-taking game that accommodates 3 players. It was created in 1840 in Altenburg, Germany by Brommesche Tarok-Gesellschaft members. The game is a mixture of Schafkopf, Tarok (Tarot), and l’Hombre. Skat is not to be confused with the American card game Scat. Skat uses three hands with 3 active players, the fourth being the dealer who sits out. There are three different ways to play skat, which change the value of the cards: suit games, grand, and null.


The game was traditionally played with German cards which use different kinds of suits. Below outlines the corresponding suits.

French German

– Clubs Acrons (Eichel)

– Spades Leaves (Grün)

– Hearts Hearts (Roz)

– Diamonds Bells (Karo)

K – King King (König)

Q – Queen Ober (Ober)

J – Jack Unter (Unter)

Card Ranking

Card rankings depend on which game the declarer wants to play.

Suit Games

No matter the suit chosen for trumps, the four Jacks are top trumps. Jacks rank in this order:

Trumps Ranking: J, J, J, J, A, 10, K, Q, 9, 8, 7

Nontrumps Ranking: A, 10, K, Q, 9, 8, 7

Grand Games

The four jacks are the only trumps, ranking in this order:

Nontrumps Ranking: A, 10, K, Q, 9, 8, 7

Null Games

No trumps. Cards rank: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7

In suit and grand games, cards have the following point values:

J: 2 A: 11 10: 10 K: 4 Q: 3 9: 0 8: 0 7: 0

There is 120 total points.


The first dealer is chosen randomly, the deal passes left. The dealer shuffles and then the player to their right cuts the deck. The dealer deals 3 cards to each player, 2 cards to the center (this is the skat), then 4 cards to each player. If the dealer is the fourth player, they deal to each other player and sit out.


A bid is a possible value of points that are available within the game. For example, 20, 25, 33, 60 points, etc. The lowest bid is 18 points.

The player to the left of the dealer is the forehand (F), the player to the left of the forehand is the middlehand(M), and the player to their left is the rearhand (R). If there are only 3 players, the dealer is the rearhand. F is senior to M and M is senior to R. Senior players only have to match the bid of their junior’s to win the bid. Junior players must exceed the bids of seniors to win.

Auctions begin with F and M. M bids first, either passing or bidding (typically bidding the minimum of 18). F may either pass, and decide to not have the opportunity to be declarer, or say yes and match M’s bid. If F says yes, M may either pass or increase their bid. F decides whether to pass or match M;s bid again. This continues until either F or M drops out by passing. If a player passes they can no longer bid on the hand.

The second portion of the bid is between R and the winner of F and M’s bid. R must increase their bids as the junior, to which F or M must match. Whoever does not pass becomes the declarer, or the winner of the bid.

If M and R both pass, F may be declarer by bidding 18 or cards are thrown in and re-dealt.


The declarer has the right to pick up the two skat cards. Add them to hand and discard two unwanted cards face-down. The cards discarded can be the one’s picked up. After discarding, the declarer chooses their game. If the declarer looked at the skat cards, the contract is skat game. There are seven options:

Diamonds/Hearts/Spades/Clubs: A suit is declared as trumps, the declarer tries to earn 61 points.

Grand: Only jacks are trumps, the declarer tries to earn 61 points.

Null: No trumps, declarer attempts to lose every trick.

Null Ouvert (Open Null): Played like null with the declarer’s hand exposed.

Player’s can choose to not look at the skat cards. However, the game is called a hand game, with the same contract options.

Declarers in suit hand games and grand hand games can up the stakes by increasing the point value of a game. Player’s may announce Schneider and attempt to win 90 points, Schwarz and attempt to win all the tricks, or Open and play with their hand exposed. This must be announced before the first trick.


Play moves clockwise. The forehand always leads the first trick and player should try to follow suit if possible. If a player is unable to follow suit they may play any card. Reminder, in suit and grand games jacks are trumps despite suit. For example, if the suit lead with is diamonds, jack of clubs is still the highest trump.

Tricks are won by the highest trump, if no trump is played, the player who takes the trick is whoever played the highest ranking card that followed suit. The winner of a trick leads in the next trick.

Declarers in suit and grand game win if they take at least 61 points (in card values, including the skat). Opponents win if their tricks combined is at least 60 points.

If opponents take 30 or less points they are Schneider, if they take 31+ points they are out of Schneider. Taking no tricks at all means they are Schwarz. These apply to the declarer as well.

Declarers in Null or Open Null games win by losing every trick. Taking a trick is losing.


Suit & Grand Contracts

The value of these contracts is determined by multiplying the base value and the multiplier. The base value is dependent on the trump suit.

Contract Base Value

Diamonds 9

Hearts 10

Spades 11

Clubs 12

Grand 24

The multiplier is the sum of the following items:

Multiplier Skat Hand

Matadors 1 each 1 each

(with or against)

Game 1 1

Hand n/a 1

Schneider 1 1

^ (announced) n/a 1


Schwarz 1 1

^ (announced) n/a 1

Open n/a 1

*Every multiplier that is applicable counts.


Jack of clubs and a sequence of trumps are called Matadors. If the declarer conforms, they are with that number (of Matadors). If the opponent’s hands combined conforms, the declarer is against. For example,if the declarerhas J, J, J, J, A, 10, K, they are with 7. If the declarer does not have J they are against that number of Matadors.

The smallest multiplier possible is two.

Null Contracts

Nul contracts are simpler to score, contracts have fixed values.

Contract Value Amount lost (if unsuccessful)

Null 23 46

Null Hand 35 70

Null Open 46 92

^ Hand 59 118


If the declarer wins and the game value is at at least as much as their bid, the game value is added to their cumulative score. However, if the declarer loses and the game value is as least as much as their bid, then double the game value is subtracted from their cumulative score.

If the game value is less than the bid the declarer loses automatically. A number of points taken does not matter. Double the base value is subtracted from their cumulative score.

When the declarer announces Schneider and takes less than 90 points, or announces Schwarz and win a trick, the declarer loses automatically.


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