Rules of 31 Card Game: How to Play and Variations

Rules of 31 Card Game: How to Play and Variations

Looking for a fun and engaging that's perfect for small and large groups alike? The 31 Card Game, also known as Scat or Blitz, is a classic game that combines strategy, luck, and excitement! In this blog post, we'll dive into the rules of 31, variations of this popular game, as well as provide tips on how to incorporate it into your next game night. Ready to become a 31 Card Game master? Let's get started!

Key Takeaways

  • 31 Card Game is a classic game for two to seven players using .

  • Aim is to collect cards of same suit and get as close as possible to 31 before other player knocks.

  • Play with popular variations like Dollar Bill, Switch or No Elimination. Have fun team play & tournament style events!

The Basics of 31 Card Game

Two to seven people playing the same suit of cards in the 31 card game

The Thirty One Card Game, also known as the 31 Card Game, is a versatile and entertaining game that can accommodate two to seven people. Its origin can be traced back to a Greek banking game and has since grown in popularity across the globe. The game uses a standard 52-card deck, and the objective is to collect cards of the same suit with a hand value as close to 31 as possible. Players also have an option to use chips or tokens for staking, with the winner taking all the tokens at the end of each round. To fully enjoy this card game, it's essential to understand the card game rules, which are easy to learn and follow.

The game of Knock begins with the following steps:

  1. The dealer shuffles the deck and deals three cards to each player.

  2. The dealer creates a stock and discard pile, with the top card of the stock being flipped face up to form the discard pile.

  3. The player to the dealer's left starts the game, and play continues clockwise until only one player remains with lives, or until a player knocks.


In the 31 Card Game, the main goal is to achieve a hand value of 31 or as close as possible using cards of the same suit. For instance, a hand with an Ace, King, and Queen of hearts would be a perfect score of 31, as Aces are valued at 11 and face cards are worth 10 points each. Numbered cards in the game hold their face value, making it essential to collect cards strategically to maximize your hand value.

A player can win the game immediately by obtaining a hand worth 31 points and revealing their hand. However, if no player reaches the exact score of 31, the game continues until a player decides to knock. Knocking signals the end of a round, and all players reveal their hands. The player with the lowest score in that round loses a life, and the game continues until only one player remains with lives.

Game Setup

To set up the game, first, choose a dealer. The dealer's role rotates clockwise after each hand, ensuring equal opportunities for all players. Once the dealer is selected, they shuffle the deck and deal three cards face down to each player. The remaining cards are placed in the center of the table as the stock, and the top card is flipped face up to form the discard pile.

With the cards dealt and the stock and discard piles in place, the game is ready to begin. The player to the immediate left of the dealer takes the first turn, and play continues clockwise. As each player draws and discards cards strategically, they aim to improve their hands, all while keeping an eye on their opponents' moves and calculating the risk of knocking.

Card Values and Scoring

Two players counting their card values in the 31 card game to determine the highest score

Grasping the card values and scoring system is fundamental in the 31 Card Game. Aces hold the highest value at 11 points, face cards (Kings, Queens, and Jacks) are worth 10 points each, and numbered cards are valued at their pip value.

To calculate the score of a hand, simply add up the values of the cards of the same suit. For example, if a player has a 7 of spades, a 10 of spades, and a , their hand value would be 27 points (7 + 10 + 10).

Scoring Hands

When it comes to scoring hands in the 31 Card Game, the key is to focus on cards of the same suit. A player's hand score is determined by the sum of the same suit cards in their hand. For instance, if a player holds a 5 of hearts, a 9 of hearts, and a King of hearts, their hand value would be 24 points (5 + 9 + 10).

In the rare case where a player has three cards of the same value from different suits, their hand is worth 30.5 points, giving them an edge over their opponents.

Losing a Life

In the 31 Card Game, losing a life occurs when a player has the lowest score in a round when a player knocks. Each player starts the game with a set number of lives (usually two or four), and once a player loses all their lives, they are out of the game.

This process continues until only one player remains with lives, becoming the winner of the game. Keep in mind that knocking carries a risk – if the knocker has the lowest score, they lose two lives instead of one.

Gameplay and Strategy

Two players drawing and discarding cards in the 31 card game

Mastering the 31 Card Game requires a mix of strategy, observation, and adaptability. Players must carefully choose whether to draw from the stock or discard pile, and when to knock in order to maximize their chances of victory.

Successful players often employ various tactics, such as counting cards, discarding low-value cards, and strategically knocking at the right moment.

Drawing and Discarding

During their turn, a player has two options: draw a card from the stock or pick up the top card from the discard pile. After drawing a card, the player must discard one of their cards, keeping their hand at three cards at all times.

Remember, a player cannot draw and immediately discard the same card from the top of the discard pile, as it violates the game rules for using only cards in a specific manner.

The process of drawing and discarding cards continues clockwise around the table, with each player aiming to improve their hand value. Players must evaluate the risk and potential benefits of each move, taking into consideration the cards that have been played and the cards that may still be in the stock or in other players' hands.


Knocking plays a significant role in the 31 Card Game since it indicates the end of a round. A player can choose to knock during their turn if they believe their hand value is high enough to beat at least one other player. Once a player knocks, the round comes to an end, and all players, including the knocker, get one more turn to draw and discard a card before revealing their hands.

Upon revealing their hands, the player with the lowest score loses a life, and the game continues with a new round. However, if the knocker has the lowest score, they lose two lives instead of one, making knocking a risky strategy that should be carefully considered.

Tips and Tricks

Adopting various tips and tricks can enhance your winning odds in the 31 Card Game. First, pay attention to the cards that have been played and try to count cards, as this can help you predict which cards are still in the deck and which have already been played. This information can be invaluable in deciding whether to draw from the stock or discard pile, and when to knock.

Another helpful strategy is to focus on discarding low-value cards, as this can increase your hand value and bring you closer to 31 points. Additionally, understanding when to knock is crucial, as knocking too early or too late can result in losing lives.

By employing these strategies and staying observant, you can greatly improve your chances of success in the 31 Card Game.

Popular Variations of 31 Card Game

Two players exchanging cards in the 31 card game

Like many card games, the 31 Card Game boasts several popular variations, each providing unique twists to the classic rules. Some of these variations include Dollar Bill, Switch, and No Elimination 31.

Each of these variations introduces new rules or modifications to the core game play, providing players with fresh challenges and opportunities for strategic play.

Dollar Bill

In the Dollar Bill variation of the 31 Card Game, players use dollar bills instead of tokens or coins to keep track of their lives. Each player starts with a five-dollar bill, and instead of placing a token in the pot, players fold a corner of their dollar bill to represent losing a life.

The last player remaining in the game collects all the dollar bills on the table, adding an exciting gambling element to the game.


The Switch variation of the 31 Card Game introduces an interesting twist to the gameplay. In this version, players can:

  • Exchange hands with other players

  • Renew their hand by drawing three new cards from the stock

  • Swap one card with the widow (a set of three cards placed face down on the table at the beginning of the game)

This variation adds an additional layer of strategy, as players must carefully consider when to exchange hands and how to optimize their hand value.

No Elimination 31

For those who prefer a more casual gameplay experience, the No Elimination 31 variation focuses on a running total of points rather than lives or tokens. In this version, players reveal their hands at the end of each round and add up the card points of the same suit cards in their hand.

The player with the highest score wins, while players lose when they fail to achieve the highest score. The game can continue for a predetermined number of rounds or until a player reaches a specific point threshold.

This variation allows for more relaxed and inclusive gameplay, ensuring that all players can enjoy the game from beginning to end.

Fun Ways to Incorporate 31 Card Game into Game Night

Two players revealing their cards in the 31 card game to determine the highest score

The 31 Card Game, versatile and entertaining, offers an array of engaging gameplay options for any game night. Whether you choose to play the classic version or experiment with one of the popular variations, this fun card game can easily be incorporated into your game night as a tournament-style event or a team-based competition.

No matter how you choose to play, the 31 Card Game is sure to provide hours of fun and excitement for players of all skill levels.

Tournament Style

An image showing the rules of 31 for playing a game in tournament style.

Organizing a tournament-style 31 Card Game event is a fantastic way to add excitement and competition to your game night. To set up a tournament, you can follow these steps:

  1. Divide players into groups or pools.

  2. Have each group compete in multiple rounds against everyone else in their pool.

  3. The player with the highest score at the end of each round advances to the next round.

  4. Continue the process until only one player remains as the ultimate winner.

A tournament-style 31 Card Game event can accommodate a large number of players and provides a thrilling atmosphere as players battle it out for the top spot. With the added element of competition, the 31 Card Game tournament is an engaging and memorable addition to any game night.

Team Play

Another entertaining way to incorporate the 31 Card Game into your next game night is by playing as teams. In a team-based 31 Card Game, partners collaborate to achieve the highest combined score possible. This adds a new dimension to the game, as players must communicate and strategize with their partners to make the best possible moves.

Team play can be combined with any of the popular variations of the 31 Card Game, providing endless possibilities for exciting gameplay. Whether playing with a small group of friends or hosting a large game night event, team-based 31 Card Game is a fun and engaging way to enjoy this classic card game together.


In conclusion, the 31 Card Game is a versatile and entertaining card game that can be enjoyed by players of all ages and skill levels. With its simple rules, engaging gameplay, and numerous variations, it's the perfect addition to any game night. By mastering the basic rules and exploring different strategies, you can elevate your gameplay and become a formidable opponent. So gather your friends, shuffle the deck, and embark on an exciting journey through the world of the 31 Card Game!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the rules of 31?

31 is a game of speed and strategy – you need to quickly score 31 or close by, using cards of the same suit and holding no more than 3 at a time.

The game is simple to learn but difficult to master. You must think quickly and strategically to outwit your opponents and win the game. You must also be aware of the cards in your hand and the cards in play, as well as the cards your opponents are holding.

What happens if you knock in 31 and someone gets 31?

If someone knocks with 31, everyone else loses a life.

If you're dealt 31, there's no play and everyone else still loses a life.

What happens if you knock and lose in 31?

If you knock and lose in 31 you'll pay two pennies if you have them. Otherwise, the other players will have to put a penny into the kitty.

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

What happens if you tie in 31?

If two or more players tie for the lowest value when playing 31, they all lose a life. The knocker loses two lives if their score does not have a higher value than the others.

The game then restarts with the deck being reshuffled.

How many players can participate in the 31 Card Game?

The 31 Card Game can be enjoyed by up to seven players.

It is a fast-paced game that requires strategy and luck. Players are dealt three cards and must decide whether to draw a fourth card or stay with their cards.

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