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How to Play 31 Card Game?

31 Card game is one of the ancient and most commonly played card games. Also known as Scat, Blitz, Kitty, and Cadillac, thirty-one is famous in Britain and America and is played between two to seven people. The thirty-one card game is great for small and large groups, children and adults alike. Players have 3 card hands with a goal to collect cards from a suit that are at least 31 points from the total. It’s an easy draw and a discard card game suitable for all players.

So, if you are looking for a new yet fun card game that also involves poker chips, learn these simple rules and gameplay of the 31-card game here.

The Origin

As thirty-one is first mentioned by Sermon in French Translation, it is considered to be of an Italian origin.

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The Objective

31 Card game aims to acquire a full hand value as precise as 31. Competition may be friendly or serious with poker chips, depending on the players. The game gives you space to gamble, though glorification is also a great pleasure.

Cards and their Face value

The 31-card game is played with a standard deck of 52 cards. Firstly, getting equipped with the values of cards, aces are always high, court cards are counted 10, counting 11, and all the rest of other playing cards are face value ones. Every player receives three cards and pennies representing their lives. As the stock of the game, the remaining cards are settled in between the table. The top card is turned over to be rendered useless.

How to Play 31 Card Game?

Game Rules

Play proceeds after the hands of the first round are distributed to each player. This play circles in a clockwise direction, starting from the immediate left of the dealer. While discarding or stocking the top card, subsequently, the card is discarded. In the same suit, every player tries to assemble a hand value of 31 or somewhere near it. Play continues in a clockwise direction until a player knocks the other players with a blitz reveal.

Whenever a player believes that he has an upper hand value to beat at least one opponent, then instead of discarding or drawing from the stock, the player can knock on the table. Standing is an act referred to when a player knocks on the other players; going clockwise from the player who knocked can either keep the three cards in hand or have one more turn where a player draws or discards from the stock.

When the player from the right of the player who knocked gets a final turn, then the round ends. The round ends in a draw by the time no one knocks the players at the exhaust of the standard deck. Knocking of the players depends on the confidence that they do not have the lowest score. An experienced and skilled player remembers which suits the rest of the players are discarding. Changing suits is referred to when a player is seen discarding a different suit than what he discarded in his previous round. Changing suits is seen as a player’s disadvantage as another player might knock.

Only counting cards of the same suit, at the end of the round, every player totals one up and shows their hand value. For example, if a player holds three cards of different suits, then the player’s score will be the highest value card. The player loses a life and loses a deal if the player holds the lowest score. If there arises an instance of a tie involving two players, then both the players lose a life. If there involves an instance where out of the two lowest sore bearers, one is the knocker, then the knocker gets the advantage and never loses a life.

If there exists an instance where in the previous round to a player knocking, a player obtains a hand value in the same suit of a perfect 31, then the hand is shown straight away. This results in ending the round, with each player losing a life.

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When only two players are left in the game and one player knocks, then it is possible to collect a discard of their own. The other player who discarded the card is present on the top of the pile. This means that it is available to be taken back if needed.

The players are supposed to pay their pennies at the centre of the table when they lose a life. “On the County” is the term that refers to the player who has no pennies. If this player loses any further lives, they are out of the game. Until one player remains, the game continues. All the variations of game 31 are played using a regular deck.

Common Variations

Dollar Bill

This is the US version of playing a thirty-one card game. In this, instead of tokens or coins, the players use dollar bills. This involves tracking down their lives by folding the edges of a five-dollar bill. The five-dollar bill represents the stake in this play. A “free ride”, or an “on the bike” refers to the player who folds all the edges of the bill and continues to play. Same way as before, the lowest score loses. The five-dollar bills are taken by the last player.


The aim and objective of Switch are the same as the original Thirty-one. Players exchange two hands on the table instead of picking the top card from the discard pile. It is the difference between Switch and the original version of Thirty-One. In the middle of the table face-down, one extra hand is dealt and placed after the dealer is dealt with two hands. The player decides the hand that they want to play with and the dealer looks and places the hand face-up just next to the hand face-down. The round begins with the dealer’s left. During a round, each player has four options as per Switch Card game Rules:

If the player has a face-up card, then he can exchange it for a face-down card.

They can swap one of their hands completely for a different hand or have their hand unchanged.

A person has a choice of renewing their hand. For instance, if a player chooses a face-up card, then their turn is done. If the player chooses a face-down card, then their turn continues.


With the following changes, banking is similar to the original version of Thirty-one. Every player has to stake up to one coin or token in the middle of the table before every round. “Widow” is the term referred to after a player has received a card; the dealer places a face-down card in the middle of the table while dealing. This is done to set up a pile of three playing cards. It is also known as the greek banking game. The player with the highest score bags all the tokens at the centre of the game at the end of the round. If, at any instance, a player is seen knocking, they immediately show their hands. This results in the player acquiring the tokens and end of the round.

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Three of a Kind

In this game, if a player acquires three cards of different suits having the same value, then the hand value is worth 30.5 points. This is called three of a kind. Otherwise, a player loses a life. The last player wins the game.

West Lansing Cut Throat:

The changes in this card game rules to the regular version are:

  1. Before the play begins, some amount is agreed to purchase three tokens. The last player with any tokens wins the round.
  2. There is no “on the bike”. The player who knocks has to pay two tokens if he does not knock two other players.
  3. Three cards of the same suit are counted as a score of 30.5 points and acquire the last token.

No Elimination 31

All players reveal their hands at the end of every hand to tally the card points. This is either done by a player showing the hands or by a player knocking. If a player has two or three cards of one suit, the player who has a higher score is announced by totalling the values of these cards.

Stopping the Bus

This card game starts with three face cards up on the table instead of picking from the draw pile. Once the player’s turn comes, they can exchange one or three cards from the cards on the table. It may or may not be from the same suit.

Playing together card games strengthens the bond and improves mental health and peace.


Studies have shown that playing games reduces tension and is mainly related to a stress-buster. However, when it comes to playing entertaining card games, the 31 card game is one of the best games that allow all the players who have a full working time to have a cut out of their busy schedule and set their minds at ease.

Break the shackles and play this exciting card game that has a lot to teach. Start by bonding with friends and peers.

Vijaya Bharti
Vijaya Bharti is an experienced gaming writer fuelled by a passion for virtual worlds and interactive storytelling. Her profound understanding of game design and culture shines through her compelling content pieces captivating readers. She finds leisure in playing online games, writing about anything related to games, and watching web series.


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