The card game 31 (also known as Scat, or On the Bus) is similar to Casino, and can be played by two to nine people with a standard deck. This page has instructions for basic game play.
The goal is to end the round with a hand totaling 31 points in one suit, or not to end with the lowest number of points in your hand.
There is no trump suit in 31; scoring is based on each card’s individual value, and multiple cards of the same suit are added together. Aces are valued at 11 points, face cards at ten points, and all other cards score at face value.
Players begin with a pre-determined number of “lives,” usually three; players can choose more if they want to extend the game. Each player receives three cards, and an extra hand (called the “widow”) is dealt face down in the middle of the table. The player to the dealer’s left has the option to exchange their hand with the widow or pass.
If the player exchanges hands, then their hand becomes the widow and is placed face-up. Play continues clockwise. Each player may swap one or all of their cards with the widow, or pass. Play continues until one player knocks, or all players around the table choose to pass.
Once you have a hand that is high enough you think it will beat at least one other player’s, you may knock on the table. Each other player has one final chance to swap cards or pass before scoring.
If at any time you have three cards of one suit in your hand whose total point value equals 31, this is called “blitz.” You automatically win the round, and each other player “loses a life.”
After one player knocks and each other player has taken their last turn, all the players lay down their hands and scoring begins.
Each player counts only the cards of the same suit in his or her hand to calculate their points; the odd suit is not counted. If each card in a player’s hand is of a different suit, only the card with the highest point value is counted. The player with the lowest score “loses a life.”
If the knocker has the lowest hand, he or she is charged two lives instead of one. If there is a tie for blitz, the scoring applies to both and there is no tie breaker. If two players tie for the lowest hand, they both lose a life and there is no tie breaker.
Once the scores are tallied, the cards are shuffled and dealt again, and another round begins.
In the Country
Once a player loses all their lives, they are “in the country,” or “on the bus.” They may continue to play until they lose again. At which time, they are out of the game.
Winning the Game
The game continues until there is one person left. He or she is declared the winner.