» How to Play Thirty One – 31

Though extremely simple in its rules, the game of 31 requires a bit of strategy to win. The object of the game is to reach 31 before all of the other players. The game of 31 can be played by up to nine people, and uses a standard deck of 52 playing cards.

Card Values in Thirty One

Their values are as follows:

• Ace = 11 points
• King, queen and jack = 10 points
• 10 through 2 = face value

The only way cards in a single hand have value, however, is if they are in the same suit. For instance, in a game of 31, a player with a jack of spades, seven of spades and four of hearts would have a hand worth 17. If a player has three different suits, the highest card prevails. The hand above would be worth ten points because the jack of spades was the highest card.

Each player receives three cards from the dealer, who then places the remainder of the deck in the center of the table and turns the top card over, face up, next to the pile. This face up card is the discard pile.

The game begins with the player to the left of the dealer chooses a card from the discard pile or the deck, and then discards one card on the discard pile. No one can take the top card of the discard pile and then return it in the same turn. It is obligatory to keep the card selected from the discard, but not from the deck.

The hand winds down to a close once one player knocks rather than drawing a card. This knock will end the player’s turns and also indicate that their hand is a high value. The other players get one more turn to improve their own hands, and then everyone reveals their cards.

Alternately, a player can declare 31 at almost any point in the game. If they receive 31 on the deal, they must declare this or if after drawing and discarding they reach 31, they must immediately make this known. This can happen in the final play after another player has knocked as well.

To tally scores, the players each get to select the suit they want to use for their hand. The player with the lowest hand value loses a life. Should a knocker lose the hand by having a score lower than another player, they forfeit two lives. Should a tie occur between the knocker and another player, the non-knocker loses a life. Should the tie be between other players, all lose a life. When a player declares 31, all the remaining players must forfeit a life.

What is a life? At the beginning of a  31 game, all players have three chips, pennies or other game pieces. These are called “lives” and when a life is lost or forfeited the pieces are placed into the “kitty” in the middle of the table. Once a player has lost all three pieces they will be able to remain in play until their next loss calls for a life. The game continues until all players are eliminated.

59 Comments on How to Play Thirty One – 31

1. budd morrow says:

in the game of 31 if only two players are left and one player has one coin and the other player that knocks has two coins,then they show their hands and they both have 25. what is the out come in the event of them both having the same hand?

• shweep says:

if only two players are left and they both have the same hand in value, the one that knocked loses because he did not beat the other player.

• abel estrella says:

If two players tie, one has two coins the other has one coin both pay into the common pot, that would leave one floating. If one player has one coin the other is floating both pay however since one is floating they are out and the one that paid their last coin wins.
Estrella family rules or Flagstaff AZ rules

• TLeeCenters says:

In case of a tie after a Knock, the one that Knocks is the loser.

• Bill says:

We always carried the pot over to the next game and everyone was back in.

2. stella crump says:

how do I get the game on.my kindle

3. Dave says:

The way we play is ,,,,,tie always goes to the knocker….main reason is that the knocker had the balls to knock, hope that makes sense..!~!

• d criz says:

if the knocker is tied, the knocker wins, the reason is the other players had an extra round to better their hand and still lost.

no, u dont have to have the same suit to knock, u could knock with ten high if u thought the other players had worse, but i would recommend against it!

4. Dolores Scheibly says:

When you knock in 31,do all three cards have to be the same suit?

• abel estrella says:

When the original game came to us that was the rule, but we changed it so the game would move faster. You can knock at any time

• S Brasseaux says:

no, you just have to think you can beat at least one other person at the table. you could knock with 20 (two 10 point cards of the same suit) and leave one card in a separate suit. also, there’s always three of a kind which is the same number in three different suits which is known as 30 1/2.

5. DARREN says:

iF THE GAME IS DOWN TO TWO PLAYERS AND ONE KNOCKS WITH 3 QUEENS AND THE OTHER PLAYER ALSO HAS 30 AND 1/2 BUT IN LOWER CARDS WHAT HAPPENS?

• S Brasseaux says:

from my experience playing, although some people view it differently, 30 1/2 is the same no matter the number and in the game if the knocker ties or loses then said person is forced to pay double in which case the other person would win.

• Larry g says:

Too dealt the cards to 3 players. Before I had a chance to look at my hand a player knocked. When I picked up my hand I had 31 does the knocker pay double?

6. K says:

Hello, When I used to play this with my family in Canada, you could also get three of a kind (i.e. three queens was equal to 30 points). It provided many more interesting options.

7. CHRIS BLOOMQUIST says:

THE CARDS HAVE ALL BEEN DELT. ONE PLAYER HAS 31 ON THE DEAL, BUT ONE PLAYER IS DELT 4 CARDS IN ERROR. THEY CALL MISDEAL. SHOULDN’T THE PLAYER WITH 4 CARDS JUST BE OUT THIS ROUND AND NOT HAVE TO PAY? ALSO, WHEN DEALING, THE DEALER FLIPS ONE CARD UP BY MISTAKE, THEY CALL THAT A MISDEAL ALSO, WHAT IS CORRECT?

8. Jim v says:

Knocker ties last played.
Knocker has 1 life, player has no lives.
Who wins?

9. Shawn says:

Can u go out on a tie?

10. Kim says:

If a player knocks, then another player gets scat which causes all but the knocker to be out if the game because they are out of lives…has the knocker lost against the 31 of scat or won?

• abel estrella says:

in our group, if someone has scat, everyone else on the table loses. it does not matter who knocked

11. Marguerite Morgan says:

If the first person to play the game gets 31 does the other
Players get a turn.

• S Brasseaux says:

no, once a person gets their total of 31 then everyone pays up one chip except that person.

12. Randy Caughell says:

Question in simple skat. 3 players left. Player A knocks, player B and C pick their cards and time for the show. Player A has 30, player B got 31 on the draw, and player C has 30. Who wins or what is the outcome? Just so you know, we play where if you get 31 after someone knocks it does not count. We had a bit of an argument over it, I felt that player B and C should play for the final win. Other say 31 beat all and he should win. Looking forward to your opinion.

13. Janis Bell says:

When playing 31 would there be any reason a player would not want either the top card on the disgard pile or a draw from the stack? If the top card on the disgards is a 2 why should the person to their left be penalized with that card since it was not disgarded by the person on their right?

• abel estrella says:

if the player does not want to draw they should knock, there is really no other choice. if that player is allowed to not draw the natural order of the draw is disrupted. kind of a cardinal precept to all cards.

14. frank says:

can I hold 31 for example two players left I have one dallar left the other player has two I hold 31 the until he knocks with with 30 I put down 31 is that fair

• S Brasseaux says:

no

15. frank says:

can you hold 31

• abel estrella says:

yes, but if someone else gets 31 then they do not have to pay, and since this is cutthroat, you just gave that person one more chance to beat you.

• S Brasseaux says:

no, once you get 31 you’re supposed to play it immediately regardless of who’s turn it is although it will most likely be your turn. but, no you cannot hold onto 31.

16. jeri says:

3players are left- 2 are on the county – 1 player has 1 life left. the player with one life knocks with 21 points. 1player also has 21 and the other has 17. what happens now? do the 2 21s play 1 more hand or does the 1 that knocked lose?

• Sara ogg says:

The 17 loses. Knocker only has to beat one person.

17. Charles Pulse says:

When a person knocks with four players in the game, and on the final draw of the non knocking players, one player gets a 31, how is the knocker fined? Does the knocker lose one coin or two?

• Markopolo says:

The knocker loses two coins. If you knock and are beat you lose two no matter the hand.

18. beatris says:

If I am the dealer in thirty one and my first three cards I deal to myself is thirty one or I deal another player thirty one, does every player lose a life?

• abel estrella says:

yes, every other player that does not have 31

• S Brasseaux says:

yes

If someone knocks and another player gets 31, does the person that knocked pay double?

• Laura says:

Yes the person who knocked has to double their points

20. if the player immediately to the left of the player who knocked, knocks immediately after that knock (without selecting a card), we call that a double knock. At which time no one can select a card and the cards are laid down to see who has the lowest total. If a non knocker ties or has higher points than the doubleknocker then the doubleknocker loses; if a nonknockrer ties or has lesser points than the first knocker, the first knocker wins.

21. sheila hardin says:

we play 31 a lot but argue on how many people pay per hand we usually play with 8 people each game so I see a lot of people only make the lowest hand pay is that how its suppose to be played cause when we play with 8 then we have 4 people pay per hand then when it goes to 5 or 6 people per hand we make 4 people pay then when it goes to 4 we make 2 people pay

22. Annette says:

If a person uses 3 of a kind (no face cards) what is the score? I have a big problem that even being possible! Wouldn’t that mean 3×3=9?
I find no enjoyment playing three Kings etc. causes a lot of arguments!

• Pixy says:

3 of a kind in any suit should equal 30.5

23. Annette Wright says:

If a person uses 3 of a kind (no face cards) what is the score? I have a big problem that even being possible! Wouldn’t that mean 3×3=9?
I find no enjoyment playing three Kings etc.

24. Derek says:

We play a very straight forward 31. No 30.5. Getting a 31 is always automatic lay down everyone else pays. If you knock and lose its only 1 life. If you knock and tie the knocker loses. Ez pz no discrepancies.

25. Laura says:

If you play 31 with a dollar should yor have 4 folds and than your life or is it still 3 and your life? Thanks

26. James white says:

If a player has one chip and knocks but loses the hand would they lose their one chip and free ride or would they still get the free ride

27. Bobby says:

If two player remain and one knocks and the other ties does the knocker pays double cuz it didn’t beat the other player

28. abel estrella says:

Our family loves playing 31 but we have made some changes to keep the game moving; just prior to the deal first person to left of the dealer can choose to have all the cards dealt up, you only get 3 cards and lowest on the table puts into the pot, we call this suicide. The other option for the player to the left of the dealer is; once he looks at his cards he just turns them over, no one draws, lowest on the table pays the pot, we call this shotgun. Or you can just deal normal.
Sometimes we play for 15.00. each loss is 5.00, keeps everyone’s attention!
Estrella family rules or Flagstaff rules

29. Mark says:

The game is much better if whenever a player knocks, and the other player either has more OR TIES, the knocker loses two. When a knocker ties, it’s often when he/she has 30. If he knocks and the other player also has 30, the non-knocker should not lose a coin, as in the rules you stated. Our version makes a knocker really think twice when he/she gets a 30, unless it’s very early in the game.
Also, play that three of a kind, suited = 30
Also, play that a straight flush (consecutive cards in the same suit, such as a 3, 4 and 5 of clubs) is a 30
Also, play that whenever anyone deals, if a 2 is the up-card in the discard pile, it’s an “auto-knock” and each player gets one more card, then reveals.

• Mark says:

Oops, last post should read 3 of a kind (such as 3 7s = 30) 3 of a kind cannot be suited, haha!

30. Delaire says:

Ok if a guy knocks and your person to your right decades can u pick up that card or does it have to be out of the deck

31. Keith Burkeen says:

What if I get 32? Two aces and a 10. Does 32 win?

I have question when a player knocks and the other bp layers get a chance to get another card can the next player take from the discard pow or does everyone have to take. A card from the deck pow

33. Penn says:

When a player knocks, is it mandatory that the other players pick up another card if they are happy with their hand too? Example: Player 1 knocks, Player 2 is happy with their hand, the window card has a low value. Player 2 could only help Player 3 if they pick up and discard a card with a higher value. Is Player 2 allow to strategically not pick up and discard another card?

34. mmchavez says:

Is it against the rules to pick up the discarded card and to immediately discard the exact same care?

35. puzzled says:

4 people are playing, someone knocks and has 25, another player has 30 another has 26 and another 25.
Don’t read anywhere how this plays out. Knocker has preference (but there are others higher) v.s. knocker low and pays double.

• Pixy says:

If the knocker ties with someone for the lowest cards the knocker loses because he did not BEAT at least one player. His cards have to be higher than at least one player.

36. Serena Mattison says:

If there are 3 players one person knocks the one player gets 29 the knocker and the other player get 28. Who pays?? Is the knocker out of the game with the other player