27 Feb

Scat Strat: How to Win 31 Card Game

Tips and hints for winning the card game 31 (Scat).

31 (aka Scat) is a very simple turn-based 3-card game that can accommodate a wide range of players. It’s so easy to play, children all over North America have been enjoying it for years (minus the usual coin-betting aspect). It’s not all about luck though. There is a whole complex 31 strategy that players can employ to increase their odds of winning the game.

31 Card Game Strategy

Like so many card games, the most critical aspect of winning 31 is to be keenly observant. Those with a good memory and a knack for concentration can filter a great deal of information out of their opponents simply by paying close attention to their game play. At the same time, you have to deflect the infiltrating stare of others as they attempt to use the same basic 31 strategies against you.

31 (Scat) Strategy

Before we get too deep into how to win 31, make sure that you know the rules of the game. The following tips are provided for traditional Scat rules, as well as the most common 31 variations (i.e. the 30.5 point 3 of a Kind rule). If you’re not completely familiar with these, please refer to the following links first.

Watch Everything!

Observation is huge in this game. You need to watch what people are picking up from the discard pile, as well as what they’re putting down. The cards they pick up are instant tells of what suit they’re collecting, while the cards they drop display the opposite results – what they’re not keeping… usually.

If a player discards a high card, like an Ace or face card, they are obviously not collecting that suit. If they drop an 8 or 9, they’re either not collecting those, or they just got something even better and have a very high hand. You’ll find out which soon enough.

When player discards lower cards, the stage of the game can determine the meaning. Early on, when a low card is played, it doesn’t mean much of anything. They are probably getting rid of their junk cards. If a low card is played later in the game however, it often represents the suit they are collecting. They finally got a higher card of the same suit to replace the lower one.

If you’re extra observant—and you should be—watch to see if players are discarding the same card they drew. This can be really important. For example, I mentioned above that late in the game, if a player discards a low card, it’s probably a reflection of the suit they’re collecting. However, if you watch the player draw from the stock pile, and they discard the same card they just drew, it offers no information whatsoever.

Discarding

If you know what the player to your left is collecting, you obviously don’t want to discard any high cards of that suit. If you don’t know what they’re collecting, try to discard the same suit they’ve been discarding.

Remember that what you play early on is most likely what an opponent using any adept 31 strategy is going to play back at you. If you have A♣ 4♣ 9♥, don’t drop the 9♥. Drop the 4♣ instead. It’s too low to win you the game, but could make the player to your right comfortable enough to drop a higher club your way.

Drawing

If you just read the advice above, you should understand by now that you can’t give other players this same information you’re watching for. In some cases you have to, but if it’s avoidable, or if there’s a way to throw them off the scent, you should.

For example, if you’re collecting hearts, and a 5 of hearts is played, you should not pick it up – it’s not worth enough points to give away your suit. If you draw a card from the stock pile and intend to discard it, try to mix it up in your hand first. Make it look like you kept that one and are discarding another. The best players won’t fall for this, but many others will.

Number of Opponents

The number of players you’re up against will effect the efficacy of a good 31 strategy. You can’t afford to make deceptive moves when there are a lot of players. With 5+ people, hands tend to go very fast. Someone usually gets a good knocking hand early on, so you won’t have time to deflect attention. Play it straight, going for the highest hand in the shortest time.

In a game with 4 or more players, you only have to pay close attention to the players on each side of you. You need to know what not to discard left, and what the player to your right will or wont drop to you. Trying to collect the same suit this player is collecting means they won’t drop what you need. Unless they suddenly change suits, in which case you can make out like a bandit! The point is, don’t worry about the players in the middle of the pack, just left and right matter most.

3 of a Kind

If you’re playing in a group that utilizes the 3 of a Kind rule, try to collect cards that will work towards both hands, 31 and 30.5. As any poker player knows, the more outs the better! If you have two Aces and a 10-point card in the same suit as one of them, you’re in great shape. You can draw for another Ace, or another matching suit. Two Jacks and a high card of one matching suit is also good.

Keeping a pair of low cards like 2’s, 3’s or 4’s is risky, but they can also score you a huge set, since these are the cards most players feel comfortable throwing away.

Last but not least, keep a very close eye on the discard pile. If you’re hoping to draw a set of 5’s, and two 5’s are in the discard pile, you can’t possibly finish it. I reiterate – memory and observation are the key to winning 31!

Play Popular Card Games Online in Canada

Royal Vegas Canada offers an interesting palette of specialty games for fun or real money. Everything from Texas Hold’em, dice games, Omaha, Keno, 7 card stud, to craps, blackjack and slots. Safe, and fun.

Visit http://RoyalVegas.ca