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How to play Skip Bo

In this article you will learn the rules and with our easy instructions you will know how to play Skip Bo in a few minutes. We have linked the original PDF rules in the FAQ section.

If you’re planning a perfect game night or looking for a fun family get-together, Skip-Bo is one of the favorites that’s sure to please everyone from kids and teens to adults and grandparents. It is an ultimate fun card game from the makers of UNO, Mattel Games. The game consists of 144 numbered cards and 18 Skip Bo cards. It can be played with 2-6 players. The goal of the game is to get rid of your cards before all the other players. It is also one of the best go-to games for road trips and family vacations. So, if you want to give it a shot but aren’t familiar with skip Bo rules, we are here to give you a head start!

In this guide, we’ll go through all key skip Bo instructions, gameplay, and everything you need to know that will help you master it in no time. Let’s get started.

Skip Bo Box
Skip Bo Box
PublisherMatel Games
Players2–6
Age8+
Playing Time20 min
ThemeCard Game
MechanicsHand Management

Objective of the Game

The goal of the game is to play all your cards in numerical order of 1-12 before the other players. The cards from the stockpile are played onto the middle building piles. There can be four building piles started with 1 and are built up to 12. The first player to play all the cards in the stockpile is the winner!

Card and Deck Styles in Skip-Bo

The deck in skip Bo consists of a total of sixteen cards, 12 each of the numbers, and eighteen SKIP-BO wild cards that come in green, blue, and red color and can be played as any number. The 162 cards could be three regular decks of playing cards including jokers with an ace to queen corresponding to 1 to 12 and the kings and jokers corresponding to skip Bo cards. The old version of the game consisted of four decks of regular playing cards along with 8 skip Bo cards replacing the usual two jokers in each deck. Moreover, the aces, twos, and threes in the fourth deck were marked, Skip Bo. The remainder of the fourth deck was discarded.

Set of Skip Bo Cards
Playing Cards

Game Set up

  • The first step is to choose the dealer, who shuffles the card. After shuffling the deck, each player draws a card, and the player who gets the highest card deals becomes the dealer. All players can take turns to be dealers.
  • The dealer then deals a stockpile of cards to each player. The number of cards depends on how many players are playing.
  • If two players are playing, each player is dealt with 15 cards. If three players are playing, each player will be given 12 cards. If there are more than 4 players, each one will get 10 cards. For a shorter game, deal fewer cards into each stockpile.
  • The cards are placed face down and form each player’s stockpile.
  • Two to four players can play the game as individuals or six or more in teams but not more than three partnerships are allowed.
  • Once the dealer deals with all the stockpiles, each player flips the top card of their stockpile and place it right on the top of the pile.
  • The dealer places the remaining cards facing down in the middle of the table for a draw pile to be dealt out during the play.

Setting up the Playing Area

Playing Area for Skip Bo
Playing Area

In the middle of the play area, put a draw pile, where you’ll be able to draw additional cards. Right next to the draw pile, up to four building shared piles are placed. During the game, each player will create 4 discard piles next to their stockpile. You’ll need space for four building piles in the center of the table near the draw pile. The piles are formed as the game proceeds so make sure to leave room for them. The average gameplay is around 20 minutes.

Stock Pile

This is the pile created by the cards given to each player. The top card of the stockpile is always face up and visible. Each player has his/her stockpile.

Draw Pile

This pile is made in the center of the playing area and contains all the remaining cards after stockpiles are dealt.

Building Piles

These piles are created where the players build the 1 to 12 card sequences and can be started with either 1 or Skip-Bo. Once a pile has the complete 1 to 12 sequence, remove it from the play area and start building a new pile.

Discard Piles

These piles are made by cards discarded by players. Only the top card of the discard piles can be played for sequences. Players can form sequences on any of the four discard piles without any restraint on the order or the number of cards.

How to Play Skip Bo (Single Round)

The gameplay begins with the player left to the dealer. Here are some Skip Bo instructions to follow on your turn:

  • Draw five cards from the draw pile at the start of your first turn.
  • If you get a number 1 card or Skip Bo card, on the top of your stockpile, start a building pile in the center of the play area.
  • You can continue to play by adding suitable cards onto the building pile from your hand or discard the pile to create stacks of sequentially numbered ascending cards.
  • If you end up playing all five cards, draw 5 more cards from the draw pile and this process can be repeated as needed.
  • If the draw pile is also completely used up, cards from the completed building piles are shuffled to make a new draw pile.
  • Always try to win from your stockpile, as you win when you run out of your Stockpile and there are no more cards left to play.
  • Finish your turn when there are no more plays available or just don’t want to play by discarding one card from your hands onto one of the discard piles and play will pass to the next player.
  • On your next turns, you may play the top card of any of your discard piles. The play continues in a clockwise manner until one player has played their final start card.
  • The tactic to play cards involves organizing the cards in the discard piles to prevent the next players from good plays and knowing when to play from which option especially Skip Bo wildcards.

How to Play Skip Bo (Team Play)

  • In team play, each team has two stockpiles and two sets of four discard piles, irrespective of the number of players in each team.
  • You can legally play from your stock and discard piles as well as your teammates.
  • You can’t talk during your partners’ turn and they also can’t during yours.
  • You can only give verbal instructions for any required actions involving their cards.
  • If you break this rule and get caught by any of the players, you’ll have to draw two cards from the draw pile without looking at them and place them onto your stockpile.
  • The round ends when all the players on a team reach the end of their stockpile.
How to play Skip Bo in a team

Winner

For the single rounds, the first player who manages to play all cards from his/her stockpile before the other players wins. On the other hand, if multiple games are being played, either tracking the number of wins for each player or a point system can be used.  The winner of each round scores 25 points for winning the round and five extra points per card left in each of the other players’ Stockpiles. The first player to score 500 points is the winner of the game.

Skip Bo Rules to Remember

Here are some essential rules you should keep in mind while playing Skip Bo:

  • If you end up drawing too many cards, shuffle the extra cards in your stockpile to continue playing.
  • Cards in the discard pile can be stacked on top of each other, but the only top card can be moved onto a building pile.
  • If you can play one of the new cards, then play the card that’s underneath the old card.
  • The Skip Bo “wild cards” makes the game interesting by breaking up the static situations and may be played as any number to beat your opponents.
  • If any player gets caught playing out turn, revoke any action, and play continues until that player gets his/her actual turn. A penalty is then imposed and they must make a play without drawing a card from the draw pile.
  • If the player plays out of turn and no one notices, the play will be considered legal and no penalty will be imposed.
  • If a player ends up playing all five cards from the hand, 5 more cards are drawn and the turn continues.
  • If a building pile reaches a 12, that means it’s complete. Remove it from the board to empty the space to start building a new pile.
  • In team play, anyone on the team can continue playing from the remaining building and discard piles, even if a stockpile has been used up completely.

Conclusion

After reading this article, you now know how to play Skip Bo. You learned about the game setup, playing solo or in a team as well as the winning conditions. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to use the comment below. Other card game instructions you can find in our How to play section. If you like to buy the game, check the good deal on amazon.

Video instructions

FAQ Section

What are the blank cards for in Skip Bo?

The blank cards have to be removed for playing. Consider them as replacement parts if a card is missing or damaged over time.

What to do if the Skip-Bo draw pile runs out?

After all the cards have been taken from the main pile, put all of the completed piles back together again. Of course don’t forget to shuffle 🙂

Can you play Skip Bo online?

There is no online service we know about, but you can download the game for free from the microsoft store and in the google play store. Those games offer online playing functionality to play with your friends.

How to play Skip Bo with regular cards?

You need 3 decks of playing cards.
1 = Ace
2-10 = normal two to 10 cards
11 = Jack
12 = Queen
Skip Bo = King and Joker

Where to find the Skip Bo rules as PDF?

You can download the rules and instruction PDF directly from Mattel Games

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