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Skip-Bo Card Game: How to Play and Winning Tricks

Updated on April 25, 2020
PGupta0919 profile image

I am a big fan of new games and love to try out new card games, especially with friends and family.


What is Skip-Bo?

Skip-Bo is a card game from Mattel which meant for 2 to 6 players. The objective of the game is to finish the initial set of cards (called the Stock Pile) that are drawn in the beginning before others finish their card piles. The card is meant for anyone over the age of seven which means it is a great game to play with family and friends.

It is a very easy game to play, and it is so much fun. You can play it anywhere, provided there is enough room for players to keep their cards.

In my opinion, Skip-Bo is very similar to the game Solitaire, which we often played in the 2000s on our computers. I am sure many of us play Solitaire on our phones now.

What are the components of Skip-Bo?

There are in total 162 cards which are divided into 144 numbered cards and 18 Skip-Bo (Wild Card) cards. The cards are numbered from 1-12. The set that I got also came with a set of instructions.

Card Type
Number of Cards
Number Cards
Skip-Bo Cards

What are the rules and steps of playing of Skip-Bo?

Before I start discussing the game rules, here are a few terms that I will be referring to in the article. At first, it may seem overwhelming, but after 1-2 rounds of the game, it becomes fairly easier to remember all this.

The terms are as follows:


    The cards which are dealt at the beginning of the game and given to each player is called the STOCK PILE


    The cards which remain after distributing the stock piles are put aside in another deck called the DRAW PILE.


    These card piles are where the players place their Number/Skip-Bo cards in a sequence from 1-12.


    The pile in which players can discard upto 1 card in each turn is called a discard pile.

Pile Name
Max. No of Piles Which can be There at any Given Time
No. of Cards in Each Pile
Stock Pile
Draw Pile
No Limit
Building Pile
Max. 12
Discard Pile
No Limit

To understand better you can also see the illustration below.

Make sure that you have enough room for the card piles to avoid clutter.

Steps to Play

  1. The game begins by shuffling the 162 cards deck. Each player is dealt with 10 to 30 cards each. It depends on the players so as to how many cards should be dealt.
  2. Ideally, if the number of players is less (1-3), we can deal more cards for the game to last longer. If the number of players are more (4-6), we can deal 10-15 cards to each player.
  3. The first dealt cards become the part of the STOCK PILE. The objective of this game is to finish the stock pile before any other player. The first one to finish their stock pile is the winner of the game.
  4. The first card of the stock pile has to face upwards, i.e., it must show the number/skip-bo on the card. Everyone should be able to see the first card of the stock pile, before the game begins.
  5. Place the rest of the cards aside. This will become our DRAW PILE from which the players can draw at the beginning of their turn.
  6. You can decide the sequence of play, else the youngest player gets the first chance, so on and so forth. There is no hard and fast rule about the sequence of play.
  7. Every player, during their turn has to keep five cards before playing. So, the first player playing, must first collect 5 cards from the draw pile. These cards are not disclosed to the opponents.
  8. From the stock pile, and the 5 drawn cards from the draw pile, the players must put cards in sequence in what is called a BUILDING PILE. This building pile starts from the number 1, or it can also start from a SKIP-BO card which is a wild card, and can be used as any number. At any given time in the game, there can only be a maximum of 4 building piles. In a building pile, the players can discard their cards to make a sequence of numbers from 1 to 12, in ascending order and the cards must be consecutive.
  9. After every turn, the player must discard exactly 1 card into what is known as the DISCARD PILE. At any given time in the game, there can only be a maximum of 4 discard piles. Players can only discard those cards which are in their hand. The cards from the stock pile cannot be discarded.
  10. Players can add cards to the building pile from the discard pile, but they can only play the top most cards in the discard piles.
  11. The Building Pile should be kept aside once the sequence of 1-12 is completed. The cards from these completed building pile can be later used as draw piles (after shuffling).

Example of Skip-Bo Game for 2 Players

Illustration of a Skip-Bo Game for 2 Players (Different Types of Card Piles)
Illustration of a Skip-Bo Game for 2 Players (Different Types of Card Piles) | Source

Click here to Purchase Skip-Bo Card Game

In case the player finishes all of his/her 5 cards in the building pile (before discarding 1 card in the discard pile), they can draw another set of 5 cards in that turn itself.

What are the tips and tricks to Win Skip-Bo?

Although there is no definite strategy to win everytime, here are some tricks that I have learnt over time:

  • Always try to keep your discard piles clean. You never know, when unusual cards start coming your way in the game. The next thing you know your discard piles are all messed up and you cannot use any cards in any sequence in the building piles.

  • Try to keep your cards in a particular order in the discard pile. Preferably keep your cards in the discard pile in the descending order. So if you have a 12 and 11 in your hand, I would suggest keeping 12 first and then 11 on top of it.

  • Save your Skip-Bo Cards. Out of 162 cards, only 18 of them are Skip-Bo cards. So save your Skip-Bo cards until you can make a good sequence from your cards. Make the most of them in the game.

  • If you are able to utilize all cards in your hand in the building pile, play those cards, as you will be able to draw 5 more in that chance itself. It can better your chances of playing the stock pile cards.

  • Multiple same number cards. If you happen to draw multiple cards of the same number, do try to keep those cards in one discard pile rather than make a sequence of the cards with other number cards. For example, if you have 3 seven number cards, 1 six number card and 1 five number card, keep the 3 seven number cards in one discard pile, rather than first making a sequence of 7,6,5.

  • Instead of trying to block your opponents by trying not to play, can also backfire in the game. This is because there may be a possibility that the other players get your cards, and they play it instead of you. They will have better chances to draw more, discard more and ultimately, use more stock pile cards.

  • If you want to practice or try the game, you can also download the Skip-Bo Game App and play with players from the other countries.

What are the variations to Skip-Bo?

There aren’t any rules for variations in Skip-Bo, but I have played with my own variations of the game. Some of them are as follows, but this can be modified and changed to suit your preferences or the preferences of those who are playing with you.

  • If you have more than 6 players, you can always make teams to play the game.

  • There could be points for the games, and the first person to achieve the maximum points wins the game. For example, if every game is worth 250 points and it is decided that the first person to reach 1000 points wins the game, this variation can also be considered.

Do you like playing Skip-Bo?

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I have always been a fan of Uno from Mattel. It is one of their most popular card games. But if you are looking for a different yet easy to play game, this game is worth the shot. It is super fun, and engages the whole party. I personally play this game with my family and my friends, and they all love it too. Best part, it keeps you busy for a longer period of time. It also helps to think and strategize while having fun. This game is perfect to just bring on a picnic day or play on a game night at home.

Let me know if you like to play Skip-Bo. What other card games do you like to Play?

© 2020 PGupta0919


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