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How to Play Skyjo Card Game (Rules and Instructions)

How to Play Skyjo Card Game (Rules and Instructions)

Originally released in 2015 Skyjo is a card game designed by Alexander Bernhardt. The game is a simple straightforward card game meant for the entire family. The goal is to try and replace high value cards in front of you with lower value cards.

Year: 2015 | Publisher: Magilano | Designer: Alexander Bernhardt | Artist: Alexander Bernhardt

Genres: Card, Family

Ages: 8+ | Number of Players: 2-8 | Length of Game: 30-60 minutes

Difficulty: Light | Strategy: Light | Luck: Moderate

Components: 150 cards, instructions

Where to Purchase: Amazon, eBay Any purchases made through these links (including other products) help keep Geeky Hobbies running. Thank you for your support.

Objective of Skyjo

The objective of Skyjo is to try and minimize the number of points on your cards.

Setup for Skyjo

For each round that you play, you will complete the following setup steps.

  • Shuffle all of the cards together.
  • Deal twelve cards face down to each player.
  • The rest of the cards form the draw pile. The top card from the draw pile is turned over to start the discard pile.
  • Each player places the twelve cards they were dealt into a 4 x 3 grid. All of these cards will remain face down as players can not look at them.
Setup in Skyjo
  • Each player chooses two of their face down cards and flips them over.
  • To determine who starts the first round, all of the players total their two face up cards. Whoever has the highest total will start the round. In future rounds, the player who ended the previous round (turned over their last face down card first) gets to start the next round.
This player has revealed a twelve and a zero. For determining the first player in the first round, this player will have a total of twelve.

Playing the Game

You will begin your turn by drawing a card. You can choose to draw one of two cards.

Choose Card
For this player’s turn they can choose to either take the six or the top card from the draw pile.

First you can take the top card from the discard pile. If you choose this option, you must exchange this card for one of the cards in your grid. You can exchange it for one of your face up or face down cards. You may not look at a face down card before you choose it. Once you have chosen a card and turned it over, you must exchange it for the card that you took from the discard pile. The card that you replaced with the new card will be placed on the top of the discard pile.

Otherwise you will take the top card from the draw pile. When you choose this option you can look at the card. At this point you will choose one of two options.

If you would like to keep the card, you will exchange it for one of the cards in your grid. You can either choose a face up or face down card. The card you exchange it for will be placed on top of the discard pile.

If you don’t want the card after looking at it, you can choose to discard it. After discarding it, you will flip over one of the face down cards in your grid.

After taking one of these actions, your turn ends. Play will pass to the next player clockwise (to the left).

Special Rule

Skyjo has a special rule that you can choose to use. If at any time a player has three revealed cards of the same number in a vertical column, they will discard the entire column. These three cards will be placed on top of the single card the player discarded on their turn.

End of Round

A round will end once one of the players has turned all of their cards face up. The rest of the players will get to take one more turn.

All of the players will then flip over any cards that are still face down. Each player will total the points printed on all of their cards. This total is added to each player’s game total.

The player that ended the round (was the first to flip over all of their cards) must score the least points in the round. If another player scores the same number of points or less, the player that ended the round will double the amount of points they score in the round. This only applies to positive points. You will not double their score if their total was negative.

End of Game

At the end of each round, the players total how many points they have scored in all of the rounds. Once one player has scored 100 or more total points between all of the rounds, the game will end.

The player who scored the least amount of points in the game wins.


Sunday 14th of April 2024

If a player has 1 unturned card left can they draw from the face up draw pile and exchange with another card so they don't have to go out?

Eric Mortensen

Monday 15th of April 2024

For your turn you can always choose to swap the card you draw with one of your face up cards. You may choose to do this if you want to extend the game because you don't think you will win with your current cards. You may do this whether you take the top card from the face down draw pile or the face up discard pile.


Saturday 20th of January 2024

If the Draw cards finish, what should we do

Eric Mortensen

Monday 22nd of January 2024

This is not directly addressed in the official rules so it is kind of up to interpretation. It ultimately comes down to what the players agree to do. Since there is no official rule, it would be best if all of the players could agree on how to handle the situation. There is really three different options in the game.

First you could shuffle the discard pile to form a new draw pile. This is probably how I would handle the situation.

The second option is to just not have a draw pile anymore. In this case players could only take the top card from the discard pile.

The final option is to end the game when the draw pile runs out of cards. In this case everyone would flip over the cards that they haven't flipped over yet. Scoring would then be conducted based on all of the cards in front of each player.

Friday 15th of December 2023

If you have 3 of the same minus cards in a column do you have to get rid of column.

Eric Mortensen

Monday 18th of December 2023

The rules say that whenever a triplet is formed (three of the same number in a column), you must discard the entire column. As there is no specific rule that says it doesn't apply to minus cards, in this case you would have to discard all of the minus cards in the column as long as they are the same minus number.

Sunday 24th of September 2023

How do you start the second round . do you keep them all face down?

Eric Mortensen

Monday 25th of September 2023

To start a new round you will gather up all of the cards and shuffle them together to mix them up. Twelve cards are dealt face down to each player and each player arranges them into a 4 x 3 grid. Basically you set up the second and any subsequent rounds in the same way as you set up the first round.


Wednesday 15th of February 2023

Does a mixture of one's either l plus or a straight l (or two's ) count as 3 in a row for removal ?

Eric Mortensen

Thursday 16th of February 2023

I am interpreting your question as would you remove a column if there was both 1's and -1's in a column. If this is not what you are asking, can you clarify your question.

My interpretation of the official rules is that the cards in a column need to be the exact same type of card in order to be removed. Therefore a -1 and a 1 would not be considered the same cards and would not trigger the cards being removed.