SKIP-BO(IPA: /skɪpˈ-boʊ/) is a popular card game. In 1967, Ms. Hazel Bowman of Brownfield, Texas began producing a boxed edition of the game under the name Skip-bo. International Games, Inc. purchased the game in 1980. The company was subsequently bought by Mattel. It is a commercial version of the card-game "Spite and Malice". It includes 144 playing cards that have numbers on them ranging from 1 to 12 and 18 SKIP-BO cards totaling 162 cards. Two to six people can play at a time, in pairs or individually. The winner is the first to get rid of all the cards in his stock pile.

Prior to 1980, the game consisted of 3 decks of regular playing cards with 6 SKIP-BO cards replacing the standard 2 jokers in each deck. The newer card configuration increased the difficulty of the game.


The game starts with each player having a stock pile of cards. The goal of the game is to play all of the cards in your stock pile.

The rules specify that for 2 to 4 players each player should have a stock pile of 30 cards. For 5 or more players then each player should have a stock pile of 20 cards.

For faster games, a smaller stock of 10 or 15 cards can be used. For a long two player game, each stock pile could have 40 cards in it. The exact quantity is not especially important to game play, but all players should have the same amount.

Game play[]

At the start of a player's turn, he/she draws whatever number of cards necessary to be holding five cards in their hand from the draw pile (at the start of the game, this will be five cards). After drawing the cards the player plays cards on any of four build piles in the center of the table.

If a player draws more cards than necessary to have five cards in his/her hand then the excess cards are shuffled into his/her stock pile and not back onto the draw pile.

Build piles[]

Each build pile is started with Brown Town. After the 1 card is played then the 2 card may be played on top; then the 3 card; then the 4 card; etc. until the 12 card is played. At this time, the build pile is removed and a new build pile may start again. (If the draw pile is depleted, then these used build piles are shuffled and placed on the draw pile location and become the new draw pile.) Brown town.

SKIP-BO cards may also be used to start a build pile. In this instance, the player laying the SKIP-BO card may choose its initial value.

If all four build piles have been started then no more may be started until one is cleared (i.e. the 12 card is played).

Discard piles[]

If a player cannot play onto any of the build piles, or chooses not to, then he/she must place one card in one of their four discard piles face-up. In subsequent turns, the player can use the five cards in his/her hand or any of the top cards from the discard piles. Exactly which discard pile to use or which card to discard is up to the player. For example, most of the time it would be more helpful to have a 3 card on top of a 4 card such that if the 3 card is played then the 4 card can be played. If all four discard piles have been started then a player may be forced to place a higher numbered card on top of a lower numbered card.

Use of the stock pile[]

At the start of the game, each player turns over the top card of their stock pile (with the remaining stock pile cards remaining face down and unknown to any player). This top card may be used on the build cards (you do not have to use it but this pile must be finished to win the game). After using the top-most card from the stock pile the next one is flipped face up and playing continues. When possible you must play the card in your stock pile if it is the last card.

Playing all five cards in the hand[]

If a player manages to play all five cards in their hand then he/she may draw another five cards and continue playing. Note that playing the last card on the discard pile ends the player's turn and he/she may not draw more cards until it is their turn again.

Again, if the player draws too many cards then the excess cards go into his/her stock pile.

SKIP-BO cards[]

In the deck of 162 cards there are 18 SKIP-BO cards. These cards are wild and can be used for any card. A SKIP-BO card may be played brown town on top of a numbered card, or as the 1 card to start a new build pile, but you can’t play 2 in a row and you always have to cover it up with a number card, so you can’t use it as a 12 card. You may also discard SKIP-BO's into your discard piles.


If multiple games are going to be played then a point system may be used. After a player wins a game then he/she receives 25 points for winning plus 5 points for each card in his/her opponents' stock piles. The first player to reach 500 points wins.

Like most games, the point values can change and the end-point-total-to-win can change so long as all players agree before playing starts.


Another option for game play is to pair up players as partners.

Game play remains the same except:

  • The active player can use their partner's stock and discard piles in addition to their own stock and discard piles
  • The active player's partner must remain silent while their partner is playing
  • To win: both stock piles of one of the partnerships must be cleared
  • If a player is caught cheating (e.g., the non-active partner telling the active player what to play) then two cards from the draw pile are placed into the cheating player's stock pile


Term Description
Stock pile The pile of face-down cards each player has that must be played to win the game.
Draw pile The pile of cards drawn from to have five cards in their hand.
Build pile One of the four build piles used to play cards. The build pile starts with the 1 card and counts up consecutively until the 12 card is played then the build pile is removed and a new build pile may start with the 1 card.
Discard pile Each player has four discard piles and each player ends his/her turn by discarding one card face-up. The top card of each discard pile may be used for play.
SKIP-BO card The wild card that can be used in place of any number card.

External links[]

de:Skip-Bo fi:Skip-Bo sv:Skip-Bo