Skip to main content

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

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

Skip-Bo tips and tricks

Skip-Bo tips and tricks

What Is Skip-Bo?

Skip-Bo is a card game from Mattel that's meant for 2 to 6 players. The objective of the game is to finish the initial set of cards (called the stock pile) that is drawn in the beginning before others finish their card piles. The card is meant for anyone over the age of seven, which means it's 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 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 162 cards in total, 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 TypeNumber of Cards

Number Cards


Skip-Bo Cards


Skip-Bo Terminology

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

The terms are as follows:

  1. Stock Pile: The cards dealt at the beginning of the game and given to each player are called the stock pile.
  2. Draw Pile: The cards that remain after distributing the stock piles are put aside in another deck called the draw pile.
  3. Building Pile: These card piles are where the players place their number/Skip-Bo cards in a sequence from 1–12.
  4. Discard Pile: The pile in which players can discard up to 1 card in each turn is called a discard pile.
Pile NameMax. No of Piles That can be There at any Given TimeNo. of Cards in Each Pile

Stock Pile



Draw Pile


No Limit

Building Pile


Max. 12

Discard Pile


No Limit

Step-by-Step Guide to Playing Skip-Bo

  1. The game begins by shuffling the 162-card deck. Each player is dealt 10 to 30 cards each. The number of cards dealt depends on the number of players.
  2. Ideally, if the number of players is low (1–3), we can deal more cards for the game to last longer. If the number of players is more (4–6), we can deal 10–15 cards to each player.
  3. The first dealt cards become 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; otherwise, 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 five cards from the draw pile. These cards are not disclosed to the opponents.
  8. From the stock pile and the five 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 four 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 one card into what is known as the discard pile. At any given time in the game, there can only be a maximum of four discard piles. Players can only discard those cards that are in their hands. 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 topmost 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 piles can be later used as draw piles (after shuffling).
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)

Tips and Tricks for Winning Skip-Bo

Although there is no definite strategy to win every time, here are some tricks that I have learned 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 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.
  • Utilize all cards in your hand in the building pile, if possible. 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 five 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 three seven number cards, one six number card, and one five number cards, keep the three seven number cards in one discard pile, rather than first, making a sequence of 7,6,5.
  • Remember, trying to block your opponents by trying not to play can backfire. This is because there may be a possibility that the other players get your cards, and they play them instead of you. They will have better chances to draw more, discard more, and ultimately, use more stock pile cards.
  • Download the app. If you want to practice or try the game, you can also download the Skip-Bo game app and play with players from other countries.

Variations of Skip-Bo

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

  • If you have more than six 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 number of points wins the game. For example, every game is worth 250 points, and it is decided that the first person to reach 1000 points wins the game.

Skip-Bo Is a Fun and Easy Game for the Whole Family!

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. The best part is that it keeps you busy for a longer period of time. It also helps to think and strategize while having fun. This game is perfect for a picnic day or 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


sophia on September 11, 2020:

hi im confused when u said to put 3 sevens in a seprate discard pile what if u have 2 fives can u put it in the same pile or what

PGupta0919 (author) on September 11, 2020:

Hi Sophia

1. For your first point, my suggestion would be as follows, if you have 3 twelve cards, I would keep them in a different pile from the 3 sevens.

2. For your second point, if you have 2 ten cards, they would also go in different pile than the seven pile. This would allow you to use the cards easily as you can use only the top card in a pile in the game.

sophia on September 11, 2020:

so for the thing u said where if u have 3 seven cards u put them in a seprate discard pile what happens if u have 3 twelve card would u have to put them in the same pile as the 3 sevens or no, and what if u have 2 10 can u still put them in that pile