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Family Game Night: Scopa

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scopa game rules

You’ve heard it before… the family that plays together, stays together. These days there are more and more distractions and people are busier than ever. Taking the time to unplug and spend time playing some good old fashioned games can be a great step toward building family bonds.

As a student in Europe I spent many nights playing the game Scopa. This Italian card game is by far the most popular game in Italy. Although, while I was in Spain, I frequently spotted patios dotted with tables and men playing this game over cerveza and tapas. 

It may seem a little confusing at first, but after a few hands you will likely have caught the fever. The game moves fairly quickly and can get quite exciting when someone sweeps the table allowing them to shout out ‘scopa’.



scopa game rules

Before you start:

The cards are available at some specialty game shops, specialty European shops, or online at Amazon and other retailers.

You can play this game with a deck of poker cards. You will need to remove the face cards and use the suit of diamonds in place of gold.

This game is typically played in a counter-clockwise manner but go for clockwise if that is what your American mind dictates.

The person to the right of the dealer goes first.

If playing in teams the teammates should sit opposite each other.

If the initial face up cards are 3 or 4 kings, it is a misdeal and must be dealt again.

The rules of the game:

Shuffle and deal

If 3 players deal 4 cards all at once to each player.

If 4 players deal 3 cards all at once to each player.

Place 4 cards face up in the middle of the table.

How to play

Take a card from your hand and place it on top of a matching card that is face-up in the middle. Use your card to take more than one card that adds up to the value of the card you are playing unless the card you hold is also on the table (ex. You are playing an eight and there is a one, two, and five face up. You can take all three cards with your eight as long as there is not an eight on the table. In that case, you must take the eight.)

If you take the last face-up card from the table, you have just ‘swept’ the table and have earned a ‘SCOPA’ (1 point) and the right to shout it out. Turn one of these cards face up in your ‘win’ pile so you will remember to add a point to your score.

If you cannot pick up any face-up cards with the cards in your hand then you must pass by placing one of your cards face up in the middle of the table.

When all the cards are played the dealer deals out 3 or 4 more cards all at once to each player.

After all cards have been played any remaining face-up cards are given to the last person who was able to capture face-up cards.

The first person or team to get to 21 points wins.


  • One point for player or team with the most cards.
  • One point for the player with the most gold coin cards.
  • One point for the player with the most sevens.
  • One point for the player with the gold coin seven.
  • If there is a tie in any of the categories, no points are awarded to either player for that round.
  • Bonus: One extra point for each ‘SCOPA’.


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