Skip Bo Card Game

Skip Bo package


Quick info:

Product: Skip Bo Card Game

Available at:

Age: 7+

No. of players: 2 – 6


When the rainy weather keeps me inside the cottage this summer, my first thoughts turn to which game to unearth from the pile in the corner that will keep my family occupied for and entertained for the duration. Time passes and no one notices when you choose the right game to bring during down times. Recently we tried Skip Bo to fill that void and it did not disappoint.

The History of Skip Bo

According to Wikipedia, Skip Bo was inspired by a game called Spite and Malice, a card game that was created using several decks of regular playing cards. A woman by the name of Minnie Hazel ‘Skip’ Bowman recreated the game using its own specialized deck and called it Skip Bo after her own name. I always wondered what the Skip Bo name had to do with the actual game playing and now I know. It turns out that other than a rather snappy sounding name, the moniker doesn’t have much to do with the actual game.

The Game

Skip Bo Deck and cards fanned outSkip Bo comes with 162 game cards and the instructions. It will accommodate 2 or more players, ages 7 and up. I’ve played this game with just one other player and while it was fun, I think it’s a bit more challenging and interesting to have more, though that I suppose, could be said of most games. The game will go more quickly with more players, not just because someone will play faster, but also because more interaction between players during game play will pass the time more quickly. An hour passes quickly when a lot of players are engaged and having fun.

The deck of 162 contains 18 Skip Bo cards which count as any number a player who holds that card decides it will be. Of course the player should choose a number that will be to her advantage during game play. The remaining cards consist of 12 cards numbered 1 through 12. There are no aces, jacks, queens or kings.


The first thing you need to do is shuffle the cards really well. I’d recommend each playing taking a bunch and shuffling, and then once sufficiently mixed, join all cards together for dealing. At 162 cards in the deck, it’s a bit awkward for one person to handle. The Skip Bo game rules dictate that two to 4 players should be dealt 30 cards each and for 5 or more players, 20 cards are dealt to each. The remaining cards are left in the center of the playing table and used as the draw pile.

Each player puts their stock pile face down in front of them with the top card facing up. The youngest player (according to the Skip Bo game rules) goes first by taking the top 5 cards from the draw pile. I think it’s pretty safe to come up with your own rule about who can play first, but in any case, that player will play a ‘one’ or a Skip Bo card first from either the cards just chosen from the draw pile or, preferably, they would play the top card from their stock pile if that card is a one or a Skip Bo card. It is laid down next to the draw pile in the center of the table. The player can then choose another card from the draw pile to bring the cards they’re holding back up to 5 and if they again draw a one or Skip Bo card they can play that by laying the one down next to the one or Skip Bo (playing that card as a one) in the center table or by playing the Skip Bo card as a two and laying it atop the one already played.

Skip Bo cards

There are 4 open spots available at table center and all 4 spots must be played in sequential order, 1 through to 12. Once a pile at table center has 12 cards, If a player doesn’t have a one to start off a pile, that spot remains empty until a one (or Skip Bo representing a one) becomes available to play.

The first player continues until he has no cards left to lay down in numerical order (for example, he has no 3 to lay atop the 2). Then he can choose a card to discard. Each player has 4 discard spots to use. If a card is discarded he can play that card if there is room on a center pile to play it, i.e., if an eight is needed for a center pile when his turn comes, and he has an eight in his discard pile, he can choose to play it. When all 4 spots pile spots are taken, players must discard on top of other discarded cards. They can then only play the top discarded cards from the 4 piles in front of them.

Wining at Skip Bo

The goal is to eliminate your stock pile of 30 cards regardless of whether you still have any cards in your hand. The stock pile can sit for a while with no movement depending on what card you have showing…if you have a 12 and there are 4 cards at center table with ones and twos then you may have awhile to wait before you can use that 12. On the other hand, play can move quickly and you may find yourself unexpectedly playing cards from your stock pile one after the other causing some concern in the other players. You have to watch carefully too so as not to miss any opportunities to play from your stock pile.

Vacation Game

As the title suggests, this is a great game to take on vacation. It does not make a good game for playing in a moving vehicle, since, with so many cards in the deck, they have a tendency to get a bit messy on the table. Bumps and sudden stops and starts in a camper would certainly make game play more interesting with this one!

Things to watch Out For

I can’t say enough how important shuffling the cards are in this game. I thought I had shuffled sufficiently until I drew 5 Skip Bo cards in a row for the cards in my hand. Had I been playing with anyone aside from my daughter I might not have said anything, hah! But I couldn’t in all conscience keep them so returned 4 to the deck and reshuffled and then chose 4 more cards.

Other than the shuffling irritation, Skip Bo is great fun to take along to the cottage or to play on family game night. Skip Bo is available for purchase on Amazon.


20 Comments on “Skip Bo Card Game

  1. I’ve never even heard about this game before I landed here. A great article making this game and its rules very accessible to the common man (me). Good job.

  2. Thank you so much Donna every Friday is family night and we play a game and with my wife and 3 daughters this is a game that looks like we would enjoy. Thank you so much for the Idea and also the Instructions how to play. David

    • Hey David, yes this game would be a good one to play with your family. Thanks for your comment.

  3. wow, that looks like a really cool game, i have three nieces 8 year old twin girls and a 10 year old girl.We have sleep overs with them all the time and that’s what we do, play card games, board games etc. They are not allowed electronics when they are over. Going to Amazon to get this game. Thanks for this great post.

    • Hi Robert, That’s awesome – there is so much more interaction playing board and card games than everyone being on an electronic device. I admire your fortitude! Thank you for your comment. 🙂

  4. great article. I love the game Skip Bo. My family and i play it fairly often, when we have the time. Skip Bo is a great family game. I did not know where the name came from. You have a lot of details on the game that i was not aware of. Thank for the great information.

  5. I never heard of this game before. This is a great post and I think I might buy this game for my kids. The rules was very interesting and you did a good job.

  6. Pretty interesting article .Playing cards is so relaxing while stimulating the brain the at the same time by making it challenging.I personally like Bidwiz and crazy 8.Thank you for sharing a new game I will be hoping to play this fascinating card game when ever I can get a vacation

    • Oh, I like hearing about games I’m not familiar with. I’m going to check out Bidwiz. I know Crazy Eights pretty well. It’s on my ‘classic card games’ list to blog about. Thanks for your comment!

  7. Great post Donna,

    Sitting here with our daughter and grand daughter and this game would be ideal to keep her off her ipad haha!

    i have never heard of the game but you explain it so well. Thanks and its on my to buy list!


    • Hi Kev,

      Yes, Skip Bo is a great game for kids. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  8. What a great game! I have never heard of Skip Bo before but I do love a card game and sometimes the traditional ones get boring. This looks like it’s actually fun for the whole family, plus you have to think about what you’re doing in order to win.

    Definitely a good game to take abroad as usually the TV is in a foreign language and that can leave you with nothing interesting to do if you are having a rest night. I will be purchasing a pack of these for my next holiday, I have bookmarked your page. Thanks 🙂

  9. Thanks Donna for the great review. This seems like a really fun game to play with friends. Do you recommend any other card games in particular that are fun to play? Thanks for reading and hope you have a great day :).

    • Hi Udith,

      There are a few upcoming reviews of card games that I enjoy, one is the classic Crazy Eights and another is Spoons. Both are fast and fun! 🙂

  10. Donna this sounds like a really fun game! I’m definitely sharing this with my son for he and I to play together during holidays but also I think it will be a great game for him and his mates to play together, they are all turning 12 this year.

    I love traditional games, they are a great alternative to technology games because everyone chats and talks to each other throughout the game, creates a great social environment.

    • I love traditional games as well. There is a reason they’ve stayed popular for so long, they are tried and true. Thank you for visiting my blog. 🙂

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