How To Play Scopa

A detailed guide to the Italian card game: Scopa.

Scopa is an Italian card game suitable for 2-4 players. Basic arithmetic skills are necessary. A traditional Scopa deck is strongly suggested, but a normal deck of playing cards can be substituted when necessary.

The Deck:

A Scopa deck is comprised of 40 cards divided into 4 suits: Gold, Clubs, Swords and Cups. In each suit there are number cards 1-7, a Fante (man in the infantry, always holding a sceptre), Cavallo (man in the cavalry, always riding a horse) and a King (always wearing a crown).


Number cards are worth the number indicated on their face. Fante are worth 8 points, Cavallo are worth 9 points and Kings are worth 10 points.

Game Points:

In each round, there are 4 Game Points that can be won.

The most cards

The most gold cards

The most 7s

The gold 7

Additional Game Points can be accrued in the form of Scopas. A Scopa is scored when the player removes all of the cards from the table. A single Scopa is worth 1 Game Point. 

Object of the Game:

By taking tricks, players attempt to accrue as many of the Game Points as possible. Rounds are played until a player reaches 11 points.


The dealer shuffles the deck thoroughly, deals 3 cards face-down to each player and places 4 cards face-up on the table. The remaining cards are kept in a stack and set aside for later use. The player to the left of the dealer plays first. The dealer continues to deal 3 cards to each player after each round until the deck is spent. Points are tallied, cards are shuffled, and the original deal is resumed. During the course of a game, players may choose different dealers for each round.

Taking Tricks:

When it is a player's turn, the player chooses one card from his/her deck. In order to pick up cards from the table, the number of points on the player's card must match the number of points on the card(s) on the table. Multiple cards may be picked up from the table if the sum of those cards matches the single card played from the player's hand. The matching cards are removed from the table and placed in a pile face-down, near the player.

If a match cannot be made, the player must discard a card face-up on the table. This discarded card is now in play. Only one card from the player's hand may be played in each turn.

If a player takes all of the cards on the table, that player puts one of those cards face-up beside his/her pile to indicate a Scopa point. The next player must automatically discard a card from his/her deck.

Example: I have a 4 of clubs in my hand. There is a 4 of swords on the table. I lay my 4clubs on top of the 4swords face-up to show the other players, then I take both cards off the table and place them face-down in a separate pile near me. The next round, I have a Cavallo of Clubs (worth 9 points). There is a 3 of cups and a 6 of gold on the table. I lay my Cavalloclubs face-up on the 3cups and 6gold, then remove all three cards and place them face-down in my pile. The next round, I have a 5 of swords with nothing matching on the table, so I discard my 5swords face-up on the table.

When the deck is finished, players tally their Game Points out of their individual played-card piles. The score is kept, the deck is shuffled and the dealer deals a new round. The game is finished when a player accrues 11 Game Points.

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Posted on Sep 20, 2010