How To Play Skip-Bo: Game Setup and Rules for Beginners

A game of Skip-Bo in progress on a large table.

Skip-Bo is a popular sequencing card game that is similar to Spite and Malice and Uno. Players create various piles and work to get rid of the cards in their stock piles. 

What are the rules for Skip-Bo? Skip-Bo’s rules are fairly simple. Once a dealer is chosen, gameplay goes to the left, and each player draws 5 cards from the draw pile. If they pick a 1 or a wild Skip-bo card, they can start a build pile, which is built in ascending order from 1-12. 

This article will teach you everything you need to know to get started playing Skip-Bo, including the basic rules, information about different variations of the game, and how to play Skip-Bo with regular playing cards. 

Mattel Games SKIP BO Card Game
  • Skip-Bo is the ultimate sequencing card game!
  • Players use skill and strategy to create sequencing stacks of cards in ascending order (2,3,4…).

Playing Skip-Bo: Quick Guide

Skip-Bo is an easy-to-learn game that is fun to play with smaller or larger groups of people.

  • Number of players: 2-6
  • Deck: The Skip-Bo deck comes with 12 sets of cards that are numbered 1-12 and 18 wild Skip-Bo cards for a total of 162 cards.
  • Object of the game: The object of Skip-Bo is to be the first player to play all of the cards in their stock pile.
  • Winning the game: If you’re playing rounds, the first player to 500 points wins. Otherwise, the first player to play all of the cards in their stock pile wins.

Setting Up the Game

To set up the game, you will first choose the dealer, who will then deal between 10 and 30 cards to each player depending on how many people are playing and how you wish to play.

How Many Cards Do You Play With in Skip-Bo?

There are 162 cards in a modern Skip-Bo deck. Older decks prior to 1992 came with 6 extra Skip-Bo cards for a total of 168 cards.

What Is the Object of the Game Skip-Bo?

The object of Skip-Bo is to be the first person to play all of the cards in their stock pile. 

Getting Started

To get started, shuffle the cards, and deal each player one card. The player with the highest card becomes the dealer. The dealer deals the cards (see below for how many).

Then each player puts their cards face down to their right with the top card flipped over. The rest of the cards go in the middle of the play area. 

Understanding the Piles

Throughout the game, each player will create 5 different piles of cards. These piles include:

  • The Stock Pile: This is the stack that stays face down to each player’s right with the top card facing up.
  • The Draw Pile: The remaining cards stay face down in the middle of the playing area.
  • The Building Piles: Each player can form up to 4 building piles. You can start a building pile with either a 1 card or a Skip-Bo card. You build the pile numerically, from 1 through 12, in ascending order. After a pile of 12 cards has been completed, you can remove it and begin a new building pile.
  • The Discard Piles: Each player can create up to 4 discard piles. The discard piles are played to the left of each player’s stock pile. You can put as many cards as you like into the discard piles, but you can only play the top card.

Playing Skip-Bo

Skip-bo is a fast moving card game that is perfect for parties. 

Choose the Dealer

Shuffle the cards and have each player draw one card. The player with the highest card becomes the dealer.

Deal the Cards

If you have 2, 3, or 4 players, the dealer will deal 30 cards to each player. If there are 5 or 6 players, each player will receive 20 cards.

You can deal fewer cards to speed up game time.

Create Stock Piles

Each player creates their own stock pile by keeping their stack of cards face down to their right and then flipping the top card face up.

The remainder of the deck stays face down and is placed in the middle of the players as the draw pile.

Begin the Game

The player to the left of the dealer starts the game by drawing 5 cards from the draw pile.

If they have a 1 card or a Skip-Bo card in their hand or on top of their stock pile, they can use it to start a building pile.

Their turn lasts as long as they can continue to add cards in numerical order to their building pile.

If they play all 5 cards in their hand, they can draw 5 more cards from the draw pile.

Once the player is unable to play any more cards, their turn ends as soon as they discard one of their cards into one of the discard piles. 

Continue Playing

Gameplay continues to the left, and after the first round, players can only take as many cards as they need to keep 5 cards in their hand. They can then add to the building piles.

Scoring Rounds & Winning the Game

Whoever plays all the cards in their stock pile first wins the game.

If you’re playing rounds, then the winner earns 5 points for each card still in the other players’ stock piles plus 25 points for winning the game. Whoever reaches 500 points first wins.

Dealing With Certain Situations

If you start playing and you don’t have a 1 or a Skip-Bo wild card to start a build pile with, you will remove a card from your hand and place it in your discard pile.

Once you discard, it is the next person to your left’s turn. 

Once a building pile reaches 12, you remove it from the playing area, but don’t put it in a discard pile. Simply put the finished building pile off to the side. 

All cards in the display piles should be face up at all times. 

When the draw pile runs out of cards, combine the completed building piles, shuffle them, and use them to create a new draw pile. 

Variations of the Game

There are several variations of Skip-Bo that can be played in different circumstances.

Playing With Fewer Cards

If you have more players or you want to speed up gameplay, you might choose to play with less cards. In that case, the dealer can deal 10 cards to each player.

Playing With a Partner

When playing Skip-Bo with a partner, you both may use each other’s stock and discard piles, but you cannot discuss your individual hands or what moves you intend to make. 

If one partner finishes their stock pile, the other partner must continue to play but can still use the partner’s discard piles.

Your team can’t win until both partners have finished their stock piles. 

Skip-Bo Deluxe

Skip-Bo Deluxe is played exactly the same as classic Skip-Bo, but it comes with a board that folds out and has spaces for the stock piles, discard piles, draw piles, and building piles.

Skip-Bo deluxe is designed to be used with 4 players. 

Mattel Games Skip-Bo Deluxe Card Game
  • Combines skill, strategy and fun in a simple sequence game that the whole family can play together!
  • Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Skip-Bo? this deluxe version of the original Skip-Bo? card...

Related Questions: 

Can You Play Skip-Bo With Regular Cards?

You can play Skip-Bo with regular cards. To create your own version of Skip-Bo, you can combine three decks of 54 cards, including the joker cards.

The king and joker cards will become the wild Skip-Bo cards, and the ace through queen cards will become the basic cards.

Is Skip-Bo the Same as Uno?

While Skip-Bo is similar to Uno and is also produced by Mattel, Uno has different rules than Skip-Bo. 


Skip-Bo is a fun card game that is easy to learn and can be played by 2-6 players.

As you saw, the rules for Skip-Bo are simple, and it can quickly become a favorite family game or the go-to choice for parties.

There are variations of the game, such as playing with a partner or using fewer cards, that can keep the game fresh and exciting.

Last update on 2024-05-28 at 03:38 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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I am a writer and an artist taking opportunities every day to transform my dreams into reality. I love learning new things and am always creating and innovating. I worked as an Art Instructor, teaching painting and art techniques to artists of all levels and ages. I have hosted countless paint parties and taught children’s art classes both in my home as well as an art teacher at a Montessori school.