Scopa is a great choice if you enjoy card games focused on counting and team play. However, people often find Scopa rules very complex. This guide makes it all easier.
Scopa (also known under the names of its variations like Scopone, Scopetta, or Scopone Scientifico) is a traditional card game for individuals or 2 to 3 teams.
Its rules are similar to the rules of Briscola, but it also has a lot in common with other traditional Italian games like Tressette and Calabresella, focusing on players’ wit and tactics.
This Scopa rules guide will cover the following:
- What is Scopa?
- Scopa Rules
- Scopa Scoring
- Scopa Rules in Pictures
- How to Play Scopa (Video tutorial)
Read on and learn how to play Scopa according to the original rules.
What is Scopa?
Scopa means ‘broom’ or ‘sweep’ in Italian and sweeping is one of the characteristic actions players take in this card fishing game. But their success depends on both skills and luck.
Number of Players: 2 – 6 players
Length of Play: 20 –30 minutes
Category: Strategic card game
Similar to: Briscola, Cassino, Cuarenta
Main Objective: Capture cards with different values and beat others with your total score.
Our Take: Scopa is one of the games you can easily play for hours and never get bored.
What You’ll Need to Play Scopa
To play Scopa, you’ll need the following:
- Decks: 1
- Number of Cards: 40
- Cards Omitted: Jokers, 8s, 9s, 10s
Tip: The game is traditionally played with Italian cards (or ‘Sicilian’ cards) – some of them can even be marked as Scopa cards. They only contain the 40 cards you need.
Scopa rules are relatively straightforward, but beware that the game involves lots of counting and some tactics.
Starting the Game
The initial setup is pretty simple:
- Shuffle the deck and present each player with three face-down cards.
- Now place four cards facing up in the center of the table.
- Pick the player who takes the turn first. Usually, it’s the one sitting to the right from the dealer.
- The players take turns in the counter-clockwise direction.
Now you’re all set and ready to start playing. But first, check the values of all the involved cards in the Scoring section below since they are essential for the gameplay.
How to Play Scopa
In Scopa, your goal is collecting (or, more precisely, capturing) the cards in the center and counting their values. To do that, you must follow specific rules.
- Each player chooses a single card they want to play.
- You can use this card for fishing cards from the table or leave it there for the others.
- If you meet the conditions to do so, you can pick up as many cards as you want.
Your card can capture other cards if:
- Your card has the same value as any cards in the center. If the value of your card matches multiple cards, pick just one.
- Your card has the same value as the sum of two or more cards in the center. In this case, you capture the whole set.
(Again, if you have multiple matches, pick just one.)
Other applying rules:
- When you capture all the cards in the center at once, this is called scopa, or ‘sweep.’
- If you can match both a single card and a set, you must favor a single card.
- If you can capture a card, you are obliged to do so.
If you can’t make any of the abovementioned matches, lay your card face-up in the center.
You or others can capture it in the following rounds. This also applies following scopa when there are no more cards to match.
Players store their captured cards in a down-facing pile (teams make one joint pile).
To mark the occurrence of scopa, place the card you’ve played in a pile sideways face-up and put all the cards it captured on top of it.
Players take turns until they play all cards in their hands. Then, the dealer gives them a new set of three cards. All the remaining face-up cards in the center stay in their places.
If there are no more cards to deal, pass the remaining cards in the center to the player who has captured the cards last. (This is not treated as scopa even if the card values match.)
Now it’s time to count the scores.
First, let’s check the value of individual cards in the game.
In Scopa, each card has its value. It goes as follows:
- Ace: 1
- Two to seven: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 (according to their numeric value)
- Jack (or Fante with Italian cards): 8
- Queen (Cavalli): 9
- King (Re): 10
Now let’s look at the scoring – the most important (and complex) part of the gameplay. Players or teams must count their piles in Scopa as follows:
- Cards: The player (or team) with the most cards in their pile score(s) 1 point.
- Scopa: Each sweep is rewarded with 1 point.
- Coins (Settebello): The player/team with the most cards from the coins (or diamond) suit gets 1 point.
- Prime (Primiera): The player/team with the best prime gets 1 point. A prime is a set of four cards, one of each suit (e.g., ♠︎5, ♣︎5, ♥︎5, ♦︎5).
If multiple players have prime, only the one with the highest total value scores. For this purpose, cards have the following special values:
Seven = 21;
Six = 18;
Ace = 16;
Five = 15;
Four = 14;
Three = 13;
Two = 12;
King/Queen/Jack = 10)
Note: No one scores if a tie occurs in any of these categories.
Who Wins Scopa
The first player/team to gain a total score of 11points (or more) becomes a winner. The game continues until this occurs – or even longer in case of a tie.
Scopa Rules in Pictures
Unless you have the special Italian Scopa card deck, start by removing all the 8s, 9s, 10s, and Jokers from your standard Poker cards.
Shuffle the remaining deck and present each player with three face-down cards. Now place four cards facing up in the center of the table.
A player can use their card to collect other cards or sets of the same total value. If you have multiple choices, pick just one and prefer single cards to sets.
When you capture all the cards in the center of the table at once, this is called scopa (sweep). If you can’t collect any cards, just leave your card face-up on the table.
Players store their captured cards in a down-facing pile (teams make one joint pile). Mark any scopas with the collecting card placed face-up and sideways.
When players run out of cards, the dealer gives them new sets of 3 cards until no cards are left. The last collecting player collects the remaining cards in the center. Now count the points to see who gets to 11 first.
How to Play Scopa – Video Tutorial
Frequently Asked Questions
Who goes first in Scopa?
If only two players play Scopa, one is the dealer, and the remaining goes first. In the case of more players, the person to the dealer’s right takes their turn first.
Can five people play Scopa?
Scopa can be played by 2 to 6 players. However, the more players, the shorter (and potentially less enjoyable) the game is.
Also, 5 players can only play Scopa as individuals since they cannot form equal teams.
What does sette oro mean in Scopa?
There are many variants to Scopa, differing mainly in scoring. Sette oro is an alternative scoring category that awards 1 point to the player who has collected seven diamonds (♦︎).
Other Similar Games to Scopa (Our Guides)
If you like Scopa, maybe you would like to read our guides to other similar games: