Scopa is a popular card game with rich history and many variations. If you like games focused on counting and team play, you’re going to love it. Scopa rules, however, are pretty complex – these gameplay instructions might come in handy.
Scopa (also known under the names of its variations like Scopone, Scopetta, or Scopone Scientifico) is a traditional card game for individuals or 2-3 equal teams.
Along with Tressette, Calabresella, and Briscola (see our guide toBriscola rules), Scopa is among the most popular games in Italy where it originates. The game focuses on clever tactics and cards fishing.
This Scopa rules guide will cover the following:
- What is Scopa?
- A brief history of Scopa
- What you’ll need to play Scopa
- Scopa rules
- How to play Scopa (video tutorial)
- Other similar games to Scopa (our guides)
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, indeed, one of the most desired achievements in this card fishing game.
Nevertheless, whether you’ll be able to triumph or not depends both on your strategic skills and pure luck.
Number of Players: 2 – 6 players
Length of Play: 30 minutes
Category: Strategic card fishing game
Similar to: Cassino, Cuarenta, Go-Stop
Main Objective: Capture cards with different values and beat others with your total score.
Why We Love It: Scopa is one of the games you can easily play for hours and never get bored.
A brief history of Scopa
According to historical sources, Scopa was widespread throughout Italy as early as the 18th century.
It is highly probable, thought, that the game is even older than that, as it has a lot in common with a 16th-century gambling game called Primiera.
Nowadays, the game is popular in many countries with livelly Italian communities or historical ties to Italy.
However, players in countries like Libya, Argentina, or Chile usually play the game by slightly altered rules.
What You’ll Need to Play Scopa
Scopa can be played with standard or specialized decks of cards. These are your two options:
- Italian style cards: Italian cards (or ‘Sicilian’ cards) are made explicitly for Italian games like Scopa. Sometimes they are even marketed directly as Scopa cards.
They only contain 40 cards, which is exactly what you need for this game. They also include the ‘coins’ card suit, which plays a critical part in Scopa’s scoring.
- Poker style cards: Classic deck of 52 cards is perfectly suitable for Scopa too, but in this case, you have to remove all eights, nines, and tens from the deck.
Also, you will need to replace the ‘coins’ suit with the ‘diamonds’ card suit when counting your score.
Besides the cards, you only need a table (or similar surface) to play Scopa.
Scopa Rules and Gameplay
Scopa rules are relatively simple, but they involve 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.
- Choose the player who takes turns 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 since they are essential for the gameplay.
Values of cards
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
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.
First, 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 of the cards in the center. If the value of your card matches multiple cards, pick just one.
- Your card has the same value as a sum of the values 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. It can be captured by you or others in the next 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 the top of it.
Players take turns until they play all cards in their hands. Then, the dealer provides them with 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. (note that this is not treated as scopa even if the card values match)
Now it’s time to count the scores.
Scoring is the most important (and complex) part of the gameplay. Players or teams must count their piles as follows:
- Cards: The player (or team) with the most cards in their pile scores 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.
If multiple players have prime, only the one with the highest total value scores. (for this purpose, cards have the following values:
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 11 points (or more) is a winner. The game continues until this occurs – or even longer in case of a tie.
How to Play Scopa – Video Tutorial
Scopa Frequently Asked Questions
Who goes first in Scopa?
First, pick a dealer. It can be, for example, the oldest player. If only two players play, the remaining one goes first. In the case of more players, the person to the right from the dealer takes turns first.
Can five people play Scopa?
Scopa can be played by 2 to 6 players. However, the more players are involved, the shorter (and potentially less enjoyable) the game is. Also, five players can only play as individuals since they cannot form equal teams.
What does sette oro mean in Scopa?
There are many variants to Scopa, and they mainly differ in scoring. Sette oro is an alternative scoring category that awards one point to the player who has collected seven coins or diamonds.
Other Similar Games to Scopa (Our Guides)
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