Sheepshead Card Game Rules and Strategies

Sheepshead Card Game Rules and Strategies

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What is Sheepshead?

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What You’ll Need To Play

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Sheepshead Rules and Gameplay

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The Setup

In order to begin, one of the players needs be designated as the dealer. It’s important to remember that one person might function as both a buyer and a seller. The independent dealer will not take part in the game if you are playing with them because they are not affiliated with the game. One of the players, on the other hand, has the option of dealing the cards. The example of a standard five-player game will be used to illustrate the points of this tutorial. Either a dealer is chosen at random or all players can select a card from a shuffled deck at the start of the game.

Then they deal six cards to each of the players in turn.

Following the distribution of three cards to each player, the dealer shall distribute two cards to the play space center.


Sheepshead is a card game in which players take turns taking turns taking tricks. This means that you can win tricks by playing the card with the greatest value during a hand. Tricks are formed when a player plays one of his or her cards into the center of the table. The trick will be won by the player who plays the highest-ranking card. According to Sheepshead’s card ranking system, cards are divided into two categories: the trump cards and the failure cards. Trump cards will always have a higher value than fail cards because of their rarity.

One of the most perplexing parts of Sheepshead is the way the game is structured.

Each table is a list of the cards ranked from highest to lowest in each category.

Trump Cards
All Queen Cards
All Jack Cards
Ace of Diamonds
10 of Diamonds
King of Diamonds
9 of Diamonds
8 of Diamonds
7 of Diamonds
Fail Cards
Aces (Non-Diamonds)
10s (Non-Diamonds)
Kings (Non-Diamonds)
9s (Non-Diamonds)
8s (Non-Diamonds)
7s (Non-Diamonds)

As a result, the cards in Sheepshead are valued in this manner. We’ll go into further detail regarding how points are awarded throughout the cards in the section below. First and foremost, let’s speak about how the gaming works during each round of the competition.

The Gameplay

The first round of play begins as soon as the cards are dished out! The player on the left of the dealer will be the first to take the turn. This implies that they will have the choice to take on the role of picker. This is accomplished by taking the two cards that the dealer had put in the center of the play space previously. This is something you should only perform if you have a strong enough hand. Essentially, if you believe you will be able to score 61 or above, you should pick up the cards.

If you decide to take them, you will have to discard two cards from your hand in order to do so.

By arranging your discarded cards face down in front of you, you may complete this task. When this is complete, you’ll have two options: either choose a partner or go it alone. We’ve divided the rest of the gameplay into two portions to make it easier to follow along with it.


Whenever you choose a partner, you must identify an Ace card that corresponds to the suit of a non-trump card that you already have. Consider the following scenario: you hold the 8 of spades and the 10 of hearts. You can then request either the Ace of spades or the Ace of hearts, depending on your preference. The player who has the Ace you want becomes your partner at that point. The partner, on the other hand, does not show themselves to anyone. As soon as a partner has been selected, it is the picker and their partner who are pitted against the other three players in a group situation.

  • Following their selection, the picker buryes two cards with their companion.
  • Later on, they will contribute to the total score of the picker.
  • If at all feasible, players must use a trump card.
  • After then, they begin the next trick, and the game continues from that point on.

Going Alone

If you believe your hand is particularly powerful, you may choose to indicate that you will be going it alone. As a result, you’ll be pitted against every other participant on the field. The game then begins with the participants constructing various tricks.


As soon as all of the cards have been dealt, it’s time to start totaling up the results. The picker will also include any hidden cards from earlier in the game in their total score. The scoring of your cards does not follow the same pattern as the framework of the trick-taking. To find out how much each card is worth, look at the table below.

Card Points
Aces 11
10s 10
Kings 4
Queens 3
Jacks 2
9s, 8s, and 7s

There is no difference between the suits of the cards when it comes to summing up the scores of each card. According to the Sheephead deck, there are exactly 120 points when all of the cards with values are added together. Keep in mind that if the picker picks a partner, the sum of their card scores is added to the total. If their total score is higher than the total score of their opponents, they are declared the winners. If the picker decides to go it alone, this rule will stay in effect. It will be necessary for their score to be higher than the combined score of the other players.

Sheepshead can be played until one person has amassed an agreed-upon sum, or it can be played in a single round as a single round game.

If the picker decides to tackle it alone, they will earn additional points.

CardPoints Picker Alone Picker With Partner Partner Opponents
91 – 120 8 points 4 points 2 points minus 2 points
61 – 90 4 points 2 points 1 point minus 1 point
31 – 60 minus 4 points minus 2 points minus 1 point 1 point
0 – 30 minus 8 points minus 4 points minus 2 points 2 points

Sheepshead – A Challenging Strategic Card Game

Sheephead isn’t the most beginner-friendly card game out there; it’s certainly not as simple as 5 card draw or even monopoly.

However, if you appreciate games that are both tough and strategic in nature, this is a game that is well worth your time. When it comes to Sheepshead, there is a learning curve to overcome, but once you get the hang of it, it is a fun and pleasant card game.

Advanced Play, Tips and Strategy

Trump is usually led by the picker. It is theoretically possible that the picker has more trump than anybody else since they chose a solid hand and were able to make decisions based on information obtained from the blind. When the picker leads trump, he or she may generally take out 5 trumps, leaving just 9 in all of the hands. The dealer most likely has 4 additional trumps in his hand, leaving only 5 trumps for the remaining players. There is a good chance that the partner holds one or more of these trumps, leaving the adversary with only three trumps.

  1. Trump’s partner should be in charge.
  2. The picker should have more trump than everyone else, and it is in the picker’s best interests to use up his or her trump.
  3. Picker will be aware that you are most likely a partner and will award you points accordingly (shmeer).
  4. It is likely that Picker will be able to take the trick, and that several trumps will fall.
  5. Most likely, one of the opposing partners will not have the named suit and will be able to take the trick with a trump card, which will make the game more interesting.
  6. It is possible for the opponent to be rapidly de-trumped if the called suit is not played early enough, and the called Ace will make it around.
  7. If you are unable to lead the summoned suit, you should lead your long suit.

The Picker should be the one to lead the Queen of Clubs in the game.

Trump’s opponents are “bleeding” as a result.

It is not acceptable for a partner to lead the called ace.

By the conclusion of the hand, the picker should have gotten all of the trump out, and there is a larger possibility of the Ace making it around without being trumped.

Count the number of Trumps and points earned during the game.

Make a mental note of the trump that is played after each trick.

It is also beneficial to maintain track of your points so that you are aware of how many points you require to win and may play to get those points.

If you are unable to count both points and trump at the same time, only keep track of trump.

(This is the suit in which you hold the most number of cards.) The reason for this is because your partners who come after the picker may be able to steal or trump the trick if you do not.

Lead your short suit (the fail suit in which you have the fewest number of cards) with the expectation that the picker will also have a fail in his hand. When to Make a Decision Recognizing when to select is critical in the game of Sheepshead Bay. Choose a time when you have at least:

  • The two high Queens are either at the head of the pack or at the tail end
  • You can play with any two Queens plus additional trump, as well as some points to bury. To bury some points, any Queen can be combined with an additional three trumps. Any of the five trumps

In the vast majority of cases, you will be able to win with these hands. Even if a mauerer might not choose from one of these hands, the majority of players should. Better players will choose fewer targets than these and rely on their partner to score some points for them instead.

Quick Tips

  • If you’re a partner and don’t have a Trump, and the picker is at the end of the table, begin with an Ace. If you don’t have an Ace, you should lead your short suit instead. It is not recommended that partner play the named Ace suit immediately after it has been played. If you are a partner and the picker is at the end of the deck, and you have the Queen of hearts and one little trump, you should lead the Queen of hearts to the end of the deck. If you have three trumps, defend the Queen of hearts
  • Otherwise, protect the King of hearts. Even if it takes using your high Queen, the picker should never allow the adversary to take the lead
  • If a “chronic picker” passes, it is likely that the blind is brimming with trump. Whenever you’re in doubt, shmeer. In most cases, this will be right around 60% of the time
  • Consider eliminating two suits from the blind and keeping only one, so that you can trump any trick led with a suit you don’t have
  • While selecting, aim to delete two suits from the blind and keep only one
  • When a trump lead is established, the second and third players should play low trump in order to avoid wasting trump
  • In no case should you call the Ace suit that was already called in the previous hand. As a result of insufficient shuffling, the entire suit may be together, and someone will be left with none, and will trump it. 75 percent of the time, the picker’s side will win if the high Queen is on their side
  • The picker will win 70 percent of the time if the low Queen is on their side. 65 percent of the time, after selecting the blind, the picker will have a high Queen in his or her hand. If the picker takes the lead, the called Ace has an 80% probability of walking away from the situation. It is possible to reduce this to 50% if the opponent takes the lead. Recall that points come before power
  • In other words, give up a 10 or Ace if you can take a trick with your remaining trump. Once the game begins, Picker will be unable to see what he has buried. A picker has the ability to bury trump. (In some exceptional circumstances, it may be essential or useful to bury trump)

Situations Unique to Your HomeHouse Rules

Sheepshead Basic Rules

It takes 32 cards to play Sheepshead, each of which has a distinct point value and level of strength. The goal of the game is to amass a total of at least 61 points by doing a variety of feats. Players Sheepshead is most commonly played with a group of five players, which is also the most popular. Six players may be seated at the table, and the dealer just sits out the hand he is dealing with his hands folded. There are several varieties of the game that may be played with as little as 2 players and as many as 8 players.

  • The Deck of Cards It comprises of 32 cards out of the 52 cards that make up a standard poker-type deck of playing cards.
  • All of the remaining cards in the deck should be set aside because they will not be utilized at all during the game of Sheepshead.
  • Completely shuffle the deck, and the person on the dealer’s right should be the one to make the first cut.
  • Following the initial round of three cards per player, two cards are put in the center of the table.
  • The remaining cards are dealt one at a time, three at a time.
  • Card Ranks are shown below.
  • The sequence in which the cards’ powers are dealt is a very significant aspect of the game.
  • A different ranking system is used for the 14 Sheepshead trump cards, rather than the traditional twos-through-aces system: The 18 fail cards are arranged in the following order: Cards Have a monetary value.
  • The following cards, along with the points connected with them, must be collected in order to win the game with 61 points (if you are the picker/partner, the opposing team must have 60 or more points to win).

Things to Keep in Mind It is important to note that any trump card will accept any fail card. It should also be noted that Tens take Kings. You are now prepared to begin playing the game once you have learned the fundamental rules.

Basic Play

The Picker is a person who selects items from a collection. Following the dealing of the cards, the player on the left of the dealer is given the opportunity to choose the blind. If you believe that you have a strong enough hand (essentially a handful of trumps) to win, pick up the blind and place it in your hand before continuing. If you don’t have a lot of trump, you can pass, and the person to your left will have the choice to decide, and so on until the dealer has had a chance to choose. The hand becomes a leaster or a doubler depending on how you play it if no one chooses to play it.

  1. After that, the picker chooses a companion.
  2. (See also doing it alone.) This is accomplished by designating an ace card from which he possesses a fail card as a starting point.
  3. As long as the 8 of hearts, the 7 of clubs, and the King of spades are not in his hand or his blind, he can call any of the three non-trump Aces to be his partner, regardless of which of the three Aces he is holding.
  4. The remaining three players are now on the same team as the picker and his companion, and they are playing against them.
  5. The picker must retain his fail card in the same suit as his partner’s Ace until the suit is led, at which point the picker must play the suit/fail card that has been called.
  6. (Unless, of course, it is the final trick done) Unless all of the picker’s fail cards are aces after choosing, he will be unable to identify the suit of any of the aces he has in his blind.
  7. In order to be played when the called Ace is lead in suit, the card in the hole must first be played as if it were the failed suit called.
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It is possible to call a 10 of a fail suit if the picker has all three non-trump Aces in his hand.

Recall that the Ace of diamonds and the ten of diamonds can never be named since they are trump cards.

When the called suit is played, the trump is dealt face down and remains face down until the next card is dealt.

Taking a Trip by Yourself Pickers who believe their hand is strong enough to win (61 points) on their own might declare that they are “going alone” in their selection.

Variation: When playing Sheepshead, the Jack of Diamonds is automatically the partner, which is a nice touch.

The other participants are required to follow suit in a clockwise direction.

Suiting and suing One extremely crucial guideline to keep in mind is that you must always follow the lead of others.

When it comes to trump cards, the suit of the card does not matter: the Queen of spades is a trump card, not a spade.

If the suit of clubs was led, a nine of hearts will not beat a seven of clubs.

It is mandatory to play a spade when the spade is lead, and everyone else is required to do so as well.

If you believe your partner is going to win, you may choose to give up some points.

Remember that when the called Ace suit is lead, the Ace must be played regardless of whether or not you have any other cards of the same suit in your hand.

The player who has the highest rating card at the conclusion of a trick wins that trick and receives the points associated with it. When six tricks have been played, the game is done. It is decided who will win via a point-scoring system.

Scoring Sheepshead

1. The picker and his or her partner win the game if they can amass a total of 61 points from the six tricks they have performed. The picker would then receive two points for the victory, while the companion would receive one point. Each of the other players would have one point deducted from their total score. 2. If the selected team receives 60 points or fewer, and the opposing team receives 60 points or more, the opposing team wins. The picker would lose two points and the partner would lose one, while the other three players would all get one point apiece for their efforts.

  1. By increasing the stakes, it prevents players from selecting on the spur of the moment.
  2. 3.
  3. The opposing team would then be penalized two points apiece.
  4. Each player on the opposing team receives 2 points.
  5. When the choosing team fails to score 31 points, the stakes are doubled (once again, the doubling on the bump applies).
  6. Taking all of the tricks, which would net them 120 points in that game, the choosing team no-tricks the other team, netting them three times the regular amount of points.
  7. When the opponent wins all of the tricks, even if they do not get all 120 points, the picker loses nine points and each of the opposing players receives three points.
  8. When calculating scores, keep in mind that the overall score from all players, including negatives, must always equal 0 points.

Sheepshead Game Rules

(The picture above shows a common set-up for the game Sheepshead.)

Card Game Rules

Sheepshead is a trick-taking game for a maximum of five people. In order to play, you’ll need a specially designed 32-card deck, featuring Aces to Sevens in each suit. The goal of Sheepshead is to win by a margin of at least six points. You may get a conventional deck of cardshere, or you can check out one of our most recent arrivalshere, if you’re seeking for cards to play Sheepshead with. Check out our guides forBridge and Euchre on other trick-taking games.


It is a trick-taking game for a maximum of five participants. An original 32-card deck with Aces through Sevens in each suit is required.

Wining 61 or more points is the goal of Sheepshead in this game. You may find a regular deck of cardshere, or you can search through our new arrivalshere, if you’re seeking for cards to play Sheepshead with. Check out our tutorials forBridge and Euchre for additional trick-taking games!

Card Ranks

The trump cards in Sheepshead are the Queens, followed by the Jacks, and finally the Diamonds. Within the ranks of the Queens and Jacks, the suits are ranked as follows: Clubs, Spades, Hearts, Diamonds. Among the Diamonds and non-trump cards, the ranks are as follows: Ace, 10, King, 9, 8, 7, and 6.

Card Points

Aces are worth 11 points in Sheepshead, according to the rules. 10s are worth a total of ten points. The value of a king is four points. The value of a queen is three points. jacks are worth two points apiece


It is necessary to select a Picker before the game can begin. Picker is the player to the left of the dealer who has the opportunity to act as the dealer’s replacement. A player can opt to be the Picker if they feel they have a good chance of winning the game with 61 points. If the player chooses not to be the Picker, the alternatives are rotated in a counter-clockwise direction. When a Picker is selected, they are responsible for picking up the two cards in the centre. When a non-trump ace matches a non-trump suit in the Picker’s hand, the Picker obtains a teammate from the other team.

The opposing team is comprised of the other three players.

The Picker then discards two of their cards in a single motion.

How to Play

The first trick is led by the player on the left of the dealer. Players are required to follow suit if at all practicable in a clockwise direction. The winner of the trick is in charge of the following trick. Trump cards in tricks are all of the same suit, thus if one player begins with a King of Diamonds, the second player can follow with a Jack of Clubs, defeating the first player’s King.


At the conclusion of the game, the points earned from tricks are totalled. The following diagram illustrates how points are granted depending on card points. Players can continue to play until one of them reaches a score that has been agreed upon by the other players. This chart was given by the website gathertogethergames. Please see the following articles for further information: articlehere, and The Sheepshead Association’s website, which may be found here.

Looking for more card games to play?Check out this article:

a little about the author: The organization employs John Taylor, who works as a content writer and independent contractor. You may see his freelance profile by clicking here. He holds a B. A. in English from Texas A&M University, with a concentration in technical writing, as well as an M. A. in English from the University of Glasgow, both in Scotland. You can read some of his earlier essays on card games here, and you can check out his LinkedIn page here. Date of most recent update: 08/29/20

How To Play Sheepshead — Gather Together Games

Sheepshead is a trick-taking card game for up to five players that is played using a deck of cards.

Obtain points by successfully completing tricks with high-value cards. Below you will find a video instruction as well as a written description of how to play the card game sheepshead.

Sheepshead Tutorial

Playing cards (from aces to sevens), five players, and a pen and paper for maintaining score are all required.


Three cards are handed to each player at a time, for a total of six cards presented to each player. Three cards are dealt to each player, two cards are dealt to the middle, and three further cards are dealt to each player.


The goal of the game is to accumulate a total of 61 or more card points in a single round. Amounts of card points are granted in accordance with the value of cards obtained in the tricks taken. Each round, a total of 120 points can be earned by playing cards.

Card Rank

Trump’s trump cards are the queens (clubs, spades, hearts, diamonds), the jacks (clubs, spades, hearts, diamonds), the ace (diamonds), the ten (diamonds), the king (diamonds), the nine (diamonds), the eight (diamonds), the seven (diamonds) (diamonds) Non-Trump cards (clubs, spades, and hearts): Ace, King, 9, 8, 7, and 10.


If a player to the left of the dealer does not accept the two cards in the center to become the picker, the other players will have the choice to pass on selecting. If a player believes he or she will be able to earn 61 or more card points throughout the round, he or she should choose to be the picker. The picker will be paired with another player for the round. The card points earned by the picker and his or her companion are combined. The other three players will be playing as a team for the remainder of the round, and their card points will be combined.

Players will not be aware of their partner’s identity until the ace is dealt.

These two cards contribute to the overall number of pickers card points.

Game Play

The first trick is led by the player on the left of the dealer. Every player is expected to play a card that is in the same suit as the initial card they played whenever feasible to avoid the game being re-started. If a player does not have a card in the lead suit, he or she is free to play any card of his or her choosing. The player who holds the highest-ranking trump suited card wins the trick and receives a bonus point. If no trump suited card is played, the trick is won by the person who has the highest ranking card in the lead suit at the time of play.


At the end of the round, players will total up the card points they have earned throughout the round, plus the cards that were buried at the beginning of the game, to determine the winner.

Card Point Values

  • Each ace is worth 11 points
  • Each ten is worth 10 points
  • Each king is worth 4 points
  • Each queen is for 3 points
  • And each jack is worth 2 points.

Each player will be awarded game points based on the number of card points gained by the picker and his or her partner during the round. The game can be played until a participant reaches a predetermined sum, or until a predetermined number of rounds have been completed by all players.


  • If at all feasible, a player must follow the lead suit. Please keep in mind that all queens, jacks, and diamonds are regarded to be the trump suit
  • The non-trump ace requested for a partner can only be played after the appropriate suit has been led or after the final trick of the round
  • And Instead of the picker calling an ace, a version can be played in which the player who has the jack of diamonds is the partner instead of the picker. The person who has the jack of diamonds does not reveal his or her possession until the card is used in a trick.
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Sheepshead Rules! – Strategy and Tips

  • Aces are often “walking” in three-handed play and should be seen as an asset, just as trumps should be (we call these cards “counters”). You might consider choosing if you have any 7 counters or 6 powerful trumps on hand. Aces will only have a reasonable chance of “walking” in four-handed play if you have a single fail ace in your hand (that is, if you do not have any other cards in that suit, other than the ace). Then you may consider that a counter-argument. If you have 5 counters or 4 powerful trumps, you should consider selecting. Consider choosing if you have any of the following in 5-handed play:
  • Any of the five trumps
  • One queen and three additional trumps are used. Two queens, another trump, and a pair of burying points
  • The two black queens (referred to as the Ma’s) are either in the lead or at the conclusion of the deal, and/or have points to bury
  • And If you hold the Queen of Clubs (often known as “The Ma”) and are “solid” (that is, you have all trump), you should consider playing it alone. I’ve seen guys choose and win with considerably worse cards than this one. These recommendations vary based on factors such as chance, bravery, and the level of the competition
  • You should (almost) always be in the position of first trump. There are just 14 trump, and the picker is likely well-stocked with trump. The fact that each player is compelled to follow suit causes the remaining trump to be drawn out, so increasing the strength of the picker’s hand (in theory). As a partner in 5-handed play, the same rule applies
  • If you hold the queen of clubs, you must lead it. This ensures the lead for the following trick, as well as the opportunity to lead additional trump
  • As far as possible, avoid playing the suit that has been called. The possibility that it will walk increases, and your companion may stay a mystery for a longer period of time, which might cause confusion among your opponents.
  • Lead fails miserably. In five-handed play, it is preferable if you can lead the called suit, since this will let you to identify your partner. Additionally, because both the picker and partner have a card from this suit, your team has a good probability of trumping the opponent’s team. taking advantage of the situation
  • Play your long fail suit if you have a buddy available at the conclusion of the game to assist you with that trick. Because this teammate may not have the same suit that you are now wearing, he or she might perhaps trump you. If the picker is at the conclusion of the hand, play your short fail suit. Perhaps he or she is in possession of a “loser” fail card, and the chances are good that it will be YOUR short suit. (This is most effective in three- and four-handed games.) As a result, the following two rules may be summarized: “suit through the picker with a lengthy tail suit with a picker at the end of the length “in addition to this, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected] Once a fail suit has been led, it should be led again if at all practicable. Because the odds are good that your colleagues will be able to outdo you the following time, try to avoid leading a high-point card if the picker is near the end of your turn. This is an extremely advantageous position for the picker
  • If you are the picker, you will have the opportunity to bury cards at the start of the game. It is preferable to bury points whenever feasible because each bury contributes to your overall point total. (Unless, of course, you are “no fooled”) Another factor to consider is getting rid of as many failed suits as possible from your collection. In the event that you rid your hand of a fail suit, you will have an opportunity to trump it if and when it is lead. When playing 5 handed and calling a fail ace as a partner, keep one card from the called suit in your hand (don’t accidentally bury it, which is a common beginner’s mistake)
  • Take Command of the Situation! Holding onto powerful cards in the hope of saving them for later is a bad idea. The lead is a significant advantage, and you obtain the next lead by taking a trick
  • Good players keep track of the highest trump that has not yet been played (called “Boss” or “high card”). Better players keep track of their points in a running total (in their heads). Even better players keep track of how many trumps are still in play. You can find out what those trumps are from the best players
  • If you are faced with a choice between giving away points or keeping a high trump that will almost certainly get you a trick later, keep the trump. A trick later will almost certainly gain you extra points and put you in the lead
  • Good players are always on the lookout for where a card comes out of an opponent’s hand. A common strategy among players is to arrange their hands such that trump is on one side (in sequence) and fail is on the other. Once this pattern has been identified, it becomes much easier to judge whether or not an opponent has a high trump, for instance. Consider changing the way trump is arranged if you believe your opponent may be keeping an eye on it in this way. Anyone may call to see/review the last trick played before the current trick is put away (collected and lay face down). The picker has the opportunity to review the bury before the first trick is completed
  • Having a teammate at the end is a significant advantage. If at all possible, plan ahead for the next trick and devise strategies to make it happen
  • When it’s played, it’s played! The consequence of this is that once a card is laid, it cannot be retracted (except in the case of an error in a friendly game). (See the following comment for more information.) Anyone who makes an illegal play (for example, failing to follow suit or failing to discard a required “hold card”) may be required to “pay the board,” which means that he or she must pay one point to each opponent. Unless the game is played in a friendly manner, any card that has been played may be taken back if the error is discovered before the next player lays a card. In the case of a legal, but poor play, this rule does not apply. The best way to avoid confusion is to establish the rules ahead of time. For example, if a person deals three consecutive hands without anyone picking (and you are playing the “doubler” rule), the deal is passed to the next person in the deal. (Not only that, but you must also play out each successive double.) “Triplers” do not exist in the traditional sense.)
  • It is possible to declare a misdeal in the case of an unintentional face-up dealing of a card
  • In this case, the cards are redealt. Table Talk (the practice of providing verbal tips or hints to gain an advantage) is considered impolite. Anyone may “throw in” for a misdeal if they are dealt only fail cards with no point value, but this is not encouraged after that. When there is no Ace, no Face, no Trump, and no Schmear, the game is said to be over. The end of a playing session is usually determined (by agreement) when someone says “once around,” in which case everyone at the table gets one more deal. In the event that everyone agrees, the final hand (or round) is an automatic doubler. One of the best things you can do in Sheepshead is to be playing 5 handed and winning a no tricker while also playing a “doubler,” in which case you will win 24 points
  • However, this is not always possible. Losing a no tricker in five handed while playing alone in a “doubler” with the “double on the bump” rule in effect, which results in a loss of 48 points, is the worst thing that can happen to you.

I hope you found this website to be interesting.

Recognize that there are many different varieties of this game, and that the rules may differ from one area to the next. Many of these “rules of thumb” were developed as a result of brainstorming sessions with my brother, Tom, and a number of other extremely experienced players.

Sheepshead Card Game: Everything You Need to Know

Rec Room Pick is made possible by donations from readers. We may receive a commission if you purchase something after clicking on one of our affiliate links. You may find out more about our procedure here. It’s possible that the Sheepshead card game will be a suitable choice if you’re seeking for a new cooperative game to play. Due to the fact that it has been around for a long time, it has developed a rich history and tradition to rival that of other, more popular family card games. It also makes use of a conventional deck of playing cards, albeit the cards must be mixed in a slightly different manner in order for the game to begin.

The goal of this game is to get at least 61 points by employing sound strategy and a variety of techniques during the course of the game’s duration.

Sheepshead interesting facts

As previously said, Sheepshead has been a popular game for a long period of time. It was most likely originated in Germany, and it was initially known as Schafkopf, which translates to Sheepshead in the English language. Modern versions have been Americanized, and they are particularly popular in Midwestern areas such as Wisconsin and Michigan. In fact, it is widely regarded as the unofficial card game of the city of Milwaukee, according to locals. Since 1970, Wisconsin has hosted annual national tournaments, which have helped to establish the sport’s cult status among residents of the Badger State.

Learn the rules

Despite the fact that this game makes use of the same cards as poker, it does it in a totally different way. As a result, before you attempt to play Sheepshead, you must ensure that you are familiar with the game’s laws and regulations.


Players can participate in Sheepshead in a variety of ways, however the most common configuration is with five individuals. However, we will address the rules for games played with 2-8 people later on in our book, so keep an eye out for that section as well. There is no limit to the number of participants in a game, and the dealer changes with each new round, as it is the person on the dealer’s left who is in charge of dealing after each round.


First and foremost, you must prepare the deck of cards before dealing them out. Sheepshead requires just 32 cards, as opposed to the conventional 52 cards, in order to be played successfully. In order to do this, you must eliminate all of the 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, and 6s from each suit. They should be put away, and only the sevens, eighteens, nineteen-tens, Jacks, queens, kings, and aces should be shuffled and dealt with by all of the players.


Once the deck has been arranged, you must pick who will be the first to deal. This individual is responsible for completely shuffleing and cutting the deck. Following that, the dealer must give out the cards to each of the players, three at a time, starting with the person on their left.

As soon as everyone has gotten their first three cards, the dealer should place two cards in the center of the table, which will be used to create the blind pile. The remaining cards should be handed to all of the players three at a time so that they have a total of six cards in their hands.

Card rankings

It is critical to pay great attention to the power of the cards in your hand when playing Sheepshead, which is often the most difficult concept for novices to master. The following are the positions in the rankings: All four queens are pictured at the top of the page. All four Jacks are in the middle. Diamonds are represented at the bottom by the aces, kings, nines, eights, and sevens. In addition, there are 18 cards that are “fail” suits. These are the aces, tens, kings, nines, eights, and sevens of clubs, spades, and hearts.

Points count

The game is structured around a points value system that, in addition to the power rankings of the cards, you must be familiar with in order to play the game properly. To win the game, you must collect a total of 61 points, which is not an easy feat to do. The following are the points awarded for each sort of card: Aces are worth 11 points. 10s are worth ten points. 4 points for the Kings 3 points for the Queens Jacks get two points. 9s, 8s, and 7s are worth 0 points.

How to play Sheepshead

Following your thorough understanding of the Sheepshead game’s setup, it is time to go over the game’s real gameplay.

Picking up

The game can begin as soon as the cards are given out to the players. The very first step is to select a selector. In a two-card blind, the person on his or her left of the dealer goes first, and if that person chooses to pick up the two cards in the blind, that person becomes the picker. If they believe their cards are already good enough, then the option is passed to the next person at the table, and so on and so forth. The person who picks up the blind must also bury two of their own cards, which means they must place them at their side while doing so.

Partner selection

The selector has the option of selecting a partner. Once a partner has been selected, he or she will collaborate with the picker to defeat the other players. However, the picker can choose an ace of a different suit to be their partner if they have the jack of diamonds as their starting hand, however this is less common.

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Go alone

If, on the other hand, you believe that your hand is capable of doing the job on its own, you can go it alone. This would indicate that you already have a large number of trump cards and are well on your way to 61 points. For the remainder of the game, if you opt to go it alone, you will be competing against all of the other participants.

Lead and least

In the game of Sheepshead, the player who deals the first card takes the lead. Following their example and following suit in a clockwise fashion is required of the other players. The person who plays the first trick is always the one who leads the following trick as well.

Assuming no one picks up the blind, you can proceed to play a game of least or “leaster.” In this version, participants must do one trick while attempting to get the fewest number of points possible. The round is won by the person who has the least amount of money at the end of the game.

Trump card

When playing a trick in Sheepshead, the trump cards are the most crucial cards to have in your hand. If a trump card is played, then all of the other players are required to do the same as well. These also play a role in determining who wins the trick, as the winner is determined by the highest trump card played. Because the trump cards are a separate suit from the rest of the deck, they cannot be utilized if someone else leads the trick with a different suit.

Count the score

61 points from the 6 tricks played is the winning score for the picker and their partner in the game of pick-up. The picker would then receive two points for the victory, while the companion would receive one point. All other players would have one point deducted from their total score as a result. If the picker and partner do not reach 61 points, the opponent wins and get one point each, while the picker and partner lose one point and the partner loses two points.

Sheepshead strategies and tricks

When playing Sheepshead, you must pick whether you want to be an attacking or defensive player, depending on your skill level. In the case of being the picker or the partner, you must go on the offensive and attempt to set the trick by using trump cards to your advantage. If you are on the other team, you must attempt to steal authority away from the picker while also safeguarding your own trump cards. Regardless of the circumstances, you must pay close attention to the tendencies of your opponents in order to come out on top.


As previously said, there are various distinct forms of the game that may be played depending on the amount of participants in attendance.

2-player game

When playing this variant, there is no blind, and each player receives a total of sixteen cards. In this game, eight cards are dealt facedown, four cards are dealt face up, and four cards are dealt with a player’s hand. The non-dealer is the first to act and may lead from his or her hand or from the face-up row. Until a trick is played, the dealer follows the same pattern.

6-player game

With six players, everyone receives five cards, with two cards remaining in the blind. One partner is identified by the Jack of Diamonds, while the other partner is identified by the player to the picker’s right.

7-player game

In this game, the person who picks the partners gets two partners. A dice is used to determine which player will be holding the Jack of Diamonds and which player will be holding the Queen of Diamonds. Each player is given four cards, with the remaining four cards remaining in the blind. The picker only selects two of these cards and then rolls a die to determine the winner. His companion is determined by the number, which is tallied clockwise from the picker. The remainder of the blind is distributed to that partner.


If no one chooses the blind, you might choose to play doublers instead. The hand is dealt again, and the stakes for both winning and losing are increased by a factor of two.

More to change

Another version of the game is to force the dealer to select regardless of his or her own hand in the first place. Due to the fact that this forces the dealer’s hand, they may choose to waive the doubling of the stakes if they lose the round. A third version that you might wish to attempt is Crack and Recrack, which stands for Crack and Recrack.

In this form, someone else might assert that they should have been the picker since they believe their hand is stronger than the other person’s. The stakes are increased by a factor of two, yet the group can opt to recrack, which lowers the stakes.

Final thoughts

The card game Sheepshead is quite entertaining. You may simply play with a conventional deck of cards, which can be taken about with you anywhere you want to go. The game requires a great deal of strategy due to the fact that it varies after each and every round. There are several factors to consider, ranging from the trump cards to who should be the picker and whether to play on offensive or defense. You must consider a variety of factors before participating in a gaming activity. In order to discover your opponents’ strengths and strategies, you must carefully observe them in order to use them to your advantage.

Sheepshead Game Rules – Learn How To Play With Game Rules

OBJECTIVE OF SHEEPSHEAD: Collect high-value card combos in order to earn a total of 61 points. NUMBER OF PLAYERS: There are 5 players in all. 32-card deck with a shuffled layout THE RANK OF CARDS IS DESCRIBED BELOW. Trick-taking is the type of game being played. AUDIENCE:Adults


Scattergories is a trick-taking card game that is closely linked to the game ofSkat. In this game, you will play a Westernized version of the German game Schafkopf (which translates literally to Sheepshead). Throughout the United Areas, particularly among German-American colonies in states such as Wisconsin and Indiana, the game is popular. At the Germanfest in Mailwaukee, which takes place on the final weekend in July, there are mini-tournaments of Sheepshead.


One of the most distinguishing features of Sheepshead is the unusual card rating system that it employs. The deck consists of 32 cards drawn from a conventional 52-card deck, and it contains cards from all of the suits in the following ranks: Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces are represented by the numbers 7, 8, 9, and 10. The 14 trump cards are ranked as follows:

  1. Queen of Clubs
  2. Queen of Spades
  3. Queen of Hearts
  4. Queen of Diamonds
  5. Jack of Spades
  6. Jack of Clubs
  7. Jack of Hearts
  8. Jack of Diamonds
  9. Ace of Diamonds
  10. 10 of Diamonds
  11. King of Diamonds
  12. 9 of Diamonds
  13. 8 of Diamonds
  14. 7 of Diamonds
  15. Ace of Diamond

The 18 failure cards are ranked as follows:

  1. There are three suits in the deck: the aces of clubs (aces in spades), the aces in hearts (aces in hearts), the numbers ten (ten in clubs in spades and ten in hearts)
  2. Nine (nine in clubs in spades, nine in hearts)
  3. Eight (in clubs in spades and hearts)
  4. Seven (in clubs and hearts)
  5. And the number seven (in hearts).

Card Point Values

Cards can also be used to store point values. A total of 120 points are contained within the Sheepshead deck. Players attempt to acquire card combinations that result in the highest number of points. All suits, including trump suits, have the same worth as the other suits. Aces are worth 11 points apiece. tens: ten points each 4 points apiece for the kings Queens receive three points apiece. 2 points apiece for Jack. 9s, 8s, and 7s are worth 0 points apiece.


Choose any player to be the first to deal. They need to completely shuffle the deck of cards. The player immediately to their immediate right cuts the deck. Following that, the dealer distributes 6 cards to each player in a clockwise fashion, starting with the player to their left. Three cards are handed face-down to each player at a time. If you haven’t gotten your first three cards yet, you can get them by dealing two cards to the center of the table and then dealing the remaining three cards.


Following the distribution of the cards, the player to the left of the dealer is given the option to select the blind card first. If you feel your hand is strong enough to win, which means you have practically all trumps, take the blind into your possession (two cards in the middle of the table). You are free to decline taking up the blind. After then, the person on your left gets the opportunity to do likewise, and so on until the blind is taken away from you completely.

If no one steps forward to take the blinds, the hand is either aleaster or adoubler, depending on how you play the hand. Once the blinds are picked up, the player who picks them up must discard two cards and set them face-down in front of themself. After that, they choose a companion.

Partner Picking

The picker should choose a partner unless they have a really powerful hand, or practically all high trump cards in their hand. Choosing partners is done by announcing the ace of the same suit as the fail card that they both have. In the case of a 7 of clubs in hand, the ace of clubs may be announced by the person holding the hand. The player who has that ace (ace of clubs) then becomes the picker’s partner in the game. The three platers that remain create a new group of players. However, no one other than their spouse is aware of this since they are not allowed to tell anybody.

If this is the case, they must play either the fail card or a card from that particular suit.

If the picker has all three of the non-trump aces, he or she will request for a ten from one of their fail suites to complete the hand.

Playing Alone

It is possible for the picker to proclaim that they are “going alone” if their hand is powerful enough to win on its own (totaling 61 points). Their hand is played in the same manner as before, but now the teams are reversed: the picker is up against everyone else.


In the first trick, the player who sits directly to the left of the dealer leads (displays the first card) by playing the first card. Play begins with one card from each player and continues to the left or clockwise. The winner of a trick takes the lead in the following trick.

Following Suit

A trick requires that players ALWAYS follow suit, which means that they must play a card from the same suit as the one that was led with. Trump IS dressed in a suit. It makes no difference what suits the trump cards are in. Diamonds are not the trump suit, even if it is represented by the Queen of Diamonds. Only trump cards have the ability to defeat the suit that was led with. Consider the following scenario: A club is in charge. In the event that you have a club-themed card in your hand, you must use it immediately.

In the case that your partner is likely to win, you have the option of giving away points.

After all six tricks have been played, the winner is selected by adding up all of the points earned from the cards that have been gathered.


  • After accumulating 61 points from the 6 tricks, the picker and their partner are declared winners. The picker receives 2 points and their companion receives one point for their efforts. Other participants are penalized with one point deducted from their total score
  • If the winning selecting team scores fewer than 60 points, their opponents are victorious. The picker loses 2 points and their companion loses 1 point from their total cumulative scores if they are not successful. The other three players, who are the winners, receive one point apiece. Sometimes, especially in tournaments, they play “double on the bump,” which means the stakes (points lost/gained) are doubled if the picking team loses the game
  • However, if the picking team wins and their opposition does not take 30 points or more, the picking team “schneiders” the opposition, which means they win twice the points they would have won otherwise
  • As a result, the picker receives 4 points and their companion receives 2. Both teams lose two points each if the picking team earns fewer than 31 points throughout the game. If the picking team earns less than 31 points during the game, the opposition schneidersthem and earns two points each. The picker would lose 4 points and their companion would lose 2 points if they were to lose. Double on the bump results in an 8-point loss for the picker and a 4-point loss for their partner
  • Nevertheless, in the case that the selecting team takes all of the tricks and earns 120 points, they gain three times the usual number of points. If the opposition takes all of the tricks, even if they are unable to earn 120 points, the pick loses 9 points and each player in the opposition earns 3 points. If the opposition takes all of the tricks, even if they are unable to earn 120 points, the pick loses 9 points and each player in the opposition earns 3 points. The picker’s partner is not subject to any penalties.

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