OBJECTIVE OF SCOTCH WHIST:  Be the first player or team to reach 41 points.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 – 8 players

NUMBER OF CARDS: 36 card deck

RANK OF CARDS: (low) 6 – Ace (high)

TYPE OF GAME: Trick taking



Scotch Whist is a versatile trick taking card game that can be played with as few as two players and as many as eight.  It can be played in teams or individually.  Although the name suggests that the game hails from Scotland, evidence suggests that it actually originated in Germany.  The biggest give away that this is a German game is the trump suited Jack’s movement in rank.  This particular game feature is extremely German in nature, and it can be found in many other trick taking games from that country.

This game is also called Catch the Ten because capturing the 10 of trumps is key to scoring well during the round.


The base deck for Scotch Whist includes the 6’s – Aces.  However, the deck size and deal varies depending on the number of players.  

2Individually6’s – AcesDeal three 6 card hands to each player, play them one hand at time
3Individually6’s – AcesDeal two 6 card hands to each player, play them one hand at a time
4Individually, teams of two6’s – AcesDeal 9 cards to each player
5Individually6’s – Aces, Remove 6 of spadesDeal 7 cards to each player
6Individually, teams of two6’s – AcesDeal 6 cards to each player
7Individually6’s – Aces, Remove 6 of spadesDeal 5 cards to each player
8Individually, teams of two7’s – Aces, Remove all 6’sDeal 4 cards to each player

The final card dealt to the dealer is turned face up for everyone to see.  That card determines trump for the round.

Once the deck has been prepared and dealt, the player on the left side of the dealer may go first.


The suit that is determined to be trump becomes the highest valued suit for the hand.  Also, the Jack of the trump suit becomes the highest valued card for the hand.  For example, if hearts becomes the trump suit, then the Jack of hearts becomes the highest valued card in the game.  The lowest heart card is still higher than the Ace of any other suit.


The player on the left side of the dealer may begin the game by playing any card that they wish.  Play continues left with each player matching the suit that was led if they can.  If they are unable to match the suit, they may play a trump card or any other card that they wish. 

The player who plays the highest card in the suit that was led or the highest trump card wins the trick.  They also lead next.  

Play like this continues until all of the tricks have been played.

Please note: In a two or three player game, more than one hand will be dealt to each player.  Players may only look at one hand at a time.  The hand(s) not being played are left face down.  Once an entire hand is played through, the next hand may be picked up and played.  The round ends once all of the hands have been played.


In this game, players (or teams) are trying to capture tricks that contain the five highest valued trump cards.  Points are earned accordingly.

Jack11 points
Ace4 points
King3 points
Queen2 points
1010 points

Each player (or team) also counts the number of cards they captured.  They earn one point for each card beyond the total number of cards they were originally dealt.  For example, if a player was dealt six cards originally, and they captured 8 cards, they earn 2 points.


The first player or team to reach 41 points or more wins the game.  

Mark Ball
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