31 is an extremely simple draw and discard card game for kids, it does require some strategy to win. The object of the game is to reach 31 before the other players.


Space: Low

Level: Easy

Cards: Standard deck of 52 cards

Players: Up to nine


Each player receives three cards from the dealer, who then places the remainder of the deck in the middle of the table.  The top card is turned face up and is placed next to the deck and is the beginning of the discard pile.

All players will also begin with three chips, pennies or random game pieces. These are called “lives” and when a life is lost or forfeited the pieces are placed into the “kitty” in the middle of the table.


The player to the left of the dealer chooses a card from either the deck or discard pile and then discards one card on the discard pile.  It is not allowed to take the top card of the discard pile and then return it in the same turn, however a card can be taken from the deck and then placed in the discard pile.   Players must always have three cards in their hand when their turn is completed.

Card Values

  • Ace = 11 points
  • King, queen and jack = 10 points
  • 10 through 2 = face value

Cards are only able to be added if they are in the same suit.  For example if you have a hand with a Queen of hearts, an 8 of hearts and a four of diamonds, only the Queen and 8 would be counted for a total of 18.  If a player has three different suits, the highest card prevails.

The hand winds down to a close once one player “knocks” rather than drawing a card. A player will knock when that player believes their hand value is at least as high as their opponents after one more turn.  Knocking will end a players turn and they cannot draw.  The other players get one more turn to improve their own hands, and then everyone reveals their cards.

A player can also declare 31 at any point in the game and must show their cards immediately to claim victory. This can happen in the final play after another player has knocked as well.

To add up the scores, players select the suit they want to use for their hand. The player with the lowest hand value loses a “life”. Should a knocker lose the hand by having a score lower than another player, they forfeit two “lives”. Should a tie occur between the knocker and another player, the non-knocker loses a “life”. Should the tie be between other players, all lose a “life”. When a player declares 31, all the remaining players must forfeit a “life”.

Once a player has lost all three lives they are eliminated.