Cadillac Card Game Rules

By Susan Landis-Steward
All cards except the Joker are played during a game of cribbage.

Cadillac, also known as 31, is a classic card game for 4 to 7 players. The object of the game is to get a hand that is closest in points to 31 in one suit. If no one has a hand that equals 31 points in a single suit, the player with the most points in a single suit wins the round. Cadillac is a gambling game in a style that dates back at least 500 years. Games like Cadillac have been popular in both Europe and the United States. Their most popular variations are Cribbage and Blackjack. Cadillac requires a deck of 52 regular playing cards and poker chips or other counters. Aces are high and have a point value of 11, face cards are worth 10 points each and the number cards are worth face value.

Getting Started

Cut the cards. The player with the low card is dealer. Deal three cards face down to each player, starting to the dealer's left. Deal three cards face up into the center of the table as a draw pile. Everyone puts the same number of chips into the pot.

Game Play

The player to the dealer's left goes first. The player may exchange any card in his hand for any card in the draw pile. In turn, each player draws and discards to the draw pile. When a player is convinced he has the highest number of points in one suit, he knocks on the table. After someone knocks, the rest of the players have one more chance to exchange cards. They may exchange cards or keep the ones they have. The showdown follows, with all players showing their cards.

Determining the Winner

The player with the highest number of points in one suit wins the pot. If there is a tie for the number of points, the player with the highest face card wins. At any time when a player has exactly 31 points in one suit, it is called a blitz. He may knock immediately and win the entire pot without another round of exchanges.

Variation

Instead of having three cards in the draw pile, one card may be face up and the rest of the deck placed face down. Players have the option of taking the face up card or drawing from the deck.

Optional Rules

A normal blitz is any combination of cards that equals 31 in one suit. For fun, a blitz can be limited to just the Ace, King, and Ten of the suit. Three cards of the same rank can count as 30 1/2. For example, three 4s will beat 30 points in one suit. Three aces count as 32, which beats any other hand. Optional rules must be declared by the dealer before play begins.

About the Author

Susan Landis-Steward has been a print journalist and editor since 1985, writing for "The Reflector," "The Multnomah Village Post," "The Evergreen Messenger" and "The Oregonian." She has won numerous awards for her reporting and has been published in top academic journals. Landis-Steward has a Master of Science in writing from Portland State University.