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A typical Skat pack (German-suited cards)
Origin Germany
Alternative namesBierlatz
Type Trick-taking
Skills requiredHand evaluation, counting, cooperation
DeckFrench or German-suited "Skat" pack
Card rank (highest first)(U/J) A 10 K O/Q 9 8 7
Playing time3–5 minutes per hand played
Random chanceLow
Related games

Bierlachs, also Bierskat or Lachs, is a variant of Germany's national card game, Skat, that is predominantly played for beer in pubs and restaurants. [1] [2] [3]

Card game game using playing cards as the primary device

A card game is any game using playing cards as the primary device with which the game is played, be they traditional or game-specific. Countless card games exist, including families of related games. A small number of card games played with traditional decks have formally standardized rules, but most are folk games whose rules vary by region, culture, and person. Games using playing cards exploit the fact that cards are individually identifiable from one side only, so that each player knows only the cards he holds and not those held by anyone else. For this reason card games are often characterized as games of chance or “imperfect information”—as distinct from games of strategy or “perfect information,” where the current position is fully visible to all players throughout the game.

Skat is a 3-player trick-taking card game of the Ace-Ten family, devised around 1810 in Altenburg in the Duchy of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. It is the national game of Germany and, along with Doppelkopf, it is the most popular card game in Germany and Silesia. It is considered one of the best and most interesting card games for 3 players and has been described as "the king of German card games."



The name is a corruption of Bierlatz; latzen is colloquial German for "paying" e.g. a fine [4] and alludes to the fact that the loser pays for a round of beer. [5]


The game is recorded as Bierlachs or Lachs as early as 1862 where, depending on the beverage being played for, it was also referred to as Weinlachs ("Wine Round") or Kaffeelachs ("Coffee Round"). [6]


The following rules are based on Lehnhoff except where stated. [1]

Bierlachs follows the general rules for Skat, except in terms of scoring and winning. A target score is set and only minus scores are reckoned. In other words, if the declarer wins a deal worth 40 points, the two opponents score the minus 40 points each. If the declarer loses such a game, he is penalised double (as in Skat) and scores minus 80 points. [7]

The game is played until one of the players reaches the (minus) target; he is the loser and pays for a round of beer, hence the name "Bierlachs". Sometimes a fixed payment is made to the Skatkasse, also called the Pinke, [7] i.e. Skat pot.

Game is typically 501 points.


As a player nears the target score, he is forced to try and win the auction in order not to collect any more minus points. This often leads to a willingness to take more and more risk, sometimes resulting in desperate games being played. [7] However, a player in the danger zone will also find that his opponents are increasingly risk-averse and reluctant to bid. This may give him a chance to draw an opponent into the danger zone as well. But if an opponent wins, the endangered player is likely to be pushed over the limit and thus lose the game. As Lehnhoff suggests, such a game is not without its appeal and it can be exciting to see someone in the danger zone snatch victory from the jaws of defeat or a relief to survive and see one's "Skat brother go for a swim". There is usually a moral obligation to play another game to allow the loser to enjoy a free beer. When a Bierlachs session ends is a matter for agreement but, typically, when one or more players decide they need to go, they will announce the last 3 deals. These are usually played as Bock rounds, in which the game value doubles, giving the player who is losing a chance to catch up. [1]


Games may also be played for 301 or 401 points. It is common to add the date of the month to the target, for example: [7]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 Lehnhoff 2011, pp. 124–126.
  2. Einführung in das Skat by Stan Baumann at Retrieved 4 January 2019
  3. Skatbegriffe at Retrieved 6 February 2019
  4. latzen at Duden. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  5. Skat-Geschichten - Bierlachs at Retrieved 4 January 2019
  6. _ 1862, pp. 11/12.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Rouselle 2015, p. 31.