Games of the Galaxy #2:

Card Games

Sabacc and Pazaak


Welcome. Part two of this covers two popular card games. Sabacc and Pazaak. While in the Star Wars universe, both games are quite easy to play, but we must make do with a little less technology than what is normally available, so consider these low tech rules. Also, as with many very popular games, there are MANY...MANY varations of the rules. I will explain the rules I am currently using, but will show as many variations of the others as I can.

So, Let's play cards!


Made popular by Han Solo, and Lando Calrissian in many novels and comics, the card game we know and love had much more humble beginnings.

The only known history of Sabacc comes from a Ryn named Droma, so this is not 'hard as transparisteel' fact. It is unknown who invented the game, but apparently the Ryn invented the rank and face cards.

"Each card embodied certain spiritual principals. In sum they were a training device for spiritual growth, you might say- but never meant to be used in a game of chance. The ranked cards- Commander, Mistress, Master, and Ace- represent individuals of specific inclination with the staves corresponding to spiritual enterprise, the flasks to emotional states, the sabers to mental pursuits, and the coins to matters of well-being. But reguard the eight pairs of face cards and ask yourself why a game would include such titles as Balance, Endurance, Moderation, Demise." -Droma, NJO: Hero's Trial

The Ryn used the cards much like Tarot cards, using the order and orientation of the card drawn to represent events and people.

This is the standard version. Sabacc is much like poker, with a bit of chance thrown in. The Deck is made up of 76 cards.

Suits - There are four (4) suits, and each suits has numbered cards valuing one through eleven (1-11)

Rank - There are four ranks, much like Jack, Queen etc in Earth decks, one for each suit.

Commander: Value: 12
Mistress: Value: 13
Master: Value: 14
Ace: Value: 15

Face Cards - There are 2 of each.

Queen of Air and Darkness: Value: -2
Endurance: Value: -8
Balance: Value: -11
Demise: Value: -13
Moderation: Value: -14
The Evil One: Value: -15
The Star: Value: -17
The Idiot: Value: 0

A Card deck that you can make can be found at: The Star Wars Artists' Guild. Feel free to make yourself a deck that suits your own needs.

The Object of the Game -

If you win a round by the highest hand, you get what's called the Hand Pot. If you get a Pure Sabacc or an Idiot's Array, you win the hand pot PLUS the Sabacc pot, thus ending the round. A Pure Sabacc is when your card value equals either positive or negative twenty-three (23). In the event of a tie, positive beats negative. An Idiot's Array is when you hold the Idiot card (with a value of 0), a card with a value of two (2) and one with a value of three (3), in effect, "23". An Idiot's Array beats a Pure Sabacc.

Rules and Stats

There are 76 card chips in a deck, which are electronic and can be randomly shifted at any point in the game. If you are satisfied with your hand and don't want to risk a shift, you can place your cards in the "interference field" in the center of the table. There is betting into both the Sabacc Pot and the Hand Pot. When the hand is called (for those who don't know how to play Earth-Poker, calling is when there is no more betting and everyone must show their cards to end that hand) the highest hand wins, but the card value must not exceed 23 or you "bomb out." See "The Object" above to see explanation of Pure Sabacc and Idiot's Array.

LOW TECH Rules of Play
The object of Sabacc is to have the highest card total which is less than or equal to 23. A total which is over 23, under negative 23, or exactly zero is a bomb out, and requires the holder of the hand to pay a penalty (see below). There are two pots to be won in the game of sabacc. A pot is the total amount of credits staked by all the players in one hand of the card game. Each pot should be set apart from the other in neat piles somewhere on the table. The first of the two pots is the hand pot, which is taken by the player who wins the hand. The second is the sabacc pot, which continually builds, and can only be won with a special hand (see below). To start a game of Sabacc, choose one player to be the dealer of the first hand. Other players wishing to be dealt into a hand must first ante by placing one credit into the hand pot. Each player must also ante one credit into the sabacc pot if it is ever empty. This includes the very first hand of the game. Each player takes a turn in order, beginning with the player to the dealer's left, that includes the phases listed below. Once a player has completed all the phases in the turn, it becomes the turn of the player on his or her left. (Remember, the dealer plays each hand by taking a turn when it comes up in the order.) After every hand, the player to the left of the dealer becomes the new dealer.

Turn Phases

Betting Phase:

Going Clockwise, each player is dealt FOUR cards. (I have seen many rules say TWO cards, but we like four cards.) The player to the left of the dealer begins play with the option to bet. If he chooses to do so, the bet is placed in the hand pot. If a bet is placed, each player must match that bet if he or she wishes to remain in the hand. Only the player whose turn it is may place a bet, but that bet may be raised by any of the players in turn. The betting and raising limits are three credits.

Before moving on to the next phase, the player whose turn it is must ask each player if they wish to fold (drop out of the hand). A player may only fold during the betting phase, and must pay one credit to the sabacc pot to do so.

Shifting Phase:

After the betting phase is completed, the player whose turn it is rolls a six-sided die. If the result is a 1, 2 or 3, shifting occurs. In shifting, each player has one card, chosen randomly by the player to his right, discarded from his hand. All of the cards which were discarded are pooled together and shuffled by the dealer. The dealer then displays the discarded cards face down on the table, and each player, in order starting with the player to the dealer's left, picks one of the discarded cards and adds it to his hand.

Note: If a player folds on his own turn, he must still make the roll in the shifting phase, but his cards are not included in the shift.

Calling Phase:
After the shifting phase is completed, the player whose turn it is asks if anyone would like to call the hand. When a hand is called, each player must immediately place their cards face-up on the table in front of them and declare what they have. See "Winning a Hand" for victory conditions and penalties. A player may only call the hand during the calling phase of another player's turn, never during their own turn. No one may call the hand until every player has had at least one turn, including the dealer. Calling simulates locking in your cards, since there is no "neutral field" included.

Note: You may wish to increase the minimum number of turns before the hand may be called when playing with fewer than four players. This allows for more interesting hands to develop.

Drawing Phase:

After the calling phase, the player whose turn it is has the option to draw one card from the deck. If the player holds more than two cards, he may exchange one of the cards in his hand for a card drawn from the deck, or simply draw a card from the deck and add it to his hand (but not both).

There is no limit to the amount of cards that a player may hold in his or her hand, but he must always have at least two cards. Cards which are dropped from a player's hand during this phase are removed from play.

Winning a Hand

When a hand is called, the player with the highest card total which is 23 or less wins the hand. A player also wins the hand if everyone else folds. The winning player wins the hand pot only.

If two or more players are tied, they must participate in a sudden demise. In a sudden demise, the dealer deals each participating player one card from the deck which the players must add to their hands. The best modified hand takes the pot.

If there is still a tie, the pot is split. If any player has a total which is over 23, less than negative 23, or exactly zero when the hand is called, he or she has bombed out. In this circumstance, the bombed-out player must match the exact amount of credits which are currently in the hand pot, and pay it to the sabacc pot. In addition to this, if the player who called the hand does not win it, he or she must also pay the sabacc pot as if they had bombed-out.

Special Hands

To win the sabacc pot, a player must have one of two special hands. The first is when a player has a card total of exactly 23. This is called a Pare Sabacc, and is usually accompanied by an enthusiastic cry of "Sabacc!" when the cards are turned over. The other sabacc pot winning hand is called an Idiot's Array. To achieve this, a player must have an Idiot face card, a two card and a three card of any suit (a literal 23).

An Idiot's Array beats a Pure Sabacc, but if two or more players have the same special hand in contention for the sabacc pot, a sudden demise is held as usual. A 23 beats a -23.


Casino Betting Rules: In most casinos, the maximum opening bet is equal to the opening Hand Pot (which will be equal to the number of players, as the only chips in the Hand Pot at the beginning of a hand are the Antes). The maximum amount of the raise is the current bet. So if the current bet is 16 chips, you may raise up to a maximum of 16 more chips.

Wookie Betting Rules: There is no minimum or maximum to either the bet or the amount of the raise. Every player is free to start the bet at whatever amount they desire and raise the bet by any amount as well.

Interference Fields: Many casinos have tables equipped with Interference Fields. These Interference Fields remove the possibility of cards placed in those fields from being switched. To place a card in the Interference Field, simply play it (and other cards you want to have in the Interference Field) face up in front of you. They cannot be switched during the switching phase.

Penalties: If when the hand is called you bomb on your hand (going over 23 or under -23, or holding a hand with a total value of zero), you must pay a penalty into the Sabacc Pot equal to the total amount of credits currently in the Hand Pot. This variant is so common, that nearly every casino uses this rule, and most friendly games do as well.

Other different rules for Sabacc are listed below. ========================================================

Local Rules and Arrays for Sabacc

DISCARD - no more than 3 cards
ARRAY COMBINATION - Force Array - both Jedi Knights and an Ace


Rancor = 7
Jedi Knight = 3
Jedi Master = 4
Dark Jedi = 12
Lord of Sith = -10
Smuggler = 5
Bounty Hunter = 9

DISCARD - only two cards, no more or less than two
ARRAY COMBINATION - Sith Array - Lord of Sith, Commander, and an Ace

Rancor = 7
Jedi Knight = 15
Jedi Master = -9
Dark Jedi = 3
Lord of Sith = 4
Smuggler = 7
Bounty Hunter = 3

DISCARD - no less than two cards
ARRAY COMBINATION - Smuggler's Array - both Smugglers' and any Numbered Card in the Coin Suit

Rancor = 4
Jedi Knight = 10
Jedi Master = -13
Dark Jedi = 11
Lord of Sith = 11
Smuggler = 4
Bounty Hunter = 3

DISCARD - you have a choice between discarding one card or three, only those two choices
ARRAY COMBINATION - Republic Array - a Jedi Knight, a Jedi Master, and a Smuggler

Rancor = 8
Jedi Knight = 4
Jedi Master = 3
Dark Jedi = 12
Lord of Sith = -11
Smuggler = 4
Bounty Hunter = 10

DISCARD - you have a choice between discarding two cards or four, only those two choices
ARRAY COMBINATION - Partnership Array - two Smuggler's and a Jedi Knight

Rancor = 7
Jedi Knight = 4
Jedi Master = 6
Dark Jedi = 9
Lord of Sith = -8
Smuggler = 5
Bounty Hunter = 7

DISCARD - three cards only
ARRAY COMBINATION - Hunted Array - both Bounty Hunters, any Numbered Coin Card

Rancor = 5
Jedi Knight = -7
Jedi Master = 8
Dark Jedi = 7
Lord of Sith = 8
Smuggler = 6
Bounty Hunter = 3

DISCARD - up to two cards but no more than two
ARRAY COMBINATION - Temporal Array - Four Flasks, either numbered or ranked

Rancor = 7
Jedi Knight = 8
Jedi Master = -6
Dark Jedi = 5
Lord of Sith = 4
Smuggler = 6
Bounty Hunter = 6


Casino Sabacc

The Game

Sabacc is a game of skill and chance played in the Star Wars universe. It is the game in which Han Solo reputedly won the Millenium Falcon from Lando Calrissian. For a game invented in a fictional, futuristic setting, and for being far from the focus of the movies or any of the literature related to it, Sabacc is actually a quite interesting and well-balanced framework for games. There are so many variants on rules, and due to the vagueness with which authors have described it, so many interpretations of those variants, that the possibilities are nearly endless.

Sabacc uses a deck of 76 cards; 60 numbered (or ranked) cards divided into four suits, and 2 each of 8 special cards. The deck used in this particular variant is the 'original' Sabacc deck; other variants use modified special cards. The reason this is possible is that the cards are actually changeable; they have internal processors that change the card image displayed on them when a hand is dealt, or each round when some cards shift. Each round, a player may decide to place some cards in a neutral field (depending on the rules), where they are unaffected by shifting. The player may also bet into the Sabacc pot during each round. The object is to score a hand of four cards worth a total of 23, called a Pure Sabacc. Lesser hands include -23 and 46, called Sabacc, and various arrays dependent on the rules.

On a player's turn during any round, the player may call the hand. All players show their current hand and the player with the highest score (between -23 and 23) wins the hand pot that has culminated during the hand. Pure Sabacc beats any other hand, followed by Sabacc. If the rules include other special hands (such as arrays) they are ranked as well. Any Sabacc, plus certain arrays, win the player the Sabacc pot as well (which builds over the game until won).

In this particular game, you are playing against the dealer one on one. In this casino-style Sabacc variant the dealer shows one card. You may place a bet, which will be added to the hand pot during the following round (if you place a bet and call the hand in the same turn, that bet will not be in the hand pot and thus will be ignored). After you have finished betting and arranging your cards in or out of the neutral field, let the dealer know you have no other moves, in order to give the dealer his turn and allow for shifting. The Sabacc pot increases by a credit each round. If you think you can win the hand, you may "Call the Hand". You or the dealer may call the hand. If the player who calls the hand does not win, he or she not only loses the amount bet, but must also pay an equal amount into the Sabacc pot. A bust (above 23 or below -23) or a hand value of zero also results in the bet amount being paid to the Sabacc pot.

House Rules
You may place at most two cards in the neutral field (where they are unaffected by shifting).
An Idiot's Array (The Idiot, any 2, any 3) beats anything, and wins the Sabacc pot.
Bet amount is paid into the Sabacc pot on bust, zero or loss on call.

Solitare Sabacc

Same deck as above. Player draws 4 cards. Decides on what cards to keep or if to draw or discard any cards. (In some places, a shift occures when a card is discarded.) Player then draws 4 more cards to represent the dealer. Compare hands. Hightest hand wins.


Pazaak came from the popular computer game KOTOR. (Knights of the Old Republic).

When challenging another player to a game of Pazaak, the first order of business is to make a wager on the match. Use your directional pad to change the amount wagered, and then accept the bet and begin the match. Once the wager has been locked in, the side deck for the match must be selected from the currently available cards in the deck. A basic Pazaak deck has two of each card numbered (+1 to +6) OR (+1 to +10) According to the house rules. Im using the 1-10 deck. They are available in order to create a side deck. The side deck consists of 10 cards.

Object of the game:

The object of the game is to have the face up cards total higher than the opponent's hand without exceeding a total of 20. If a player's total is greater than 20 at the end of the turn (a 'BUST'), the opponent wins the set. A player must win three sets to win the match. When the match begins, four of the cards from the side deck will be randomly drawn to from the player's HAND during the match. Additional side deck cards can be found with values from +/- 1 to +/- 6. During your game, you will also come across some special advanced cards: 3&6, 2&4, a Tie Breaker card, and a Pazaak Card Double.

3&6 cards:
These cards will change the sign (positive or negative) of all all the 3s and the 6s you've played. Example: if you use the 3&6 card while your total is 21 and you've already played a 6 card, the value of the 6 card will be changed to -6. Which means your new total will be 9. Why not 15? Simple: That doesn't just subtract 6 from your total, it changes the initial value of the 6 card you've played as if you were playing it for the first time. In other words, the 6 points that was added for playing that card initally are taken away, and an another 6 points are deducted.

2&4 cards:
Works the same way as the 3&6 cards but it will change the values of your 2s and 4s. Pazaak Card Double: this card doubles the value of last flipped card. Tie Breaker: if the score is tied (and the opponent has chosen to stand), then playing this card results in a win.

You can only play one HAND card per turn. The player can also chose to END the turn, or STAND with the current total. This continues until one player wins the set. Ties do not count. Cards from the player's hand can only be used once, so the four cards must last the entire match.

Tip: If the total is over 20 after the draw and there is a negative card in the side deck, you can play it to bring your total back under 20. Also, you automatically win the game if you play all 9 cards without bringing your total over 20.

LOW TECH rule for this game for 2 players and a dealer.

There are 2 deck of cards. The main side deck, which are numbered 1-10. Then the special hand cards with various values. The Dealer will deal 4 of these cards to each player face down. The "Hand Deck." cards are: cards, numbered from positive (1-6), Negative (-1) to (-6), (+/- 1) to (+/- 6) and several special cards sets (2&4), (3&9) (D) Double, and Tie Breaker. *See above*

The object of the game is to try and get to 20 without going over. Must win 3 matches. You can play up to 9 cards per match. Both players roll a dice to see who goes first - highest starts.

Wager Decided what amount you will be playing for.

Dealer deals card to player number one, face up. Player one decides if they want to 'Play a card', 'No card' or 'Stand'.

Playing a card - Dealer deals you a card, face up. You can also play one of your special hand cards if you wish. You can only use these cards once per match. You must win 3 matches in order to win.

No card - you choose not to play a card, and let the other player take a turn. (End Turn)

Stand - means that you are happy with your score and want no more rolls. Do this when you think you are close enough to 20 to win.

If you get over 20, and you cannot play a negative card from your hand cards, to bring it down to either 20 or under, then you go 'bust'. You can only play one hand card per turn. The winner is the person who 'sticks' closest to 20 without going bust. Also, you automatically win the game if you play all 9 cards without bringing your total over 20.