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"Sabacc is not a fight, sabacc is life. You can bring all the skill and cleverness you want, but there's always going to be that unknown factor, the parts you can't control. It's civilized in its chaos. The most civilized game in the galaxy."
―Lando Calrissian[10]

Sabacc was a popular card game with numerous variations, many of them including a hard-to-beat hand also called sabacc. Often played at high stakes, the goal of many versions of the game was to win the sabacc pot by collecting a hand with an absolute value closest to 23, but no higher. A typical sabacc deck comprised 76 cards (60 distributed in four suits plus 16 special cards), all of which had a specific value. However, some variants used different decks, and furthermore, in many versions of the game the value and suit of a card could change at random during play, unless the card was placed in the interference field.


A deck of sabacc consisted of 76 cards. Sixty were distributed in four suits (Flasks, Sabers, Staves, and Coins), with 15 cards per suit: pip cards numbered 1 through 11, plus a Commander numbered 12, a Mistress numbered 13, a Master numbered 14, and an Ace numbered 15. The other 16 were two sets of 8 special cards: Balance (numbered −11), The Idiot (0), Endurance (−8), Moderation (−14), The Evil One (−15), The Queen of Air and Darkness (−2), Demise (−13), and The Star (−17[11] or −10).[12]



Lando Calrissian playing sabacc

Sabacc was a game of both skill and chance that could be played with as few as two and as many as eight players. Players could designate a dealer or take turns as the dealer, rotating clockwise at the beginning of each hand.[11] The object of sabacc was to have a final hand with a total as close to 23 or −23 as possible without going over. A hand with a total of 24 or higher was said to "bomb out" and lost the round.[11] There were two pots to be won in sabacc: the hand pot, taken by the player who won an individual hand, and the sabacc pot, which continually built during the game, and went to the overall winner of the match.[13]

The dealer started by shuffling the deck before dealing one card to each player, including themselves, in rotation. They would then repeat another rotation until each player had two cards facedown. In most high-stakes games, the cards are actually small screens that can change the card at a signal from the Randomizer, causing a Sabacc Shift. The Sabacc Shift is described later. Starting to the dealer's left, each player then called out their beginning hand totals.[11]

Starting to the dealer's left, each player could choose to draw one or more cards from the deck then choose to trade a card from their hand for one from the deck, or stand. They could then choose to place a single card in the game table's interference field to prevent said card from being Shifted if a Sabacc Shift occurred. If a Sabacc Shift occurred, all the cards that were not locked in the interference field randomly changed suits and value. That new hand was the player's final hand for the round.[11]

Idiots Array

The "Idiot's Array" winning move

That same process was repeated by each player, ending with the dealer. Each player then called out their final hand's total. The player with the highest hand, totaling 23 or below, won the round. A hand of 24 or higher was said to "bomb out" and lost. A perfect hand of 23 or −23 was called a Pure Sabacc, and it could only be beaten by a rare and unbeatable hand called an Idiot's Array, consisting of The Idiot, a 2 card of any suit, and a 3 card of any suit.[11]

Ties were settled by use of a device generating random numbers: the player that rolled the highest number won.[11] A skifter was a way to cheat.[14]


"I do enjoy a game of sabacc. Preferably the Corellian spike variation - fewer cards to count. Err, I mean, play."
Diago Velaar[15]

A 62-card deck of "Corellian Spike" sabacc

More than eighty variant forms of sabacc existed.[16] One such form was "Corellian Spike," which used a pair of six-sided dice[17] and was played with a smaller deck.[18] Jhabacc was another high-stakes variant that was notably played at the Outlander Club, in the Uscru Entertainment District of Coruscant.[19] Other variants included the Centran sabacc, the Empress Teta Preferred style,[14] the Coruscant Shift,[20] and the Riftwalker sabacc.[21]


"But everyone loves Sabacc! […] It's—like—the game of the galaxy!"
―A pirate, to another pirate[22]

Han Solo used a vial of coaxium as a buy-in to the sabacc game in which he won the Millennium Falcon.

Sabacc was a popular card game played throughout the galaxy, often with high stakes. Because of the random Shifts, sabacc was a complex and unpredictable game, as a potential winning hand could turn into a losing one if not used at the right moment,[13] and its odds were always in the house's favor.[12] In one notable game, Han Solo won the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian in a game of "Corellian Spike" sabacc on Numidian Prime.[6] In 4 BBY,[23] Garazeb Orrelios of the Spectres bet and lost the astromech droid Chopper to the smuggler Lando Calrissian, who had an Idiot's Array.[1]

Following the Siege of Inyusu Tor, Commander Tohna of the 61st Mobile Infantry played a game of sabacc with three other soldiers, Gadren, Brand, and Twitch. Tohna invited Captain Hazram Namir to join, but he did not know how to play and refused.[7]

Behind the scenes[]

Sabacc first appeared in the Legends novel Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu and has since appeared in many Legends stories. It became canon when it was included in the 2014 novel A New Dawn. The name likely had its origins in the second draft of the script of The Empire Strikes Back, when Han Solo mentions that his friend Lando Calrissian won Cloud City in a "sabacca game."[24]

For a long time, Lucasfilm didn't attempt to trademark the term "sabacc," which led to the Ren Ventures company, and its subsidiary, the game developer Sabacc Creative Industries, using the name for a 2015 mobile app game, mimicking the gameplay rules of the Star Wars card game. Ren Ventures registered the U.S. trademark "sabacc" in 2016. The same year, Lucasfilm sent them a cease-and-desist letter.[25] With the movie Solo: A Star Wars Story coming out in May 25, 2018, and featuring the card game,[26] Lucasfilm tried to bring the trademark back into its fold, first challenging the registration in May 2017, and then filing a federal trademark lawsuit in December 2017.[27] In April 2018, Ren Ventures counterattacked with a lawsuit of their own aimed at marketing materials using the name, in particular the Denny's restaurant chain promotional offer of collectible trading cards.[28] In June, a California federal judge gave a summary judgment in favor of Lucasfilm, but let a jury decide later if the Ren Venture was guilty of willful infringement.[25] The case was settled in full a month later,[29] but not before Ren Ventures tried to involve George Lucas.[30] Ultimately, Lucasfilm was able to trademark "sabacc" in August 2018.[31]


Non-canon appearances[]


Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "Idiot's Array"
  2. Chewbacca (2015) 1
  3. Pirate's Price
  4. Han Solo - Imperial Cadet 1
  5. Lando's Luck
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Solo: A Star Wars Story
  7. 7.0 7.1 Battlefront: Twilight Company
  8. "The Kloo Horn Cantina Caper" — From a Certain Point of View
  9. SWRM "Off the Rails" — Star Wars Rebels Magazine 31
  10. "The Buy-In" — From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 Sabacc (Celebration Anaheim)
  12. 12.0 12.1 Bloodline
  13. 13.0 13.1 SWInsider "Rebel Bluff" — Star Wars Insider 158
  14. 14.0 14.1 Star Wars: Smuggler's Guide
  15. Star Wars: Hunters
  16. Solo: A Star Wars Story The Official Guide
  17. Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary
  18. The Last Jedi: Rose Tico: Resistance Fighter
  19. Star Wars: Complete Locations
  20. Star Wars: Datapad (Galactic Starcruiser)
  21. The Living Force
  22. IDWStarWarsAdventuresLogoSmaller "Kidnapped!" — Star Wars Adventures (2017) 24
  23. Star Wars: Timelines dates the events of "Idiot's Array" to 4 BBY.
  24. Laurent Bouzereau, Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays (New York: Del Rey, September 1997), p. 191 ISBN 0-345-40981-7
  25. 25.0 25.1 Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC v. Ren Ventures Ltd. by C. Linna Chen & Kyle Petersen on Lexicology (June 28, 2018) (archived from the original on June 12, 2020)
  26. Donald Glover on charming the hell out of Solo: A Star Wars Story by Breznican, Anthony on Weekly Entertainment (February 8, 2018) (archived from the original on April 14, 2020)
  27. Disney Files Trademark Suit to Protect 'Star Wars' Card Game by Maddaus, Gene on Variety (December 21, 2017) (archived from the original)
  28. 'Sabacc' Trademark Holder Sues Lucasfilm and Denny's by Maddaus, Gene on Variety (April 23, 2018) (archived from the original on May 11, 2020)
  29. Disney's Lucasfilm Settles IP Fight Over 'Star Wars' Game by Donahue, Bill on Law360 (July 25, 2018) (archived from the original on June 12, 2020)
  30. George Lucas Fights Deposition In 'Star Wars' Game TM Fight by Donahue, Bill on Law360 (July 23, 2018) (archived from the original on June 12, 2020)
  31. SABACC - Trademark Details on Justia (archived from the original on June 12, 2020)

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