WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Solo: A Star Wars Story
It's time for fans of Solo: A Star Wars Story to learn the card game Sabacc - because once they do, an original Star Wars trilogy moment will never be seen the same way again. The card game may seem impenetrable to casual fans in Solo, or even intentionally vague or unimportant. But believe it or not, the rules of Sabacc and the strategies employed by Han Solo and Lando Calrissian in their games are established in Star Wars canon.
In the previous version of the Star Wars canon, Han Solo won the Millennium Falcon from Lando in a game of Sabacc (the Corellian Spike variation). To commemorate the deal, Han had the dice from that game cast in gold - the same golden dice forever at home in the Millennium Falcon. Solo changes that bit of mythology from its very first scenes, but it's not the only change it makes.
But to get there, fans will first need to learn how the game of Sabacc is actually played. If you couldn't help but wonder what the card's symbols, colors, and combinations really meant, then we're here to help. When we're finished, one of the most memorable moments from The Empire Strikes Back will have a whole new meaning.
- This Page: Star Wars' Sabacc Card Game Explained
- Page 2: What Solo's Sabacc Changes About Original Trilogy
How Does The Card Game 'Sabacc' Actually Work?
We'll stop short of outlining every intricacy of Sabacc since the version played in Solo is a variant, with some key differences. But in the set-up and scale, it's not all that different from traditional poker. And in its basic gameplay, not all that different from Blackjack.
Each player is dealt two cards ranging in both positive and negative values, and can be dropped or swapped with the overall goal of adding up to either 23 or -23. Like poker, bets are made and called after any number of rounds.
Special cards, suits, and hands can then be factored into the game, but the key gamble is in the possibility of a "Sabacc Shift" - swapping the values and suits of any unprotected cards in the players' hand. But the version played by Han and Lando in Solo should be easier to follow in the actual film.
Understanding The 'Corellian Spike' Version in Solo
Fortunately for fans hoping to actually follow the game(s) of Sabacc being played in Solo: A Star Wars Story, the version played is even simpler. It's not stated in the film, but the variation of Sabacc being played is known as "Corellian Spike." The main difference being a slightly smaller deck with cards valued 1 to 10.
That and, this is the key to understanding the hands dealt, the goal is no longer to reach 23 or -23, but a perfect zero. This version of the game also scraps the whole sci-fi 'card-faces change' element and instead relies on a pair of Spike Dice. Cast every round of drawing cards, all hands are folded and re-dealt should the dice roll doubles (which they rarely do). After three rounds, bets are placed and called.
The element of Corellian Spike which decides both games featured in Solo is that the player whose card values come closest to zero wins. But if two players have the same number, the pot goes to the player who attained that number with the most cards in their hand (again, risk is a big factor in this variant).
That twist - winning thanks to extra cards in your hand - makes the two cards valued at '0' in each deck supremely valuable. The card is known as the Sylop ("Idiot" in Corellian). Win the hand with a Sylop, and you win the game.
...which is how Han Solo wins the Millennium Falcon in the new Star Wars canon, forever changing a future moment in The Empire Strikes Back.
Page 2 of 2: What Solo's Sabacc Changes About Original Trilogy
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018