Card games are a significant part of the culture and tradition of family life in India. As an import part of the social fabric of families and local communities, card games have remained popular despite the growing penetration of video and online gaming. A card game is one of the most enjoyable ways of bridging the generation gap when extended families come together for recreational activities. Playing cards first arrived on the shores of India with the Mughal Empire, introducing a game known as ‘Ganjifa’. That game is not particularly popular now but here are five of the most popular card games in India, perfect for family time at celebrations such as Diwali and offering hours of entertainment for all ages. IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay.com
One of the longest standing card games played in India, Rummy is an intriguing game that requires players to use their mathematical and analytical skills to prevail. It can be played by as many as six players and as little as two players, depending on the size of your group. Indian Rummy can either be played using ten, 13 or 21 cards each. As it’s a drop-and-discard style of card game, it can be played using multiple decks. The aim of the game is to create sequences and sets with the cards in your hand. A sequence or run must contain at least three cards of the same suit in order. A set is based on three or four cards of the same value but different suits. There are striking similarities between Indian Rummy and Roulette in terms of the high number of variants of these traditional games. Points Rummy, Pools Rummy and Deals Rummy are also regularly played, just like American, French and European Roulette games available in casinos and online.
Teen Patti is actually a simplified version of the age-old card game, Poker and is more akin to the British-inspired game, 3 Card Brag. Using a traditional 52-card pack, each hand players must put the minimum stake into the pot before the cards are dealt, known as the boot. The dealer dishes out cards until each player has three cards in their hand. Each player can bid more than the boost based on the strength of their hand. Much like in playing blackjack, where players are given the opportunity to surrender, ending the hand immediately and forfeiting some or all of their bets, Teen Patti also allows players to surrender their boot and remove themselves from any hand.
Also known as 7-on-7, Satte Pe Satta can be played with an unlimited number of players. If there are too many players for a single deck, then multiple decks can be used. The player with the 7 of hearts begins the game by laying the card down in the middle. The next player can only lay either the 6 or 8 of hearts. However, if a player has a 7 of any other suit, the card must be laid. The game continues until all suits are laid, from ace to king. As a strategy-based card game, the aim of the game is to lay a card that could potentially block an opponent’s chance to lay their own cards and win. There are elements of the card game Cheat in Satte Pe Satta, in that players are aiming to get rid of all their cards. However, unlike in Cheat where deception can be cleverly used, players must play by the rules in Satte Pe Satta.
This intriguing card game can only be played with three players. The game uses 30 cards from within a traditional 52-card pack (7 of spades to Ace of spades, 7 of hearts to Ace of hearts, 8 of diamonds to Ace of diamonds and 8 of clubs to Ace of clubs). Three cards, namely a two, three and a five are taken out from the pack, shuffled and dealt to the three players. Whoever gets the number two is the dealer and must make two hands. The player sitting to their right must create five hands and the third player must make three hands. Players who make more than the minimum number of hands required win the round. It is a very similar concept to Bridge, except there are three players in a game rather than four and all participate individually.
India is likely to be the next region in the world to experience a poker boom. Poker in India is very much on the up and is now one of the most popular card games in the country. The poker industry is now said to be worth $120 million in India, as players successfully sought an alternative to Teen Patti, the Indian poker variant. The people of India are increasingly accepting of poker as a game of skill. Traditionally, legislation in India has meant restricted gambling games that aren’t seen as a game of skill. Furthermore, the widespread adoption of smartphone and tablet devices has made it easy for Indians to play online, along with home games among friends.
India is a nation hugely rich in culture, history and tradition. Indian card games made for Indian people to enjoy will always have a place in their hearts, from the people of cosmopolitan Goa to Kerala. Card games connect with people and provide a social element that some communities need to thrive, just like the nation’s favourite game of cricket. Although many of the traditional Indian card games such as Teen Patti and Teen Do Paanch can now be played via mobile apps, you still can’t beat the thrill of outsmarting friends and family.