When it comes to the social fabric of friends and families in India, card games play a big role. Card games first reached India during the Mughal Empire and today, they are played regularly among loved ones during celebrations throughout the year, including Diwali. If you want to hone your card game skills before a trip to India, check out the four most played games below.
The number-one card game played across India is Teen Patti, a game which is based loosely around the dynamics of Texas Hold’em Poker. Typically, Teen Patti is a three-to-six-player table game, played with a 52-card deck minus the joker cards. The game begins slightly differently to conventional Poker, as each player in the hand is dealt three hole cards face down. Before the cards are dealt, the ‘boot’ is agreed and collected from each player. This is like the ‘ante’ in Poker (the minimum bet that can be put into the pot).
Players can then either play their hand blind or see their cards by playing a ‘chaal’, becoming a seen player. The winner of each hand is the one who stays in until its completion with the highest-ranking hand. The lowest ranking hand in Teen Patti is a high card. It then moves up from a pair, hands of the same color, a run or sequence, a pure sequence (same suit), and the highest hand – a trail or set (three of a kind).
Rummy is one of the oldest card games played in Indian culture. Although games like Rummy used to be reserved exclusively for the female aristocracy, today they are regularly enjoyed by friends and families as a form of home entertainment. Rummy is actually a highly technical and mathematical card game to master. The beauty is that it can also be played as a two-player heads-up game or with as many players as you like – just make sure you have a sufficient number of decks as you’ll be dealt either ten, 13 or 21 cards per player.
The general goal of Rummy is to build sequences and ‘sets’ with your cards. A sequence must have a minimum of three cards of the same suit in a run. For example, the five, six and seven of hearts. A set has to be three or four cards of the same value in different suits, such as the eight of spades, diamonds, clubs and hearts.
Satte Pe Satta
Another hugely popular game among groups of friends and family in India is Satte Pe Satta, also called 7-on-7, not to be mistaken with the 80s Bollywood movie by Raj Sippy. There is no limit to the number of players that can be involved in this card game. The person with the seven of hearts commences the round by laying it in the middle of the table. The next player is only allowed to put down the six or eight of hearts. If that is not possible, the player can only lay down a seven of any other suit to start getting rid of their cards.
The end goal is to lay down all cards within your hand before any other player. As a strategy-based card game, your mission is to try and lay down cards during the game that prevent your opponents from being able to put their own cards down.
Aside from the Indian variant of poker, Teen Patti, poker itself is increasingly popular. Most Indians accept that both Teen Patti and Poker are games of skill. Finding offline games of Poker can be tricky though given that brick-and-mortar casino establishments are only legally permitted in certain Indian territories. This explains the rise of online gambling in India via offshore operators, who offer Indian card players a big choice of games and bonuses in a safe and secure online environment.
Those wondering where it is possible to play poker offline should head to Goa, where there are seven land-based casinos, as well as four ‘offshore’ resorts near the Goan coastline. Goa is a beautiful state to explore, notably Panaji and Vasco da Gama but there are plenty of other great cities to see in India too. Sikkim, Diu and Daman are the only other states that permit land-based poker gaming at the time of writing.
If you are planning on venturing to India for the first time and exploring the nation’s rich and vibrant culture, you can be sure card gaming will be a popular form of entertainment everywhere you go.