Spanish card games can be traced back centuries, and some come with a lot of ancient history. Today, they’re one the most favored pastimes in Europe.
We now know that card games, in general, originated in China during the 12th century. Although we aren’t yet certain, it’s believed that the Spanish weren’t far behind during the Spanish colonization.
Top 9 Spanish Card Games to Play
Throughout this guide to the most popular Spanish card games, I will tell you everything you need to know about each game. This includes what you’ll need to play, how many players you’ll need, the difficulty levels, and a small brief on the rules and instructions.
Spanish card decks differ from the standard deck of cards you might be used to and instead only contain 48 cards in a deck.
Although most Spanish card games were created around a 48-card deck, over the years, many of the games have been developed further. They can now be played with the standard deck of 52 cards by removing a few suits. So for some Spanish games, you might find that you need one or the other or can use either deck of cards.
If, when you’re done here, you’re eager to learn about card games from other cultures, then you should check out my guide to the best Mexican card games.
Let’s begin this guide with one of the most popular Spanish card games, Chinchon. If you’re familiar with the well-known game Gin Rummy, then you’ll have no problem understanding the rules of Chinchon.
The game is best played by two, three, or four players. To begin, each player is dealt seven cards, and the idea is to match cards from your hands to cards from the stockpile. You then need to try and form melds; only by doing so can you win the game. This guide on playing Chinchon will give you a much more detailed insight into the rules and instructions.
For this game, you will need a Spanish deck of cards.
Cuarenta is known as a fishing type of card game and is played with forty of the cards out of a Spanish deck, which explains the game’s name as cuarenta means “forty” in Spanish.
Aside from forty relating to the game’s name and the number of cards used, it also refers to the total number of points you need to win the game.
To begin with, each player starts the game with five cards each in their hand. From here, players must make calls depending on their hands. Then, one at a time, players place a single card face-up. Other players can steal these via adding or matching. For example, if someone puts down an 8, you can match this with a five and a 3.
Coming to a point-trick-taking game now, Botifarra is a game that is commonly played in the Northern areas of Spain.
This deduction game involves scoring points depending on the value of the cards. It’s played using a 48-card Spanish deck; the nine is the highest in value out of the deck. To win, you must give the highest-value cards to the trump suit.
Turns are taken in an anticlockwise rotation, with the player to the dealer’s right taking the first go.
The game is played in teams, so communication is critical, and the first team to reach 101 points wins the round.
Ombre is one of the earliest-dated trick-taking games in Europe, and not much has changed in gameplay since it first came about.
This is quite a complex game, so it’s more suited to expert card players. Also, trying to explain to the family on a casual game night might be a little bit complicated.
This is a three-player card game, and it’s played using forty cards out of a 48-card Spanish deck.
To begin, each player bids for a trump suit before attempting to win tricks by discarding the most cards.
The rules are similar to some versions of Rummy. Except, the card ranking follows the color of trump rather than the suit.
Julepe is another trick-taking card game in which players must match the suit with the highest-value cards.
The game is played with a Spanish deck of cards; however, if you don’t have these and wish to play with a standard deck, remove the eights, nines, and tens, and you’re good to go.
You will also need something to use as chips. Again, you can either improvise with this or purchase a set such as these multi-use playing chips. I always find it handy to have these because they come in useful for so many other games that require wagers.
At the start of the game, each player is dealt five cards, and you should establish the trump and a wager between you all. Next, you will move around the playing circle. Anytime a player wishes to have a go discarding a card, they need to pay the stake. You can discard up to five cards in one turn.
If you can’t discard any cards, you can skip your turn and wait until the next. However, the dealer must always take a turn.
Manilla is a point-trick-taking game with four people split into pairs who will form teams.
The game’s primary goal is to score 40 points before the other team.
Each player starts the game with a hand of twelve cards. However, the final card to be dealt is placed face-up for the players to see; this will be the trump card.
The cards are all worth different point values. For example, 9’s are worth five points, aces are worth four, Reys are worth three, and horses are worth two. The rest of the cards have a zero value.
Whoever plays the highest trump wins the game; however, if no trumps are won, the next highest-ranking card wins the round. Scores are tallied up after all the rounds have taken place. Any team with more than 36 points should deduct this from their total; the remaining points reflect their final score.
If you’re looking for a simple Spanish card game to play with family, then Escoba is an excellent choice. It’s even easy enough to teach to the kids.
This fast-paced card game is suitable for two players or more.
Players are dealt three cards each, to begin with, and four cards from the deck are placed face-up in the center of the table; these are open to being grabbed by players during gameplay.
The only skill required to play is fast-thinking and good decision-making on the spot. You can capture cards whenever you notice the card value adding up to fifteen, which, although it might sound easy, is not so much when you’re trying to count in Spanish. If you’re not fluent, this can take some practice!
The game continues until all of the cards have been captured. The winner is the person with the highest score from their captured cards.
Alouette is probably one of the most straightforward trick-taking games, so if you’re new to the genre, this is a good one to start with.
You can play with two, three, or four players, and you’ll need a Spanish deck of cards.
Each player is dealt nine cards at the start of gameplay, and the game aims to discard all nine of your cards by winning tricks. Tricks are won by matching suits with higher-value cards, or you can forfeit by playing what is known as a junk card.
The winner is the player who scores the highest number of tricks by the end of the game.
Tute is a game that can be played with two to four players and involves throwing down cards one at a time. The game aims to be the person who throws down the card with the highest value. If you’re that lucky person, you steal all the cards on the table.
Once you reach a point where all the cards have been played, points are calculated, and whoever has the highest total wins.
The reason for the name is that if a player manages to collect all four kings, it’s called a Tute. If this happens, the game ends here, and that player takes the glory.
There is some sneaky game-playing that can take place here, too; try bluffing into making your opponents think you have the kings to cause a stir.
Hopefully, after reading this, you’re already checking out which Spanish decks to buy online to play these most popular Spanish card games.
Whether you were looking to expand your knowledge, increase your strategic skills, or discover new games to introduce to your next game night. I hope my guide has given you plenty to think about.
If you want to play even more Spanish games, look at this Bilingual Fun Card Game – Juegos de mesa en español.