An Introduction to Indian Card Games

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A wide variety of card games are popular in India, and here’s bringing you a glimpse of the same.

Indian card games aren’t just a favourite pastime for the Indian population but have also gone on to become popular all over the world. Starting from the beginning of the sixteenth century, these card games have gone on to stand the test of time. They still find their place in restaurants and parties across the nation. In fact, Indian card games have now gone online with several websites and apps introducing them on their platform.

History of Indian Card Games

The history of Indian card games is long and goes back to the early sixteenth century. There is a general consensus that card games were first played in China during the beginning of the twelfth century. The cards started spreading across the globe as time went by. Finally, the Mughal emperors brought the cards from Central Asia to India.

The first widely known card game during that time was ‘Ganjifa.’ The name comes from the Persian word for playing cards – ‘Ganjifeh.’ It was played in the Royal Courts with cards made out of expensive material such as tortoise shells or ivory. Eventually, the game reached the general public, and cards were made from affordable and easily available material, such as leaves or wood.

Initially, the Indian cards looked like circles, and not the classic rectangles. Typically, they included ten suits that comprised twelve cards each. The classic cards had pictures of traditional artwork, such as elephants, warriors, demons, and horses.

Popular Indian Card Games

  • Ganjifa

This trick-take game involves four players. Only cards of the same suit have to be played, the winner is the one with higher value cards. The king and the vizier are the two highest cards. Every turn starts with the dealer playing a card of their liking, and all other players in anti-clockwise order countering the cards.

  • Twenty-Eight

It is one of the most popular card games at present. It is a trick-taking game played between four players and involves using the standard 52-card deck, though only 32 cards are utilized. The card ranking is different from the standard, and the high to low cards are J-9-A-10-K-Q-8-7. As you can see, 2 – 6 cards are not there.

Every player gets four cards and bids individually, and the highest bidder decides the trump suit. It is followed by every player getting four more cards. The trump suit is chosen by the highest bidder, who places one card from the suit face down.

  • Andar Bahar 

Andar Bahar or Mang Patta is an Indian card game that is played with one deck. Before the betting begins, the dealer starts cutting the deck and exposing a card as ‘Joker.’ The two betting sides are called ‘Andar’ and ‘Bahar.’

You need to make a correct guess about which side the ‘joker’ will come to win the game. The game begins with the joker being exposed. You can wager the first bet ‘Andar’ or ‘Bahar.’ Cards get dealt first on ‘Bahar’ and then on ‘Andar.’ If Joker is the first card dealt on Bahar, every bet on Bahar will get a particular percentage of the bet and Andar loses. A similar thing happens when Joker is the first card for Andar.

  • Indian Rummy

Indian Rummy is a lot like the Gin Rummy that is popular all over the world. This game involves using the standard 52-card deck, and more decks are added at high player counts. Every player gets 13 cards and needs to play melds or specific combinations.

Every card has a dedicated point value, and the winner is the one who manages to play out all the cards from the hand. Based on the requirements of the round, certain sequences have to be played. The game is highly popular online in India and beyond.

  • 304

This is another trick-taking card game that two teams play. The usual 52-card deck is brought to use, and it’s one of those rare card games that’s completely based on strategic thought. There is only a small role played by luck in this game. All the players get their cards, i.e., four cards each.

A designated player decides the trump card and the score for the team. The standard trick-taking rules are used to play the game, along with extras that reward strategic play.


So, which of these Indian card games have you tried so far? There is no denying that they are all fun and exciting in their own way. Go ahead and try your hand on any of them and have a good time.