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Spanish card games are an amusing language learning tool!
Whether you already know these games or it’s your first time being introduced to them, I guarantee they’ll bring hours of fun and entertainment.
Keep reading for a list of 10 must-play Spanish card games for everyone.
Spanish Card Games Improve Language Skills
Learning a language ideally has an element of fun and enjoyment, no matter what age you are. Playing Spanish card games has strong ties to learning. It encourages speaking, reading, understanding, and writing by following instructions and using strategies.
What’s not to love about Spanish card games? They’re ideal for practicing vocabulary, counting, and absorbing the language—no textbook required. Plus, Spanish card games encourage healthy competition.
Speak Spanish While You Play
It’s highly important that you speak Spanish when playing Spanish card games. Remember your objective is winning but the main goal is practicing your Spanish as often as possible.
Tienes que repartir cinco cartas a cada jugador.You need to give each player five cards.
Por favor mezcla y reparte las cartas.Please shuffle and deal the cards.
Es tu turno.It’s your turn.
¿Cuales son las reglas del juego?What are the rules of the game?
Necesito una carta.I need a card.
Toma una carta del mazo.Take a card from the deck.
No tengo cartas, paso.I pass; I don’t have any cards.
Pierdes un turno.You miss a turn.
These phrases will be useful, as well as naming the colors, numbers, and objects of the cards in Spanish will reinforce concepts until they come naturally to you.
10 Must-Play Spanish Card Games for Everyone
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These authentic Spanish card games are guaranteed to amp up your Spanish skills. They’ll even give you some insights into the Spanish-speaking world. Let’s take a look!
1. Manotazo (Slap)
To play a game of manotazo you just need a complete deck of cards and quick reflexes!
This Spanish card game is super entertaining, and it helps you practice numbers and counting in Spanish.
Players sit in a circle and shuffle all 52 cards from the deck. All cards are dealt until each player has the same amount of cards. The cards need to be face down.
The first player begins by placing one of their cards in the center and starts counting uno (one). The player that follows does the same and counts dos (two), the players that follow do the same.
The count should be from uno a trece (1 to 13), and you can set a number for the as (ace), jota (jack), reina (queen), and king (rey). Once the count is finished, you begin again.
Every time that the number that is said out loud matches the number on the card, everyone must put one hand on the pile of cards. The first player to get their hand there takes all the cards in the pile. Players who run out of cards leave the game and continue to watch. Whoever has the most cards at the end of the game is the winner.
You have to think and act fast to win this game. Anyone who slaps the pile when a number is said that doesn’t correspond to the card loses a turn.
Chinchón is one of the many authentic Spanish card games that are popular in Spain. It’s a game for 12 players that focuses on matching pairs and making runs. The objective is to use your cards to build a chinchón—seven consecutive cards from the same suit.
The game begins with each player receiving 7 cards and placing a card face up next to the deck in the center. On their turn, each player may pick a card from the deck, pick up a card face up from the table, or discard a card of their own.
If the draw deck runs out, all the cards on the table are shuffled and replaced to draw.
To close the game, all players must have played at least one turn. A player can close if:
- they have 7 cards combined, 10 points are deducted.
- they have 6 cards combined and the remaining card is a three, two, or ace.
After closing, all players show their combinations in order and add up the points. Players that use a joker to make their escalera (consecutive row) of cards from the same suit gets 25 points off. The game finishes once one player exceeds 100 points and wins.
Chinchón has many variations. If you want to give it a go, download this free app.
Tute is another popular Spanish card game from Spain. It’s for 2 to 4 players and is a simple game where cards are thrown on the table one at a time.
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The goal is to have the highest value card on the table. The person with the highest card takes all the others. Points are added up when all cards have been played, and the winner is the one with the most points.
The player who collects all four reyes (kings) calls tute, ending the round victoriously. A famous hustle is to trick other players into believing you have the kings and create some excitement in the game. Just remember to do it in Spanish!
4. Guerra (War)
Guerra is a Spanish card game that is perfect for both kids and adults. It’s easy to learn and play. To win the game, the player needs to have possession of all the cards on the table. The way to achieve victory is to draw cards with a higher value than your opponents.
The full deck of cards are dealt to the players, so they each get the same amount of cards. The cards must be face down. The game is simple and requires all the players to count down: tres, dos, uno, ya (three, two, one, go).
Each player pulls out a card from their own deck and puts it on the table at the same time. The player with the highest card takes all the rest.
Whenever there is a tie (because two or more players pull out the same card), it’s time to declare war. To break the tie, the players involved put three cards face down on the table and draw a fourth card from their deck. The player with the highest card takes all the cards laid out in that round. If the tie continues, the war continues. Whenever a player runs out of cards, they get eliminated.
5. Escoba (Broom)
This interactive Spanish card game’s name, escoba, comes from the idea of sweeping the table and capturing points.
This fast-paced game is for two or more players. All players get three cards while the dealer turns four cards face up on the table. These four cards are open for capture. The art of capturing the cards requires additional skills, as captures occur when the face card values add up to quince (15).
Escobas are made when the card played captures all the table cards. The game moves forward until all cards have been used and the maximum number of captures takes place. Points are tracked and the player with the highest score wins.
If you’re enjoying a game of escoba, make sure you’re prepared to count and add in Spanish! You’ll be practicing without even noticing.
6. Burro (Donkey)
The word burro means “donkey” in English and is also the name of one of the most played Spanish card games in Latin America.
Burro requires you to be fast and a little sneaky at times. The object of the game is to match four of any kind cards and not become the burro. Players gather around a table, set a dealer for the match, and place a selection of easy-to-pick-up objects in the middle. It’s important to have one fewer object than the number of players. For example, if you have four players, place three objects in the middle.
The dealer hands four cards, face down, to each player. Each player decides which card they want to play once they look at their hand. Each turn, players slide the card they don’t need to the player on the left and receive a card from the player on the right. By looking at the cards that come your way quickly, you can decide to keep it or keep passing it. The game continues until a player has four cards of the same rank, lays their cards on the table, and grabs an object discreetly.
The rest of the players who notice should grab another one of the objects discreetly. The last player to notice gets the letter B on their score card and becomes the dealer. The game continues until one of the players receives all the letters to spell burro and loses.
7. Cuchara (Spoon)
Cuchara is similar to burro, except it doesn’t include the spelling of the word. The rules of the game are exactly the same, but the objects up for grabs are spoons.
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Cuchara is commonly played in Guatemala by kids of all ages. You can purchase the game on Amazon.
8. Mentiroso (Liar)
A game of mentiroso requires three participants minimum and a deck of cards. This is among the most simple Spanish card games out there and requires you to trick other players.
All the cards are dealt among the players and turns are taken in a clockwise direction. Each person has to throw a card, a pair, a trio, or more than three cards in the center of the table and say out loud what has been discarded, but you can’t always tell the truth. For example, if you throw four jacks, you can say it’s two jacks and two kings.
The next player decides if what you’re saying is true or if you’re a mentiroso or not. If the player guesses that what you said is in fact false, that player takes all the cards. If the player doesn’t guess correctly, they need to keep throwing cards onto the pile until someone guesses that it’s a lie. Anyone who gets caught lying takes all the cards on the table.
The player who runs out of cards first is declared the winner.
9. Toma dos (Take two)
Toma dos is an enjoyable game for both young kids and adults. The goal of the game is to be left without any cards before your opponent. This game is similar to Uno.
Seven cards are dealt to each player and the rest are left face down on the table. The top card of the deck is drawn and placed face up. This card determines the game, as each player has to throw a card of the same suit to the pile in the center. If the player doesn’t have any cards from the same suit, they have to draw two cards from the deck. Hence the name of the game.
You can change the course of the game by throwing a card on the pile with the same number but a different suit. Once you have just one card left, you have to call it by saying “última” (last). If someone else calls your card before you, you have to draw four cards from the deck. The player who runs out of cards first is the winner.
10. Velocidad (Speed)
Velocidad is a classic card game that requires two players and is guaranteed to take your math skills in Spanish to the next level. Like many other Spanish card games, the ultimate goal is to get rid of all the cards.
Initially, you choose which deck you want to play with. There are eight decks, each of them specific to a multiplication table from two to nine. Unlike a normal deck, where the cards go one by one, each deck has its cards numbered in multiples. For example, the deck of three has the numbers 3, 6, 9,12,15,18, 21, 27, and 30.
The cards are dealt between two players, and each player places four cards face up in front of them. Right after, they place one card each in the center.
Each player has to see if among the four cards they have on the table is the number immediately before or after the two cards in the center. If so, it can be placed on top before the opponent does and flip a card from the deck in front to still have four cards available to play. There are no turns in velocidad; the fastest person wins.
Finally, if in the two central piles there are two identical cards, the players can say “velocidad.” The one who did not say it keeps all the cards in the central piles. Then, two new cards are placed and play continues.
Velocidad is challenging and is ideal for experienced, fast-paced card players. If you want to give it a try, there’s a digital version available for download on IOS so you can practice before taking on the real challenge.
Time to Play Spanish Card Games!
I hope after reading this list you are ready to grab your deck of cards and put these Spanish card games to practice with friends and family. These games not only enhance your capacity to think fast and process information, but also to immerse yourself in the Spanish language.
If you want to get a head start and start prepping with vocabulary in Spanish, sign up for a free class with our certified, native, Spanish-speaking teachers from Guatemala. They can’t wait to teach you all sorts of phrases to use in the games—and to help improve your overall fluency and confidence as a Spanish speaker.
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