Spanish card games are a great way to hang out with friends and practice your Spanish at the same time. In Spanish-speaking countries, the sobremesa is the time spent at the table after the meal. This is the perfect time to break out some Spanish card games and get playing.
Spanish card games can be played with friends or family, and plenty of the most classic games use the same Spanish-style playing card deck. There are also newer games that have their own decks, many of which can be a worthwhile investment.
Let’s learn about these different decks and discover a few Spanish card games for your next party.
- Spanish playing cards
- 1. Uno
- 2. Mentiroso
- 3. Lotería
- 4. Burro
- 5. Siete y medio
- 6. República Bananera
- 7. What do you meme? Edición Español
Spanish playing cards
Spanish playing cards are called cartas or naipes. Jugando las cartas is the verb phrase for “playing cards.”
One of the first things to know about Spanish card games is that the playing cards are different from what you may be used to. Most of us in the English-speaking world are familiar with the standard French-suited playing cards. This deck has 52 cards of diamonds, spades, hearts and clubs.
The classic Spanish deck of playing cards (or baraja española) consists of 40 cards. The four suits are bastos (clubs), oros (coins), copas (cups) and espadas (swords). Each of these suits consists of numbers 1–7, plus the sota (jack), caballo (horse/knight) and rey (king).
It’s easy to find the baraja española in game shops or online. If you can’t order a deck, no problem. You can easily play Spanish card games by removing the aces, 8s and 9s from a standard French/English deck.
Uno (one) is a classic Spanish card game that many know and love. People all over Latin America play this game, and it’s popular in the United States, as well. To play it, you’ll need a deck of UNO cards.
The point of the game is to be the first to get rid of all your cards. When just one card remains in your hand, you have to announce your “one” card by shouting “¡Uno!”.
Players put their cards face-down on the table in combinations (e.g. one 4, two 6s or three kings) and say the combination out loud. If you’re lying and get called out, you end up with the whole pile.
In Mexico, one of the best-loved Spanish card games for all ages is Lotería (lottery). Lotería is similar to bingo and is often played with family and friends. To play, you’ll need a Lotería set, which can be bought at any papelería (stationery store).
The set has 20 lotería cards and a deck of 54 character cards. You can use plastic chips, beans or corn kernels to mark your card. A dealer shuffles the deck and calls out the cards one by one. When a player fills their whole card, they call out “Lotería!”.
The objective is to be the first to get four of a kind, shout “Burro” and slap your hand on the table. All other players have to slap their hand on top, and the slowest loses the round and earns a “b.” The first player to get all the letters (b-u-r-r-o) is the loser.
This game has a lot of laughs and can get quite rowdy.
5. Siete y medio
Fans of blackjack or 21 will enjoy Spanish card games like siete y medio (seven and a half). Using the Spanish deck of cards, the goal is to reach 7.5 — or as close as possible — without going over. The number cards are worth their full value, but the face cards are worth half. The dealer deals one card to each player boca abajo (face-down). Players can choose to pide carta (hit) or planta (stay).
6. República Bananera
A newer Spanish card game made for adults is República Bananera. This game is similar to the popular US games Cards Against Humanity and Apples to Apples.
The goal is to earn as many prompt cards as possible by making the funniest combination of cards. The judge first draws a prompt card and reads it. Then, the players must complete the phrase with one of their playing cards.
This game is hilarious, irreverent and great for parties.
7. What do you meme? Edición Español
Another new, adult-oriented card game in Spanish is What Do You Meme? Edición Español.
Here, the goal is to gain as many meme photo cards as possible, by making hilarious combinations. The judge draws a card from a deck of photos, all of which represent popular memes. Players then provide the judge with one of the playing cards that they think best fits the meme. It’s up to the judge to decide which card is funniest.
Playing around with Spanish card games
Spanish card games are a great way to practice Spanish with friends. Some of the best parties start when the games come out. Keep in mind that certain countries in Latin America, like Mexico and Brazil, prohibit gambling in public, and sometimes any game played with cards can be perceived as gambling. But when played at home, Spanish card games bring the fun. So let’s start playing!