Egyptian card games may not have a reputation of being the most popular, but it was one of the first countries to receive and adopt playing cards after their invention in China. Egyptian card games include the traditional variants based on ancient styles, and the more modern game types that use the standard Anglo-American 52-card deck.
What is the History of Egyptian Card Games
Egyptian card games’ history originates from China, thanks to their spread through the Asian continent. The earliest known cards were from the 1200s, found in the vicinity around the Tokapi Palace in Istanbul. The found set included 3 complete sets, and was dated to be from the Mamluk period. These cards consisted of 52 cards, including 4 suits.
The suits in cards include polo-sticks, coins, swords, and cups. Each suit includes 10 number cards (known as pip cards) and 3 court cards (the king, the viceroy, and the second-deputy). Sharp-eyed readers may notice the similarities to the modern-day standard 52-card deck. These cards also show similarities to the Ganjifa suits, which were popular in India, the main difference being one missing suit in the latter.
One of the most striking parts of the Egyptian cards is the beautiful artwork. Unlike European playing cards, there is no imagery of people, possibly due to religious restrictions. Instead, the designs were based on nature or abstract art, which found adoption in Spanish and French cards. Despite the cards being found, the playstyles have not been found.
Most Popular Card Games in Egypt
The classic play style of cards is believed to be the original method of play. However, unlike the variations played in India and Europe, the games played did not involve trump suits, and were based completely using number-values. Rules have yet to be found at the time of writing, but based on the known facts, similar rules to the Ganjifa game from India should apply.
Egyptian Ratscrew is an Egyptian card game based on matching. This is suitable for 3 players or more, and played using the standard 52-card deck. At each turn, players play out their cards to the table without looking. Once a face card or an Ace is played, the following player gets a certain number of chances to play another high-rank card. This continues until player is unable to beat it, the last person to beat it takes the pile. The goal of the game is to obtain all the cards by constantly winning.
Slapping Egyptian Ratscrew
Following similar rules to Egyptian Ratscrew, many prefer to implement the slapping rule, inspired by the Slapjack card game. Instead of beating cards, all players are to slap the pile when a face or Ace card gets revealed. The first player to slap the pile takes it all. This results in a faster-paced
A game of Spanish origin, Conquian is a game based on the rules of Rummy, and is immensely popular in Egypt. The game suits 2 or more players, and is played using 40-card decks (52-card decks with 8, 9, and 10s removed). The game focuses on matching, and involves the building of a full meld. At each turn, players draw 1 from the discard or draw pile, and at the end of their turn discard a card of their choosing. The first player to complete a full meld is the winner.
A unique game about cheating, Ashok is
Tarneeb is a trick-taking game of Middle Eastern origin. This is also one of the most popular Egyptian card games. Designed for 4-players using the 52-card deck, the goal is for teams of 2 to win. Bidding occurs after cards are dealt, and players then begin the trick phase. The goal is for the bidding team to match the number of tricks won during the bid phase. A trick can be won using the highest
Estimation is a game of exact bidding with trick-taking aspects, similar to Tarneeb. In fact, one can consider Estimation as Tarneeb without teams. The name Estimation comes from the fact that players need to win the exact number of tricks as stated during the bidding phase. This adds a further element where players can force excess wins for the bidding team to force a loss.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need to play the games games?
Egyptian card games can be played using the standard Anglo-American 52-card decks. In fact, the oldest found Egyptian cards match the 52-card decks in terms of suits and cards.
What is the most popular Egyptian card game?
The most played Egyptian card game is definitely Egyptian Ratscrew of the slapping variety. This is popular among youngsters and adults alike.
What is the major difference between these games?
Many of the Egyptian card games are influenced or imported from Spain and Mexican card games, hence the shrunken decks might need to be used.
Is there a specific Egyptian card deck?
The traditional Egyptian card deck was found to be similar to the standard 52-card deck, but certain game types use the 48 or 40-deck Spanish deck, based on the removal of the 8, 9, and/or 10s from the standard deck.
Can I play Egyptian card games online?
While certain card games can be played online, the most popular Egyptian card game, Ratscrew, is preferably played in physical form.