7 Spanish Card Games for Fun and Interactive Language Practice

Spanish card games are collaborative, entertaining and best of all, they force you to put your Spanish skills to use—quickly!

We’ll cover authentic games from the Spanish-speaking world, as well as Spanish versions of well-known games and card games made for Spanish learners.

With all of these, you’ll be getting essential speaking and listening practice in a way that motivates you to improve.

Let’s deal you in!

Contents

1. Chinchón

Available: iOS | Android

Number of Players: 2-12

Chinchón is a very popular card game in Spain. In Uruguay, a variation called Conga is played. 

This game is usually played with a traditional Spanish deck, either with 48 cards or just 40 cards (face cards and ace through seven).

There are even online communities to interact with from across the globe. Native Spanish speakers take this to a whole new level!

How to Play:

Similar to Rummy, Chinchón is a simple draw-and-discard game that focuses on matching pairs and making runs.

The objective is to use your card to build a chinchón—seven consecutive cards of the same suit.

Building and sequencing benefit Spanish language students because it applies to other areas of language, as well.

2. Tute

Available: iOS | Android

Number of Players: 2-4

Tute is one of the most popular games played with the Spanish deck.

The game itself originated in Italy—the name Tute comes from the Italian word tutti, which means “all.”

How to Play:

Tute is a simple game where players take turns throwing a card on the table. The objective is to have the highest card per round.

Once all the cards have been played, add up the points. Whoever has the most points wins the game.

If a player collects all cuatro reyes (four kings) at any round, the can say, “Tute!” and immediately win the current hand.

This scramble to gather kings can inspire good-natured trash talk. Goad your competition, act as if you’ve got a king or two in your hand and make the others wonder who really has the kings (all in Spanish, of course!).

3. Escoba (Broom)

Available: iOS | Android

Number of Players: 2+

Escoba means “broom” in Spanish. The name of this game probably derives from the chance to “sweep” the table and capture points.

It’s a super-fast, interactive, fun game using a Spanish deck. It requires thinking on the fly, which forces players to use strategic decision-making skills.

This one is simple enough for children. I learned Escoba at an early age and remember hours of laughter as we all tried to wrangle our way to higher scores!

How to Play:

Once all the players have three cards, the dealer turns four cards face up on the table. These are the cards open para capturar (to capture). 

Players take turns placing a card. The objective is to have the placed card and any number of the four face cards add up to quince (fifteen).

Play until all the cards have been used and the maximum number of captures has taken place. The player with the highest score is declared the winner.

Escobas (sweeps) are made when the card played captures all the table cards. It doesn’t happen with every round so be ready to cheer ¡Buen trabajo! (Good job!) if your partner manages to pull it off!

4. ¡Dígame! (Tell Me)Mightyverse ¡Dígame! Spanish Learning Card Game

Number of Players: 2-6

¡Dígame! literally means “tell me,” so you know this game is going to have lots of vocabulary and speaking practice.

It’s an immersive language-learning game that’s appropriate for new learners as well as those with some Spanish language skills. One person fairly proficient in Spanish is enough to keep this game rolling for as long as the group wants to play.

How to Play:

¡Dígame revolves around actually speaking to learn new words or phrases. Players assist one another using only Spanish to describe the vocabulary on individual cards.

When a phrase is mastered, it’s put in a pile for the challenge round—which is the time to prove you’ve actually tucked what’s on the card into your Spanish vocabulary!

Check out this video to learn more about how the gameplay works.

5. Manotazo (Slap)

Number of Players: 2+

Manotazo is a very physical game that requires good reflexes (or better than your opponents, at least). The game is often known as “Slap” and it can be played with either a Spanish deck or a standard one.

This is a great way for beginners to practice their Spanish numbers, since you’ll need to call out numbers one through 12 (or 13, depending on the deck) as a part of the gameplay.

How to Play:

Each player is dealt an even number of cards. These cards remain face-down until the game starts.

The game begins when the first player places a card, face-up in the center of the table and says “uno(one)

The game continues like this around the table, with the players counting up to doce (12) as they place their cards. When the count reaches 12, the next player starts over again at uno. 

Note: the count goes up to 12 with a Spanish deck and trece (13) with a standard deck, the top three numbers representing the face cards in both decks.

Whenever the number spoken matches the number on the card, the players will then all try to put their hand on the card. The first player to put their hand on the card gets the whole pile.

When a player runs out of cards, they’re out of the game. Whoever has the most cards at the end is the winner.

6. Burro (Donkey)

Number of Players: 3+

Burro is one of the most popular card games in Latin America. Similarly to Manotazo, you need to be quick if you want to win!

How to Play:

The game begins with each player dealt four cards, face down. The objective is to get four cards of the same number.

Each player looks at their hand and decides which card to pass to their left while simultaneously receiving a card from the player on their right.

Players need to decide quickly and pass and receive cards at the same time. When a player gets four cards of the same number or rank, they shout “Burro!” and place their hand in the middle of the table.

Everyone else has to put their hand in the middle of the table as quickly as they can after that, and the last player to place their hand loses the round. The slowest person earns a letter of the word “burro” and the next round begins.

An alternative to placing hands in the middle is grabbing objects. Make sure there’s one less than the number of players in the round, so the loser is the one who is objectless.

The game ends when someone loses the game by getting every letter in “burro.”

7. Lotería (Lottery)

Number of Players: 3+

Lotería (Lottery) is a game of chance very similar to Bingo. It’s best known as a Mexican game, though the earliest versions back to 15th-century Italy.

Lotería is played with a set of 54 unique cards: each is composed of an image and a title such as el gallo (the rooster), la sirena (the mermaid) and la campana (the bell).

This game is can work particularly well as listening practice and a vocabulary builder.

How to Play:

Each player is given a tabla (board) with a 4 by 4 grid showing small versions of the Lotería cards in a random array.

The cards themselves are given to the caller of the game, who begins by shuffling and then draws the cards one at a time.

The caller speaks the name of the card out loud, sometimes with a verse or riddle accompanying it.

The players then will place markers (such as game chips, small rocks or pinto beans) on any picture on the grid that matches the card called.

A round ends when a player has markers matching a previously agreed upon pattern (such as a line, a square or the corners of the tabla) and that player shouts either “Loteria!” or “Buena!”, making them the winner of the round.

Key Terms and Phrases for Spanish Card Games

Regardless of the card game you choose or what the rules are, the object is language practice and acquisition, so Spanish should be spoken throughout. 

For example, if you’re playing Chinchón, Tute or Escoba, you’ll need a baraja española (Spanish card deck). This deck typically has 40 to 50 cartas (cards) instead of 52, since the numbered cards only count up to nine. 

The suits are: copas (cups), oros (coins), bastos (clubs) and espadas (swords).

The three types of face cards are: sota (Jack), caballo (Horse), and rey (King).

As for other Spanish card games, here are some key expressions you might need:

¿Alguien tiene una carta azul? (Does anyone have a blue card?)

Tengo una carta alta. (I have a high card.)

Es tu turno. (It’s your turn.)

¿Tiene una tarjeta de cinco?” (Do you have a five [card]?)

¡Aquí! (Here!)

Don’t forget to name the colors, numbers and objects on the cards in Spanish!

Even if it feels awkward initially, keep at it. You’ll be (pleasantly!) surprised as the game progresses because speaking Spanish will feel more natural as you keep doing it.

Why Use Card Games to Learn Spanish?

  • Like kids, we naturally learn by playing. Scientific studies indicate that play has a direct link to learning. So learning a language should have some element of enjoyment in it!
  • Games offer a fun yet structured learning environment. They help you absorb essential language and have an easier time remembering it than if you’d read vocab and grammar in a textbook.
  • The friendly competition in games will keep you motivated to learn. The social component of card games is a particularly big motivator to improve, especially if you play regularly with friends.

To boost your confidence when playing card games, you can also experiment with other creative, low-pressure activities, such as playing video games or reading comics in Spanish.

There are also a huge variety of language-learning apps to help you develop your Spanish skills. These interactive programs range from games to flashcards, and others that focus on video learning.

For instance, FluentU is an app that teaches Spanish with videos. You can review all kinds of vocabulary and grammar, all in the context of entertaining media made by and for native speakers.

 

Learning a language takes a lot of work but it definitely doesn’t have to be a day-in, day-out hit-the-books kind of a drag. And you know what? It shouldn’t be like that—ever!

Language learning can be so interactive and cool if you’re willing to play a few games and learn some new skills. Step outside of your comfort zone, lay down a good hand, sweep the table and learn Spanish like a pro.

¡Buena suerte! (Good luck!)

Check out our board game recommendations next: 

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