Learn the Suits of Playing Cards in Spanish
When playing cards in Spanish, you need to know the right terms to avoid confusion, or—even worse—losing money.
In this post, you’ll learn about the Spanish-suited playing cards and some common Spanish card games. I’ll introduce you to the Spanish words for the standard card deck, the correct terms for the suits, cards, and poker hands. Finally, you’ll discover interesting card games to help you to learn Spanish in an entertaining way.
Why Learn Card Game Vocabulary in Spanish?
Learning a language is a process that involves multiple stages. One of them is learning vocabulary about different areas of everyday life, like golf, basketball, or music. Now it’s time to learn vocabulary about playing cards in Spanish.
Playing games is a good way to make friends. Playing cards in Spanish also gives you also the opportunity to practice your Spanish while having some fun.
If you need another reason to learn card games vocabulary, think about the cultural value of learning about a different deck of cards: the Spanish deck with its four different suits.
Playing Cards in Spanish
When it comes to poker, the experience of playing cards in Spanish is similar to that of playing cards in English. All you need to know is the correct terms for each card, suit, and game.
The issues appear when you play with the Spanish deck of cards, which is completely different and follows its own logic. Let’s learn about these two different ways of playing cards in Spanish.
Common Spanish Card Games
Besides the usual poker games which are played in English, there are some card games exclusive to the Spanish-speaking world.
Spanish-suited Playing Cards
Playing cards originated in China a long time ago, and as happened with many other things, were brought to the West by Muslims. Over time, different Western countries produced their own decks of cards. For instance, the standard deck of poker cards that you know is actually French.
Italy, Germany, and Spain each developed their own deck of playing cards. These days, the Spanish-suited cards are used mostly in Spain and in parts of Latin America. Also, it has different patterns (including a Mexican one) the most commonly used is the Castilian one, which comes in decks of 40 or 50 (including numbers 8 and 9, plus two jokers) cards and 4 suits:
Espadas – swords
Copas – cups
Oros – coins
Bastos – clubs
The number one is the as or “ace,” as in the French deck. Then, from two to nine you have just numbers, and the interesting part starts at number 10, which is called sota and would be the equivalent of the “Jack;” number 11 is the caballo or “horse,” and number 12 is the rey or “king.”
As you may imagine, this particular deck of cards, has its own specific set of games. Let me introduce you to two of them:
I’m fond of this game because I used to play it with my grandma.The sota de oros or 10 of coins is the Perejila and works as a joker. Apparently, it’s one of the most ancient games including a joker, as its origins can be traced back to the 18th Century.
Chinchón is one of the most famous games played with the Spanish deck. Similar to the Rummy, the objective in Chinchón is to sum the minimum amount of points as possible in every dealing, by putting cards together in groups.
Here, you can watch a handy video that explains how to play Chinchón:
When talking about playing cards in Spanish, La Viuda or “The Widow” is one of the most popular games in the Spanish-speaking world. Each player receives 3 chips to start the game, and in every hand, one player loses one of their chips. The winner is the player who keeps at least one chip when every other player has lost theirs.
The particularity of this game is that you don’t play to win in every hand, as it’s enough to play “not to lose.”
This fun game means “nervous hand” and is played with the standard French deck. The game starts when a player puts a card face up in the center and says uno (“one”), the next player does the same and says dos (“two”), and every player keeps counting and adding cards to the pile.
When a card matches the number said, everyone has to slap the pile. The first person to do it gets the cards. When someone gets all the cards in the deck, wins the game. This game is useful for learning the numbers in Spanish.
Learn the Suits in Spanish
If you’re playing cards in Spanish, it’s important to know what the different suits and cards of the standard deck are called.
Clubs in Spanish are known as tréboles, which makes sense as trébol means “clover” or “shamrock.”
Diamonds translate literally to Spanish as diamantes (although sometimes they’re also called rombos).
Hearts are known in Spanish as corazones.
Spades are known in Spanish as picas or espadas.
Now, the Spanish name for each card:
el as – ace
el dos – two
el tres – three
el cuatro – four
el cinco – five
el seis – six
el siete – seven
el ocho – eight
el nueve – nine
el diez – ten
la Jota, la Sota – Jack
la Reina, la Dama – Queen
el Rey – King
Other Useful Vocabulary About Playing Cards in Spanish
Now that you know the suits and names for each card, let’s learn other useful terms for playing cards in Spanish.
palos – suits
fichas – chips
cartas – cards
juego – game
póquer – poker (game)
flor imperial – royal flush or imperial flower
quintilla – five of a kind
escalera de color – Straight flush
póquer – Four of a kind (hand)
full – full house
color – flush
escalera, corrida – straight
tercia – three of a kind
dos pares – two pair
par – one pair
carta más alta – high card
apuesta – bet
comodín – joker
baraja – deck
pasar – to check
mano – hand
Spanish Learning Card Games
To complement this post about playing cards in Spanish, let me introduce you to a few card games you can also use to learn Spanish.
This game, which is approved by The National Parenting Center, is an original way of learning Spanish while having fun playing cards. It has different levels and incorporates charades, repetition, and lots of new vocabulary.
This is one of the most popular games on the market for playing cards in Spanish. KLOO is a multi-award winning game that helps you to learn useful phrases and build your own with ease.
The classic game of looking for and quickly identifying the images on the cards can be easily adapted to learn Spanish. There’s a Spanish version, but if you have trouble finding it, you can still play it by asking your children or students to say the names of the images on the cards in Spanish.
Although not exactly a card game, it’s played with cards and I find it useful to teach Spanish to my students. Lotería is the Mexican answer to the American Bingo, but instead of numbers it comes with nouns and images.
You get new vocabulary, practice the use of gendered articles, and if you get bored of the same words all the time, you can always create your own cards with different nouns to keep growing your Spanish vocabulary.
Play Games and Learn Spanish!
Playing games is a fun and effective way to learn. Study after study shows that games are an excellent tool to improve any kind of learning. They’re fun, engaging, and make you feel that you’re not actually studying, but just playing. Use this knowledge in your favor and start playing cards in Spanish. You’ll see how much progress you can make by simply playing a game!
Sign up for a free class with one of our certified, native Spanish-speaking teachers from Guatemala, and start talking about playing cards in Spanish today!
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