Andar Bahar and Katti
Andar Bahar is an Indian gambling game that is said to have originated in Bengaluru (Bangalore) in the southern state of Karnataka, and it is also known in Tamil as Mangatha or Ullae Veliyae. It is a game of pure chance in which the dealer places a card face up and the player bets on one of two piles: Andar (inside) or Bahar (outside). The dealer then deals cards alternately to the two piles until a card appears that matches the initial card. The pile where this matching card appears is the winning pile. In the 21st century Andar Bahar has become a popular game in Indian online casinos.
Katti, another pure chance game, is also described on this page. It also features bets on inside or outside, and for this reason it is understandably often confused with Andar Bahar but the mechanism of Katti is different.
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A guide to Andar Bahar can be found at onlinecasinoguide.in, founded in 2019 and edited by Nikhil Patel, which provides independent reviews of safe and legal Indian online casinos and betting sites.
Players and Cards
A standard 52-card pack is used. The dealer operates the bank and there can be any number of players, who traditionally sit in a circle around the dealer. The players have nothing to do except place bets, watch the deal, and receive their winnings if successful.
The dealer shuffles the cards thoroughly, cuts them and deals one card face up. This is the card that must be matched, often known as the 'trump card' or 'joker' though these terms are misleading. In normal English card game terminology a trump is a card that can beat any card of a different suit, irrespective of rank, and a joker is a wild card that can be used to represent any card the player desires. Therefore it seems better to call this first card the house card, or maybe just the middle card, since the two piles are sometimes dealt on either side of it.
Now the players place their bets on either of the two piles, known as Andar and Bahar, that the dealer will create. The minimum and maximum bets must be agreed in advance in a private game, and will be determined by the house in a casino game. In Hindi the words Andar and Bahar (sometimes written Baahar) mean inside and outside respectively, and in Tamil the two piles have the equivalent names Ullae (inside) and Veliyae (outside). This may be because in the traditional game the inside pile is the pile nearer to the dealer and the outside pile is further from the dealer. In online versions the layout may be like that or Andar and Bahar may simply be to the left and right respectively of the house card.
Many online versions of the game allow additional types of bet. These are described in the Variations section below.
The dealer now deals single cards face up from the remainder of the deck alternately to the Andar and Bahar piles. If the house card is black, the first card is dealt to the Andar pile; if the house card is red the first card is dealt to the Bahar pile. The deal continues until a card appears that matches the rank of the house card. Players who bet on the pile where this matching card appears win; those who bet on the other pile lose.
Clearly the chances are slightly greater that the first matching card will appear on the side where the first card was dealt, and the payouts reflect this. A successful bet on the side where the first card was dealt is paid out at odds of 0.9 to 1, while a successful bet on the side where the second card was dealt is paid out odds of 1 to 1 (evens). In other words, given that the colour of the house card determines where the first card is dealt:
- If the house card is black, a successful bet of 1000 on Andar pays 1900 (your bet returned plus 900 winnings) while a successful bet on Bahar pays 2000.
- If the house card is red, a successful bet of 1000 on Andar pays 2000 while a successful bet on Bahar pays 1900.
In fact the chance that the first matching card will appear on the same side as the first card dealt is close to 51.5%. From this it is easy to calculate that the house edge on a bet on side where the first card is dealt is 2.15% while the house edge on a bet on the side of the second card dealt is 3%.
It is apparent from the various descriptions of this game on the web that there are a number of variants. I would be particularly interested to hear from people who have taken part in private games in India, and can confirm what rules are most often used in the traditional offline versions of the game.
- Where the first card is dealt
- Instead of choosing the side on the basis of the colour of the house card, in many places the first card is always dealt to Andar, the second to Bahar and so on. In that case of course the odds offered on Andar are 0.9 to 1 and on Bahar 1 to 1.
Some descriptions imply that it is not the house card but the first player card whose colour determines whether this first card is dealt to the Andar or Bahar pile. This modification does make the initial bet almost a 50/50 chance since the colour of this card is not known when the bet is placed. Possibly that is the motive for this rule, but despite it appears that the payout remains as 0.9:1 for winning bets on the side of the first dealt card and 1:1 for winning bets on the side of the second card.
- Second bet after seeing two cards
- Some allow the player to place a further bet on either side after seeing the first two cards, if neither of them matched the house card. At this point the odds in favour of the first match appearing on the same side as the first card dealt are very slightly better than at the start of the game (approximately 51.58%).
- Bet on number of cards dealt
- Although it is not a feature of the traditional game, many online casinos allow the player to bet on how many cards will be dealt until the house card is matched. These bets may be offered in ranges, for example:
Number of cards dealt Payout odds House edge 1 to 5 cards 2 to 1 18.68% 6 to 10 cards 3 to 1 13.18% 11 to 15 cards 4 to 1 15.49% 16 to 25 cards 3 to 1 12.80% 26 to 30 cards 14 to 1 8.52% 31 to 35 cards 24 to 1 7.56% 36 to 40 cards 49 to 1 5.17% 41 or more cards 119 to 1 4.92%
- The above house edges were calculated using the probability tables published by Wizard of Odds.
- Bet on house card
- Before the house card is dealt, some online casinos allow a player to bet on its rank, suit or colour. For example:
House card prediction Payout odds House edge 2 to 7 1 to 1 7.69% 8 exactly 11 to 1 7.69% 9 to Ace (Ace high) 1 to 1 7.69% colour (red or black) 0.9 to 1 5.00% suit 2.8 to 1 5.00%
- Mangatha, Ullae Veliyae and choice of house card
- The south Indian game Mangatha (மங்காத்த), described for example on the Indian Traditional Games site, is played by adults for money and by children for tamarind seeds. The dealer and the player stake an equal amount of money or seeds and the player then chooses the side to bet on - Ullae (in) or Veliyae (out). There is no house card: instead, the player chooses the target, which can be any number from 2 to 10 but not Ace, King, Queen or Jack. The dealer then deals from the shuffled 52-card deck alternately to the two piles, starting with Ullae. The player wins all the money/seeds stakes if the first matching card falls on the chosen pile and the dealer wins if it falls on the other pile. Because this game is played for even money the player can get a slight advantage by betting on Ullae. This can be mitigated by having a rule that the winner of the game should be the next dealer.
- Some descriptions of Mangatha show a version in which a house card is dealt as in Andar Bahar, rather than allowing the player to choose. The subsequent dealing still begins with Ullae.
Brief accounts of this game appear on several websites. The following is my current understanding of how it works, based largely on information from the people at GameRules, one of the sites that has a description of Katti.
The dealer begins by dealing a row of 13 cards face up. Each of the players may choose any card in the row, and bet on 'inside' (Andar) or 'outside' (Bahar) for that card. When these initial bets have been placed, any player may wager that a particular bet by some other player will lose.
After all bets have been placed, the dealer deals the next card from the pack. This is what I shall call the indicator card, and its colour determines which bets will win and which will lose. For each player separately,
- if the indicator card is black, then the winning side for the first card in the row will be the same side as that player's bet, or
- if the indicator card is red then the winning side for the first card in the row will be the opposite side from that player's bet.
After this the winning side alternates along the row between inside and outside.
So for example if a player bets 'outside' on the 5th card in the row and the indicator card is red, then for this player the winning side for position 1 will be inside (opposite to the bet) and for the following positions 2:outside, 3:inside, 4:outside, 5:inside, so the bet loses.
Note that the winning positions are determined separately for each player, so if another player had bet 'inside' on the 5th card in the row, that player would lose as well, because for them the winning side in the 1st position and every odd position would be 'outside' - opposite to their bet.
If I have understood this correctly, the players are really just betting on the colour of the indicator card. With a black indicator card all bets on odd numbered positions will win and with a red card all bets on even positions will win. Apparently it does not matter what card is in that position in the row, or whether the bet was inside or outside.
Note that if player X bets (for example) outside on position 6, then for another player Y there is a difference between betting inside on position 6 and betting that player X will lose. If the indicator card is red, all initial bets on position 6 will lose, whether inside or outside, but any player betting against another player who has bet on position 6 will win.
I am not clear yet clear about some of the practicalities of this game, such as where exactly the bets are placed in relation to the row of cards to indicate who has bet on what, and what the procedure is for demonstrating the outcome after the indicator card has been shown. Some descriptions seem to imply that the dealer physically deals cards alternately on the two sides of the initial row, to count off whether a bet on inside or outside has won or lost. If this is so, the dealer would need to deal for each player separately, since the side on which the deal begins for any particular player depends on the position of that player's bet.
I would be interested to hear from anyone who has experience of this game and can tell me more about it.