Card games in Denmark

I am grateful to Jakob Sauntved for providing most of the information on which this page is based.

The Danish version of the standard French suited 52 card pack has indices Es, K, D, B for the ace, king, queen and jack. On older packs the index on the jack is Kn rather than B. This pack is used for some international games, such as Bridge, Piratbridge (the same as Oh Hell), and Poker (in the 20th century Draw Poker was the best known version in Denmark but as a result of the international poker boom at the start of the 21st century, Texas Holdem became the most popular form).

Local games played with the 52 card pack include

  • Whist - Danish Whist is played without trumps, and players may bid to win tricks or to avoid tricks
  • Esmakker Whist (Call-Ace Whist) is a game of the boston group, in which the bidder chooses a partner by calling an ace.
  • Kasino is the Danish version of Royal Casino
  • Hjerterfri - the Danish version of Hearts
  • Halvtolv (eleven and a half) is a banking game similar to Blackjack
  • Agurk (cucumber) is a round game in which the aim is to avoid having the highest card in the last trick.
  • Mousel (or Mausel) is a gambling game of the Rams group in which four cards are dealt; it is more or less identical to the north German game Mauscheln. Six or more players use a full 52 card pack; when fewer than six play the pack can be shortened; three or four players use a pack reduced to 32 cards.

Other games are played with shortened packs:

  • A 24 card pack (Es-10-K-D-B-9 of each suit) is used for Seksogtres (66), the Danish version of 66 / Schnapsen. There are three versions: idiot 66, delirium 66 and 66 med piber og trommer (with pipes and drums), which is a 4-hander with partnerships of the call-ace type.
  • A 40 card pack, lacking the numerals 8, 9 and 10, is used for L'Hombre, which is unfortunately much less widely played now than it used to be.
  • Ligeud, a simplified version of L'Hombre, with bidding, is played by three players with a 36 card pack (Es-K-D-B-10-9-8-7-6 in each suit). There is also a four-player version using a 40-card l'Hombre pack plus two jokers, and a version using a full 52-card pack with 2 jokers.
  • Sjavs is a three-handed game of the Schafkopf group, played with only 20 cards
  • Skærvindsel was formerly played with 36 cards but nowadays the pack is reduced to 28; there are six high permanent trumps - the black queens and all the jacks - and the trump 7 is another high trump ranking between the black queens. Although it is a plain trick game, its relationship to the Schafkopf group is clear from the promotion of the queens and jacks as permanent trumps. The name of the game is also sometimes given as Sjervinsel, and formerly as Scharwenzel or Scherwenzel - another link to Schafkopf in that the term Wenzel was used in German for the permanent trumps in that game. Skærvindsel is said to have evolved from a Bohemian game but we have no direct knowledge of its Bohemian ancestor. Jakob Sauntved has found a reference to Scherwenzel having been played in Porsgrund, Norway (then part of the Danish kingdom) in 1790.
  • Brus is a game of the Karnöffel group, is played in Jutland with a 36 card pack lacking 10s, 4s, 3s, and 2s. Unfortunately there are very few players nowadays.
  • In Sønderjutland, the southern part of Jutland that was under German rule from 1864 to 1920, a version of Skat is played that differs from German Skat in a number of respects.

Tarok is played in parts of Denmark, using a 78 card French suited Tarot pack. Production of Danish Tarok cards ceased around the time of the second world war, and the game is now played with Tarot cards imported from France. has up to date information about Casinos in Denmark, with a map.

This page is maintained by John McLeod (   © John McLeod, 2002,2006. Last updated: 8th January 2021