Card games in Russia

French suited cards are in general use. In the characteristic Russian design the ace, king, queen and jack have indices Т, К, Д, В (standing for Tuz, Korol', Dama, Valet). The names of the suits are trefy or cresty (clubs), bubi or bubny (diamonds), chervi (hearts) and piki (spades).

The national game is Durak, which is known to almost any Russian who has ever played cards and has numerous variations and relatives, such as Podkidnoy Durak, Perevodnoy Durak, Prostoy Durak, Svoi Kozyri and Kryt'-navalivat'. Durak is normally placed with a 36 card pack with cards from ace down to six.

Among more serious card players Preferans is popular - it is played with a 32 card pack, lacking sixes. Other characteristic Russian games with the 36 card pack include Bura, Kozel, Tri Palki, Koroli and King - also known as Zhenskiy Preferans ("Women's Preference").

Tysiacha (1000) uses 24 cards (ace down to 9 only).

Russia has its own versions of international children's games such as Verish' ne Verish' ("trust - don't trust", a version of I Doubt It) and P'yanitsa ("drunkard", a version of War).

There are at least two games called 501. One version of 501 is a hybrid of 1000 and the German game 66. Another 501 is a variation of 500 Rum with somewhat relaxed rules. Players may rearrange their melds, causing other players' cards that have been laid off on those melds to be returned to their hands. 101 is a Russian variation of Crazy Eights.

In nineteenth century Russia some of the forerunners and relatives of Contract Bridge - especially Vint - were developed to a high level of complexity, but after the revolution these bourgeois games went out of favour and practically ceased to exist in Soviet Russia.

Seka is a gambling game in which three (in some versions two or four) cards are dealt to each player from a 36-card pack, and the players bet on who has the best hand. The value of the cards is ace 11, pictures 10 each, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 face value. Only cards of one suit are counted, so for example spadeK-diamond9-diamond7 is worth 16. An exception is that three cards of the same rank can all be counted - for example 9-9-9 is worth 27. Also, exceptionally, a pair of aces is worth 22 but no other pair counts.

Russian Poker is a casino banking game developed in the 1990s, in which players can make two poker hands from six cards.

This page is maintained by John McLeod (   © John McLeod, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2008, 2012. Last updated: 8th January 2021