Cuarenta: Ecuador’s Popular Card Game

Each country has a number of games and sports that are popular amongst the locals. When it comes to card games in Ecuador, Cuarenta is not only the favorite card game played, it is the national card game. It is played with a pack of Spanish cards, holding forty cards, which is called a baraja. It can be played with Anglo-American cards that have fifty-two cards in the deck, but then the 8’s, 9’s and 10’s are taken out. As opposed to many other card games, in Cuarenta the ace card has a low value.

The name of the game is derived from the deck of cards, as cuarenta means forty. It is usually played with two players, but four can play if they make two teams. Tantos and perros, are the names of chips that are used to keep score, and each player or team needs to get forty points to win the game. The game begins with each player receiving five cards. If the dealer has dealt with an irregularity, such as the incorrect amount of cards, the opposing player is given ten points. The first five cards are stacked to one side face down. Each deal gives the players five cards. The player or team on the right hand side of the dealer begins, so the game moves counterclockwise, and before the game commences, announcements are made, such as if they have three cards of the same rank. If a player has four cards of the same rank, they win the game automatically. Each player then turns one card face up on the table, if it is their turn. These cards can be taken by the opposing team or player, and captured cards are then placed face down in front of the other player. Cards can be captured in various ways, and in Cuarenta, the Ace card only counts for one.

A player is also able to capture all the cards, which is called a limpia. However, the rules and way of scoring can change depending on the city in which the game is played. For instance, the game played in Quito is scored differently than that game played in Cuenca. During Cuarenta Tournaments, rules are explained beforehand to make sure all players are aware of the scoring system. When a card is captured by a player straight after the card has been played, it is called a caida. After all the cards have been dealt out, the teams of players will add up their cards to see how many cards they have. If for instance a player has twenty cards, he will get six points. Cuarenta is an intricate card game that is taken very seriously by players, and is a very important part of the culture in Ecuador.