How India Gave Dice and Playing Cards to the World

India is famous for a number of very famous exports to the world including everything from the curries that are enjoyed everywhere from Britain to Australia to that well-known pastime of the very rich, polo. But, while these are two of the country’s highest-profile contributions to global culture, there are two other Indian inventions that are arguably enjoyed by many more people every day and in virtually every country of the world.

The first of these is the playing card. While there are many claims about the origin of these, with a popular theory that they were first used in the 9th century in China, India has a very strong claim to have preceded this.

The oldest examples were used to play a game called Krida-Patram. Because they were first used long before printing had been invented, they were made from fabric. Instead of the four suits that we have today, the oldest versions of the cards were decorated with scenes from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Centuries later, they evolved into Ganjifa cards, and games using them were played in many of the country’s royal courts. By then, cards had become hand-painted on a variety of materials and were something of a status symbol with decorations ranging from tortoiseshell to pearls and precious gems.

Today, the most popular card games in India have evolved to be ones like Teen Patti and Satte Pa Satta. The former is like the English game of 3 Card Brag which is a simplified form of poker in which players bet over who has the best hand. Satte Pa Satta, on the other hand, is similar to a game of Patience in which an unlimited number of players can participate.

Indian card games are really rather popular in the country and indeed, there is a whole range of popular Indian online casinos which offer plenty such games, such as blackjack, baccarat and even poker. But reliable reviews indicate that the range is growing to include games popular in India. For the time being, that’s namely Teen Patti and Andar Bahaar, but with the operators in India and elsewhere having been so quick to add these to their listings suggests we could well see other popular Indian choices pop up in the near future.

How India Gave Dice and Playing Cards to the World

As is the case with playing cards, the history of dice is a disputed one. But, again, India has a strong claim to make about their invention. They are mentioned in the Reg Vida as well as in the list of games acknowledged by the Great Buddha. The earliest Indian dice differed in that they were oblong shapes rather than the more traditional cubes. It is these dice that are used to play the game Passa, still very popular today. They only have the numbers 1, 3, 4 and 6 on them and the game consists of betting on which double will be thrown. Because each die only has four numbers on it compared with the traditional six, a double is a more common occurrence and which helps to move the game along.

Again, there is great potential for this game to be widely adopted by casinos for its fast pace and simplicity. And with the rest of the world have fallen in love with our food and other parts of our culture, perhaps its time is not far around the corner.

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Raunak Saha
A cs engineer by profession but foodie from heart. I am tech lover guy who has a passion for singing. Football is my love and making websites is my hobby.


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