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Indian (card game): Wikis

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Origin United States
Age range 6+
Players 3 to 12
Cards 52
Deck Anglo-American

Indian is a very simple card game that involves a surprising amount of strategy. The counter-intuitive gameplay and involved scoring lend for an interesting and strategic game, and experienced players will beat inexperienced players more often than not.




To begin a hand, the dealers deals each player exactly one card, which they may not look at. When the dealer indicates, all players turn the card towards the inside of table so that the back of the card is facing them; a player should be able to see all cards except his own.


In each hand, play goes around in a circle, starting with the player to the left of the dealer with each player bidding. A bid can only have two values, in or out. A player that makes an in bid wishes to remain in the hand. A player that makes an out bid believes that he will not win the hand and is out of the round; to signal this he will flip his card so that he can see its value and all players still in the hand can tell he is out. A player who made an in bid may change to an out bid when it becomes his turn to bid again, but cannot change from an out bid to an in bid. Bidding ends when all remaining players wish to keep their most recent bid.


When bidding ends, every player that is still in the hand may place their card face up on the playing table so that everybody can now see all the cards. The player with the highest card is the winner (aces being the highest card). Ties are broken by suit, the suits in the standard bridge ordering. If there is only one player remaining in a hand, he is automatically the winner.


Each player who made an out bid loses 1 point, regardless of how much information they had when bidding. Each player who remained in but did not win the hand loses 3 points. The winning player gains 5 points. As it is common for players to have negative scores, there is a variation that is the negative of the aforementioned method, with the lowest score being the best.


There is a surprising amount of strategy involved in Indian, much of which can be optimized with a little math. An ideal playing strategy is outlined below, but it relies on a certain card known as the threshold value for a certain number of players. A table of these values is shown below:

Number of Players 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Threshold Value 10♦ 10♥ 10♥ 10♥ 10♥ 10♠ 10♠ 10♠ 10♠ J♣
  • Without any other information, you should only make an in bid if the highest card you see is below or equal to the threshold.
  • You should make an in bid if another player makes an out bid when all cards he sees, aside from your own, are particularly low, and would not typically prompt a player to make an out bid.
  • Additionally, there is some information that can be gained from players' actions upon bidding, for example, if a player makes an out bid while looking specifically at your card, it is probable that yours is the highest card he sees.


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