Top Card Games in Bhutan

Card games hold a special place in Bhutanese culture, serving as a bridge between tradition and social interaction. Rooted in the nation’s history, these games are a popular pastime, bringing people together in both urban and rural settings. They reflect the country’s blend of indigenous customs and external influences, providing entertainment and fostering community bonds.

Most Popular Card Game in Bhutan: Call Bridge

Call Bridge, known locally as “Mang,” is the most popular card game in Bhutan. It is a trick-taking game typically played by four players using a standard 52-card deck. The objective is to win the number of tricks you bid at the beginning of the round. The game consists of several rounds, and each player must call or predict the number of tricks they expect to win.


  • Setup: Each player is dealt 13 cards.
  • Bidding: Starting with the player to the dealer’s left, each player bids the number of tricks they think they can win. The total number of bids does not necessarily have to equal 13.
  • Playing Tricks: Players take turns playing one card each, following suit if possible. The highest card of the leading suit wins the trick. If a player cannot follow suit, they may play a trump card to win the trick or any other card.
  • Scoring: Points are awarded based on the accuracy of the bids. Players gain points if they win the exact number of tricks they bid and lose points if they fall short or exceed their bid.

Reasons for Popularity

Call Bridge is widely enjoyed in Bhutan due to its strategic depth and the excitement of bidding and playing tricks. The game’s rules are straightforward, making it accessible to new players while offering enough complexity to keep seasoned players engaged. Its ability to bring friends and family together around a table for lively competition has cemented its status as Bhutan’s favorite card game.

Other Traditional Card Games in Bhutan

1. Rummy

Origins: Rummy is believed to have been brought to Bhutan through interactions with neighboring countries and international influences.

Gameplay: Players form sets and runs of cards, aiming to be the first to deplete their hand.

Cultural Impact: Popular in both casual and formal gatherings, fostering social interaction.

2. Poker

Origins: Internationally known, Poker has been adapted and embraced in Bhutanese gaming culture.

Gameplay: Players bet based on the strength of their hands, with various versions like Texas Hold’em being popular.

Cultural Impact: Played in competitive settings and social gatherings, often among the younger generation.

3. Hearts

Origins: Originating from trick-taking games in Europe.

Gameplay: Players avoid winning certain tricks to prevent accumulating points.

Cultural Impact: Known for its strategic play and is enjoyed in family and community settings.

4. Blackjack

Origins: A globally recognized game with roots in France.

Gameplay: Players aim to have card values close to 21 without exceeding it, competing against the dealer.

Cultural Impact: Often played in friendly gatherings, blending luck and strategy.

5. Crazy Eights

Origins: Similar to the American version, with localized variations.

Gameplay: Players discard matching cards by number or suit, aiming to be the first to empty their hand.

Cultural Impact: Simple rules and fast-paced gameplay make it a favorite among all ages.

FAQs About Card Gaming Culture in Bhutan

What makes Call Bridge so popular in Bhutan?

Call Bridge’s popularity stems from its strategic gameplay, ease of learning, and the social interaction it fosters, making it a favorite in both casual and competitive settings.

Are there any regional variations of traditional card games in Bhutan?

Yes, regional variations exist for many card games in Bhutan, adding unique rules and local flavor to the traditional gameplay.

Can children play traditional card games in Bhutan?

Absolutely, games like Crazy Eights and Rummy are particularly popular among children, providing entertainment and a way to learn strategic thinking.

How have international card games influenced Bhutanese culture?

International card games like Poker and Blackjack have been adapted into Bhutanese culture, reflecting the country’s openness to global influences while maintaining traditional values.

What occasions are card games typically played in Bhutan?

Card games are commonly played during festivals, family gatherings, and community events, serving as a means of entertainment and social bonding.

By understanding the rich card gaming culture in Bhutan, one can appreciate how these games are more than just pastimes—they are integral to social life and cultural heritage.