Yaniv (card game)

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Yaniv (Hebrew: יניב), also known as "Jonny" "Dhumbal", "Jhyap", “Jafar”, "Staki", in Québec or "quién va?" in Mexico and “Caramba” in Australia, is a Nepalese card game popular in Israel. [1] It is similar to Blackjack, with several notable differences: one variation of the game involves five players, rather than the two-player standard of traditional Blackjack. [2] [3] [4] the game is considered a backpackers game in Israel, and it's popular among soldiers and young adults returning from long backpacking trips.


Game Play

Yaniv is played with a 54-card deck composed of standard playing cards. [2] The game is divided into multiple rounds, with a total score tally kept between rounds. [2] The game requires a minimum of two players but is typically played between a group of two and five players. Up to eight people can comfortably play Yaniv together; however, as the player count increases, the pace of the game slows. When there are four or more players, some people prefer to use two card decks shuffled together to avoid running out of cards. Regardless of the number of players, some variants use multiple decks. Each card in the deck is assigned a value. An ace is worth a single point while cards two through ten are worth their face value. Face cards (J, Q, K) are worth 10 and jokers are worth zero points.

Card RankPoint Value
Joker 0
Ace 1
Numerical CardEqual to card number
Face card 10


The objective of the game is to earn the fewest points in each round. The player with the fewest points at the end of the game is the winner. [5]

Each round in the game ends when a player declares "Yaniv!" Each player's score is calculated from their remaining cards. The player with the lowest score wins the round and receives no points for the round. Other players record their corresponding scores for the round. [2]

Structure of a round


At the beginning of a round, each player in the game is dealt five cards face down, rotating clockwise from the dealer's left. The remaining cards are placed in a draw pile in the center face down. If the dealer should deal extra cards, each player may choose which card to dispose of on to the draw pile. The top card from the stack is turned face up. It is then placed to the side to begin the discard pile. Since the player to the left of the dealer may choose to pick up this card and place it into their hand (read below), it is customary in some playing circles for the dealer to—when turning this card over—offer it as a "gift" to this player, left of the dealer. This gift-giving process involves describing why the gift is being given, and then flipping the card. Common reasons to give a gift include (but are not limited to) being thankful for certain personality traits, acts of kindness or service or, most commonly, physical appearance. Degrading and sarcastic gifts are frowned upon. [4]


The game proceeds clockwise (optional). Since the starting player in each round has an advantage, the starting player in the first round must be chosen at random. In subsequent rounds, the winner of the previous round becomes the starting player. [4]

Players have two options for their turn: They may either play one or more cards or call "Yaniv!" When playing cards, the player may discard a single card or a single set of cards, placing them into the discard pile. The player must then draw a card from the draw pile. Alternatively, the player may choose to take the card played by the previous player from the discard pile. However, if the previous player played a multi-card set, only the first or the last card in the set may be chosen. Note that the two jokers in the deck are taken into consideration. [2]

If the drawing deck is empty and no one has yet called "Yaniv!", then all cards of the free stack, excluding the last player's drop, are shuffled and placed face down as a new deck.


A player may discard any of the following sets of cards: [2]

  • A single card
  • Two or more cards of the same rank
  • Three or more cards of consecutive ranks in the same suit. Note that aces are considered low for the purposes of sequences (i.e., an ace can be used before a 2, but not after a king)

Calling "Yaniv!"

At the beginning of their turn, instead of playing cards, a player may call "Yaniv!" (in Nepal, players call "Jhyap") if their current score (the sum of all card values in the player's hand) is less than an agreed-upon value; this value is often 5, but may be significantly higher. [2] When a player calls "Yaniv!," the round ends, and all players reveal their card totals. If the player who called "Yaniv!" has the lowest card total, they score 0 points; however, if another player has a total less than or equal to the calling player's total (a situation often called "Asaf" [4] ), the calling player scores points equal to their card total plus 30 penalty points. All other players, regardless of whether their card totals are lower than the calling player's total, score points equal to their card totals. The winner of the round is the player with the lowest card total (not necessarily the player who called "Yaniv"), they become the dealer and the starting player for the next round. [2]

Ending the game

When a player's point total (the sum of the totals for each round) crosses a set threshold (usually 200), that player is eliminated from the game. Once all players but one have been eliminated, the remaining player is declared the winner. [4]

There are two variations:

A certain limit is set. Whenever a player crosses that limit, the game ends and the victor is the one with the smallest score. A certain limit is set. Whenever a player crosses that limit, they quit the game. The victor is the last remaining player. The common limit is 200.

Common variations

Card orders

In some variations, aces are counted as both low and high for the purposes of sets.


It is common practice in Yaniv, to cut a player's score in half if it hits a multiple of 50 such as 50 or 100. [2] Additionally, in some versions of Yaniv, when a player's score hits an exact multiple of 50 (50, 100, 150 or 200), it is reduced by 50. [6]


Some players may choose to instigate a punishment if "Yaniv" is called and the sum of the caller's cards is greater than seven. Examples of punishments include immediate elimination from the game, being forced to draw three additional cards, or having to swap cards with the first person who requests a swap. Others choose to let the game continue as usual.

Win conditions

Instead of playing until all players but one is eliminated, some games may end as soon as a player crosses the point limit. In this case, the winner is the player with the lowest score when the game ends.

The “One Eyed Jack”

In a standard deck of cards, both are pictured from a side angle, where only one eye is visible. Each can be referred to as a “One Eyed Jack” or more commonly abbreviated to a “One Eye” and are considered the best scoring cards in the game.

Speedy Yaniv "Yan"

A common variation - in particular suitable for smaller groups of people (fewer than four) - is to play with three instead of five cards, which speeds up the game significantly. If four or fewer people are playing it is common to use a standard 54 card deck that is split in half (i.e. use only two full suits and only one joker). All other rules stay the same, apart from when a player has five or fewer points, the player has to declare "Yan" instead of "Yaniv". If a player calls "Yaniv" instead, they earn an additional penalty of 30 points.


It is theorized that Yaniv originated in Nepal, then spread to Israel. [7]

The Israeli backpackers community attribute the invention of the game to two backpackers, one named Yaniv and the other Asaf (as both are common given names for males in Israel). It is said that the two invented the game while backpacking through East Asia (sometimes South America) and wanting to find a better way to pass the time on long waits in train stations and long bus rides.

See also

Related Research Articles


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  6. How to Play Yaniv, Variations and Optional Rules
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