Twenty six-year-old Sanya Khannaís inbox is full of mails from friends inviting her over for pre-Diwali card parties, but the Delhi-based marketing professional canít seem to decide which one to attend. A pro at teen patti, the traditional cards game played during the festive season, Khanna is spoilt for choice this year with a number of other games ó poker, roulette and blackjack. Of course, teen patti rules the hearts but a number of other games have also become part of these parties. So, itís understandable if Khanna canít decide if she should attend the roulette party in Chhattarpur or a blackjack night in Vasant Kunj. ďPeople still play a lot of teen patti. In fact, even at a roulette or a blackjack party, teen patti is the first game. Itís considered auspicious and is part of tradition,Ē she says.
The games start almost two weeks before Diwali every year, but the parties are undergoing an evolution of sorts to keep the interest of youngsters. And this is where poker, roulette and blackjack come in. Not to forget alcohol, that plays an important role now. ďI went to a roulette party last week where if you win, you get the money but if you lose, you have to take tequila or vodka shots placed on the table,Ē says 23-year-old Archit Kumar, a copywriter based in Delhi. Though this trend is still picking up, such parties arenít entirely uncommon. ďItís not that people are getting bored of teen patti, itís just that we are discovering more games. In blackjack, thereís actual buying and itís played very seriously. So itís not just fancy to throw a party like that,Ē adds Kumar.
Poker sets are easily available in stores across the city and plastic roulette tables can be bought online ó so access to these games isnít a problem at all. ďThere is a sort of cultural shift and while the older generation still prefers teen patti, the younger ones want variety. A lot of young children play cards these days, and since many of them have done the rounds of casinos around the world, they bring these games back home,Ē says Sahil Kalra, 27, an event-management professional based in Delhi.
While for most, itís all about having a good time with friends, gorging on food, free-flowing alcohol, and earning some money if you will, some prefer less serious games such as matha (forehead), where one sticks a card on the forehead without seeing it and plays the game accordingly. Then thereís also banko, in which you bet between numbers and the closest bet wins the pot of money. Another way to keep the debauchery going is to introduce variations in teen patti ó such as ĎMahalaxmií and ĎLallan pe Kallaní. ďItís a very technical game and if youíre very logical, youíre not really gambling. So keep up with the spirit, we play a lot of variations,Ē adds Kalra.
Apart from the various games, one more way to add that zing to a card party is to put the spotlight on the stack of cards itself. Instead of the plain and boring every-day cards, experiment with gold-plated cards, designer cards with caricatures of Bollywood villains or even the bikini cards.