How to Play Yaniv

Yaniv is a fun and fast-moving card game from Israel for 2 to 8 players. It is a well known favorite among many world travelers.

The game is played using a 54 card deck which is formed by adding two Jokers to a standard 52 card deck. When more than three players take part in the game, it is common to combine two such decks. The ranking of the cards in this deck are as follows (from high to low); Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. Each card in the deck has a specific value as per the following chart:
CardValue
Joker0
Ace1
2 to 10Value Marked on Card
Jack, Queen, King10

A number of methods can be used to determine seating positions and first dealer, with drawing cards being a common method. The player drawing the highest valued card (as per the chart) would take the first choice of seats at the table and become the first dealer, the player drawing the second highest takes any of the remaining seats and so on until all players are seated at the table.

Once the first dealer is determined he would then shuffle and offer the player to his immediate right to cut. After the cut, he then starts the deal. Cards are dealt in a clockwise direction around the table. The dealer distributes the cards one at a time to the players, face down until each player has five cards. He then places the remainder of the pack face down at the center of the table as a draw pile. He then turns over the top card of he draw pile setting it beside the draw pile to start the play pile.

The players then pick up their five card hand for examination. The dealer usually has the first turn on the first hand. On each subsequent game the winner of the previous hand (player with the lowest point value found in the hand) becomes the dealer and has the first turn.

On each player's turn, he can take one of two actions: Legal Play Combinations in Yaniv
The player with the lowest total becomes the dealer and first player for the next hand. If two or more players tie for lowest count, the player who called "Asaf" becomes the dealer.

If a player manages to have a total of exactly 200 points at the end of a hand his score is reduced to 100. If a player has a total of exactly 100 at the end of a hand, his score is reduced to 50.

At the end of any hand, any players who have a total over 200 points is eliminated from the game. This continues until only one player remains, who is declared the winner of the game. If, at the end of a hand all active players have a total over 200, the player with the lowest total is declared the game winner.
                     

Variations and Optional Rules

Differing Limits: Some players enjoy adjusting the number required for a player to make the initial call of Yaniv. Common limits set are 6, 7, 10, 11 and 13. Thus, in order to make a declaration, a player must have a total lower than the limit set for the game.

Differing Hand Sizes: Some players prefer to change the number of initial cards dealt to each player in each hand. Common hand sizes are 6, 7 or 8. This change is often accompanied with the Differing Limits rule, such that the required total is the same as the number of cards dealt to each player's hand.

Sevens Rule: Another optional rule that is sometimes used is the Sevens Rule. When this rule is in effect, whenever any seven is played during a player's turn, all other players are required to draw a card from the top of the stock pile. If multiple sevens are played, the other players must draw one cad for each such seven played.

Spy Card: Another rule sometimes played is the Spy Card rule. In this optional rule, when the Queen of Diamonds is legally played during a turn, all other players must show that player his current hand. However, the player should refrain from telling any other players the cards in the other players' hands.

Nepalese Variant: Several variants of this game are also very popular in Nepal. The standard Nepalese variant is played very similarly to standard Yaniv with the following differences:
Dhumbal: Dhumbal is another variation of Yaniv that is commonly played in Nepal and the surrounding area. It is played very similarly to standard Yaniv with the following differences: In all other respects Dhumbal is played identically to Yaniv as described above.

Yellow Lemon: Yellow Lemon is another game favored by travelers which is played similarly to Yaniv. It is played the same as Yaniv except for the following differences:
  • The card values are somewhat different than in standard Yaniv, as shown in the following chart:
    CardValue
    Ace1
    2 to 10Value Marked on Card
    Jack11
    Queen12
    King13
    Joker20
               Let's play Yellow Lemon
  • Each player receives 7 cards to start each hand.
  • A set may consist of 2, 3 or 4 cards. A sequence consists of 3 or more cards of the same suit in sequence. A single card may also be played if a player has no other legal play.
  • When drawing, the next player may only draw the card at either end of a sequence. However, if the last player played a set, the player may select any card from that sequence.
  • If a player has 9 or less points, he may end the hand by declaring "Yellow". He may do this at the beginning or end of his turn. After a player declares a "Yellow", all other players have one last turn.
  • If another player has a lower or equal value to the exposed hand of the player calling "Yellow", he declares "Yellow Lemon".
  • If the player calling "Yellow" ends up having the lowest total (and lower than 10), he is the winner. This player scores 0 points and all other players score the total value of cards remaining in his hand. If, however, another player was able to call "Yellow Lemon", the player originally calling "Yellow" scores 20 added to the total point value of cards in his hand. In this event, all other players do not add any penalty points to his hand during this hand.
  • In all other respects, this game is played identically to the standard game of Yaniv.

    Least Count: Least Count is a game played similarly to Yaniv which is widely played in India. The game is designed to be played by 2 to 8 players. Least Count uses two standard 52 card decks shuffled together. The ranking of the cards in this game is as follows (from highest to lowest); Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.

    Determination of first dealer and seating positions can be done using any method, with drawing for low card a common method. One determined the first dealer thoroughly shuffles the deck together and deals 6 face down cards to each player in a clockwise rotation, starting with the player to his immediate left. After the hands have been dealt, the dealer places the remainder of the pack face down in a pile in the center of the table to make the stock pile. He then flips over the top card of the stock pile, laying it next to the stock pile. This is the Joker card for the round. This card and all cards of the exact same denomination are considered Joker cards for the hand and have a value of 0 points when found in a players hand at the end of the hand.

    Joker card in Least Count
    In Least Count, the card initially turned determines the special Joker card for the hand, in which all cards of this denomination add 0 points to a player's total.
    The player to the dealers immediate left then has the first turn. On a players turn, he begins by discarding any card from his hand to the table (usually his highest card). If the player has multiple cards of the same rank he may play all such cards. If the card played is of the same rank as the current top card of the play pile, he is not required to draw a card. Otherwise, however, to finish his turn, he must draw a card. He must either draw the top card of the stock pile or the last card played by the player immediately preceding him. The turns continue in this manner from player to player in a clockwise rotation until any player, on his turn, declares a Show.

    As in Yaniv, the goal in Least Count is to be the player who, at the end of a hand with the lowest total count of cards in hand. Thus, if a player believes he might have the lowest total of cards in his hand may declare a Show. He must declare the Show before making a play on his turn. A player may also only declare a Show if the total point value of cards in his current hand is less than five. Declaring a Show immediately ends the current hand, with the player calling the Show laying his hand face up on the table. Each other play then lays his own hand face up in front of himself. If any other player has a total that is equal or less than the player calling the Show, this is called a false show and the player originally calling the Show immediately adds 25 points to his current score. In this case all other players score 0 for the hand. However, if the player calling the Show does indeed have the lowest total, he scores nothing for the hand and all other players score based on the total value of cards in their hands. The following chart shows the value for the individual cards that might be left in those players hands:
    CardPoint Value
    Designated Joker card for the hand0
    Jack, Queen, King10
    2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10Value Marked on Card
    Ace1
    If a player has only one card remaining and on his turn this card matches the current top card of the play pile, this is an automatic Show. He plays the card on his turn and is not required to draw a card and thus ends the turn with no cards in hand. On his next turn, he calls an automatic Show, having a score of 0. If any other player also manages to have a total of 0 points for the hand, the playing having the automatic Show scores 25, otherwise that player scores 0 and all other players score for the totals left in their hand.

    After the players add the appropriate totals at the end of the hand, the cards are gathered together and shuffled for the next hand. The player to the immediate left of the last dealer deals the next hand. If any players accumulated score reaches or exceeds 200 he must drop from the game. Play continues until there is just one active player remaining who is declared the winner of the game.

    Declare: Declare is another game similar to Yaniv, in which players attempt to obtain a hand with the lowest total. Declare is designed to be played by 3 to 8 players. For 3 or 4 players, one standard 52 card deck will suffice. For 5 to 8 players, two such decks, shuffled together, should be used.

    Selection of seating positions and first dealer can be done in any manner with cutting for high card a common method. Once this is determined the dealer shuffles the deck and offers it to the player to his immediate left to cut. After the cut, the dealer takes the deck and begins the deal. He deals 8 cards to each player, one by one in a counter-clockwise rotation, starting with the player to his immediate right. The dealer then places the remainder of the deck face down in the center of the table as the stock pile.

    A play in Declare After the deal is complete, the player to the dealers immediate right has the first turn. On his turn a player is first required to make a play. He may play the card of his choice from his hand to start a play pile. If he has multiple cards of the exact same rank he may play all such cards on his turn. If the cards played are of the same rank as the previous top card on the play pile the player is not required to draw a card. However, if the cards were not of the same rank as the top card of the play pile (or the play pile was previously empty) he must draw a card. He may either draw the top card of the stock or one of the cards played by the player immediately previous to the current player. Alternatively, a player on his turn, before making a play, may Declare. A player must make the Declare at the beginning of his turn and may not make a play or discard on that turn. A player may not declare on his first turn, but may on any other of his turns in the hand. A player would Declare if he believed he had the lowest total count in cards in the current hand. The player may Declare with any total, but usually would wait until he had a low total to ensure he has the lowest total in hand. After a player makes a Declare, each other player, in turn, is allowed one more turn to try to reduce his total count.

    After a Declare and after the other players have had one last turn, the hands are compared. If the player making the Declare does have the lowest total count in his hand, he scores zero points for the hand and the other players must add to their current score the sum of points in their hand. However, if one or more other players has a total equal to or less than the Declaring player, the Declarer must add to his own score two times the value of the player in the hand with the highest total in his hand. The other players each add the total of their hand to their current score for the hand. The value of each individual card in the hand is shown on the following chart:
    CardScoring Value
    King, Jack10
    2 to 10Value Marked on Card
    Ace1
    Queen0
    The game continues until one player reaches or exceeds 200 points at the end of a hand. That player is then said to lose the game.
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