Yaniv (card game)

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"Yaniv" (Hebrew יניב) is an Israeli card game, especially popular among travelers. It is played with a 54 card deck - the standard international deck with two jokers. It was made up by Jesse Zuckerman of Montreal, Canada.


Many legends are told about this game. One of them is that the game's origin is attributed to two morrocan travelers by the name of Yaniv and Assaf, hence the names called during the game (see later). There is no record for this claim. The other story is told about an Israeli soldier named Yaniv Benbenishti invented the game while spending time in the Israeli army jail. The game has traveled all the way to Fiji, where it has been played by groups as large as 16 players in the Yasawa Islands. In Fiji, the name Yaniv was replaced by Fiji, confusing even the most avid of players. Reports from the Marshall Islands suggest that Yaniv is called just Marshall, or Matityahu by Israelis playing in the Marshall Islands. The game is rapidly gaining popularity in North America, where the name is generally spelled "Yanif", and in Europe is mainly known as the Israeli traveling card game. There are three alternative versions of the game played, the 1st in Manchester known as Dalya and little is known about this variation of the game. The 2nd started in Paraguay and then was refined and tested in Bolivia and the version known as 'V69' [1] was born. The V69 version is spreading globally through backpacker's circles, and is now the larger Yaniv group on Facebook. The 3rd one started in Argentina and is popularly called Espléntiful.[2]



The game's objective is to have 7 points or fewer (variant: 5 points, or points equal to the number of cards dealt, or fewer) in the sum of your cards. In every round one (or more) player(s), the round winner(s), is (are) awarded by not gaining any points. The rest are all awarded points equal to the sum of the cards they hold, where face cards (jack, queen, king) count as ten, cards 2-10 as their face value, ace as one and joker as zero, or even plus some additional points if "Assaf" was called (see below).

Dealing the cards[edit]

Each player is dealt 5 cards. The rest are placed in a stack face down (the deck) in the center of all the players.

The game is divided into rounds, and score is kept between rounds. The objective is to achieve the lowest score.

It is considered bad etiquette to look at your cards before everyone has received theirs.

A turn[edit]

Every player in his turn must either call "Yaniv", ending the round or:

  1. Throw a card or several cards and
  2. Pick up a card after you have thrown your card(s):
    1. Either take a card from deck OR
    2. Take a card from the free stack which is included in the last thrown card series (explained later).

A player must first throw a card and only then pick up a card. A player can throw more than one card in the following cases:

  • If he has a rising series of at least three cards with identical suit, he can throw the entire series instead of just one card. In series aces are always low: A-2-3 is a valid series but Q-K-A is not. A joker can be used as a substitute for any card to complete a series.
  • If he has a set of two or more cards with the same face, he can throw all of them instead of just one.

(only one of these options may be taken)

In both cases, the player takes only one card - this is the way to lower the number of cards he holds. The next player can only pick up the first or last card of a set or series (if a player dropped 5, 6, 7, 8, the next player can pick up either 5 or 8). An exception is when one of the cards in a series is a joker - in this case if the next player has the exact card the joker stands for, the player can take the joker and throw that card instead.

Only after taking the card, the card(s) thrown are put on the free stack.

The round progresses amongst all players clockwise, until a player calls "Yaniv". A player can only call "Yaniv" (but he does not need to) if the sum of his cards is equal to or less than 7. When "Yaniv" is called, all players reveal their hands. The player with the lowest sum is the round winner, and is awarded zero points. If there is another player with a sum equal to or lower than the sum of the cards of the player who called Yaniv, that player declares "Assaf" and is the round winner. If more than one player can call Assaf, the player with the lowest sum is the round winner, or all players with the same lowest sum are the round winners (but never the player who declared "Yaniv"). If the player who declared "Yaniv" is not the winner because his hand is beaten by another player, the total amount of his points is the sum of the cards in his hand, plus thirty for one player, or twenty for each player who beats him/her.

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.


  • All round winners get zero points.
  • The rest of the players get the sum of the cards as their score.
  • If "Assaf" was called by one player then the player who called "Yaniv" receives an extra 30 points in addition to his usual score. If more than one player declared "Assaf", the player who called "Yaniv" receives an extra 20 points for each player who called "Assaf".
  • Some players like to play with the rule that if a player reaches a total score which is a multiple of 50, 50 points are reduced from his score . This rule creates a tactical opportunity for victory by trying to be caught with a high hand while another player calls "Yaniv". Another option is to call "Yaniv" yourself, anticipating an "Assaf", in order to get to a multiple of 50.


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, he quits the game. The victor is the last remaining player.

The common limit is 200.

Game variations[edit]

Because Yaniv is played by amateurs, it has no official rules and several variations exist:

  • In some variations, if the joker is held by someone after another player has called Yaniv, the joker is worth 10 points. This makes the joker a much hotter card and leads to it being played on later in the game.
  • Another variation is where a joker subtracts 5 points if a player successfully calls Yaniv with it. This makes jokers a much more desirable card.
  • The number of decks with which the game is played can be changed (usually one or two, depending on the number of players in game).
  • Some play that, when playing with two differing decks, one deck is chosen at the start as the "superior deck." When dealing the cards, if a player receives all five cards from the superior deck color, that player loses 5 points as a bonus.
  • The number of cards dealt to each player can be 3 rather than 5.
  • Some players award multiple Assaf penalties. For example, If a player calls Yaniv and two people at the table have an Assaf claim, the Yaniv-calling player is said to have been "Double-Assafed" and gains 60 points instead of the usual 30. "Triple-Assafs" or other values are also possible.
  • The threshold value for declaring "Yaniv" can be altered to 5 or 6 or any other value.
  • It can be set that only the top card in a series can be lifted, instead of the top and bottom cards.
  • Some play so that you can pick up the card before throwing.
  • Some play so that the score multiples that reduce your score is 100 instead of 50. Some play so that only reaching the exact limit (usually 200) reduces your score by 50.
  • Some play with an upper limit of 100, instead of 200.
  • Some play so that only a successful "Yaniv" makes a player receive 0 points, while calling "Assaf" still gives you your sum of cards, but the "Yaniv" player scores 30 extra points. This might make a player with a sum complementing to a multiplication of 50 want to hold his cards and not call "Yaniv", waiting for another player to do it. Some also play so a "Yaniv" gives the sum of cards while only an "Assaf" gives 0 points.
  • In one variation, when a player calls "Assaf", the player who originally called "Yaniv" receives the sum of every players' cards, rather than a set number (e.g. 30), adding a further twist to calling "Assaf".
  • Some players allow to say "Yaniv" when the sum of the cards exceeds the number determined. In that case, the player will get scores equal to the cards in his hands plus 30. A player can deliberately say "Yaniv" to reach a multiple of 50. In this case, the other players will get score equal to the sum of the cards in their hands, except those with 7 or less. This move is actually a self-"Assaf".
  • Some players give bonuses for several consecutive "Assaf"s or "Yaniv"s.
  • Some players give a bonus of 25 points to any player who has amassed 5 "Assaf"s or "Yaniv"s.
  • Some play so that if a player calls "Assaf" six times in a row, their score is set back to 0.
  • There is a variation of calling "Shraga" instead of "Assaf".
  • Another variation is that if a player picks up a card from the deck (NOT the stack of played cards) that is the same face as the card the player has just played or can be added to the beginning or end of a series the player has just played then that player can play that card immediately, so long as it is done before the next player plays their card(s). This introduces an important element of speed. The next player can play as soon as the previous player has played their card(s) and does not have to wait for the player to pick up a card from the deck. This is known as "Lironing". When this move is executed successfully, other players are encouraged to yell "You got Lironed!" Alternatively this is referred to as "Exploding," where players are encouraged to yell "Explosion!" upon dumping the card.
  • Some players prefer to use a smiley face to indicate a Yaniv win. Three smileys in a row earns the player a -10 to the score and a totem pole is drawn from the smiley faces. In addition, a player earns a hatted smiley face if they Assaf someone.
  • To increase the aspect of speed in the game, some players allow the complementing of thrown sets during a discard. For example, if one player played two 5's, another player could quickly put two more 5's on top of them before the next person discards. This cannot be done by the person directly after the player who laid the original pair. Any pairings can be made, such as a set of three on one, two on two, or one on three.

See also[edit]

  • Jhyap, a similar game played in Nepal


External links[edit]