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Lotería boards

Lotería is a traditional game of chance, similar to bingo, but using images on a deck of cards instead of plain numbers on ping pong balls. Every image has a name and an assigned number, but the number is usually ignored. Each player has at least one tabla, a board with a randomly created 4 × 4 grid of pictures with their corresponding name and number. Players choose what tabla they want to play with, from a variety of previously created tablas. Each one presents a different selection of images.

Lotería is the Spanish word for lottery. The deck is composed of a set of 54 different images[1], each one in a card. To start the game, the caller (cantor, or singer) randomly selects a card from the deck and announces it to the players by its name, sometimes using a riddle or humorous patter instead of reading the card name. The players with a matching pictogram on their board mark it off with a chip or other kind of marker (many Mexican people traditionally use small rocks, crown corks or pinto beans as markers). The first player with four chips in a horizontal, vertical or diagonal row, squared pattern, any other previously specified pattern, or fills the tabla first shouts "¡Lotería!" (Lottery!) or "¡Buenas!" (Good!) and is the winner.

Lotería de Pozo[2] is a variant version of the traditional Mexican game that is played in the northern states of Mexico. The basic rules of the traditional Lotería Mexicana apply to the game of Pozos. To start the players set a rule of how many pozos have to be marked to win and in what direction (Horizontal, Vertical, Diagonal). A Pozo is a square group with 3 images[2].

Lotería Mexicana online[3] was a game to allow computer users to play Lotería online and chat. It was created back in 1996.[3]


Lotería game based on cacao being played at the Universum museum in Mexico City
Set up of a lotería game at the Museo de Culturas Populares in Toluca
Animation showing traditional ways to win

The origin of lotería can be traced far back in history. The game originated in Italy in the 15th century and was brought to New Spain (modern Mexico) in 1769. In the beginning, lotería was a hobby of the upper classes,[4] but eventually it became a tradition at Mexican fairs.

Don Clemente Jacques began publishing the game in 1887 [4] The current images have become iconic in Mexican culture, as well as gaining popularity in the US and some European countries. Other popular Lotería sets are Lotería Leo, Gacela and Lotería de mi tierra.

During the 1930s, the Catholic church came up with their own version of la Lotería. It consisted of Catholic images instead of the traditional images used in the original game. The Catholic church did this to promote their beliefs by making their very own game board similar to the Lotería.[5]

Cards and associated riddles[edit]

Catrina in Chapala, Jalisco with dress of lotería cards

The following is a list of all the original 54 Lotería cards, traditionally and broadly recognized in all of Mexico. Below each card name and number, are the riddles (in Spanish) sometimes used to tell the players which card was drawn. However, there are several less traditional sets of cards, depicting different objects or animals.


  1. ^ "Lotería Mexicana". www.maravillasoftware.com. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  2. ^ a b "Lotería de Pozo". www.maravillasoftware.com. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  3. ^ a b "How the Lotería Mexicana / Mexican Bingo became an online game?". www.maravillasoftware.com. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  4. ^ a b Villegas, Teresa. "History of La Lotería", www.teresavillegas.com
  5. ^ "History of La Lotería". Teresa Villegas. 2012-08-25. |access-date= requires |url= (help)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Lotería (board game) at Wikimedia Commons