Marriage (card game)

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Marriage (card game)
Origin Nepal
Skill(s) required Memory, Attention
Age range All
Cards 3 decks of 52 cards (total: 156)
Deck Standard
Play Anticlockwise
Card rank (highest to lowest) A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Playing time 20 min.
Random chance Easy

Marriage” is a matching card game played with three decks of cards (156 Cards) played in Nepal, Bhutan and Nepali diaspora throughout the world. It is originally thought to have evolved from Rummy, and is based on making sets of three or more matching cards, of the same rank (Trials), of the same rank and suit (Tunnels), or of three or more consecutive cards of the same suit (Sequences). [1] [2]

General Features[edit]

Sets: A set is a group of three or more cards. A set can contain: 1. Three or more consecutive cards of the same suit, which is called a “Sequence.” 2. Three or Four cards of the same rank but each of a different suit, which is called a “Trial”, or a “Quartile”. 3. Three cards of the same rank and suit, which is referred to as a “Tunnel

Deal: The game uses three standard decks with a variable numbers of (optional) Wildcard (Jokers) shuffled within. Each player is dealt a hand of twenty one cards each and the remaining cards are kept face down to form the stock. The top card from the stock is faced up as the “Offered Card” to start the game. This card also marks the beginning of the “discard pile” which builds up as the game progresses.

The Objective(s): The objective of the game is to arrange all twenty one cards into sets that contain a minimum of three cards each. The first three sets (Primary Sets) need to be pure sets, i.e. they cannot include wildcards (Cards that can be placed as substitutes for any suit or rank). The later sets can be arranged using Wildcards and Jokers. The first player to completely arrange his hand of cards into sets ends the round.

The Play: The person to the right of the dealer is the first to play. He can either choose to pick up the top card from the deck or the offered card. He then discards a card from his hand that he does not need, which serves as the offered card to the player next to him. This continues until a player completes the first three sets (Primary Sets) with a minimum of three cards each (at least nine cards total), and displays them face up on the floor. Upon discarding an unwanted card, the player has the option to select a random card (face down) from the deck and place it at the bottom of the deck. This card, for the rest of the round, serves as the “Main Wildcard”. The player can now arrange the remaining cards in his hand into more sets with the use of wildcards. The important part is that a player gets to see and use the wildcard in his sets only after completing the primary sets and displaying them on the floor. The game ends when a player arranges his hand into complete sets with or without the use of wildcards and displays it on the floor for others to see.

Wildcards: Wildcards are cards that can be used as replacements for any of the cards of the deck. There are two basic categories of wildcards, viz: Cash Cards and Non-Cash Wildcards.

1. Cash Cards:

a. Main Cash Card: The card that is randomly selected by the player who makes the first three sets of cards and is placed at the bottom of the stock is the primary cash card. In addition to its value as a wildcard, it also has a score value of three points. Excluding this card, there are two more of the same card in the game (as there are three decks of cards used)

b. Adjacent Cash Cards: The two cards of the same suit as the main cash card that follow and precede it in rank are the adjacent cash cards. They have a score value of two points each and also serve as wildcards. These cards amount to a total six in number (two in each deck of cards)

c. Alternate Cash Card: The card of the same rank as the main cash card, and a similarly colored suit is the alternate cash card and has a score value of five points each, and also serve as wildcards.

d. Jokers: Jokers serve as wildcards as well as cash cards with a score value of five points each, if they are included in the game.

2. Non-Cash Wildcards: All cards of the same rank as the main cash card are wildcards without score values. They can help complete sets to finish the game but do not contribute to scoring.

An example to illustrate the above system is as follows: If the randomly selected card is the seven of Hearts, the other two sevens of Hearts would be the main cash cards. The sixes and eights of Hearts (total six cards) would be adjacent cash cards and the (three) sevens of Diamonds would be alternate cash cards. All other sevens (Clubs and Spades) would be Non-cash Wildcards. In each round there are eleven cash cards excluding the jokers and six other non-cash wildcards. Some variants of marriage do not include the alternate cash card and it serves as a non-cash wildcard like the other six cards that are the same rank as the main cash card.


When a player completely arranges his hand of cards into sets containing a minimum of three cards each, the round is over and a new deal follows. Scoring in Marriage is a little complicated, and involves calculating the total number of “points” in the game. Points are contributed by wildcards (scoring three, two or five, depending on the type of cash-card). At the end of a round, each player separates his cash cards from the rest and totals them. The grand total is the net score of all of the players’ cash-card scores or “points”. Each player wins points based on the number of points he has in his hand regardless of who completes the game.

Rules / Exceptions to Scoring: One cannot create a set out of three cards when two are the same rank & suit and a third card is the same rank but a different suit. The cards have to be either all different suits but the same rank, or they have to form a tunnel (three cards of same suit and rank). Also, wild cards cannot be used as substitutes to help form a tunnel after the primary sets are displayed. A tunnel after the primary deal in one’s hand is worth five points, but it has to be displayed before a player picks a card from the stock pile, or else it worth no points and only serves as one of the three primary sets. If a player has the main cash card, and both cash cards preceding and following it, the combination is called a marriage and it is worth ten points. Two cards of two points worth score five in combination, and three cards of two value score ten points in combination. Two cards of three points score eight in combination. Two cards of five points each score fifteen in combination and all three cards of the same rank and value of five each score twenty-five points in combination. A player does not have to have the cards in a set to score, just having them in his hand as part of different sets or otherwise is enough to score. A tunnel at the beginning of a hand scores five points, if the cash card is the same rank as the tunnel, the value doubles. If the card forming a tunnel is the alternate cash card, the score value of the Alternate Tunnel is Thirty Points and if the adjacent cash cards make a tunnel, the score value is fifteen points.


Some variations of Marriage include “Murder”, where a player that does not display the primary sets forfeits all his cash cards, and he has to pay every other player for his worth of cash cards, and “Kidnap” where the player who completes the game wins the cards of all players that have not yet displayed the primary sets, including their cash cards. Similarly, there is another variation also named as "'dhoos'" . A player is made dhoos if he is found cheating while playing the game and in most of the places he/she is made to pay all the player a sum of money equal to the total transaction carried out in that game.


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