Not Just Teen Patti
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Twenty six-year-old Sanya Khanna's inbox is full of mails from friends inviting her over for pre-Diwali card parties, but the Delhi-based marketing professional can't 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 — 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, it's understandable if Khanna can't decide if she should attend the roulette party in Chhattarpur or a blackjack night in Vasant Kunj. "People still play a lot of teen patti. In fact, even at a roulette or a blackjack party, teen patti is the first game. It's considered auspicious and is part of tradition," 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. "I 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," says 23-year-old Archit Kumar, a copywriter based in Delhi. Though this trend is still picking up, such parties aren't entirely uncommon. "It's not that people are getting bored of teen patti, it's just that we are discovering more games. In blackjack, there's actual buying and it's played very seriously. So it's not just fancy to throw a party like that," adds Kumar.
Poker sets are easily available in stores across the city and plastic roulette tables can be bought online — so access to these games isn't a problem at all. "There 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," says Sahil Kalra, 27, an event-management professional based in Delhi.
While for most, it's 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 there's 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 — such as 'Mahalaxmi' and 'Lallan pe Kallan'. "It's a very technical game and if you're very logical, you're not really gambling. So keep up with the spirit, we play a lot of variations," 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.