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Yaniv – card game – Rules and strategy of card games

Video Yonif card game

Yaniv (Hebrew יניב) or Yanif is an Israeli card game, especially popular among travelers. It is played with a 54 card deck – the standard international deck with two jokers.



At the end of each round, each player scores points equal to the sum of the cards in their hand, with face cards counting as 10 and jokers as zero. The game’s objective is for a player to have 7 points or fewer at the end of the game.

In some variants the objective is to score points fewer than 5, or fewer than the number of cards dealt.

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Dealing the cards

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.

A turn

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 throwing a card or cards, and either:
    1. Take a card from deck
    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 by choosing one of 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.

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.

Some players may choose to instigate a punishment if “Yaniv” is called and the sum of the caller’s cards are not equal to or less than 7. Examples of punishments include immediate elimination from the game, being forced to draw 3 additional cards, or having to swap cards with the first person who requests a swap. Others choose to let the game continue as usual.


  • 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.

Variations in Scoring

It is common practice in Yaniv to cut a player’s score in half if they hit a multiple of 50 such as 50 or 100.

Read more:

  • Yakub, a variant played in India
  • Jhyap, a similar game played in Nepal

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