OBJECT OF CUAJO: The object of Cuajo is to have 16 cards in hand be part of valid combinations. 


MATERIALS: A 112-card Spanish deck, a way to keep score, and a flat surface.

TYPE OF GAME: Rummy Style Card Game



Cuajo is a rummy like game, for 4 players. The players split into two partnerships with partners sitting across from each other. The goal of the game is to curate your hand so that every card in it belongs to a valid combination. In doing so you will win the game (or round if multiple games are played). 

The game is played with payouts as well. Small payouts will be made to players who complete certain objectives during the game and to the overall winner of a round. 


The first dealer is random and then the winner of the previous game will deal for the next. The dealer will shuffle the deck and have the player to their left cut the deck. Then anticlockwise from themselves they will deal each player a hand of 15 cards and deal themselves an extra one giving the dealer 16 cards in total. 

After hands are dealt, the next card is turned faceup on the table. This is called the sowee and does not affect the game but affects the scoring. The remaining cards are placed facedown onto the table as a stockpile. then the dealer will look at their hand and will discard any card, except a king, from their hand to begin the discard pile. the game can begin now that all players have a hand of 15 cards. 

Card Rankings and Combinations

The deck of 112 cards in already nontraditional for most card game players. It includes 4 suits (cups, coins, batons, and swords), and seven card faces, of Ace, 3, 4, 5, Jack, Horse, and King. There are 4 of each face card in each suit. So, there will be four 7s of swords and four horses of batons in the deck. The ranking follows the order as described above with Ace being low and King high. 

During the game, your goal will be to compile all cards from your hand into valid combinations. A card cannot belong to more than one combination, and four types of combinations can be made.

 There can be sets of three or four cards that have the same rank and to different suits. 

Two sequences are made of 3 cards each. The 3,4,5 and the Jack, horse, king. These must be of the same suit to count as a valid sequence. These are also the only sequences that are valid. 

Another combination is to have a set of 4 identical cards of the same rank and suit. This is also called a secret in this game. 

Finally, a single king is also a valid combination. This does not stop them from being parts of other combinations this just means any number of kings in your final hand is a valid combination on its own. 


The player to the dealer’s right starts the game and continues from them anticlockwise. On a player’s turn, they will be able to draw either the last discarded card (for the first player this would be the dealer’s discarded card) or the top card of the stockpile. You then will discard any card from your hand except a king to the discard pile and pass your turn. 

There are two special mechanics during the game called Secrets and Purro that change the course of a turn. 


For a secret, a player must have 4 identical cards in their hand. They may choose to place them facedown in front themselves before discarding. Each player, except your partner, must then pay you a payout (usually 50 cents) for this secret. These cards are now committed to this combination; they cannot be discarded or used in any other combinations for this game.

 You can also make a secret using the sowee. The three identical cards plus a random card will be placed facedown. The random card will need to be used in another valid combination to win the hand though. 


Purro happens when a player only needs one more card to complete their hand. Players’ hands only consist of 16 cards when they have drawn for their turn so this means you would need to call Purro when you have discarded on your turn and all 15 of your cards are or will be in valid combinations once the final needed card is drawn. A king, if applicable, if not a coin, is placed in front of you so that players are reminded of Purro. 

From this point forward when players draw their card for the turn from the stockpile, it must be revealed to the table. If the card is drawn from the stock that completes a called Purro that player may take the card to win. You can also complete your Purro on your turn by drawing the needed card. 

A player can lose Purro. If a king is drawn, which is not permitted to be discarded another card will need to be discarded from your Purro hand. If this messes up your hand and you now need more than one card to win you must take back your Purro card by taking back your king into hand or removing your coin from int front of you. When you lose Purro you cannot win or call Purro again for two turns. You must also reveal cards drawn for your turn for two turns.  


The game ends when a player completes the objective and shows the table a valid winning hand. Each player excluding their partner pays them a payout based on their kings. This is usually 50 cents for each king of coins and 20 cents for each other king they possess. If you have no king or just a single king in the Jack, Horse, King combination then each player excluding your partner pays you 3 dollars. This is a special hand that is uncommon and receives no other payouts as described below. 

There are additional payouts made for certain criteria met by the winning player. The final card that you win with determines the payouts. 

If you drew the final card from the stockpile yourself, paying players also pay you an additional 1.10 dollars. 

If you took the final card from another player or drew it from the discard your payment depends on how many requirements you meet. There are two requirements labeled 1 and 2. If you meet both you receive the full 1.10 dollars additionally from paying players if not additional steps are taken. 

Requirement one is in your hand you need two cards that pair with your last card. if your last card was an ace the additional 2 cards would also need to be aces that are both from different suits, meaning all three aces need to be different from each other. For other cards, you will need two cards that form a run with your final card all of the same suit. An example of this would be if you have a 5 of batons you could have a 6 and 7 of batons to complete this requirement. These cards do not need to be in the same combination only in your hand to fulfill this.

The second requirement is you will need to have in your hand an identical card to the sowee with the addition of two cards to pair with it as described above. So, if the sowee is an 8 of swards you will need an 8 of swords and possibly a 7 and 9 of swords as well. 

If these requirements cannot be met with the cards from your hand you are permitted to draw 15 additional cards to try and complete the requirements. If you still cannot, the amount you are paid out additionally is reduced as described below. 

If you can meet requirement 1 but not 2 you will receive an additional 60 cents from each paying player. If you can meet requirement 2 but not 1 you will receive an additional 70 cents from each paying player. If you cannot meet either requirement you will receive an additional 20 cents from each paying player. 

The game is played until players wish to stop playing rounds. 

Amber Crook
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