OBJECT OF MAMBASSA: The objective of Mambassa is to be the last player remaining in the game.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3 to 8 Players

MATERIALS: A 40-card Italian deck, tokens, and a flat surface.

TYPE OF GAME: Commerce Card Game



Mambassa is a commerce card game playable by 3 to 8 people. The goal of the game is to outlast your opponents and be the final player remaining.

Mambassa is usually played for stakes. Each token represents a stake, and each player will receive 4 of them. Players should determine before the game begins how much a single stake is.


Each player is given 4 tokens. Players will each pay 1 token to the pool to start the game. The first dealer is chosen at random and passes to the right for future rounds.

The dealer will shuffle and allow the player to their left to cut the deck. They will then deal each player a hand of 4 cards counterclockwise. The dealer may not look at his hand yet.

The remaining cards form a stockpile, and the dealer will draw the top 4 cards of the deck and secretly look at them. The dealer may then choose if they would like to keep these 4 cards as their hand for the round or if they would like to keep their unknown hand they were dealt.

If the dealer chooses not to keep the cards, they are flipped face up into the center play area. These cards are called the monte.

If the dealer decides to keep the cards, their unknown hand is flipped face up into the center and becomes the monte. If this option is chosen it also counts as a knock (described below), and the round will only consist of one round.

Card and Hand Ranking

The ranking of cards is Ace (high), King, Horse, Jack, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2 (low).

For the suits, the ranking is Coins (high), swords, cups, and batons (low).

The hand ranking is Mambassa (high), Quarantuna, Quartina, Long sequence, Tris, Short sequence, and 4-card (low).

A Mambassa consist of all 4 aces.

A Quarantuna is the Ace, King, Horse, and Jack of the same suit. To determine the higher of two, rank by suit.

A Quartina is a run of 4 cards of the same rank. To rank them 2s are the highest possible and kings are the lowest.

A long sequence is 4 cards in ranking order of the same suit. To rank them, rank by high card then by suit.

A tris is a run of 3 cards of the same suit. They rank the same as Quartinas.

A short sequence is 3 cards in ranking order of the same suit. They rank the same as a long sequence.

For a 4-card hand you total the value of the cards of a single suit in your hand. The point value for cards is Aces are worth 11 points, Kings through Jacks are worth 10 points, and all other cards are worth their numeric value. To rank 4-card hands the higher value wins.


Starting with the player to the right of the dealer, gameplay is counterclockwise. On a player’s turn they may do one of a few things. A player may choose to not exchange cards from their hand with the monte. They may choose to exchange 1, 2, or 3 cards from their hand with cards from the monte, or a player may choose to exchange their entire hand for the monte and knock.

If a player exchange 0 to 3 cards from their hand with the monte they may choose to discard a card from their hand to the bottom of the stock and draw the top card into their hand. If a player who exchanged no cards with the monte chooses not to draw from the stock, they must knock.

A knock always triggers the end of the game. The remaining players all have 1 remaining turn to exchange from their hand if they choose to.

If a player manages to form a Mambassa or a Quarantuna, they must declare it and the round ends immediately.


After a round is concluded all hands are revealed. The player with the lowest ranked hand is the loser and must discard a token to the pool. If players tie for lowest hand, they all discard a token.

Once a player loses all their tokens they are eliminated from the game.

In the case of a Mambassa being declared, all other players must discard one of their tokens to the pool.

In the case of a Quarantuna being declared, the player(s) with the worst hand pay a token to the pool, and the declared gains a token from the pool.


The game comes to an end when there is only one player remaining. That player is the winner. Very rarely the last remaining players would all be eliminated in the last round if this occurs the dealer of that round wins.

Amber Crook
Latest posts by Amber Crook (see all)