OBJECTIVE OF PANJPAR: Play all cards in hand right before the stockpile is empty!


NUMBER OF CARDS: 52 card deck

RANK OF CARDS:  A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2

TYPE OF GAME: Shedding



Panjpar is a popular card game in Afghanistan and was mentioned in the poignant 2003 novel “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. The words Panjpar literally means “five cards,” which is the number of cards players hold at the beginning of the game.

Throughout the play, players play cards and draw new cards from a stock pile. The goal is play all your cards once the stockpile has been exhausted, the player who still has cards in hand is the loser.


The deck is shuffled and each player is dealt a hand of 5 cards. The next card in the pack is placed face-up on the table, this card determines the trump suit for the game. Cards that have not been dealt are gathered in a face-down pile on top of the trump card, but so the trump card may be seen by placing them perpendicular.

Prior to the deal, a player takes a guess at what color the trump suit will be. If that player guesses correctly, they play first, if not their opponent starts the game.


Gameplay consists of battles; one player attacks and the other player defends themselves.

Attackers “throw” or play 1, 3, or 5 cards in their hand. This is done by placing the cards side-by-side and face-up on the table.

  • In a single card attack, any card may be played.
  • On a three card attack, there must be a pair + an odd card. For example, K-K-7. Or, they may play a three of a kind, K-K-K.
  • Five card attacks can consist of two pairs + an odd card (K-K-A-A-5) A full house is also legal 5 card play (K-K-K-A-A), as is playing a four of a kind + an odd card (5-5-5-5-2).

Defenders now have the chance to “kill” or beat these cards played by playing cards from their hand on top of attacking cards. Cards are beaten by a higher ranking card of the same suit. Non-trump cards are beaten by cards which are trumps (trump suit).

Attack cards that are successfully annihilated and the cards used by the defender are put off to the side and are not used in play until the next deal. If a defender is able to beat all the cards played by the attacker, they attack in the next round.

However, if the defender was unable to beat all the attack cards, or none at all, those cards are added to the defender’s hand. The attacking player attacks again.

You are not required to beat all the cards you can. You may strategically lose to gain certain cards, like trump cards.

This play continues until the stock pile is exhausted. Players must both have at least 5 cards in the hand prior to an attack. This is for both attacking and defending. In the event you have less than 5 cards, draw the remainder from the stock.

While it is legal to request your opponent to reveal the number of cards they have in hand, it is illegal to count the cards remaining in the stockpile. Players are also not permitted to look through it or the cards pushed to the side.


The last card drawn from the stock is the trump indicator card. After, play continues without drawing for a replacement.

You may not attack your opponent with more cards than they have in hand. Once a player has no more cards, gameplay ends after that battle. The player who still has cards in hand is the loser.

However, if both players use all their cards in the same battle, the game is considered to be a draw. 



Nakoa Davis

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