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Mexican Lottery card games

Mexican loteria is an excellent traditional card game much like “Bingo.” However, it’s also a kind of folk art, as each one of the colorful cards comes with an picture of popular Mexican figures, for example “El Catrin” (The Gentleman), “El Borracho” (The Drunk), “La Calavera” (The Skeleton), “La Chalupa” (The Flower Boat), etc. There are various variations of those colorful cards, including loteria cards with images in the Day’s the Dead, fruits, along with other unusual figures.

What are lottery card games?

Mexican Lottery card games primarily refer to “Lotería,” a traditional game of chance similar to bingo, but using images on a deck of cards instead of numbers on ping pong balls. The game is particularly popular in Mexico but is played in different variations across many Hispanic communities.

How Lotería Works:

  1. Cards and Boards: A traditional Lotería set consists of 54 unique cards featuring different images, ranging from animals to objects and characters. Players have a game board known as “tabla,” which usually displays a random selection of 16 of these images.
  2. Announcer (Cantante): One person takes on the role of the announcer and draws a card from the deck, often using traditional riddles or sayings related to the image to announce it.
  3. Marking: Players use markers (traditionally dried beans) to cover the image on their board if it matches the announced card.
  4. Winning: The objective is to fill in a predetermined pattern on the tabla before anyone else. The first person to do this shouts “¡Lotería!” and is the winner of that round.


  1. Lotería de Pozo: This is a jackpot version where cards are drawn until someone fills their entire board.
  2. Lotería de Doble: In this variation, two cards are drawn at a time, making the game proceed at a faster pace.
  3. Themed Loterías: Modern versions may feature specialized themes such as animals, pop culture icons, or historical figures instead of traditional imagery.

The loteria cards have 20 squares having a different image in every square. The standard loteria includes pictures of fruits, vegetables, people, along with other objects for example:

  • La Dama (The Woman)
  • El Catrín (The Gentleman)
  • La Calavera (The Skull)
  • La Sandia (The Watermelon)
  • La Chalupa (The Boat)
  • El Borracho (The Drunk)
  • El Soldado (The Soldier)

Nowadays, the pictures aren’t always the standard ones in the above list. We have an accumulation of Mexican loterias with pictures of fruits, vegetables, world flags, etc. Artists and crative game manufacturers are picking out plenty of unique designs for loterias nowadays.

There are more versions of the game too. Within the Mexican condition of Campeche, there’s a form of loteria with 25 squares and 90 images. This version includes figures and pictures. There’s stated to become a version within the condition of Yucatan that utilizes images of regional chiles and Maya women outfitted within the traditional clothing from that area.


Lotería originated in Italy in the 15th century, moved to Spain, and then finally made its way to Mexico in the 18th century. Over time, the images and symbols used in the game have evolved to reflect aspects of Mexican culture, history, and folklore.

  1. Iconography: Each of the 54 cards in a Lotería deck displays a unique picture and a corresponding name. Examples include “El Sol” (The Sun), “La Sirena” (The Mermaid), and “El Catrín” (The Dandy).
  2. Symbolism: The images often carry deeper meanings. For example, “La Muerte” (The Death) can represent the transient nature of life, and “El Diablo” (The Devil) might symbolize temptation.
  3. Modern Adaptations: Contemporary artists have created updated versions of Lotería cards to include social issues, political themes, or elements of pop culture.


  1. Patterns: While the simplest winning pattern is a straight line, some play with more complicated patterns, like forming an “X” or covering all four corners.
  2. Prizes: Winners can receive small prizes or money, especially when played in a fair or festival setting.

Social and Cultural Aspects:

  1. Community: Lotería is often used as a social tool to bring families and communities together.
  2. Education: The game is sometimes used in educational settings to teach vocabulary, history, or social studies.
  3. In Arts and Crafts: The iconic imagery of the cards has been appropriated in various forms of Mexican art and crafts, such as murals, T-shirts, and even home décor.

Lotería has become popular in other countries and cultures as well, often with localized or customized cards to better reflect the new setting. With the rise of technology, digital versions of Lotería have also emerged, allowing people to play remotely on their smartphones or computers, either with friends or against AI opponents.