I want to translate the sentence

I play silly card games for a living

into Spanish. I know that I can use a direct translation like

Yo juego tontos juegos de cartas para mis ingresos.

Or I can use

Juego un juego de cartas para mis ingresos.

But in both translations I'm not really comfortable with the repetitive use of "juegos", it just doesn't seem right and repetitive. Is there a better way to write this? Note that I'm trying to convey a slightly sarcastic tone in my sentence.

  • Both answers below give you what you wanted, but it is not wrong to repeat the word juego and it does not sound bad either. You could perfectly say "juego tontos juegos de cartas para ganarme la vida" as suggested by walen or "Me dedico a jugar tontos/estúpidos juegos de cartas" as suggested by Carlos.
    – DGaleano
    Aug 1, 2017 at 13:03
  • Me gano la vida jugando cartas [a lo tonto]. I put the last part in brackets because "silly" doesn't make much sense to me in the original. I once knew someone who had previously supported himself playing poker with people who had money to throw away. It was hard work. So, with "a lo tonto," I am expressing a lack of respect for this way of supporting oneself, which I thought might be what you were trying to get across. Aug 3, 2017 at 2:31

3 Answers 3


Hmmm... If it wasn't for the "silly" bit, I'd translate that as "Juego a las cartas para ganarme la vida", where ganarse la vida is IMO a better translation of "for a living". But saying "Juego a las tontas cartas" would be weird, so you need to change either the verb or the object.

Some synonyms for "jugar" that might fit in there are: apostar, competir. You could also use participar, or even usar.

  • "Apuesto en tontos juegos de cartas para ganarme la vida"
  • "Compito en tontos juegos de cartas para ganarme la vida"
  • "Participo en tontos juegos de cartas para ganarme la vida"
  • "Uso tontos juegos de cartas para ganarme la vida"

Another option is to replace juegos with partidas:


  1. f. Cada una de las manos de un juego, o conjunto de ellas previamente convenido. // Each of the rounds of a game, or an agreed-upon set of rounds.

So you'd get:

  • "Juego a tontas partidas de cartas para ganarme la vida"

A last thought: "tontos juegos de cartas" or "tontas partidas de cartas" comes out a bit forced. Maybe "silly card games" could be translated as "jueguecitos de cartas" instead, where using the diminutive can convey the sarcastic tone you wanted.

  • Great answer, thank you. You caught my attention with the closing comment. Would there be a difference between "jueguecitos de cartas" and "juegos de cartitas"? Would both convey the same tone? Aug 1, 2017 at 13:50
  • 2
    "Juegecitos de cartas" comes across as "silly card games", whereas "juegos de cartitas" (or "juegos de cartillas") sounds to me more like "games with small cards" (it doesn't have the same sarcastic tone, at least to my ear) - whereas "juego a las cartillas" does have a similar slightly sarcastic tone...
    – Edd
    Aug 1, 2017 at 14:59

This is indeed a tricky question so we are going to do some rewording.

First of all, you can say "me dedico a" to say "for a living". So you have senteces such as:

Me dedico a la industria.
Me dedico a los juegos de azar.
Me dedico a programar.

The general structure is thus "me dedico a [algo]". Note that [algo] does not need to be a verb, as you can see in the examples. So you can say:

Me dedico a estúpidos juegos de cartas.

See? You drop the verb "jugar" as it is understood, and you're done.


  • In Spanish, "dedicarse a algo" means "to devote oneself to something", so I think it fits with what you are trying to say.
  • About the choice of "estúpido" instead of "tonto", that is because I am from Spain, and here the word "tonto" sounds somewhat silly (note the irony) in this context (despite what I have said in another answer to another question), so I prefer "estúpido" as it is a bit stronger and sounds like the person considers the card games really silly. Maybe in Latin America you can use "tonto" without sounding silly (I insist, in this context), but that could be another question.
  • 1
    I don't think that "estúpido" works fine here, it's just too strong of a word compared to "silly"; it would be the same as saying to op that s/he could use "I play stupid card games for a living", which has not the same connotation
    – Lamak
    Aug 1, 2017 at 14:21

Combining both previous answers, for me it sounds better:

Me gano la vida con estúpidos juegos de cartas

I think with 'con' you already imply that you play card games for a living. But if you want to be more specific:

Me gano la vida jugando a estúpidos juegos de cartas

About the term "estúpidos", although is correct I think it is not exactly a Spanish person would say:

Me gano la vida con juegos de cartas (muy) facilitos


Me gano la vida con juegos de cartas para tontos (more natural)

depending on the context. The use of the term "facilitos" as the diminutive form of "fáciles" imply some pejorative meaning which be more explicit if we say "para tontos" (for idiots). "facilitos" can be replaced by "sencillitos" too.

  • Welcome to Spanish Language Great first contribution (although the jugando a juegos is what the OP was trying to avoid...). I hope I keep seeing more of your contributions in the future.
    – Diego
    Aug 1, 2017 at 16:16

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