Why Is It Called a Mulligan in Card Games?

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By Eric Wilson

Mulligan is a term that is often used in card games, particularly in golf. It’s a common practice among players to take a “mulligan” when they make an error during the game.

But have you ever wondered where this term came from and why it’s called a mulligan? In this article, we will explore the origins of this term and its usage in card games.

The Origins of Mulligan

The origins of the term “mulligan” are unclear, but there are several theories about its origin. One theory suggests that the term originated from the name of a Canadian golfer named David Mulligan.

According to legend, Mulligan was playing golf with some friends when he missed his first shot. He asked his friends for another chance to hit the ball and they agreed to give him a “correction shot.” From then on, the term “mulligan” became synonymous with taking a second chance at something.

Mulligans in Golf

In golf, a mulligan is an extra stroke allowed after a poor shot or miss-hit. It’s typically allowed only in casual or friendly games and not in professional tournaments or competitions. The concept of mulligans has been around for decades and has become an accepted practice among amateur golfers.

Why Do Golfers Take Mulligans?

Golfers take mulligans for various reasons. Some take them because they want to improve their score by correcting their mistake while others take them because it’s fun and adds an element of unpredictability to the game. Regardless of the reason, taking mulligans is generally seen as a way to make golf more enjoyable.

The Rules of Taking Mulligans

While taking mulligans is allowed in casual games, there are some rules that golfers should follow if they want to take advantage of this practice. Firstly, mulligans should only be taken on the first tee or the first hole of the game.

Secondly, players should agree beforehand on the number of mulligans allowed per game. Lastly, players should not take mulligans during official golf tournaments or events.

Mulligans in Card Games

Mulligans are also a common practice in various card games, particularly in poker and blackjack. In these games, a mulligan is when a player discards their cards and receives a new hand. This option is usually given to players at the beginning of the game before any bets have been placed.

Why Do Card Players Take Mulligans?

Card players take mulligans for similar reasons as golfers do – to improve their chances of winning and to add an element of unpredictability to the game. It’s also a way for players to discard poor starting hands and receive new ones that have a better chance of winning.

The Rules of Taking Mulligans in Card Games

The rules for taking mulligans in card games vary depending on the specific game being played. In poker, for example, players are usually allowed one mulligan at the beginning of the game while in blackjack, some variations allow up to two mulligans per hand. As with golf, it’s important for players to agree beforehand on how many mulligans are allowed.


In conclusion, the term “mulligan” has become synonymous with taking a second chance at something – be it hitting a golf ball or receiving a new hand in card games. While it may not be allowed in official tournaments or competitions, taking mulligans is seen as an accepted practice among casual players who want to make their games more enjoyable and unpredictable.