How to Play Chinese Card Game Dou Di Zhu

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Dou Di Zhu (斗地主, Struggle Against the Landlord) is a popular card game in China. Dou Di Zhu is often played as a gambling game in China. The three-player card game has several variations, including a version that uses one deck of cards and one version that uses two decks of cards. No matter the version, there are two teams: a landlord (one player) and workers (the other two players). The workers work together to compete against the landlord in a bridge-style game.

What You Need

  • 1 deck of cards (including the Jokers – one black and one red)

Tips for Playing the Game

  1. The card suits have no value and are ignored in Dou Di Zhu.
  2. Players can get rid of useless cards by placing them as Singles or as a Single added to a combination like Triple Run + Single.
  3. Players who have a great hand should bid high to get the landlord position.
  4. The workers should work together to beat the landlord.

How to Play

1. Before playing, learn the order of the cards from lowest to highest: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace, 2, Black Joker, Red Joker and the card combinations:

Single (any card)

Double (any pair, two-of-a-kind)

Triple (any three-of-a-kind)

Triple + a Single (any three-of-a-kind + any card)

Full House (a Triple + a Double)

Run (like a Straight in Poker; any five cards in a row except Aces and 2s)

Double Run/Sisters (three Doubles in a row; for example, a pair of 4s, a pair of 5s, and a pair of 6s)

Triple Run (two or more Triples in a row; for example, three 4s and three 5s)

Triple Run + Single (two or more Triples in a row + any card)

Quadruple + 2 Singles (four-of-a-kind + any two cards)

Quadruple + 2 Doubles (four-of-a-kind + any two pairs)

Bomb (four of a kind): this combination beats everything else except a Nuke.

Nuke (both Jokers): this combination beats everything else including the Bomb.

2. Shuffle the cards.

3. The dealer deals 17 cards to each player. The remaining three cards are set on the table. After step #4, they will be given to the landlord.

4. Determine who will be the landlord and who will be the workers. This is done by each player looking at his or her hand and auctioning off the spot. Each player looks at his or her hand and does not reveal the hand to other players.

5. Based on the hand, each player will bid one, two, or three with one being for a low hand and three being for a good or high hand. Players also have the option to pass. The higher a player bids, the more likely he or she will be the landlord but the position also increases the risk of losing more money or the chance of winning more money. If a player passes, there is low risk. If everyone passes, then the cards are reshuffled and re-dealt.

6. To figure out who places a bid first, the dealer turns over a card and looks at the number. Then count off each player until the number is reached. The person it stops on gets to bid first. For example, if a four is face up, player one would bid first. The player with the highest bid is the landlord.

7. The landlord now takes the three extra cards on the table and turns them face up. These cards are considered part of the landlord’s hand even though the other players can see them.

8. The landlord goes first and places a combination of cards on the table.

9. Moving counter-clockwise, the next player can place a combination of cards on the table but they must be the same combination type and a greater value. Players can also pass (even if they can put down a combination, game strategy includes holding higher combinations for later). A round ends when two players in a row pass. The winner of the round is the person who placed the last combination down. The winner begins the next round.

10. The game continues in rounds until one player uses up all his or her cards. If the landlord wins, both workers must pay.

If one of the workers wins, the landlord must pay both workers.

Payout: The amount owed depends on 1) the bid at the beginning of the game and who won, and 2) if a Bomb and/or Nuke combination is put down.

First, for the value of the bid placed, the corresponding number of points is issued. For example, if the high bid was one and the landlord wins, the landlord receives one point from each worker. If the high bid was two and the landlord wins, the landlord receives two points from each worker and so on. If the high bid was one and one of the workers wins, each worker receives one point. If the high bid was two and one of the workers wins, each worker receives two points and so on.

Second, for every Bomb and Nuke combination that is placed on the table during the game, the score is doubled. For example, if one bomb and one nuke are played, then the point(s) earned from the auction are multiplied doubled twice, so if the landlord was the winner and awarded two points (for a bid of two), then the landlord’s payout is 2 x 2 x 2 which is 8 points.

In addition, if after the landlord places the first combination on the table and is unable to put down any more cards after each worker takes his or her initial turn, then the points are doubled.

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Mack, Lauren. "How to Play Chinese Card Game Dou Di Zhu." ThoughtCo, Jun. 15, 2017, thoughtco.com/how-to-play-chinese-card-game-dou-di-zhu-687531. Mack, Lauren. (2017, June 15). How to Play Chinese Card Game Dou Di Zhu. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-play-chinese-card-game-dou-di-zhu-687531 Mack, Lauren. "How to Play Chinese Card Game Dou Di Zhu." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-play-chinese-card-game-dou-di-zhu-687531 (accessed November 20, 2017).