OBJECTIVE OF 2 PLAYER DURAK:  Be the first player to empty their hand


NUMBER OF CARDS: 36 card deck

RANK OF CARDS: (low) 6’s – Aces, Trump suit (high)

TYPE OF GAME: Trick taking



Durak is an extremely popular trick taking card game in Russia.  Durak literally means idiot, and it denotes the loser of the game.  The game can be played with 2 – 5 players individually or in teams.  The rules for a 2 player game are included below.  

This is a trick taking game that frames each trick as a battle between attacker and defender.  Each player is trying to shed cards from their hand and be the first player out of the game.  Unlike most trick taking games, in Durak players are not required to follow suit or lay trump.  

Durak is an extremely interesting trick taking game that really feels like a battle while you are playing.  


Durak uses a 36 card deck.  To play this game with a French deck, remove the 2’s up through the 5’s.  

Each player should take a card from the deck.  The player who drew the lowest card deals first.  

Dealer collects the cards, shuffles thoroughly, and deals six cards to each player one at a time.  The rest of the deck is placed on the table as the draw pile.  The top card is flipped over to determine the trump suit for the round and placed under the draw pile in such a way that it can be seen.  From this point on, the loser of the round becomes the next dealer.


The player with the lowest trump card becomes the attacker and goes first.  For example, if hearts are trump, the player with the 6 of hearts goes first.  If no one has the 6, the player with the 7 goes first and so on.   At the beginning of the following rounds,  the non-dealing player will become the attacker and lead first. 

In Durak, each trick is characterized by attacking and defending.  The player who leads will attack their opponent by playing any card of their choice.  The defending player has two choices: to defend the attack, or pick up the card.

The leading player may choose any card from their hand to lead first.  The following player does not have to follow suit if they do not want to.

If the defending player chooses to accept the attack, they pick up the card and add it to their hand. 

If the defending player chooses to defend against the attack, they may play any card they wish from their hand.  They do not have to follow the suit that was led or lay a trump card.  

If the defender successfully defends against the attack, the attacker has two options.  They may continue the attack or end it.  If the attacker chooses to end the attack, the cards played to the trick are removed and added face down to the discard pile.  If the attacker chooses to continue the attack, they must play a card matching the rank of any of the cards previously played.  For example, if the attacker plays a 9 of clubs, and the defender blocks with a Jack of clubs, the attacker may continue the assault by playing a 9 or a Jack.

This continues until the attacker calls off the attack, or the defender surrenders.  If the defender surrenders, they pick up all of the cards played.  If the defender defeats all of the attacks and the attacker ends it, the cards are sent to the discard pile.  

Once the attack has ended, each player draws cards from the draw pile in order to replenish their hand back to six cards.  The attacker draws their cards first.  

If the attacker won, they continue by attacking again with a new lead.  If the defender won, they now become the attacker and choose any card from their hand to lead.

Play like this continues until all of the cards from the draw pile have been drawn, and the first player to empty their hand after depleting the draw pile wins the game.  The person left with cards is the durak.  


The player who empties their hand wins the game.  As a way to keep score over a series of rounds, award one point to the round’s winner.  The first player to reach 5 points wins the series.

Mark Ball
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