OBJECT OF DOU DIZHU: The object of Dou Dizhu is to have someone on your team run out of cards first.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3 or 4 players

MATERIALS: One or two 52-card decks including jokers, chips, or other forms of payment, and a flat surface.

TYPE OF GAME: Climbing Card Game



Dou Dizhu is a climbing game playable by 3 or 4 players. The rules vary slightly for the number of players. The goal of the game remains the same. 

The game is played over series of rounds. The players pay out after each round. There will be two teams. A team of one player, known as the landlord, and a team of two or three players against the landlord. The players will be playing out cards intending to run out of cards first. 


For a 3-player game, a single 52 card deck and 1 red and 1 black joker will be used. For 4 player games, both decks and 2 red and 2 black jokers will be used. 

The first dealer is random and passes anticlockwise every round. The cards are shuffled by the dealer and the player to their left will cut the deck. Then the deck is placed in the center of the table. The dealer will flip and reveal the top card of the deck before slipping it randomly faceup near the center of the deck. The player who draws this card will start the auction described below. One at a time, in anticlockwise order, players draw cards until they have their completed hands. For three players this is a 17-card hand and a 25-card hand for a 4-player game. this should leave 3 and 8 cards respectively for the auction.

Cards Ranking 

The suits do not matter in Dou Dizhu. The ranking for the cards is Red Joker (high), Black Joker, 2, Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, and 3 (low). 


After players receive their hands the action can begin. The action will determine who the landlord is. The player who drew the faceup card will be the first to make a bid. Players can pass or bid 1,2, or 3. When a player bids they must either pass or bid higher than the previous highest bid. 

If all players pass, cards are reshuffled. If a bid is made the auction ends once two consecutive players (or three players) have passed or a bid of 3 is made. Even if you have previously passed you can still choose to make a bid on your turn if it is reached again. The highest bidder becomes the landlord and takes the three or eight face-down card remaining of the deck. 


The basics of the game player are a player will play any legal combination of cards. The following players may either pass or play a higher ranked version of the same combination of cards. There are two exceptions to this rule but will be discussed below. Previously passing players can still choose to play combinations if their turn is revisited. 

Players move anticlockwise around the table either playing higher combinations or passing until 2 (or 3) consecutive players pass. The winner of the trick will lead the next. The won cards are turned facedown and moved away. 

There are 13 different types of combinations, some of which are played differently for different numbers of players. 


The first type of combination is a single card. They rank as described above in the ranking section. 

The second is a pair. It includes two cards of the same rank.

The third is a triplet. It requires thee cards of the same rank.

The fourth is a triplet with an extra card. it requires three cards of the same rank with the addition of any other card. These are ranked based on the triplet. This is not a legal play in a four-player game.

The fifth is a triplet with an extra pair. This requires a triplet and pair and is ranked off the triplet. 

The sixth is a sequence. Is requires 5 cards of consecutive rank and cannot contain 2s or jokers. 

The seventh is a sequence of pairs. This requires three or more pairs in consecutive order and cannot contain 2s or jokers. 

The eighth is a sequence of triplets. It requires two or more triplets in consecutive order and cannot contain 2s or jokers. 

The ninth is a sequence of triplets with and extra cards. This requires at least 2 triplets in consecutive order with an additional card attached to each. The added cards cannot be the same as any of the triplets or other added cards. Twos and jokers cannot make up triplets but can be added to the triplets as extra cards. Two jokers cannot be used even though they are technically different cards. This is not a legal combination in a 4-player game.

The tenth is a sequence of triplets with additional pairs. At least two triplets are needed, and each triplet must have a pair attached to it. Only the triplets need to be in consecutive order. The pairs cannot be the same rank as any other pair in the combination or any of the triplets.  Twos can be sued as pairs but not triplets and in 4 player games, the same colored jokers can be used as a pair. 

The eleventh is called a bomb. These are 4 cards of the same rank. A bomb can be played to any trick as a valid combination. It beats all other combinations except a rocket, described below. A higher ranked bomb however beats a lower-ranked one. In four-player games, a bomb can contain more than 4 cards and the more cards it has the higher it ranks disregarding the ranking system. So, a 5 bomb of 3s beats a 4 bomb of 7s. 

The twelfth is a rocket. A rocket is both jokers in a 3-player game and all 4 jokers in a 4-player game. it beats all other combinations and can be played to any trick. 

The thirteenth is called a quadplex set. There are two variations of it. Either a quad (four cards of the same rank) plus the addition of 2 other cards or a quad with the addition of two pairs. Single cards and pairs both must be of different ranks of both other single and pairs used. 2s and jokers are permitted but both jokers cannot be used in a single combination. Quadplexes are ranked by the quads and are still beaten by bombs. This is not a valid combination in a 4-player game. 


Once a player runs out of cards in hand the game ends. If the landlord emptied their hand first, they win the round and each other player pays them the bided amount from the action. (either 1, 2, or 3 payments). If any other player runs out of cards first their team has won, and the landlord pays each other player the number of payments bided in the auction. 

If bombs or rockets were played, they can affect scoring. In three-player games, each rocket or bomb doubled the number of payments to be made. In four-player games bombs of 6 or more cards and all rockets double the payments. Lower bombs don’t affect payments. 


The game ends whenever players wish it to. If looking for a winner, the player who has won the most money should be declared the winner. 

Amber Crook
Latest posts by Amber Crook (see all)