OBJECTIVE OF DUCK SOUP: Be the first player to earn 250 points



RANK OF CARDS: Phase 1 (low) Ace – King (high), Phase 2 (low) 2 – Ace (high)

TYPE OF GAME: Trick taking



Duck Soup is a two player trick taking game designed by David Parlett.  This game can be broken down into two phases.  The first of which is played with a starting hand of 13 cards and a draw pile.  The second phase begins as soon as the draw pile runs out of cards.  This phase is played with the remaining 13 cards in each player’s hand.  The Ace switches from being the lowest card to the highest in the second phase.  Scoring occurs after each phase, and the points earned are multiplied for a final total round score.


 Duck Soup uses a 52 card deck.  Shuffle and deal 13 cards to each player.  The rest of the deck forms a draw pile.  Remember, in the first phase, Aces are low.  In the second phase, they become the highest ranking card.

Deal alternates each round.



The non-dealer leads the first trick.  They play any card from their hand.  The opposite player can play any card from their hand.  They do not need to follow suit.  During Phase 1, the lowest card in the suit that was led takes the trick (Aces are low).  

The trick-winner captures the trick and draws from the draw pile.  The opposite player then draws as well.  The trick-winner leads the next trick.


Play continues until the draw pile runs out of cards.  This ends Phase 1. 


Phase 2 begins once the draw pile is gone.  Each player will have their final 13 cards in hand.  The player that took the previous trick leads the first in Phase 2.  In this phase, the highest card in the suit that was led takes the trick, and Aces are now high.  Again, the following player does not have to follow suit.  The round ends once all the cards have been played.


If a player captures a trick that has two cards of the same suit, that trick is stored face down.  If the captured trick has two cards of different suits, that trick is stored face up.  These tricks have different values.


If a player matches a card that was led with the same rank, two things can occur.  The player that led may pass on the trick which allows the player who followed to collect it.  

If the player that leads the trick has the third card of the same rank, they may add it to the trick.  This returns play to the opposite player.  If that player has the fourth card of the same rank, they play it and capture all four cards.  They count as two tricks stored face up.  This is called a Duck Soup trick.

If the following player does not have the fourth card of the same rank, they play any card from their hand.  In this case, the trick-leader captures both tricks storing the first one face up.  The second trick is stored based on the suit combination.

If four cards are played to the trick, players draw back up to a hand of thirteen unless there are not enough cards in the draw pile to do so.  

If a matching card is played, the trick-leader does not have to begin the Duck Soup process.  They can simply pass on the trick whether they have another card of the same rank or not.

See David’s page for more rules that may or may not make the game more enjoyable based on your personality type.  If you want to quack like a duck as part of gameplay, click here.


Scoring occurs at the end of each phase.  Once the draw pile runs out, Phase 1 ends, and players should pause to tally up their current score.  Each face down trick is worth 1 point, and each face up trick is worth 2 points.  These tricks are then placed in a pile off to the side so there is no mixing of tricks from different phases.

Phase 2 tricks are calculated the same way.  After determining the phase two score, each player multiplies the two phase scores together.  The total is the player’s score for the round.

For example, if player one earned 5 points during Phase 1 and 7 points during Phase 2, their total score for the round is 35.


The first player to earn 250 points or more wins the game.

Mark Ball
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