Dou dizhu

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Dou dizhu
Dou dizhu bombs.jpg
Two "bombs" in the game; four twos, and a pair of jokers
Alternative namesLandlord, fighting the landlord, dau dei zyu
Type Shedding-type card game
Cards54; 17 for each of the two "peasants" and 20 for the "landlord"
Playing timeAround 5 minutes
Random chanceEasy
Related games
Big two   President   Winner

Dou dizhu (simplified Chinese :斗地主; traditional Chinese :鬥地主; pinyin :dòu dìzhǔ; Jyutping :dau3 dei6 zyu2; lit. 'fighting the landlord') is a card game in the genre of shedding and gambling. It is one of the most popular card games played in China.


Dou dizhu is described as easy to learn but hard to master, requiring mathematical and strategic thinking as well as carefully planned execution. Suits are irrelevant in playing dou dizhu. Players can easily play the game with a set of dou dizhu playing cards, without the suits printed on the cards. Less popular variations of the game do exist in China, such as four-player and five-player dou dizhu played with two packs of cards.


People playing card games in the street in Nanjing, China People playing card games in the street.jpg
People playing card games in the street in Nanjing, China

The class struggle during the land reform in the 1950s after the Chinese Communist Party took over China encouraged peasants to take up arms against the landlords, hence the name dou dizhu. China's Generation Y, who are among the most enthusiastic player groups, has no personal experience of this specific overt class struggle (compare with the covert contemporary property bubble). Nowadays, the name of the game carries no negative connotation. The actual place of origin for the game is in Hubei Province.


Dou dizhu is played among three people with one pack of cards, including the two differentiated jokers. The game starts with players bidding for the "landlord" (地主) position. Those who lose the bid or do not bid enter the game as the "peasants" (农民) team competing against the landlord. The objective of the game is to be the first player to have no cards left. The landlord wins by removing all their cards first. The peasants win if one of them removes all their cards first.

Game play

A shuffled pack of 54 cards is dealt to three players. Each player is dealt 17 cards, with the last three leftover cards detained on the playing desk, face down.

All players first review and apprise their own cards without showing their cards to the other players. Then, players take turns to bid for the landlord position by telling the other players the risk stake they are willing to accept.

There are three kinds of risk stakes, 1, 2, and 3, with 1 being the lowest and 3 being the highest. Generally, the more confident a player is in the strength of one's cards, the higher the risk stakes one is willing to bid. In most of the online game rooms, the first bidder is chosen randomly by the system. In real life, players usually make up their own rules as to who gets to bid first. For example, some rules stipulate that the player who has the three of hearts is the first bidder. If the three of hearts is in the "kitty" cards, the player who has the four of hearts is the first bidder, and so on.

A player may accept the prior player's bid by passing their turn to bid or one may try to outbid the prior player as long as the prior player did not bet 3 as the risk stake. The highest bidder takes the landlord position; the remaining players enter the Farmer team competing against the landlord. The three leftover wild cards are then revealed to all players before being dealt to the landlord.

The landlord wins if he or she has no cards left. The peasant team wins if either of the peasants have no cards left.

Features of the game

The rules are not complicated; basic knowledge of poker hand rankings helps players get started. However, many of Dou Dizhu's rules are different from Poker and Big Two.

There is an element of luck involved, but what counts is not only luck but also skill of playing and strategy. Poor players with great hands may be defeated by skillful players with poor cards.


A few fundamental and exceptive rules are essential for understanding the game play of the game. Some rules are structured differently from the other popular card games. Players who have prior experience with other card games, such as poker, and Big Two, often prejudice the rules.

The Rocket and the Bomb

The Rocket and the Bomb are groups of cards that work differently in terms of game play.

Special CategoryDescriptionExampleSpecial Note
RocketColored Joker and black-and-white JokerColored Joker + black-and-white JokerIt can beat everything in the game.
Bomb4 cards of the same rank3-3-3-3 (the lowest ranking Bomb)
2-2-2-2 (the highest ranking Bomb)
It can beat any other category and individual card except Rocket or another Bomb with a higher or equal rank.

Category of hands

The game uses the concept of hands, similar to the hands in poker, except there are more variations and not necessarily consisted of only five cards.

The longest chain possible column is only applicable to a hand with twenty cards, which the landlord possesses after seizing the three leftover wild cards.
Primalwith (+) kicker ChainLowest rank
and/or shortest chain
Highest rank
and/or longest chain possible
SoloAny single card3Colored joker
SoloChain≥ Five consecutive individual cards3-4-5-6-73-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K-A
PairTwo matching cards of equal rank3-32-2
PairSisters≥ Three consecutive pairs3-3-4-4-5-55-5-6-6-7-7-8-8-9-9-10-10-J-J-Q-Q-K-K-A-A
TrioThree-of-a-kind: Three individual cards of the same rank3-3-32-2-2
AirplaneChain≥ Two consecutive trios3-3-3-4-4-49-9-9-10-10-10-J-J-J-Q-Q-Q-K-K-K-A-A-A
TrioSoloThree cards of the same rank with a solo as the kicker3-3-3 + 42-2-2 + colored joker
TrioSoloAirplane≥ Two consecutive trios with each carries a distinct individual card as the kicker3-3-3-4-4-4 + 5-610-10-10-J-J-J-Q-Q-Q-K-K-K-A-A-A + 7-8-9-2-colored joker
TrioPairFull house: Three cards of the same rank with a pair as the kicker.3-3-3 + 4-42-2-2 + A-A
TrioPairChain≥ Two consecutive trios with each carrying a pair as the kicker3-3-3-4-4-4 + 5-5-6-6J-J-J-Q-Q-Q-K-K-K-A-A-A + 8-8-9-9-10-10-2-2
BombFour-of-a-kind. Four cards of the same rank without the kicker is called a bomb, which defies category rules, even beats four with a kicker.3-3-3-32-2-2-2
FourDual soloFour-of-a-kind with two distinct individual cards as the kicker3-3-3-3 + 4 + 52-2-2-2 + A + colored joker
FourDual pairFour-of-a-kind with two sets of pair as the kicker3-3-3-3 + 4-4 + 5-52-2-2-2 + K-K + A-A

Chinese name literal translations

'Individual card'
– the jack; the Chinese name is based on the shape of "J"
– the queen, named for the shape of "Q"
The King
'Tip', 'spear' or 'pointy'
or , respectively – the ace, named for the shape of "A"
'King', 'ruler'
– the joker, named for its dominant position in the game
'One pair'
一对 – two cards of the same rank
顺子 or 单顺 – five or more consecutively numbered cards
'Pairs chain'
连对 or 双顺 – three or more consecutive pairs
'Trio with single card'
三带一 – trio, with an individual card as kicker
'Trio with pair'
三带二 or 三带一对 – trio, with a pair as kicker
飞机 or 三顺 – two or more consecutive trios
'Airplane with small wings'
飞机带小翼 – two or more consecutive trios, with additional cards with the same amount of trios as kicker
'Airplane with large wings'
飞机带大翼 – two or more consecutive trios, with pairs with the same amount of trios as kicker
'Four with two single cards'
四带二 – four-of-a-kind, with two individual cards as kicker
'Four with two pairs'
四带两对 – four-of-a-kind, with two pairs as kicker
'Space shuttle'
航天飞机 – two or more consecutive four-of-a-kind
'Space shuttle with small wings'
航天飞机带小翼 – two or more consecutive fours-of-a-kind, with additional cards including the same amount of fours-of-a-kind as kicker
'Space shuttle with large wings'
航天飞机带大翼 – two or more consecutive fours-of-a-kind, with pairs with the same amount of fours-of-a-kind as kicker[ clarification needed ]
炸弹 – four cards of the same rank
'Nuke', 'Rocket', 'King Bomb'
核弹, 火箭, 王炸, respectively – colored joker with black-and-white joker cards

Illegal play with the kicker

Beginners and players who are familiar with other card games with similar but different rules of hand formation and superiority often misinterpret some of the rules that involve the kicker, causing illegal play.

Illegal playExampleCorrection
Rank of the kicker = rank of the primal cardsTrio chain + solo is 3-3-3-4-4-4 + 3-KWhen one is using any kicker attached to primal cards, the kicker cards cannot be the same card rank of any primal cards used.
Dual solo = pairFour + dual solo: 3-3-3-3 + J-JDual solo must consist of two cards with different ranks, such as J-K. Otherwise, it is counted as pair which is different.
Dual pair = four of a kindFour-of-a-kind + dual pair: 3-3-3-3 + J-J-J-JDual pair must consist of two sets of pairs of different ranks, such as 3-3-7-7, not four-of-a-kind.
Rocket = kicker cardsFour + dual solo: 3-3-3-3 + colored joker + black-and-white joker.Only one of the jokers can be used as a kicker card in a single or dual solo kicker.

Scoring rules

The basic mechanism is a betting one; the winner (or winners) take(s) money (points, whatever) from the loser(s). Moreover, the game may be seen as a pair of bets, each one between one of the peasants and the landlord. If the landlord wins, (s)he collects money from each of the peasants, and if the landlord loses, (s)he pays money to each of the peasants.

The bidding (one, two, or three) determines the initial stake, and gameplay can trigger two different categories of multiplier:


Consider a round involving players A, B, and C. A passes, B bids 1, C passes, A bids 2, and B and C pass. A is now the landlord, for a base stake of 2 units. Gameplay proceeds, and turns out to include one bomb and a rocket, but all players get to play multiple times. In the end, player C goes out first. The initial stake of 2 is doubled twice (once for each rocket/bomb), so the landlord, A, pays 8 points to the peasants, B and C. Player A will have -16 points, and B and C will have 8 points.

Basic strategy



The four-player version of dou dizhu is played mainly in Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, including Shanghai. It uses a double deck, including two red and two black jokers – 108 cards altogether. Each player takes 25 cards and 8 cards are left over for the landlord, who plays alone from a hand of 33 cards against the other three players in partnership.

The combinations that can be played differ from those in the three-player game (listed above), as follows:

With wild cards

Another variation of dou dizhu is the edition with wild cards. Like the original settings, after the determination of the landlord, four-of-a-kind will be randomly selected as wild cards. Those can be used to stand for any other cards, except jokers.

Some games even feature two sets of wild cards. The first set would be drawn before the bid for the landlord, then another one would then be drawn out.


In 2005, 117,931 people participated in the dou dizhu online tournament held by GICQ, an online game development and operation company in China.

In 2006, another dou dizhu online tournament, held by, attracted 200,000 players.

In September 2007, YunNanHong held a traditional, offline competition of dou dizhu in Kunming, Yunnan province, where over a hundred players competed for the first prize.

Dou dizhu tournaments are held in Chinese cities every year, the winners not only receive high prize but also become popular experts in dou dizhu.


Dou dizhu was once just a provincial game in China, originating in the Huangshan District [2] and Anhui. [3] Thanks to the debut of dou dizhu online, the game has become more widespread and is now a national game in China. its popularity increased substantially, with players on one system doubling in two years, from around 50,000 players in December 2002 to 100,000 in 2004 [4] and 17,900,000 players being the loyal fans of the casual game while dou dizhu leading the core place in 2005. [5] [ clarification needed ] There are almost 1 million concurrent dou dizhu players on the Tencent QQ game platform alone. [6] It is more popular than other Chinese card games like Chinese poker, winner, and big two.

YearPopularity in ChinaSource
200250,000 playersGICQ(
2004100,000 playersGICQ(
200517,900,000 players being the loyal fans of the casual game while dou dizhu leading the core place.Chinese Online Game Research Report in 2005 made by iResearch
2006+1,000,000 online player play it concurrentlyTencent QQ game platform in China
2008roughly 1,450,000 online players per hour in Tencent QQ game platformTencent QQ game platform in China
2008roughly 76,000 online players per hour in GICQGICQ

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