Dou Dizhu

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Dou Dizhu
People playing card games in the street.jpg
Origin Chinese
Alternative name(s) Fight the Landlord or Landlord
Type Gambling
Players 3
Cards 54; 17 for each of the two Farmers and 20 for the Landlord
Deck Anglo-American
Play Counterclockwise
Playing time Around 5 minutes per game
Random chance Easy
Related games

Dou Dizhu, (simplified Chinese: 斗地主; traditional Chinese: 鬥地主; pinyin: Dòu Dì Zhǔ; Jyutping: dau3 dei6 zyu2; literally: "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.


The class struggle during the Cultural Revolution in China reportedly authorized the peasants to violate the human rights of the landlords who were among the Five Black Categories and Stinking Old Ninth, hence the name Dou Dizhu. China's Generation Y, who are among one of the most enthusiastic player groups, has no personal experience of the class struggle. 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 jokers. The game starts with players bidding for the Landlord (地主) position. Those who lose the bid enter the game as the Farmers (農民) team competing against the Landlord. The objective of the game is to be the first player to have no cards left.

Game play[edit]

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

All players first review and appraise 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 reality, players usually make up their own rules as to who gets to bid first.

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 Farmer team wins if either of the Farmers have no cards left.

Features of the game[edit]

The rules are not complicated; basic knowledge of poker hand rankings helps players get started. However, many of Dou Di Zhu'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.

  • Individual cards are ranked. Colored Joker > Black & White Joker > 2 > Ace (A) > King (K) > Queen (Q) > Jack (J) > 10 > 9 > 8 > 7 > 6 > 5 > 4 > 3.
  • Suits are irrelevant. Players can play the game with all the suits erased from the cards.

The Rocket and the Bomb[edit]

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

Special Category Description Example Special Note
Rocket Colored Joker and black-and-white Joker Colored Joker + black-and-white Joker It can beat everything in the game.
Bomb 4 cards of the same rank 3-3-3-3 (the lowest ranking Bomb)
2-2-2-2 (the highest ranking Bomb)
It can beat any other category and individual card except Nuke or another Bomb with a higher or equal rank.

Category of hands[edit]

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.

  • Compare only the same Category. A player can only beat the prior hand using of the same Category but not the others.
  • Compare only the Chains with the same length. Beat the prior hand using the same number of cards is a basic doctrine which only the Nuke and the Bomb may violate. For example, although both 9-10-J-Q-K and 3-4-5-6-7-8-9 are Single Chains, 9-10-J-Q-K cannot beat 3-4-5-6-7-8-9, nor vice versa.
  • Compare the rank in the Primal cards only. The Kicker's rank is irrelevant to the comparison.
  • Jokers and 2 are inconsecutive cards. Colored Joker, black-and-white Joker, and 2 cannot be used in any of the Primal cards of the Chains since they are not traditionally considered as the consecutive cards sequentially next to the Ace. Examples of illegal Chain: 2-3-4-5-6, 2-2-2-3-3-3 w/ A-A-7-7, K-A-2 + B&W Joker + Colored Joker
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.
Category Description Example
Primal with (w/) Kicker Chain Lowest rank
and/or Shortest Chain
Highest rank
and/or Longest Chain possible
Solo Х Any single card 3 Colored Joker
Solo Х Chain ≥ 5 consecutive individual cards 3-4-5-6-7 3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K-A
Pair Х Two matching cards of equal rank 3-3 2-2
Pair Х Sisters ≥ 3 consecutive Pairs 3-3-4-4-5-5 5-5-6-6-7-7-8-8-9-9-10-10-J-J-Q-Q-K-K-A-A
Trio Three of a Kind: Three individual cards of the same rank 3-3-3 2-2-2
Airplane Chain ≥ 2 consecutive Trios 3-3-3-4-4-4 9-9-9-10-10-10-J-J-J-Q-Q-Q-K-K-K-A-A-A
Trio Solo Three cards of the same rank with a Solo as the kicker 3-3-3 w/ A 2-2-2 w/ 4
Trio Solo Airplane ≥ 2 consecutive Trios with each carries a distinct individual card as the kicker 3-3-3-4-4-4 w/ 2 + Colored Joker 10-10-10-J-J-J-Q-Q-Q-K-K-K-A-A-A w/ 3-4-5-6-9
Trio Pair (Full House) Three cards of the same rank with a Pair as the kicker. 3-3-3 w/ 5-5 2-2-2 w/ 8-8
Trio Pair Chain ≥ 2 consecutive Trios with each carries a pair as the kicker 3-3-3-4-4-4 w/ 2-2-7-7 J-J-J-Q-Q-Q-K-K-K-A-A-A w/ 2-2-5-5-6-6-8-8
Bomb Four must carry a Kicker. Four cards of the same rank without the Kicker is called Bomb, which defies category rules, even beats Four /w a Kicker. 3-3-3-3 2-2-2-2
Four Dual Solo Х Four cards of the same rank with two distinct individual cards as the kicker 3-3-3-3 w/ 2-A 2-2-2-2 w/ 5 + B&W Joker
Four Dual Pair Х Four cards of the same rank with two sets of pair as the kicker 3-3-3-3 w/ 4-4-Q-Q 2-2-2-2 w/ 10-10-K-K

Chinese Name Literal Translation[edit]

Individual Cards(单牌)

Hook(钩) The Jack, Chinese call it based on the shape of J

Circle(圈) The Queen, Chinese call it based on the shape of Q

K The King

President(王) Joker cards

One Pair(一对)

Straight(顺子) ≥ 5 Consecutive individual cards

Consecutive Pairs(连对) ≥ 3 Consecutive Pairs

Trio with single card(三带一) One Trio with individual card as kicker

Trio with double card(三带二 or 三带一对) One Trio with pair card as kicker

Aeroplane(飞机) ≥ 2 Consecutive Trios

Aeroplane with Small Wings(飞机带小翼) ≥ 2 Consecutive Trios with individual card as kicker

Aeroplane with Large Wings(飞机带大翼) ≥ 2 Consecutive Trios with pair card as kicker

Space Shuttle(航天飞机) ≥ 2 Consecutive Fours

Space Shuttle with Small Wings(航天飞机带小翼) ≥ 2 Consecutive Fours with individual card as kicker

Space Shuttle with Large Wings(航天飞机带大翼) ≥ 2 Consecutive Fours with pair card as kicker

Bomb(炸弹) Four cards of the same rank

Nuke/Rocket/President Bomb(核弹 or 火箭 or 王炸) Coloured Joker and Black & White Joker cards

Illegal Play with the Kicker[edit]

Beginners and players who are familiar with some other card games with similar but different hand's rules often misinterpret some of the rules that involve the Kicker causing illegal play.

Illegal Play Example Correction
Rank of the Kicker = Rank of the Primal cards Trio Chain /w Solo is 3-3-3-4-4-4 /w 3-K When using any Kicker attached to Primal Cards, the Kicker card cannot be the same card rank of any Primal Cards used.
Dual Solo = Pair Four /w Dual Solo: 3-3-3-3 /w J-J Dual Solo must consist of two cards with different ranks, such as J-K. Otherwise, it is counted as pair which is different.
Dual Pair = 4 Cards of the Same Rank Four /w Dual Pair: 3-3-3-3 /w J-J-J-J Dual Pair must consist of two sets of pairs of different ranks, such as 3-3-7-7.
Rocket = Kicker cards Four /w Dual Solo: 3-3-3-3 /w 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[edit]

There are 4 elements that will affect the score in a round: Bid of the risk stake, the position of the player (Landlord/Farmer), Nuke and Bomb, No deals played.

  • Bid of the risk stake. There are three kinds of risk stakes, 1, 2, and 3, from low to top. It is the basic score of the game in a round.
  • The position of the player (Landlord/Farmer). The Landlord shoulders the risk of loss while the 2 Farmers share it. The Landlord wins double score while 2 Farmers share the same number of points.
  • Rocket and Bomb. Each Rocket and Bomb dealt by each player doubles the score in a round.
  • No deals played. If the player doesn’t deal any card in a round, the final score will be double.

Since there are so many elements affecting score of the game in a round, it is hard to predict how big one will win or lose.

Basic strategy[edit]

  • Players can deal with unrelated or useless cards by making them the Kicker Card.[1]
  • Rocket and Bomb are the ultimate weapons in the game. If they are in one's hand, one should make full use of it when time comes. Be warned, if players do not possess high confidence in winning, they should think twice about dealing a Nuke/Bomb or not, because once the Nuke/Bomb is dealt, the risk stake of the round will be doubled for each Nuke/Bomb dealt. Players will either win or lose double for each Nuke/Bomb dealt.
  • Farmers should co-operate together to fight against the Landlord. For example, since the two Farmers come after one another, the first Farmer might play a low single card if the second Farmer has a sole card left.
  • Bid high for Landlord with the best hand. If a player has the best hand, bidding high for the position of Landlord enables him to win a bigger pot.


Four-handed Dou Di Zhu[edit]

The four-player version of Dou Di Zhu 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:

  • Single card attachments are not permitted.
  • Nor are there "four of a kicker" categories.
  • Bomb: 4 or 5 of a kind
  • Rocket: 6 of a kind
  • Missile: 7 of a kind
  • Sky Explosion: 8 of a kind
  • Nuke: 4 Jokers ( The greatest card ever in 4 handed dou di zhu, can beat anything)


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

In 2006 another Dou Di Zhu online tournament held by, attracted 200,000 players to compete with each other.

In September 2007 YunNanHong held a traditional competition of Dou Di Zhu in Kunming, China, where over a hundred people competed for the first prize (source:

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


Dou Di Zhu was once just a provincial game in China, originating in the Huangshan District[2] and Anhui.[3] Thanks to the debut of Dou Di Zhu online, Dou Di Zhu has become more widespread and is now a national game in China. The popularity of Doh Di Zhu has increased substantially, from 50,000 in December 2002 to 100,000 in 2004[4] and 17,900,000 players being the loyal fans of the casual game while Dou Di Zhu leading the core place in 2005.[5] There are almost 1 million concurrent Dou Di Zhu players on the Tencent QQ game platform alone.[6] It is more popular than other Chinese poker games like Chinese poker and Big Two.

Year Popularity in China Source
2002 50,000 players GICQ(
2004 100,000 players GICQ(
2005 17,900,000 players being the loyal fans of the casual game while Dou Di Zhu leading the core place. Chinese Online Game Research Report in 2005 made by iResearch
2006 +1,000,000 online player play it concurrently Tencent QQ game platform in China
2008 roughly 1,450,000 online players per hour in Tencent QQ game platform Tencent QQ game platform in China
2008 roughly 76,000 online players per hour in GICQ GICQ

See also[edit]


  1. ^ AceNuke. "Tutorial of AceNuke". Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  2. ^ 刘, 祥夫 (2003). 斗地主, 新型智力扑克牌游戏. 安徽人民出版社. p. 1. ISBN 7-212-02183-0. 
  3. ^ 励, 锦明 (2003). 魔法精灵"斗地主". 上海科学普及出版社. p. 1. ISBN 7-5427-2303-0. 
  4. ^ 晶合时代. "联众"斗地主"同场竞技人数突破10万大关". Retrieved 2004-02-14. [dead link]
  5. ^ iResearch. "1790万人疯狂,征途斗地主真相调查". Retrieved 2006-05-18. [dead link]
  6. ^ 北京商报. "QQ新联网斗地主玩家近万". Archived from the original on 2006-11-07. Retrieved 2006-10-25. 

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