How to play the card game Durak

How to play the card game Durak

We are returning to the games we used to play in casinos, which are losing popularity. To do this, we are moving to Eastern Europe.

So far we have seen few games developed there, also because betting on card games is less popular in those territories. However, everywhere else you like to prove that you are better than others, and in durak you want to do just that.

It’s a game of defence and attack played with a French pack of cards. It originated in the former Russian Empire and became very popular in the surrounding villages.

History of the Durak

This game appeared around the 19th century and originated in Russia. Many analysts attribute its appearance to a preposition to decide which player should drink the rest of the vodka left in the bottle. In many contexts it was used as a drink.

Society of this century was quite competitive and was always looking for a loser in card games. Hence the origin of the game – the word fool.

In the Russian lands it acquired all that is known about the game today, but later it spread to the rest of the states that seceded, giving rise to the disappearance of the USSR.

Georgia, Estonia or Ukraine were some of the places where it had a greater impact, although it was in Poland that the fool came with great force.

From the twentieth century it spread to casinos in the Soviet Union, as it was a very amusing and good form of pastime. Not only for civilians, but also for soldiers fighting at the front.

This game of attack and defense belongs to the same family of other very similar games such as bridge, mousse or French pinochle. It has also spawned new adapted versions in countries such as Finland.

The aim of the game

The aim of the game is to discard all the cards in as few moves as possible. In popular culture, it is more important not to lose than to win, as it is the latter that everyone laughs at and considers him or her a loser.

In casinos, it is important because the first one wins more chips than the second one.

Elements of play

  • French deck of 36 cards (no 2, 3, 4, 5 and jokers).
  • Gaming mat (optional).
  • Betting chips (optional).
  • Between 2 and 6 players (in pairs, trios or individually).

How to play the Durak

First of all, it should be noted that this game has various variations. The game usually involves between two and six players, the latter being the limit on the number of players betting.

It can be played in pairs of two or trios of three, but more often in gambling halls it is played individually. You can also use a French or Spanish deck, depending on where the game is played.

The most common game is played with the French deck, and it is this variant of the Durak’s rules that we are going to explain in this case.

Of all the cards there are some that need to be removed. Jokers are not used, nor are numbers from two to five. From sixes to aces all other cards are used, and the order of the cards is typical of most practices:

  • Ace
  • King
  • Queen
  • Jack
  • Ten
  • Nine
  • Eight
  • Seven
  • Six

It is more than well known, the game begins when the dealer shuffles the cards and hands each player six cards to begin with. Each player must report their cards if they are all red, all black or five cards of the same suit.

In this case the game cannot be played and the dealer proceeds to a new, more thorough shuffle, resulting in a new game. It’s a way of not giving up a win to someone or condemning the other to defeat almost automatically.

After the first hand is dealt, the first card from the remaining deck is placed face up. The position will be opposite the deck position and will be placed under the deck so that players can see the number and suit. The suit of this card will be a trump card and it has a curious feature.

The player who has the youngest trump card, in this case a six, can exchange it for the card that is revealed before the start of the turn. Even if the players draw and there are no other cards left on the table except this one, he can draw it and exchange it for his own.

The player who has the youngest trump card starts the game, regardless of whether or not he chooses to exchange it for a reversed card in the deck. He will attack first, and so the player to his left will have to defend.

This happens at all times during the game, even when the turn passes. The one playing is the attacker and the one on the left is the defender. There are exceptions, but we will look at them now.

The Durak’s attack consists of throwing a card face up. It can be any card the player prefers, as there are no restrictions. The player on the left is the one who has to defend, and he does so by throwing a card of the same suit as his opponent, but with a higher number or a trump suit card.

If the attacker’s card is already a trump card, only a card of the same suit but higher can be played. However, there are conditions for continuing the attack.

Take the example where the attacker throws a six of a non-trump suit and the defender responds with a nine of the same suit. The next attack can only be with another six or another nine.

If he does, he forces the defender to play the defence card again, otherwise it is the turn of the next player to the left of the defender. This will continue until the last player of the round has passed or the attack is over.

As far as the defence is concerned, we have already given some guidance on how to do this. Wait until the player on the right starts the attack, and then respond by placing a defending card on top of the attacking card in a straight line, so that the numbers of the two cards are visible.

Ways to defend are as follows: throw the top card of a non-trump suit; throw a trump card higher than your opponent’s, or throw any trump card that beats a card of a different suit.

The really interesting part of this process is whether the defence is successfully completed. The maximum number of attacks allowed is six, assuming all players have all six cards in hand.

If the defender has less, only as many attacks as the defender has cards (if the defender has five cards, only five consecutive attacks can be made). The defender fails when she decides that she can no longer or does not want to defend against her opponent’s attacks.

In this case, the penalty is to keep all cards on the table at that point. In this case the attack is considered successful.

A successful defence requires that the attacker surrenders, decides not to continue the attack and passes. In this case, all cards on the table are discarded and the table is cleared for a new move.

Another option is for the attacker to continue his attack, and for the defender to be able to defend against all his attacks. The end comes when the defender runs out of cards and is declared the winner of the game. The turn to defend passes to the next player on the left and the attacker stays the same.

Players finish their hands when they are clear of all the cards they have. However, they are required to play the cards until the deck comes to an end.

That is, if the defence is successful against the attack and both players have two cards left on the table, they must draw two cards to have six cards left in their hand again.

Only when there are no longer enough cards in the deck for everyone is it allowed to have less than six cards per player.

It also happens that when a defender successfully defends and everything on the table is discarded, he becomes the attacker and the next player to his left becomes the new defender.

This will always be done to ensure that all players can play both roles whenever possible. When all players have discarded their cards and only one player remains, this last player becomes the loser and is called the “Durak”. He will lose the entire amount of the original bet remaining on the table, and the winners will divide the trophies gradually according to their final position in the game.

It should be noted that in durac tournaments it’s the players themselves who indicate the change of turn and talk about the success of defences and attacks.

In casinos, it is always the dealer who gives the instructions. That’s why dealers need to be very well instructed in this game.

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