Durak (дурак) is a Russian card game for two to six players aiming to get rid of all their cards. The game combines elements of trick-taking and shedding games. It is a fast-paced and exciting card game that requires strategy and quick thinking.
Overall, Durak is played and enjoyed around the world under different conditions, but the basic rules and gameplay remain the same. The game is especially popular in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union, such as Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. In recent years it has also gained popularity in Western Europe and North America.
The objective of the game is to avoid being the last player with cards in hand. Otherwise, you are Durak, which means fool.
You play with a standard deck of 36 french-suited cards, which you shuffle and then deal six cards to each player. If you are six players, deal five cards instead. Any remaining cards are placed face down in a draw pile. The draw pile’s top card is revealed, and its suit becomes trump for this round. Then, this card is placed at the bottom of the deck.
The cards rank Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten, …, Six from strongest to weakest in Durak. But a trump card can beat any card of any other suit. A higher trump card always beats a lower trump card.
Playing consists of attack and defense: The player with the lowest trump card in their hand starts the game by attacking the player to their left. They place one or more cards face up in the middle of the table, and the player being attacked must then defend themselves by playing a higher card of the same suit for each card in the attack.
The player to the defender’s left may add any hand cards of the same rank as the attacker’s card at this point. But the number of attacking cards must never exceed the number of the defender’s hand cards.
- If the defense is successful, the cards are discarded.
- If the defender cannot beat the attacker’s card(s), they must take the card(s) into their hand.
The attacker can continue the attack by playing another card.
- If the defender fails to defend any card in this attack, they must pick up all cards of the attack, including the ones they already defended.
If the attacker doesn’t want to or cannot play more cards, the next player in clockwise order can start a new attack. But before that, all players draw cards until they have six (or five) cards in hand again. If the draw pile is depleted, you continue playing without drawing.
The round ends when one player has successfully gotten rid of all of their cards. At this point, the player with the most cards remaining in their hand is declared the Durak. They collect all cards, shuffle, and deal for the next round.