Rules of Durak Card Game

Translated from French by Steve ThorsTen (2019)

It is Sunday and boredom is threatening to slowly turn the day into a drag. Your only way out seems to be a deck of cards, and yet – the games you know how to play are almost as unwelcoming as is boredom itself.

Thankfully, we have the chance to introduce you to the incredible game and rules of Durak. Originating in Russia, Durak remains one of the more popular – although not necessarily the most popular – games in in the country.

Surprisingly unknown in other countries, this is a game that combines quite a few elements, including a strategical and amusement aspect. Plus, the game doesn't take long and it can be played with a standard deck of playing cards, like those used in various types of poker.


Before you even start, have a go at a standard 54-card deck. Now, you have to remove all cards with pip value between 2 and 5, including the Joker cards. In the game of Durak, the order, regardless of the suit, is as follows: 6,7,8,9,10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace. A trump card beats any card regardless of its color and pip value.

The goal of the game is very simple – be the first player not to have any cards left in their hand. As soon as a player discards their last card, the opponent loses and becomes a Durak.

Set Up

Each player is dealt a hand of six cards in total. After the dealing is done, a single card is produced next to the deck with the face up. This card will serve for the purposes of assigning a trump card suit. So, if a Jack of Spades end up face up, then all Clubs cards are trumps, and become the strongest assets in the game.

The card is also part of the common deck and it's the last card in it. The game ends as explained before – when a player discards all cards in his possession. When the game starts, the player whose turn it is is also the player to launch the first attack.

Game Time

The game takes many turns and each turn is played out as an “attack.” Over the course of the entire game, you will see multiple attacks taking place. Here are the phases:

1st phase:

  • The attacking player must have a card in their hand

  • If a player wants to counter a card, they need to produce a stronger card. So, if a player puts a 6 of Hearts, in order to stop the player, a defender would need to place a higher-value card or use a trump card instead

  • When and if a defender manages to fend off an attack, a new phase of the game begins

2nd phase:

  • An attack may only continue – as in the 2nd phase – only in the instances when the attacking player is placing a card of the same value as a card that has already been played. So, if you had a 6 and a 9 played in the 1st phase, the 2nd phase must either open with a 6 or a 9.

A turn ends in one of two ways:

  • If a defender cannot prevent an attacker from defeating him in the round, the defender will collect all cards that were just played in the turn and add them to his or her hand

  • Should the defender beat the attack, then the cards will go to the discard pile and the “end of turn” will take place.

End of game

The game continues with players continuing to play and adding a card each turn they attack. When an attacker completes a turn – they need to draw one card from the pile so that they have six cards again. If a player is already holding six cards, then they shouldn't draw any additional cards. There are additional conditions, such as:

  • If an attacker succeeds in his attack, they remain the attacker on the next turn

  • If a defender stops all attacks, that player becomes the attacker next turn


When there is only a single-value card used in a turn, the defendant can launch a counter-attack. To do so, the defender must place a same-value card against the attacker, and it is in this act that the defender now becomes the attacking party. The original attacker is now in a position of defending themselves. You can continue counter-attacking so long as you have same value cards.

Let's give an example. A player opens an attack with an 8 of Spades, but is countered by an 8 of Diamonds. Then, the player responds by adding an 8 of Clubs, and now the last player is missing the last available suit, that is an 8 of Hearts, which means he's left defending against three cards!

Specifics for the Beginning of Each Round

At the beginning of each turn, an attacker may play with multiple cards at the same time, provided that they are of the same value, i.e. three jacks, for example. At this point, the defender will need to respond and defend themselves against all three cards. As to the rest of the turn, the game continues as normal.

Another interesting condition is that even if you play with a single card, let's say a 7 of Hearts, should your attack succeed, you can give the opponent any other same-value cards you are holding. That is, if you have other 7's in your hand, you can hand them over to the player should your attack succeeds.

Who Goes First?

At the beginning of the game, all players announce the lowest-value trump card they currently hold. The player with the weakest trump card will have the first turn. If no player has a trump card, they announce the weakest value-card they have, and the player with the weakest goes first.


  • In the first phase of each turn, a player is obligated to attack. However,they don't have to follow up – i.e. pose additional cards if they don't want to.

  • A defender is never forced to defend him or her. Instead, they can simply accept the cards that are being given.

  • At the end of each turn, all players must draw a card so long as they don't end up exceeding the six-card hand limit.

Adapted from the original source

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