Durak Card Game (Rules and Instructions)

Don’t be a Durak and learn how to play this original game consisting of dynamic card attacks and heroic defense. My Durak rules guide explains it all in detail.

Durak is a Russian word for ‘fool’ and also the name of the most popular card game in the country. It’s widely played around the entire world now, though, including America.

Durak is very original and hard to compare to anything else. Still, it officially falls into the card-shedding games category, just like Big 2 or Mao (check Big 2 rules and Mao rules).

I am convinced, however, that none of Durak’s counterparts from this category are equally as dynamic, unpredictable, and chaotic in the best sense of the word. 

This Durak rules guide will cover the following:

  • What is Durak?
  • What you’ll need to play Durak
  • Durak rules
  • How to play Durak (video tutorial)
  • FAQs
  • Other similar games to Durak (our guides)

Learn how to play Durak from the step-by-step instructions below. 

What is Durak?

Durak Card Game Info Image

In Durak, everyone aims to get rid of their cards fast because the last one with cards in hands becomes Durak – which is certainly not a compliment. 

Number of Players: 4 players

Ages: 8+

Difficulty: Easy

Length of Play: 15 – 40 minutes

Category: Multiple-trick card-shedding game

Similar to: Big 2, Mao, Hund

Main Objective: Avoid being the last player with any cards left.

Why We Love It: Durak may seem a bit overcomplicated, but once you get to it, it’s a brilliantly action-packed and original game.

What You’ll Need to Play Durak

If you want to play Durak, you only need a classic 52-card deck. But, as I’ll explain later, you’re not going to use the entire deck for the game. 

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Durak Card Game Rules and Gameplay

Durak has many variations, so before I continue, let’s clarify that this guide considers only a classic four-player game version with players acting as individuals (not teams).

What you also need to know upfront is that this game is played with a 36-card deck, which you get when you sort out all the twos, threes, fours, and fives from a 52-card deck. 

The Aces are the highest-ranking cards in Durak, whereas the Sixes are the lowest. Of course, any card from a Trump suit ranks higher than each non-Trump card. 

Starting the Game

Appoint a dealer who gives each player six cards (one at a time). When he is done, he flips one more card, places it on the table, and covers it sideways with the stockpile.

This face-up card determines the Trump suit for the upcoming round. 

Players check their cards but keep them hidden from each other. The player with the lowest Trump card in hand starts the first round.

How to Play Durak

The Durak tricks consist of so-called attacks and defenses:

  • The first player places one of their cards in the center of the table as an attack.
  • Their closest opponent (clockwise) defends the trick with any higher-ranking card of the same suit or a Trump card. 
  • If the second player defends the trick successfully, the first player may perform another attack using a card of the same rank as one of the previously played cards.

This can go on until the first player stops initiating more attacks. Other opponents (in a clockwise direction) now have the chance to continue attacking the same defender. 

If the defender wins anyway, all the cards from the table are discarded on the side.

Then the gameplay skips to the third player, who pursues his attacks. Again, he can only use a card rank already played. The last player becomes a new defender.

  • But what if the first defender couldn’t defend against any more attacks?

Then they must take all the cards on the table adding them to their hand. 

Each string of attacks can only consist of as many attacks as the number of cards in the defender’s hand (usually six), regardless of how many attackers are involved.

Before a new attack begins, players with less than six cards must replenish their hands from the stockpile. Once it runs out (including the last Trump card), there’s no more drawing

This is when the actual race to get rid of all your cards begins.

Durak Scoring 

The cards in Durak do not possess any points value. All that matters is getting rid of them as fast as possible. The last player with cards in hand loses the game and becomes a Durak

How to Play Durak – Video Tutorial 

Durak Frequently Asked Questions

Must I continue the attacks for as long as I can in Durak?

No. A player can choose not to continue with a new attack, although they have the suitable cards to perform such an attack. 

Also, the defender can choose not to beat the attack, taking the card(s) from the center of the table instead, despite they had the right card to defend themselves.

Is Durak a game of skill?

Fortune determines the cards you will get to play with in this game, but your strategic skills, good focus, and fast reactions to the arising opportunities can make a difference, too.

Can you tie in Durak?

No. Continue playing the game until only one of the players has any cards in their hands. Even if a player ends up with a single card on their last turn, they become the loser. 

Other Similar Games to Durak (Our Guides) 

Check our guides to some popular Durak alternatives:

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Read all the articles (121) written by Lucia Fajnerova