What is Big Two / 鋤大D / 锄大D / 大老二 / 大老2 ?
- Big Two is a card game played with 4 people and it’s every-man-for-himself.
- The Cantonese name is 鋤大D choh4 daai6 di5 (Sounds like the English words: chore die dee).
- The Mandarin names are 锄大D chú dà dī (Rhymes with the English words: flu far fee), and 大老二 dà lǎo èr (Rhymes with the English words: car cow car).
- The English name is Big Two.
- The 4 players sit around a table.
- A standard deck of 52 cards is used. Joker cards are not needed.
- On the very first game, a dealer is chosen randomly or by consensus. In all subsequent games, the winner of the previous game becomes the new dealer.
- The cards are dealt face-down, one at a time, in an anticlockwise direction, so that each player ends up with 13 cards. The dealer normally deals the first card to him/herself.
- The players then pick-up their cards, keeping them hidden from all other players, and sort them in whichever order they prefer.
- On the first round of the first game, the player with the 3♦ leads and that card must be part of the first lead. In all subsequent games the winner of the previous game deals and leads first.
- The lead is placed in the center of the table with all cards face-up so that every player can see them.
- Each lead is either:
Whether you lead 1, 2, 3, or 5 cards is up to you – It’s part of the skill of the game!
- a Singleton (i.e. 1 card, e.g. 5♣.),
- a Pair (i.e. 2 cards of the same face value, e.g. J♠ J♦.),
- a Triple (i.e. 3 cards of the same face value, e.g. 8♥ 8♠ 8♦.),
- or 5 cards being either:
- a Straight (蛇 se4) – Cards are consecutive but suits are different, e.g. 8♠ 7♥ 6♣ 5♠ 4♦,
- a Flush (花 fa1) – All cards from the same suit but non-sequential, e.g. K♠ J♠ 9♠ 8♠ 5♠,
- a Full House (俘虜 foo1 lo5) – Three cards of identical face value with two other cards of identical face value, e.g. 7♠ 7♥ 7♣ Q♦ Q♠,
- a Four of a Kind (四條 sei3 tiu4) – Four cards of the same face value with any other card, e.g. 5♠ 5♥ 5♣ 5♦ 9♠,
- or a Straight Flush (同花順 tung4 fa1 sun6) – All cards from the same suit and sequential, e.g. J♠ 10♠ 9♠ 8♠ 7♠.
- Play proceeds anticlockwise.
- To follow, a player must throw the same number of cards as what was lead, but their value must be higher. (The cards are normally just thrown face-up on top of the previous player’s cards.)
- To determine which cards are higher than which, use these rules:
- For 5-card leads, first compare types (i.e. Straight Flush > Four-of-a-Kind > Full House > Flush > Straight). If the types are the same, or it’s a 3-card, 2-card, or 1-card lead then ...
- Compare face value, down the line (i.e. first compare the face value of each players’ highest card in the most difficult part of the hand to acquire, then if equal, compare the face value of each players’ 2nd highest card in the most difficult part of the hand to acquire, then if equal, compare the 3rd highest, etc.),
If all face values are the same (which can only ever happen when comparing two Singletons, two Pairs, two Straights, two Flushes, or two Straight Flushes) then ...
- Face value order is 2 A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 descending, but ...
- in a Straight, 2 is treated as being low for the purpose of making the Straight but it is always the highest ranked card when comparing two Straights, whereas A can be high or low (both not both at the same time) for the purpose of making the Straight but it is always the 2nd highest ranked card when comparing two Straights, i.e. A 2 3 4 5, 2 3 4 5 6, and A K Q J 10 are legal Straights, but 2 A K Q J is not. So, when comparing Straights, A 2 3 4 5 > 2 3 4 5 6 > A K Q J 10 > ... > 7 6 5 4 3,
- in a Full House, you compare the cards within the triple, e.g. 5 5 5 3 3 > 4 4 4 A A,
- in a Four of a Kind, you compare the cards within the quadruple, e.g. 2 2 2 2 5 > A A A A K.
- Compare suits, down the line (i.e. first compare the suit of each players’ highest card, then if equal, compare the suit of each players’ 2nd highest card, then if equal, compare the 3rd highest, etc.),
- Suit order is ♠ ♥ ♣ ♦ descending. (e.g. the Pair 6♠ 6♦ > the Pair 6♥ 6♣).
- If a player can’t or doesn’t want to follow then they can say “Pass” or knock on the table. A player who passes can follow on the next turn if they want.
- When 3 players pass consecutively, the 4th player (being the one who followed last) wins the round. The winner of the round then throws the next lead.
- The aim of the game is to get rid of all your cards first. The non-winning players are then penalised based on the number of cards they still hold. Another benefit of winning a game is that you get to lead first in the next game.
- When a player has only one card left in their hand, they must immediately announce it, otherwise they are prohibited from winning during that round.
- When the player to your right has only one card, and either you want to lead a singleton or someone already has, you must play your highest card. i.e. You’re not allowed to deliberately cause someone with one card to win by playing a low card to them. Failure to do this, be it accidental or deliberate, causes you incur everyone else’s penalties when the player with one card wins.
- Scoring is one point per card held when the first person gets rid of all their cards, but with 10, 11, and 12 cards the points are doubled, and with 13 cards the points are tripled. Causing someone to get a double or triple is called frying them.
- At a time agreed by the players the game ends and the person with the least number of points is the winner.
- When playing for money, each player with a worse score than you must pay you the difference between your two scores, and you must pay each player with a better score than you the difference between your two scores.
Example: Scores are A=81, B=40, C=107, D=63, so A must pay B 81-40=41 units, and D 81-63=18 units. B doesn’t pay anyone since his/her score is the lowest. C must pay A 107-81=26 units, B 107-40=67 units, and D 107-63=44 units. D must pay B 63-40=23 units.
The final result for A is -41-18+26= -33.
The final result for B is +41+67+23 = +131.
The final result for C is -26-67-44 = -137.
The final result for D is +18+44-23= +39.
- This seems quite complicated when you try to work it out but it actually simplifies to Σsi - 4si where si is the score for player i, in other words: add up all the scores to get Σsi, multiply each score by 4 to get the four 4si’s, then find the differences and multiply by the dollars-per-point. Note that subtracting a constant from all 4 scores doesn’t affect the calculation, so to further simplify, you can subtract the best player’s score from all scores to make the best player’s score zero.
Applying the fast calculation method to the example above gives Σsi = 81 + 40 + 107 + 63 = 291 and 4si = (324, 160, 428, 252) so Σsi - 4si = (-33, 131, -137, 39).
Luck and Skill
- Luck determines:
- which cards you and your opponents are dealt,
- and thus also who leads first in the very first game.
- Skill comes into the game when:
- you decide what card combination to lead (each time you have the lead),
- you decide whether to follow or pass (each time it’s your turn to follow),
- you decide what card combination you’ll follow with (if you do choose to follow),
- you try to work out what cards your opponents have by watching what cards they throw out, in what combinations, and in what order,
- you decide whether you are likely or unlikely to win the current game with the cards you’ve been dealt, and you adjust your game play accordingly.
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