Big Two

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What is this?

Big Two is a card game from China originally called Choi Dai Di, or simply Dai Di. It's fun and easy to learn especially if you know poker hands. In Big Two, both suit and rank matter, unlike Chinese Poker, which is even easier to learn. Each player tries to discard all the cards in their hand. When someone discards their last card, the others are penalized points for the cards left in their hands.

Rules

Big Two is played with a standard deck of 52 playing cards. 2 is is the highest rank so the ranking goes: 2 A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3. The suit order, starting from highest, is . When played in straights, the two is played below a three.

Scoring varies from place to place. We usually have each player with cards remaining after a game count the number of cards they have against them.

Cutting for the First Deal

Each player selects a single card from the deck. Aces are high during the cut. The owner of the high card gets the deal. The play the rotates clockwise around the table.

Dealing

Each player is dealt 13 cards.

Playing

The player with the 3 starts the game. If the 3 isn't held by any players, then the next lowest card determines the first player.

First Play: The first player must discard their lowest card individually or as part of a valid “hand”. To make the discard, place the selected cards face up on the table to show the other players. They will have to beat this hand or pass. Valid hands are described below.

Subsequent Plays: Each subsequent player may discard a better hand of the same number of cards as the one shown on the table (if they have such a hand) or pass. For example, if the current play on the table is a pair of eights, 8 8, the only play that may be discarded to beat that hand is another pair of a higher value. Since is the highest ranking suit, then the pair 8 8 could beat 8 8. All pairs of rank 9 and higher could also beat the pair of eights.

Five-card poker hands: Straights, Flushes, Full Houses, Four of a Kind (with a fifth card), and Straight Flushes can be played, and can be beaten by a higher hand of the same type or by a higher type of five-card hand. For example, a Flush beats a Straight, as does a Full House. The order is: Straight Flush > Four of a Kind > Full House > Flush > Straight .

If everyone passes, then the player who made the last play may start a new trick by discarding a new playable hand of any type. Once a player discards his last card, he has won the trick and each player has to tally his own score. The winner of the trick gets to start the next trick with any valid hand to discard he chooses.

Valid Hands to Discard

  • Single Card: A single card may be discarded as a hand. 3 is the lowest and 2 is the highest.
  • Pair: A single pair may be discarded as a hand.
  • Three of a Kind: A single three of a kind may be discarded as a hand.
  • Straight: Straights must be 5 cards long. The 2 is played below a 3 in straights. A straight led by an 8 beats an straight led by an 8, as does any straight led by a higher rank than 8.

    House rules vary as to whether 23456 is a high straight or a low one. The game is called Big Two, after all. Agree to your house rules before you start.

  • Flush: Flushes must be 5 cards long. Rank is determined by Face value of the highest card. Suit ( ) is used to break ties.

    A common alternative house rule is: A flush in a higher suit beats a flush in a lower suit regardless of the ranks of the cards. Otherwise the rank of the highest card determines which flush beats another of the same suit.

  • Full House: A pair accompanied by a three of a kind. The value of the full house is determined by the three of a kind. (99944 beats 777KK because 9s are higher than 7s.)
  • Four of a Kind: Four of a kinds must be played with a fifth card. The value of the fifth card does not matter. (E.g., 6JJJJ beats 84444 because Js are higher than 4s.)
  • Straight Flush: The value of the straight flush is determined by its highest card.

Scoring

While scoring varies from place to place, here's one way: Each time somebody has won a round, the other players have to count the number of their remaining cards, and add points to their current score according to the following rules:

  • All cards caught in the hand: 50 points.
  • All cards but one caught in the hand: 40 points.
  • All cards but two caught in the hand: 30 points.
  • Otherwise: Add 1 point for each card caught in the hand.

History

The game was taught to us by Derek and Pei Fluker in Silicon Valley in the 1990s.

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