How to Play Farmers and Landlords

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Farmers and Landlords (??? or Dòu Dìzh?, literally translated as “Fight the Landlord,”) is an exciting team-based card game for 3 or 6 players. The game originated in China.

  • Materials required: Three decks of playing cards including jokers (backs of cards must look the same) for 6 player game; or one standard deck of playing cards including jokers for 3 player game; A table or playing surface.

How Do You Play Farmers and Landlords (???) a.k.a. “Dou dizhu”?

This card game is similar to the card game “Big 2,” but with teams. The following instructions below are for the six player version.

The  game requires 3 decks with the same backs.

There are two teams: 2 Landlords vs. 4 Farmers. Individual cards are ranked from low to high: 3 (lowest value), 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A, 2, small joker (or black joker card), then big joker (or colored joker depending on the deck). Suits do not matter in terms of ranking.

Turns are played counter-clockwise, starting with the publicly known Landlord #1.

The objective of the game is to eliminate all of your cards. The Landlords team wins if only one landlord eliminates all their cards. On the other hand, the Farmers team wins if two farmers eliminate all their cards.

The goal on a turn is to “win” the round by playing the best legal hand. If you win the round, you get to start the next round, which is strategic in helping you eliminate all your cards faster.

The different hands you can play are:

  1. Single card (3, 4, 5…J, Q, K, A, 2, Joker1, Joker2).
  2. Pairs (33, 44, 55…KK, AA, 22, Joker1Joker1, Joker2Joker2)
  3. Triple = 3 of a kind (444, KKK, 222, etc.)
  4. A hand of at least 5-cards:
  5. A straight as in Poker (7+8+9+10+J+Q, etc.). The straight cannot wrap around (i.e., A, 2, Joker1, Joker2, 3, 4 is not allowed)
  6. consecutive doubles (33, 44, 55, etc.
  7. consecutive triples (333, 444, 555, etc.)
  8. full houses, meaning three of a kind plus a pair (33355, 444AA, JJJ77, etc.)
  9. “Flushes” are not allowed
  10. “Airplane Bombs” (or “Fei Ji Da Pao”) are consecutive full houses (888/999 over KK/AA, etc.)
  11. Finally, the most powerful are “Bombs” – 4 or more cards of a kind (3333, 4444, 777777, KKKKK, etc. Bombs are special in that you can play them anytime regardless of what has already been played on a turn.

Step-by-Step Directions:

1. Preparing the decks: Flip one card over and randomly place in the stack before dealing all the cards. This is to figure out the first known landlord (“Landlord #1”) and deal an extra pile with 6 cards. Every player should be dealt 26 cards, except Landlord #1 has 32.

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2. Secretly identify the hidden partner for team Landlords: The publicly known landlord (Landlord #1) will identify his/her highest identical pair (e.g., two Jacks of Hearts). Whoever has the 3rd one is his/her secret partner. The secret partner does not reveal his or her identity, but tries to help out Landlord #1 throughout the game.  Remember, we are playing with 3 decks. This process of identifying the one secret partner is the only time that suits matter.

3. Begin the game: Landlord 1 then starts the game by playing any hand. It is best to get rid of your low cards and/or singles in the beginning. Then everyone plays the same kind of hand and tries to win the round. Players may choose to “pass” and not play cards when it is their turn. Once a hand is played and everyone else passes, the round ends and the player of the high hand starts the next round. This continues until one team wins.

4. Winning the game: The Landlords win when 1 of them gets rid of all his/her cards. Alternatively, the Farmers win when 2 farmers get rid of all their cards.

There is much strategy involving the secret landlord trying to help the publicly known landlord, and farmers helping each other.

The three player version of the game is similar except there are only 2 farmers and 1 landlord, and only one deck of playing cards.  Thanks Sandy Y. for contributing this game!