What are popular card games in China?

China is considered the country of origin of playing cards because the first record of cards comes from the 9th century from the territory of China. In the territory of Western civilization, they are mentioned in the middle of the 14th century and have been spreading around the world ever since.

Playing cards in paper form, in various variations of symbols and the size of decks, occupy the mind and imagination of both the ordinary world eager for entertainment, but also various mystics.

It is not known exactly when and where the playing cards originated, so many mystics attribute to them a magical and extraterrestrial origin, and even a demonic one.

China, however, is a country that is officially considered the cradle of card games. And indeed, today many card games are played most often in China, from where they are then transferred to the rest of the world. They are very popular and can be played online. 

These are some of the most popular:

Dou Dizhu

In free translation from Chinese, the name of this game means fighting the landlord and has to do with the Chinese Communist Party and the 5o class workers’ struggle. In the 20th century, the younger generations do not view the game as epic and grandiose, but simply as an interesting game.

The game follows a pattern of three players and two jokers. Players bid for the position of the landlord. The losers in the auction are the “villagers” who are fighting the “landlords”. The object of the game is to leave the player without cards and he is the winner.

The game is played with 54 cards, each player receives 17 cards when dealt, while the remaining three are on the table in the middle. Then the bidding begins. Depending on the strength of the cards you received during the deal, you can place three types of bets, where the strongest is the third. It is somewhat similar to poker, but with specific strategic modifications.

Dao La Er

This card game is extremely popular throughout Asia, very competitive, and gambling. a special specificity is that card number 2 is the strongest, so when translated from Chinese to English this game is called Big two. It is played by hand in combinations of Pairs, Triple, Flushes, or Straight. They usually play two to four players with one deck, where each player gets 13 cards. Opponents can also be grouped in the mentioned formations, and the winner is the one who has clean hands first, i.e. the one who plays all the cards first.

Gong Zhu

Another classic Chinese game. The western version is the one in China. These games are Hearts. It is played with three or four players and as you can guess – it is very popular. 

Unlike the western version, value points are added to the cards which are divided into categories of positive and negative points. The goal is to collect only positive points. The literal translation means to chase a pig.

The goal is not to be the first player to score 1000 points. Whoever “succeeds” is an automatic loser.


Sheng Ji is an old Chinese card game, which is characteristic of Chinese emigrants. There are no go variations that vary from region to region. The game is based on the so-called dynamic trump card, i.e. on the cards that are the trump cards of each round separately. The game can be played with one or more decks.

The most common variation is bashi fen (eng. eighty points) and it’s played with two decks and two jokers. The game can be played by 4 players in a formation of partnerships, where the players sit opposite each other. Teams are divided into attackers and defenders, and which player, ie. which partnership belongs to which type, depends on that game and can change. 

The goal of the game is to bring the team into a position above the ace while preventing the opposing team from doing the same. When the team succeeds, it mostly wins. This game can be played for hours.

Four color cards

Four color cards are the game which belongs to the rummy family of card games and is also a traditional Chinese game, although variations are popular in Vietnam as well. And this game also has an interesting social history. 

It was created at the end of the 19th century, that is, the game was known before, but the deck for exclusively this version was created in the 19th century. It is characterized by the lower and very poor strata of the population and since gambling was banned in China at the time, it was important to find a wise way to pass the decks. That is why many variations of this game are known.

The usual deck has 112 cards, divided into 4 colors of 28 cards each. They show seven Chinese chess pieces. This game is very similar to Mahjong, where the main difference is that tiles are used in Mahjong. Neal Taparia, the owner and creative manager of Mahjong Challenge was inspired by this game while he was creating his platform.

The usual deck has 112 cards, divided into 4 colors of 28 cards each. They show seven Chinese chess pieces. This game is very similar to Mahjong, where the main difference is that tiles are used in Mahjong. And the goal of the game is also similar to Mahjong, ie to achieve the winning hand of 21 cards. The winning hand must have an odd number of points.

The usual version is played with four players and 112 cards, although it can be added to each new player with more players from the team, he adds 28 cards.


As you can conclude, China is a specific country that, among other things, has a long history of card games. Many of these that we have listed, as well as others, are intertwined in rules and strategies. Some are mentally demanding, some are just fun. You don’t have to go to China and look for every specific deck of cards, but you can experience their mystique and passion through many online game platforms.