Rules of Guandan
Cards and Seats
A double deck of standard international cards is used, jokers included. There are 108 cards in the deck altogether, each player having 27 cards.
Guandan is played on a single, square table by four players. Players are divided into two partnerships with partners sitting opposite each other. Four layers are named as the North (N), the West (W), the South (S) and the East (E) according to their sitting position around the table. Players will first assign one orientation as the East either randomly or using the true East, then seat themselves around the table. In this case, players E and W form one team whereas players S and N form the opponent team. For any player, he/she is the Me of him- or herself; the player sitting opposite is the Partner; the player to the left is the Left Hand; and the player to the right is the Right Hand.
Card Types and Scoring
There are four suits in the cards: Spades ♠, Hearts ♥, Diamonds ♦ and Clubs ♣, together with the 2 red jokers and 2 black jokers. Each suit has 26 cards (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J Q, K and A, 2 for each). There is no difference in denomination suit in Guandan other than in Bridge.
Single cards are any single card in the deck and are ranked in Level Order.
A Pair consists of two single cards with the same rank, ranked in Level Order.
A Tube consist of three consecutive pairs in Natural Order, ranked in Level Order.
A Triple consists of three single cards of the same rank, ranked in Level Order.
A plate consists of two consecutive Triples in Natural Order, ranked in Level Order.
A Full House consists of a Triple and a Pair and is ranked by the Triple in Level Order.
A straight consists of five (five only ,no more no less) single cards which are consecutive in Natural Order.It is ranked by the highest card in Level Order.
Straight Flushes (Flushes)
A Straight Flush (Flush) consists of five consecutive cards of the same suit in Natural Order.
Bombs (Quadruples, Quintuples, Sextuples, Septuples, Octuples, Nonuples and Decuples)
A Bomb can be (ranking from lowest to highest) a Quadruple, a Quintuple, a Sextuple, a Septuple, an Octuple, a Nonuples or a Decuple, consisting of respectively four, five, six, seven, eight, nine or ten cards of equal rank. Bombs consisting of sets of equal ranked cards are ranked within their types in Level Order in the same way as single cards. Bombs of Level Cards ranks as the highest. In addition, Straight Flushes are special bombs ranked between Quituples and Sextuples.
The Joker Bomb consists of two Black Jokers and two Red Jokers and is the highest ranked Bomb.
Level Cards and Wild Cards
In the second and subsequent rounds, the winners of the previous round are the declarers and their level determines the level of the round. Cards of the rank that is equal to the level of the round have special powers in the play. These cards are called Level Cards. The first round is always played at Level 2.
Level Cards rank just below the Jokers and above the Aces. Level Cards can also be used at their ranks in Natural Order when making up a combination, such as the Straights, Flushes, Tubes and Plates.
Wild Cards are the Level Cards in Heart (♥Level Cards). They can be used in place of any cards needed to make up a combination except for Jokers. When played as a Single Card, the Wild Card is only counted as the ordinary Level Card.
When more than one combination can be made up using Wild Cards, the highest ranked combination is accepted as default unless clarified by the player.
Examples: When playing at Level 5, ♥5 is the Wild Card,
The basic rank of the cards is, from high to low, Red Joker (Big Joker), Black Joker (Little Joker), A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, (A). This will be called the Natural Order of the cards. When forming Tubes, Plates, Straights or Flushes, Aces can be used as low cards (the 1), below the 2.
In the second and subsequent rounds, Level Cards rank between the Black Joker and Ace. The Level Order of the cards is, from high to low, Red Joker (Big Joker), Black Joker (Little Joker), Level Card, A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, (A).
For Single Cards, Pairs, Tubes, Triples, Plates, Full Houses and Straights, cards can only cover within the same card type. Cards with different types cannot beat each other. For Full Houses, they are ranked by the Triples in Level Order.
Bombs with more cards can cover Bombs with fewer cards. Bombs are ranked as, from low to high, Quadruples, Quintuples, Sextuples, Septuples, Octuples, Nonuples, Decuples. Bombs of the same type (i.e., with the same amount of cards) are ranked in the Level Order. Straight Flushes are ranked between Quituples and Sextuples. And the Joker Bomb is the highest bomb.
Bombs can beat any card types: Single Cards, Pairs, Tubes, Triples, Plates, Full Houses and Straights for most cases. Bombs with more than 5 cards can beat Flushes
Flushes are ranked in Natural Order. Flushes cannot beat Bombs with more 5 cards.
Joker Bomb can beat any card types.
Shuffling and Cutting
For the first round of the game, the E-seated player (the East) shuffles the deck. After the shuffle, the deck is placed facing down as a pile in the center of the table. Next, the S-seated player (the South) cuts the deck into two piles then draws one card from them and flip it face up (repeat the cut and drawing if the card was Joker or wild card). Players will determine the start point of drawing by counting counterclockwise from the South according to the points on the faced card. The player who drew the faced card will open the play.
From the second round onward, the results of the previous round determines who shuffles, who cuts, who draws first and who opens the play. The player who finished first is called the Banker; whereas the player who last finished is called the Dweller. The Banker will cut and the Left Hand of the Banker will shuffle the deck. The Dweller will be the first to draw. When there is a Double-Dweller, the Right Hand of the Banker will draw first.
Players will play in counterclockwise order. The player leading the first trick can play any type of the cards from his or her hand, the other players play or pass in turn in counterclockwise order. Players want to pass are required to say “Pass” or knock the table to let the other players know. A trick continues for as many circuits as needed until three players pass in succession; and the player who played the last card(s) to the trick leads to the next trick. If the player whose turn to lead has no cards left, the lead passes to that player’s Partner. The play continues until three players running out of their cards .
In the play, players can be the Banker (first one finishing the cards), the Follower (second one finishing the cards), the Third (third one finishing the cards) and the Dweller (last one finishing the cards) in the sequence of finishing the cards. If the player and his/her partner are the Banker and Follower, their opponents are called the Double-Dweller.
Any player who has 10 cards or fewer must report exactly how many cards he/she still holds and place the signal card in the Reporting Area.
In Guandan, a team’s score is expressed as the Level. There are 13 levels in total, corresponding to the card ranks from 2 up to A (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A). Only the team of the Banker promotes. A team can be promoted by three levels when the Banker’s partner is the Follower; by two levels when the Banker’s partner is the Third; by one level when the Banker’s partner is the Dweller.
From the second round on, before the first trick begins, the Dweller of the previous round have to pay Tribute to the Banker by giving his/her highest ranked single card other than the wild card face up. In return, the Banker will give one single card with a point no higher than 10(10 included) from his hand. The Dweller will lead to the first trick.
If there is Double-Dweller in the previous round, both the Third and the Dweller will pay Tribute. The Banker will accept higher ranked Tribute and his partner will get the other. Both the Banker and the Follower return cards as described above.
If the Tributes are ranked the same, the Third and the Dweller pay their Tributes to the Left Hand, the Banker and the Follower return their cards face down to the Right Hand. After tributing and returning, the Third and the Dweller flip the cards face up simultaneously. The one who pay Tribute to the Banker will lead to the first trick.
If the player(s) who should pay Tribute(s) holds two Big Jokers, the Tribute(s) is cancelled.
If the trick ends after the Banker or the Follower finishing the cards, his/her partner will lead to the next trick.
In a Game-based tournament, a team only wins the game if 1) it wins on Level A; 2) and the Banker’s partner is the Follower or the Third. The team first promoted to then win on Level A is the big winner.
The Rules of Guandan stated above is the playing rules of a Game-based Guandan tournament. There are also Time-based tournament and Round-based tournament. Official competition rules can refer to the ‘Jiangsu Guandan Competition Rules & Regulations’ by the Jiangsu Social Sports Center and the ‘Huai'an Guandan Competition Rules & Regulations’ by the Chess and Cards Management Department of General Administration of Sport of China.