Durak (Fool)

Durak (Дурак) is the Russian word for fool and is the name of a group of related games. All these games are played no to find a winner, but to find a loser - the fool - who will be subject to various mockery, jokers, forfeits, etc.

The game consists of a series of attacks in which one player leads one or more cards and another player (the defender) may try to beat them, in which case they are discarded from the game. If unable or unwilling to beat the attacking cards, the defender has to pick them up. The aim is to get rid of all one's cards, and the last player left holding cards is the fool. One of the punishments for the fool is the duty to deal the next hand, which is considered menial work. Games of this type are played not only in Russia but in many East European countries, and especially in North-East Europe: Poland, Finland, the Baltic states and Belarus.

The best known of these games is Podkidnoy Durak (fool with throwing in) and when Russian players refer to Durak, they usually mean this game or one of its variants such as Perevodnoy Durak (transfer fool). This game is also played in several other countries, either under the name Durak or the equivalent word for fool in the local language - for example Dureń in Polish.

Prostoy Durak (simple fool) is less popular than it was, but is still played in Russia and several neighbouring countries. Because each player begins with five cards and it is possible to play up to five cards at a time (two pairs plus a single card) it is known in some places as 'five card fool' - for example in Poland it is Dureń Piątkowy.

Several other games that are more or less closely related to Durak, some of which might be considered as variants of it, are listed on the Beating Games index page.