Dai Fugō / Dai Hinmin

Teranishi Isamu, Kuromiya Kimihiko, Florent Barraco, Joseph Bratt

Introduction

Dai Fugō (大富豪 - "very rich man"), which was formerly more often known as Dai Hinmin (大貧民 - "very poor man") is a Japanese card game of the "climbing" group. As in all these games, the aim is to get rid of all one's cards before the other players by playing them singly or in combination. It seems likely that the game was introduced from China in the 1970's. It became popular throughout Japan in the 1980's and 1990's, and during this time numerous additional rules and variations were introduced. It seems likely that some early version of Dai Hinmin was the direct ancestor of President, which became popular in the West a few years later. The basic game will be described first, followed by a selection of variants.

On this page, the "o" with accent ("ō") is used to indicate a long "o" sound in Japanese.

Players and Cards

Dai Fugō is usually played by from 3 to 6 players. A standard 52 card pack is used, to which one joker is normally added, so that there are 53 cards in all. The rank of the cards from high to low is:
Joker-2-A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3.

Deal

Deal and play are clockwise. Any player may deal the first hand. After the first hand, the loser of each hand deals the next. All the cards are dealt out one at a time as equally as possible to the players. Some players will have one card more than others - this does not matter.

Play

In the first deal of a new session the first player is decided at random. As in many Japanese games, this is usually done by a game of Janken (similar to rock-paper-scissors). Each player chooses "rock", "paper" or "scissors" and all choices are shown simultaneously by hand signals. If all three options are chosen at least once, or if everyone chooses the same option, it is a tie and the process is repeated. If just two of the three options are chosen, all players who picked the losing option (scissors beat paper, rock beats scissors, paper beats rock) are eliminated, and the process is repeated with only the survivors taking part. When there is only one survivor, this player starts the game.

The first player may play any card or valid combination, placing the card(s) face up in the centre of the table. The possible plays are:

Any single card.
Single cards rank as described above from 3 (low) to joker (high). A single card can only be beaten by a higher single card.
A pair.
Two cards of the same rank. A higher pair beats a lower pair: the lowest is 3-3 and the highest is 2-2.
Three of a kind (triplet).
Three cards of the same rank. A higher triplet beats a lower triplet: the highest is 2-2-2 and the lowest is 3-3-3.
Four of a kind.
Four cards of the same rank. In the basic game they rank in the same order as single cards, but note that many people now play that four of a kind causes a revolution - see variations.
A sequence
Three or more consecutive cards of the same suit, such as spade4-spade5-spade6 or diamond9-diamond10-diamondJ-diamondQ. A sequence can only be beaten by a higher sequence containing the same number of cards. The highest 3-card sequence is K-A-2 and the lowest is 3-4-5. (A-2-3 and 2-3-4 are not valid sequences, since the 2 and 3 are not adjacent in this game.)

The joker may be used as a substitute for any card in a pair, triplet, four of a kind or sequence. A combination containing a joker is equal in rank to the equivalent combination made from natural cards. So for example the pairs 8-8 and 8-joker are equal: neither beats the other, and a sequence heart9-heart10-Joker is equal in rank to club9-club10-clubJ.

After the first player has played a card or combination, each player in turn has the choice of passing (playing no cards) or playing a higher card or combination of the same type as the previous play. This continues as many times around the table as necessary until someone plays a card or combination which no one else is able or willing to beat. When all the other players has passed, the player of the unbeaten card or combination sets aside all the played cards face down, and begins again by leading any card or valid combination.

Here is an example with four players:

Player APlayer BPlayer CPlayer D
4-4pass7-78-8
passpassK-Kpass
passA-Jokerpasspass
pass

B's play is unbeaten, so she clears away the played cards and begins again with any card or valid combination. To beat B's A-Joker pair, a pair of twos would have been needed. Note that throughout this process only pairs could be played. For example at his first turn, player D would not be allowed to play three 8's or a single 2.

Please note that:

  • You do not have to beat the previous play just because you can - often it is better to pass and save your good cards for later.
  • Passing does not prevent you from playing at your next turn.

In the example, player B passed twice, although she could have played the A-Joker at her first or second turn, she decided to play only after C had used his Kings.

The objective is to get rid of all your cards. When a player runs out of cards, the play continues among the other players until only one player has cards left.

When a player plays his last card or cards, the other players as usual have the opportunity to beat this play. If no one beats it, since the player of the unbeaten card(s) has no more to play, the turn to begin again passes to the next player to the left who still has cards.

Result

If there are five or more players, the player who runs out of cards first is the Dai Fugō (very rich man), the second is the Fugō (rich man) the last player left with cards is the Dai Hinmin (very poor man) and the second last is the Hinmin (poor man). With three or four players, the winner, who runs out of cards first, is the Fugō and the loser, who is left with cards at the end, is the Hinmin.

As with many Japanese card games it is common to play without score or payment. The aim is simply to be as rich as possible as often as possible. If you prefer to formalise the result, the Dai Fugō should score +2 points, and the Fugō +1.

Exchange of cards

In the second and subsequent hands of a session there is an exchange of cards after the deal and before play begins. The Dai Hinmin must give his highest ranking two cards to the Dai Fugō and the Hinmin must give his highest card to the Fugō. In exchange, the Dai Fugō gives any two unwanted cards to the Dai Hinmin and the Fugō gives any one unwanted card to the Hinmin.

After the exchange, the loser of the previous hand (the Dai Hinmin, or the Hinmin if there are only three or four players) begins the play of the new hand with any card or valid combination.

Variations

More than six players
It is possible for as many as 8 players to take part. In Japan it is normal still to use a single deck of 53 cards, though in some Western adaptations, a larger number of players may use a double deck.
Revolution (kakumei)
Many people adopt the rule that any play of four of a kind (such as 9-9-9-9 or 5-5-5-Joker) causes a revolution, which reverses the ranking of the cards from the next time that the table is cleared. The joker remains the highest single card but the other cards rank from high to low 3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K-A-2, so twos are now the lowest cards. If a second four of a kind is played, this causes a counter-revolution, which restores the original order. So if someone plays 5-5-5-5 to the empty table, another player can beat this with (for example) 7-7-7-7, and the card ranking order remains as it was, the revolution having been cancelled. But if everyone passes the 5-5-5-5 play, the cards are cleared and the revolution takes effect. If the player of the 5-5-5-5 now begins with (say) a pair of 6's, this can be beaten by 4-4 or 3-3 (the highest pair), but not by 8-8. The reversed order stays in effect until the end of the hand, unless another 4 of a kind is played, in which case there is a counter-revolution and the original order is restored. When the play ends, for the new deal the cards always revert to their original order.
Some people play that a revolution is also caused if anyone plays a five-card or longer sequence. Other variants are sometimes encountered, such as that a revolution is caused by a set of three 3's, or by a 4-card sequence. Some only allow a revolution with a genuine four of a kind, but not with three equal cards plus a joker.
Jokers
Rarely, this game is played without jokers, or with two jokers, in which case a pair of jokers is the highest pair. In an early form of the game, described to me in 1979, there were two jokers but no sequences were allowed. In the game with jokers, if the Dai Hinmin or the Hinmin was dealt both jokers there was a different kind of revolution, in which the roles of the players were reversed: the Dai Fugō became Dai Hinmin, Fugō became Hinmin and so on.
No twos in sequences
Some play that a 2 cannot be used to make a sequence K-A-2. In this version a sequence headed by an ace is unbeatable.
Miyako-Ochi
In this variant, if the Dai Fugō of the previous hand fails to win again and maintain his position, he automatically becomes Dai Hinmin. (Miyako can refer to Kyoto or any large and beautiful city, and ochiru is to fall, so the phrase Miyako-Ochi means exile from the city where the very rich man formerly lived.)
Suit lock rule (Shibari)
In this variant, if two consecutive plays are in the same suit, then subsequent players can only beat this with another play in the same suit. For example the heart3 is played, this is beaten by a club4 which in turn is beaten by a club8. Subsequent players can only play clubs (or the joker), not other suits. This restriction applies until the table is cleared. A similar restriction applies if a sequence is beaten by a higher sequence in the same suit; this can then only be beaten by another sequence in that suit.
The suits are also locked if a pair is beaten by a higher pair in the same two suits - for example if spade5-club5 is beaten by spade7-diamond7, subsequent players can only beat this with a pair consisting of a spade and a diamond. A similar rules applies to triplets - the suits are locked if a triplet is beaten by a higher triplet using the same three suits.
Some also play with Kata-Shibari (partial suit lock). If a pair is beaten by a higher pair with one suit in common, then subsequent players can only beat this with a pair that includes the same suit. For example if spade3-diamond3 is beaten by spade6-club6, then this can only be beaten by a higher pair that includes a spade. If the next play is a spade-club pair, then that establishes a full lock and only spade-club pairs are allowed until the table is cleared. When triplets are played there can be a partial lock involving one or two suits.
Some play that suits are only locked if there are three consecutive plays in the same suit.
Cannot go out with highest card
Some play that you cannot go out by playing a 2 or a set of 2's as your last card(s). It's also illegal to go out by playing the highest sequence (K-A-2) or a single joker. If there has been a revolution (and no counter-revolution) then you cannot go out by playing a 3 or a set of 3's or a top sequence such as 3-4-5 or a single joker. When playing this variant, the penalty for going out with such an illegal play is that you automatically become the Dai Hinmin. Of course the penalty is rarely needed, since players avoid being left with cards that are illegal to play under this rule.
Some play that the penalty only applies to a player who goes out by playing a single joker.
Three of spades rule
Some play that when the joker is played as a single card, it can be beaten by the 3 of spades (but by no other card). The spade3 can then in turn be beaten by any higher card. But if the spade3 is played before the joker, the joker can beat it.
Eights rule (hachi-giri)
Some play that any 8 or combination containing an 8 causes the table to be cleared immediately. The person who played the 8 begins again by playing any card or valid combination.
When the hachi-giri rule is played, some also play that it is illegal to go out with a play that includes an eight.
Jack
A rarely played variation is that if a Jack is played, the ranking order of cards is immediately reversed, but this reversal lasts only until the cards are cleared. For example a 5 is beaten by a 9, which is beaten by a Jack. This reverses the ranking, so the Jack cannot be beaten by a Q, K, a or 2. It might, however be beaten by a 7, which in turn could be beaten by a 6 and then a 3. Then the cards would be cleared and ranking returns to normal.
Discard for tens
One correspondent reports a rule whereby anyone playing one or more tens is allowed to discard one further card from their hand for each ten played. These discards are placed face down in the pile of used cards.
Cannot play after passing
Another rarely played variant is that a player who passes is not allowed to play again until after the cards have been cleared.
Switching seats
Some people play that before each new deal the players change seats according to their result. The Dai Fugō sits to the right of the Dai Hinmin, then the Fugō and so on in order of their result, with the Hinmin to the Dai Hinmin's left.
According to some players, probably a minority, the positions are the reverse of this, with the the Dai Fugō to the left of the Dai Hinmin, followed by the Fugō and the other players in order: in this version Dai Fugō begins the play.
Card exchange variants
Some play that the loser must always exchange two cards with the winner, even if there are only 3 or 4 players, and with 4 players the second player exchanges one card with the third player.
Some play that if you are the Dai Hinmin and have the joker in your hand, you don't have to give it to the Dai Fugō
A few people play that the winners are allowed to ask for particular cards from the losers, and the losers must give these cards rather than their highest ranking cards, if they have them.
Scoring variants
Another possibility is that the Hinmin pays 1 point to the Fugō and the Dai Hinmin pays 2 points to the Dai Fugō.

Other Dai Fugō web pages

The Wikipedia page on Daihinmin lists a number of further variants.