Tien len


Tien Len can be considered the national card game of Vietnam; the name of the game, which should properly be spelled Tiến Lên, means Go Forward. The main mô tả tìm kiếm on this page is based on information from Jona Baily; Kenneth Lu và Justus Pang have contributed slightly different versions. Probably as a result of the Vietnam war, Tien Len has spread khổng lồ some parts of the USA, where it is sometimes called Viet Cong or just VC; Kelly Aman has contributed one version of this. Chris Hovanic learned another version from Chris Molinaro (also in the USA) & they call it Thirteen.

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Tien Len is a climbing game (a bit like Zheng Shangyou or President), in which the aim is khổng lồ get rid of your cards as soon as possible by beating combinations of cards played by the other players.

Players và Cards

The trò chơi is for four players. A standard 52 thẻ deck is used; there are no Jokers & no wild cards. It is possible for two or three to lớn play. It can also be played by more than four players, using two 52 card packs shuffled together.

The trò chơi is normally dealt and played clockwise, but can be played anticlockwise instead if the players agree in advance to do so.

The ranking of the cards is: Two (highest), Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three (lowest).

Within each rank there is also an order of suits: Hearts (highest), Diamonds, Clubs, Spades (lowest).

So the 3 of Spades is the lowest thẻ in the pack, và the 2 of Hearts is the highest. Rank is more important than suit, so for example the 8 beats the 7.

The Deal

For the first game, the dealer is chosen at random; subsequently the loser of each trò chơi has to giảm giá khuyến mãi the next. When there are four players, 13 cards are dealt khổng lồ each player.

If there are fewer than four players, 13 cards are still dealt to each player, & there will be some cards left undealt - these are not used in the game. An alternative with three players is, by prior agreement, to khuyễn mãi giảm giá 17 cards each. When there are only two players, only 13 cards each should be dealt - if all the cards were dealt the players would be able to work out each other"s hands, which would spoil the game. When there are more than four players, you can agree in advance either to giảm giá 13 cards each from the double deck, or deal as many cards as possible equally to lớn the players.

The Play

In the first game only, the player with the 3 of Spades begins play. If no one has the 3 (in the three or two player game) whoever holds the lowest thẻ begins. The player must begin by playing this lowest card, either on its own or as part of a combination.

In subsequent games, the winner of the previous trò chơi plays first, & can start with any combination.

Each player in turn must now either beat the previously played thẻ or combination, by playing a card or combination that beats it, or pass & not play any cards. The played card(s) are placed in a heap face up in the centre of the table. The play goes around the table as many times as necessary until someone plays a card or combination that no one else beats. When this happens, all the played cards are set aside, and the person whose play was unbeaten starts again by playing any legal card or combination face up to lớn the centre of the table.

If you pass you are locked out of the play until someone makes a play that no one beats. Only when the cards are mix aside & a new card or combination is led are you entitled to play again. Example (with three players): the player lớn your right plays a single three, you hold an ace but decide to pass, the player to lớn your left plays a nine & the player to right plays a king. You cannot now beat the king with your ace, because you have already passed. If the third player passes too, & your right hand opponent now leads a queen, you can now play your ace if you want to.

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The legal plays in the trò chơi are as follows:

Single cardThe lowest single thẻ is the 3 and the highest is the 2.PairTwo cards of the same rank - such as 7-7 or Q-Q.TripleThree cards of the same rank - such as 5-5-5 Four of a kindFour cards of the same rank - such as 9-9-9-9.SequenceThree or more cards of consecutive rank (the suits can be mixed) - such as 4-5-6 or J-Q-K-A-2. Sequences cannot "turn the corner" between two và three - A-2-3 is not a valid sequence because 2 is high and 3 is low.Double SequenceThree or more pairs of consecutive rank - such as 3-3-4-4-5-5 or 6-6-7-7-8-8-9-9.

In general, a combination can only be beaten by a higher combination of the same type and same number of cards. So if a single card is led, only single cards can be played; if a pair is led only pairs can be played; a three thẻ sequence can only be beaten by a higher three card sequence; and so on. You cannot for example beat a pair with a triple, or a four card sequence with a five card sequence.

There are just four exceptions to the rule that a combination can only be beaten by a combination of the same type:

These combinations that can beat single twos or sets of twos are sometimes known as bombs or two-bombs, and can be played even by a player who has previously passed.

Note that these exceptions only apply to beating twos, not other cards. For example, if someone plays an ace you cannot beat it with your four of a kind, but if the ace has been beaten by a two, then your four of a kind can be used khổng lồ beat the two.

End of the Play & Payments

As players run out of cards they drop out of the play. If the player whose turn it is to play has no cards left, the turn passes to lớn the next player in rotation. The play ends when only one player has cards left. That player is the loser, and must pay a fixed stake lớn each of the other players.

This game is often played for money, & sometimes for high stakes. Among serious players, typically the loser of a game would have to pay $2000 lớn each of the others. In a session of play, a person might easily thua (or win) a total of $50000 or more.

Customs và Ethics

Some types of behaviour which in many other card games would be regarded as cheating are generally considered acceptable in Tien Len. For example among some players it OK lớn peek at other players" cards, or to lớn play out of turn if you can get away with it.


In the version contributed by Justus Pang:

In the first deal, the holder of the 3 may pass rather than playing that card. This could be advantageous if the 3 is part of a bomb. Twos cannot be used in sequences - they may run only from 3 up to lớn ace. When all but one players have passed, the person who played the last unbeaten combination can continue to lớn play successively higher combinations of the same type. This is known as "stacking". Since the other players have passed, they are not allowed khổng lồ beat the stacked combinations unless able lớn play a bomb.

The version of Tien Len contributed by Kenneth Lu has the following differences:

If there are only three players, 17 cards are dealt lớn each; the person who starts the play takes the final card. For the first giảm giá this is the person who has the 3 (or the 3 if the 3 was the undealt card). If there are only two players they are just dealt 17 cards each.Although in the first trò chơi the holder of the 3 leads, the lead does not have lớn include the 3. The first player may lead anything.The exceptional cases of combinations beating other types of combination are somewhat different:A four of a kind can beat any single thẻ or pair.A sequence of three pairs can beat a single two (but not any other single card).A sequence of four (or more) pairs has no special power.As soon as someone runs out of cards the play ends and the other players pay the winner one stake for each thẻ they have left in their hands at this time.

The rules of Viet Cong (VC) as reported by Kelly Aman have the following features:

If anyone has four twos, they automatically win. The person with the 3 must begin with a combination that includes that card. Twos cannot be included in single sequences (straights). Straights run from three up to ace only.The special combinations that beat twos are called slams. The rules for these are:A sequence of three consecutive pairs or a four of a kind can beat a single two (but not any other single card).A sequence of five consecutive pairs or two consecutive fours of a kind can beat a pair of twos (but not any other pair).A sequence of seven consecutive pairs or three consecutive fours of a kind can beat three twos (but not any other triple).As in other versions, a slam can be beaten by a higher slam of the same type.Some people play the game with trading. After the cards are dealt, but before the first lead, any player can trade one or more cards with another player for an equal number of cards. Trading only takes place by mutual agreement; if the two players cannot agree on the cards khổng lồ trade, the trade does not take place. If you play with trading, four twos vày not automatically win the game.

Other Tien Len web sites và software

Vinagames offers a Java on line Tien Len game.