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 description 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 Vietphái mạnh war, Tien Len has spread to 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 lượt thích Zheng Shangyou or President), in which the ayên is to get rid of your cards as soon as possible by beating combinations of cards played by the other players.

Players và Cards

The game 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 play. It can also be played by more than four players, using two 52 card packs shuffled together.

The game is normally dealternative text & played clockwise, but can be played anticlockwise instead if the players agree in advance to lớn do so.

The ranking of the cards is: Two (highest), Ace, King, Queen, Jaông chồng, 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 paông xã, 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 game has to lớn giảm giá the next. When there are four players, 13 cards are dealternative text to lớn each player.

If there are fewer than four players, 13 cards are still dealternative text to each player, and 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 khổng lồ deal 13 cards each from the double deông chồng, or giảm giá 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 thẻ, either on its own or as part of a combination.

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

Each player in turn must now either beat the previously played thẻ or combination, by playing a thẻ or combination that beats it, or pass and 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 phối aside, & the person whose play was unbeaten starts again by playing any legal thẻ 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 và a new thẻ or combination is led are you entitled lớn play again. Example (with three players): the player to your right plays a single three, you hold an ace but decide to lớn pass, the player to lớn your left plays a nine và the player lớn right plays a king. You cannot now beat the king with your ace, because you have sầu already passed. If the third player passes too, và your right hvà opponent now leads a queen, you can now play your ace if you want to lớn.

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The legal plays in the game are as follows:

Single cardThe lowest single card 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 sầu rank (the suits can be mixed) - such as 4-5-6 or J-Q-K-A-2. Sequences cannot "turn the corner" between two and three - A-2-3 is not a valid sequence because 2 is high & 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 & 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 thẻ sequence; & so on. You cannot for example beat a pair with a triple, or a four thẻ sequence with a five sầu thẻ 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 lớn 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 to lớn 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 khổng lồ play has no cards left, the turn passes to the next player in rotation. The play ends when only one player has cards left. That player is the loser, & must pay a fixed stake to each of the other players.

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

Customs & 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 muốn some players it OK to lớn peek at other players" cards, or khổng lồ play out of turn if you can get away with it.


In the version contributed by Justus Pang:

In the first giảm giá, the holder of the 3 may pass rather than playing that thẻ. 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 sầu passed, the person who played the last unbeaten combination can continue to play successively higher combinations of the same type. This is known as "stacking". Since the other players have passed, they are not allowed lớn beat the stacked combinations unless able khổng lồ 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 dealternative text to 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 undealternative text card). If there are only two players they are just dealt 17 cards each.Although in the first game the holder of the 3 leads, the lead does not have sầu khổng lồ 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 card 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 và the other players pay the winner one stake for each card they have left in their hands at this time.

The rules of Viet Cong (VC) as reported by Kelly Aman have sầu 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 lớn ace only.The special combinations that beat twos are called slams. The rules for these are:A sequence of three consecutive sầu 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 sầu fours of a kind can beat a pair of twos (but not any other pair).A sequence of seven consecutive sầu pairs or three consecutive sầu 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 dealternative text, 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 to trade, the trade does not take place. If you play with trading, four twos vày not automatically win the game.

Other Tien Len website sites và software

Vinagames offers a Java on line Tien Len game.