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Chinese Poker: Big 2/Choh Dai Di

There is a variant of poker from the Far East popularly known as Big 2, or Dai Di in Cantonese. You will find this Chinese poker played in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Southeast Asia and many other places as well. Whilst Texas Hold’em No Limit poker is the ever dominant variant of poker in today’s poker world, Chor Dai Di has in fact been around for as long as well. This writer can testify that when the game was introduced by him to an English friend, he was hooked on it for the rest of the night! Chinese Poker and Texas Hold’em This Chinese poker is similar to Texas Hold’em No Limit poker with respect to hand rankings. The Royal Flush is the largest hand, followed by a straight flush and then a full house, and so on. However, a major difference is that 2-s actually rank higher than aces – hence the name, Dai Di, or its English translation, Big 2! Furthermore, the suit of a card holds a rank for poker – spades are the highest suit, followed by hearts, clubs, and finally diamonds. Object of the Game The object of the game is simple – to be the first to get rid of all your cards. The game can be played in a friendly manner to see who finishes their cards first, but involving money obviously makes it more interesting. If players are playing for money, a point system will be used to determine how much each player pays the other at the end of the night – more on this later. Dealing and Playing Big 2 is usually played with four players, the entire deck being dealt out for 13 cards per player. If there are only two or three players, the extra set(s) of 13 are simply dealt out but left unplayed. Any player can be the dealer and there is commonly no dedicated dealer required, but once the game has started, the winner from the previous round usually deals. At the beginning of each game, the player with 3 of diamonds (or the winner from the previous round) starts by either playing a single card or a combination (pairs, 2 pairs, triples, or any 5-card poker combinations). Play proceeds to the next player who must then play a higher card or the same (pairs, trips or 5-card) combination than the one before. For example, after 3 of diamonds any card from 3♣, 3♥, 3♠, 4 of diamonds, 4♣, 4♥, 4♠ until 2♠ can be played. Players may also pass if they wish. (Note: If a players discards a straight, subsequent players may play a straight, a flush or full house or any other 5-card poker combination in reply. Also, if a flush is played, the suit, and not the numbers ranking are used to determine which flush is higher.) This goes on (each person takes turn to play a higher single card (or pairs, trips or 5-cards)) until:

1. a player plays the highest card left for that series. For example, the 2♠ when singles are in play or 2♠2♥ when pairs are played. Obviously, there is no possible reply to these cards.

2. all players have passed in succession, in reply to the last player to have played a card. This means no player can/wishes to challenge the card played by the last player. The cards are put aside and a new series is started by the last player to play a card. Again, this can be singles, pairs, trips or 5-cards. It is often courteous for a player to warn others when he/she is one card away from winning. The game continues until one player runs out of cards. He is then declared victorious, and wins the game. Scoring The most common version of scoring is that after a game each player with cards remaining scores -1 point for each such card, unless they have 10 or more remaining, in which they score -2 for each. If they didn't get to play any cards at all, they score -3 for each. So, for example, if A won, and B, C, and D respectively still had 3, 11, and 8 cards left, B would score -3, C would score -22, D would score -8, and North would score +3

3. At the end of the night, the points from all the games are totalled up to see who pays out and who has raked in money. If, for example, $0.10 is allocated per point, then if the night finishes with A on +20, B on +10, C on -10 and D on -20, then D would pay A $2 and C would pay B $1. Conclusion, Tactics and Psychology There are many variations to the game depending on where the game is played, much of which depends on where exactly in Asia one is playing. As just one example, trips are sometimes not allowed in Choh Dai Di. However, this introductory article provides much of the basics of the Chinese poker game commonly known as Big 2 or Choh Dai Di. Once you understand the game you may find that a basic fundamental understanding is to know when to seize initiative. This is valuable as initiative lets you determine what cards to discard next. More advanced players bring in the psychological element whereby players develop the unspoken understanding to prevent a particular player from discarding cards, thereby cornering the particular player into conceding double or triple points. It therefore becomes important for players to recognise when they cannot win a game and to quickly dispose of cards just to avoid doubling points. Also, when players warn that they are about to finish discarding all their cards, other players attempt to play pairs or combinations to ensure that the player on the verge of winning does not finish his cards. Have a try at this one day. This is one of Asia’s responses to 7-stud,Omaha, Texas Hold’em and the other variants of poker out there in the world today.


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