Everything you need to know about playing Doppelkopf!


We all have a favourite game to play. Some will opt for the thrill of roulette from their Lucky Nugget app, others will have been swept up in the Pokemon Go craze that took over the world. However, for many Germans a popular game is Doppelkopf, which is a trick-taking card game for four players.

Here we will outline exactly how the game is played for beginners. Although, it’s quite complex and will need to be played several times before players totally understand how it works.

How to play Doppelkopf

Doppelkopf is a popular card game in Germany

Firstly, this four-player game is usually split into two teams of two. Yet, the pairings will not be known initially which adds a bit of intrigue and interest to play.

Two decks will be used, containing the highest value cards, totalling 48 cards in total, although some games only use 40. Then, there will be eight of each card, with two from each suit. They are then worth the following;

• Aces worth 11 points each
• Tens worth ten points
• Kings worth four points
• Queens worth three points
• Jacks worth two points
• Nines worth no points

However, 26 cards will be considered ‘trumps’, which are;

• Ten of Hearts
• Queen of all four suits
• Jacks of all four suits
• Ace of Diamonds
• Ten of Diamonds
• King of Diamonds
• Nine of Diamonds

Remember, that there are two of each card. The other cards are just known by their suit. As some will recognise, these cards have the same value as in the other popular German card game Skat.

During the shorter, 40-card format the nines will not be used. In total that makes 240 points and as the game progresses the teams will split off into two, one as the ‘Re’, the other as ‘Kontra’. The aim is simple, the Re team will be looking to achieve 121 points or more from their cards. The Kontra team will win if this does not happen.

Once each player has been dealt twelve cards, the game will begin. Although, there can be different types of games that are announced from the players. In a standard game, those who hold the Queen of Clubs will be the Re team.

Other types of the game arise when a player boasts the two Queen of Clubs themselves. This will be declared ‘Hochzeit’, meaning they will partner with the next person to win the trick. Then, you will begin to play and the first card is always shown by the player to the left of the dealer.

Whichever suit the first player’s card is, the rest must follow. However, in some cases you cannot follow suit which allows you to play a trump card, or any other. In this scenario, whoever has the highest trump or highest suit card will win, and they will play the first card of the next trick. Should you be left with a tie, which can happen, the player who played the first card would win.

During the first trick, announcements can be made by the players, which is essentially making bids. This will see the value change and determine which type of game you play. If players declare ‘Gesund’, a normal game will ensue. Yet, there are different options available and they include ‘Hochzeit’, which we have covered, and ‘Solo’, which will see one player take on three. Here, any score or loss will be tripled for the individual once the trick has finished.

How the scoring works

Only the highes value cards from a deck are used.

As well as the announcements made to alter the type of game, bids can be made to challenge the opponents to reach a certain score. While 121 points will see the Re team win, other calls can be made. For instance, after the second trick, you can call ‘no 90’ which means you don’t think they will reach 90 points, and the same applies to 60 and 30 as the game progresses.
That will impact the scoring process, but first we must show you some special rules which will also influence the scoring. They are as follows;

Two Club Queens Rule – If you are awarded two Queens before the first trick, it must be announced, and the next person to win a trick will be your partner. Failure to announce it will see you play out on your own.

Ten of Hearts Rule – If two ten of hearts are played in the same trick, the second one will always win, unless it’s the last trick of the game, where the first 10 would win.

Fox and Pigs Rule – The Ace of Trump, which is usually a diamond, is considered a fox. If the opposition win this card on a trick, they get a point. However, if someone has both foxes, they become pigs which is the highest trump card available, but this must be announced.

Doppelkopf Rule – If one trick contains 40+ game points, the team that won that trick gets one point.

Jack of Clubs Rule – Should the Jack of Clubs win the last trick, you will earn one point. Yet, if you used both Jacks in the trick, the opponents will receive a point instead.

Lay Down Hand – In the instance you’re dealt less than four trump cards or five 9s, you can lay down the hand. The same dealer will then deal again.

That shows some of the rules that can be applied during a game of Doppelkopf and it may be something that takes time to pick up. Here, we will list how the points are also scored.

• One point for the winner of the game, the Re team if they hit 121 points, the Kontra team if they don’t.
• One point if the winners make 150 points.
• One point if the winning team called ‘no 90’ and made it.
• One point if they make 180 points.
• One point if the winners called ‘no 60’ and made it.
• One point to the winners for making 210.
• One point awarded for calling ‘no 30’ and making it.
• One point if they make 240.
• One point if they called ‘no points’ and it happens.
• One point will be awarded for achieving the Doppelkopf rule.
• One point when you catch a fox, or win from one.
• One point for the Jack of Clubs winning your final trick.

That concludes how to play Doppelkopf. It may seem very confusing but, after you’ve played, you’ll soon begin to understand how it works. With strategy, skill and luck required, it contains everything to keep you entertained and excited along the way.