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A Comprehensive Guide to the Versatile Uses of the 52-Card Deck

For most players in Vietnam, the deck of Western playing cards, commonly known as the 52-card deck, is certainly not an unfamiliar item. This deck is closely associated with well-loved card games such as Tiến lên (Progression), Ba cây (Three Trees), and Phỏm (Rummy), enjoyed by many. However, few people are aware of the other uses of this versatile deck. Let’s win tips delve into the fascinating world of the 52-card deck and explore its various applications through this comprehensive guide.

General Overview: The Western playing card deck, often referred to in English as "Playing Card," and known in Northern Vietnam as "Tú lơ khơ" or "Bộ tú," is traditionally a 52-card set. Although, in reality, the deck consists of 54 cards, the two Joker cards are typically excluded, leaving 52 cards for gameplay.

The deck includes 52 standard cards: numbers 2 through 10, J (Jack), Q (Queen), K (King), and A (Ace), divided into four suits: Hearts ♥, Diamonds ♦, Clubs ♠, and Spades ♣, along with the two Joker cards.

In Vietnam, this deck is referred to as the Western deck to distinguish it from the Chinese or traditional Vietnamese decks used for games like Tam cúc, Tứ sắc, and Tổ tôm.

The use of the Western playing card deck in Europe dates back to 1418. The King, Queen, and Jack cards were beautifully illustrated and expensive. Different countries have adapted the designs and gameplay over time.

Popular Card Games: Most of the following games utilize the 52-card deck, excluding the Joker cards:

Tiến Lên (Progression): This is one of the most popular card games in Vietnam. There are two variants: Tiến lên miền Bắc (Northern Progression) and Tiến lên miền Nam (Southern Progression).

In Tiến lên, each player is dealt 13 cards, making four players a complete game. The smallest card is the 3 of Spades, and the highest is the 2 of Hearts. The suits rank from highest to lowest: Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, and Spades. For instance, the 5 of Hearts is higher than the 5 of Diamonds, the 5 of Clubs is higher than the 5 of Spades, and the 5 of Hearts is higher than the 5 of Clubs. Pairs of the same rank are called pairs, and consecutive cards form a sequence (or straight). The smallest straight is 3-4-5, consisting of three cards, and the longest straight can go up to 12 cards. A higher straight beats a lower straight, and a higher pair beats a lower pair according to the suit hierarchy. Four cards of the same rank are called "tứ quý" and can trump a single 2 (Ace in Southern Progression, three consecutive pairs called "ba đôi thông" can trump one 2, four cards of the same rank can trump two 2s and three consecutive pairs, and four consecutive pairs trump "tứ quý" and three consecutive pairs).

The objective of the game is to be the first to play all your cards. The more you play, the more experienced and skilled you become.

Ba Cây (Three Trees): This is perhaps the simplest card game, primarily based on luck. The 10, J, Q, and K cards are not used, and there is no limit to the number of players.

Each player is dealt three cards, and the sum of the card values determines the score. If the total points are less than or equal to 10, the final score is that number. If the points exceed 10, only the units digit is taken. The player with the highest score wins.

Xì Dách (Blackjack): Blackjack at the bookmaker is played with two or more players, but typically no more than five for optimal play. One player takes on the role of the dealer.

Using a 52-card deck, the dealer distributes two cards to each player and themselves. The remaining cards form a draw pile. The dealer deals from the bottom of the deck (not from the top as in Tiến lên). The goal in each round is for players to get as close to 21 points without exceeding it (going bust).

Sâm Lốc: Sâm lốc is commonly played in Northern Vietnam, with rules similar to Tiến lên miền Nam but with unique elements.

Tấn (Attack): This is a simple and enjoyable card game.

Each player receives eight cards. After dealing, the trump suit is determined by revealing one card from the deck. Players take turns attacking the next player clockwise. The attacked player must defend with a higher card of the same suit or with a trump card. Other players can join in the attack with cards of the same rank. If the attacked player cannot defend, they draw more cards to continue playing.

Tá Lả/Phỏm (Rummy): Phỏm, also known as Tá lả, is a Vietnamese card game using the 52-card deck, typically played with 2-4 players. The dealer receives 10 cards and goes first, while the other players receive 9 cards each. The remaining cards form a draw pile. The goal is to form sets or sequences and reduce the number of unmatched cards. The game ends when a player declares "ù" (all cards form sets or sequences with no remaining cards) or after four rounds.

Poker: Poker, known as xì tố or xì phé in Vietnamese, is a card game involving betting and individual play. Players try to form the best hand or bluff their way to win the pot.

Fishing: Similar to other card games, fishing uses the 52-card deck. It can be played with 2-4 players. Each player is dealt five cards, and 12 cards are placed face-up in the center. Players try to "fish" for cards to form pairs or sets.

Mậu Binh (Chinese Poker): Mậu binh, also known as binh xập xám, requires strategic thinking. Players arrange their cards into three hands (front, middle, and back) and compare them against other players' hands to determine the winner.

Liêng: Liêng is a popular Vietnamese card game requiring psychological skill and bluffing. The objective is to have the highest-ranking hand or to intimidate opponents into folding.

Bài Cào (Three Card Poker): Bài cào is similar to Ba cây, where each player receives three cards. The cards are valued as follows: number cards are worth their face value, J, Q, K are worth 10 points, and A is worth 1 point. The player with the highest total score, closest to 9, wins.


The 52-card deck offers a wide variety of games that cater to different tastes and skill levels. From simple luck-based games like Ba cây to strategic games like Poker and Mậu binh, there's something for everyone. Understanding the diverse applications and rules of these games enhances the enjoyment and challenges for players at uk online bookmaker, making the 52-card deck a timeless and versatile tool for entertainment.


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