Doppelkopf fundamentals

Date: 19. May 2023


The game is played with exactly 4 people and you usually play in teams of two. The total points that can be collected each round is 240 and the team with more than the half of these points wins the round. The winning team will get overall points depending on the margin over 120 you have won by and on some bonus points which I will explain at a later stage. The losing team will get the same amount of overall points subtracted. The overall points are tracked and accumulated through all rounds.

To start the game one person shuffles the deck and deals the cards. The game is played clockwise and the person on the left hand of the dealer has to start. After each round the person who has started becomes the next dealer. Doppelkopf is a trick-taking card game meaning that the suit of the card played first has to be followed. Another player can win the trick in one of the following two cases:

  1. Your played card of the same suit is higher in the hierarchy (higher value)
  2. You play a trump card

You can only play a trump card if you don't have the suit from the first played card on your hand. In this case you can also choose to place a non-trump card of another suit if you want to get rid of it or if you want to give the points to your teammate.

But what are the playing cards, which ones are trump cards, and who is your teammate?
These questions will be answered in the following.

The Doppelkopf deck

There are two possible decks. The French-suited deck that I and most of the people I know are using and will therefore be used here. It consists of the four suits Clubs, Spades, Hearts and Diamonds as seen in the figure below. The other possibility is the German-suited deck (Acorns, Leaves, Hearts and Bells) and according to Wikipedia it is used more commonly in other regions of Germany.

Suits of the game

Fig. 1: Aces of Clubs, Spades, Hearts and Diamonds from left to right

Each playing card exists twice in the deck and cards of each suit range from either 9 or 10 to ace (again depending on the region in Germany or group of people that you play with). So in total the deck consists of 40 or 48 cards.

Each card of a suit has a different value which also defines its rank in the hierarchy of the non-trump cards. I have listed the cards and their respective value in the table below. As you can see, there is a large gap between 10 / ace and the other cards. This imbalance is one of the aspects which make the game interesting.


The players who receive the queen of Clubs play together as so called "Re" and the other two as "Contra". Thus, until these cards are played you can not be 100% certain of who is your teammate. Sometimes a player gets dealt both queens of Clubs. In this case, he announces a "wedding" before the round and his potential teammate is determined by a trick. The player with the wedding decides whether the first won non-trump trick or the first won trump trick by another player will decide the teammate. If the condition is not met in the first three tricks, the player with the wedding plays that round alone. Usually the other players want to play with you if you have a wedding since the queen of Clubs is the second highest trump. This leads me to the introduction of all trumps and their hierarchy.


When new people start to play Doppelkopf, one of the biggest challenges is to remember which cards are trumps and which are not as well as their hierarchy. Therefore, I will try to be concise and first name all trumps and then describe their ranking. The trumps are:

  • all queens
  • all jacks
  • all other cards of Diamonds
  • the 10 of Hearts

The 10 of Hearts is a bit of an outlier, as it is the highest trump and is colloquially called "Dulle". After that, in order Clubs, Spades, Hearts, Diamonds first come all queens and then all jacks. Below that, the remaining Diamonds follow based on the non-trump hierarchy (ace, 10, king, 9).

In the next post I will dive deeper into some special rules for increasing the overall points as well as the case that you want to play alone against the other three players.