Tiến lên

Tiến lên
Origin Vietnamese
Alternative names Thirteen, Killer
Type Shedding-type
Players 2-4
Cards 52 (13 per player)
Deck Anglo-American
Play Clockwise
Card rank (highest to lowest) 2 A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3
Playing time 20 min.
Random chance Easy
Related games

Tiến lên (Vietnamese: tiến lên, tiến: advance; lên: to go up, up; literally: "go forward"), also known as Vietnamese cards, Thirteen, Killer 13, "'Bomb"', is a Vietnamese shedding-type card game devised in Southern China and Vietnam.[1] It is similar to Zheng Shangyou, which uses a specially printed deck of cards, Big Two, and other "climbing" card games popular in many parts of Asia. Tien len, considered the national card game of Vietnam, is a game intended and best for four players.


Note: The following discussion makes use of Unicode characters for the four card suits; you may need to switch to or install a more complete Unicode font if you cannot see these characters properly: , , ♣, and ♠.


A standard deck of fifty-two playing cards is used. The ranking of the cards from highest to lowest is: 2 A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3. The 2 is the highest card in the game, and the 3 is the lowest card.

The cards are also ranked based on their suits. The ranking from highest to lowest are:

The objective of the game is to be the first to get rid of all of your cards by playing various combinations.


A standard deck of fifty-two(52) playing cards is used. The dealer can be anyone, and is normally designated by the players themselves. Each player is dealt thirteen cards, with a card being dealt one at a time to each player counter-clockwise, although some players allow clockwise dealing at the dealer's discretion. The cards can also be dealt single-handedly to each player. This will result in all fifty-two cards in the deck being dealt. When playing with three players, each player can hold the traditional thirteen maximum cards or the whole deck may be dealt out to the players.

Standard combinations

Singles can be defeated by higher singles in rank. Although it is the lowest card in the game, the 3♠ is also the most important card in the game since with this card, a player can commence the game. Even though it is a cinch to defeat, singles can be the most difficult head-scratchers. As the cards get higher, players begin to choose to eliminate the best in their hand, to defeat another player's single card.

A pair can only be defeated by a pair containing a card of a higher rank than the highest card of the previous pair. For example: If a player plays the 9♠ and the 9, and another player holds the higher pair, such as the J and the J or the 9 and the 9♠ it means that he can play them and defeat the first pair.

A sequence can only be beaten by a higher sequence. In order to defeat a sequence, the higher sequence can be a mix of any suits, as long as rank of the highest card is higher. If, a person plays 6 7 8♠, that straight can only be defeated by any 3 card straight like 6♠ 7 8♣, or higher. If a person extends the sequence, it must be defeated by matching the number of cards played, only in a higher sequence.

Special combinations: Bombs

Pair sequences have the important ability to defeat 2s.

A pair sequence can only be beaten by a higher pair sequence. In order to defeat a double sequence, the higher sequence must be in the same quantity and color as the defeated sequence and the first pair of the higher sequence must be higher than the last pair of the lower one, like 3 3 4 4 5 5 can be defeated by 6 6 7 7 8 8, since the first pair in the second sequence contains the 6.

Four-of-a-kind can only be defeated by a higher four-of-a-kind. A four-of-a-kind has the ability to defeat any single 2 card. Note that if a player wishes to defeat more than a single 2 using a four-of-a-kind, they would need to transform it into a double-sequence of at least two fingers, like all 4s, all 5s, and all 6s can defeat three 2s. This is because each of those are considered a four-of-a-kind, which means each of them can defeat a 2.

Discussion of Twos and Bombs

If 2s are played in combinations, beginning with a single pair, the double sequence or four-of-a-kind must be extended or enhanced to be able to defeat those quantity of 2s: Playing pairs of a card makes that card and the combination more powerful. By adding on more 2s to the pile, the play has gotten more powerful. As a result, a regular double sequence or four-of-a-kind is too weak to defeat it, like any single 2. It can be defeated by a regular double sequence such as 10♠ 10♣ J♠ J♣ Q♠ Q♣ or a regular four-of-a-kind such as 3 3♠ 3 3♣. However, if two 2s are played, then a regular double sequence or four-of-a-kind is not strong enough to beat it. This is because the power of a 2 has been doubled. The sequence must be extended or enhanced in order to defeat more than a single 2.

Notice that an extended double sequence has at minimum 8 doubles in consecutive order, rather than a maximum of 6 like a regular sequence. By extending the double sequence, the play has therefore gotten more powerful than a regular double sequence, and as a result is now able to defeat two 2s. The same concept applies to more than two 2s. The more 2s, the more extension needs to be done on a double sequence.

Four-of-a-kinds are almost impossible to extend. Having all four of three numbers in sequential order will just about never happen without the use of trading. However, just in case a player gets extremely lucky, extended four-of-a-kinds have a different property than the extended double sequence. An extended four-of-a-kind such as 8 8 8♠ 8♣ : 9♣ 9 9 9♠ ||3 3♠ 3 3♣ : 4♠ 4 4♣ 4 : 5 5♣ 5 5♠ in some versions of the game can defeat as many as four 2s in just one extension. However, the four-of-a-kind extension is so rare, there has never been a rule to extend it. Therefore, only the players can decide just what are the guidelines to it, and how many 2s can be defeated by extending it.

Instant wins

There are officially seven things that can guarantee a player a very rare instant win:

A player must be genuinely dealt one of the three instant win occasions. No trading will aid a player in an automatic victory.

As explained earlier in the article, four 2s are simply all the twos together. This is the most powerful set of cards to have. As a result, the player will be too powerful to continue playing. Therefore, they have the choice of gaining an instant win. Six pairs is as it sounds: having six doubles. This means that if a player naturally holds 13 cards, 12 of those cards must form doubles in order to gain an instant win. The last instant win occasion, ultimate dragon, is the most difficult to attain. The ultimate dragon must contain two things in order for the player to receive an automatic victory: the 3♠, and the A. These two cards are essential in an ultimate dragon, because the three of spades commences the game, and the player can run the sequence straight to the ace of hearts. This makes the entire dragon completely unstoppable, therefore leaving the player with one remaining card, resulting in a victory.

In most games, only "Four 2s" is played as an instant win. And in a variation of it, the player with that four 2s will no long be a winner. He would like to tell another players and they will have the game restarted.


Point system

If x is the bet:

i.e. if player 1 plays 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, receiving x points, then player 2 can re-cut or bomb by gaining 2x points.


House rules

There are many variations and house rules that are agreed upon before playing. The names tien len, thirteen, VC, etc., are generally used interchangeably and do not necessarily imply any particular set of rules. Some combinations of rules would by their nature be conflicting, so one or the other must be chosen. Some variations from the above rules are:

Double Deck 13

In Double Deck 13, two decks are used, one with a red back, one blue. This game requires 8 players, and the same rules are followed as regular thirteen with the following exceptions:

Killer (Hawaiian variant)

In Hawaii, each player is dealt 13 cards, regardless of the total number of players (2 or 4). Some of the basic rules include:

There are some less common variations as well:

Akita International University variant

In a version of 13 played by students at Akita International University, the rules for dealing and beginning a game are the same. However some of the basic rules are different:

Amsterdam Variant/ Vietnamese Poker (VP)

In this version, played in pubs around Amsterdam, many of the rules are the same, except one big variation exists. Both red 3s (that being 3 and 3) are used as ultimate trumps. While the 2s still exist as the highest single cards (though cannot be used in straights), the red 3s can be played on any combination. 3 cannot be beaten by anything, while 3 can only be beaten by 3. The only exception to this is a chop (three consecutive pairs such as 4, 4♠, 5♣, 5, 6♠, 6♣, or four-of-a-kind such as K, K, K♣, K♠) that has been played on (and can only be played on) a single two. Red 3s cannot beat chops, only higher chops can beat chops.

UT Pike/OC Intern variant

This variation is referred to as Viet Cong.

Asian Deuces Variant

The winner of the hand determines whether the cards in the next game are cleared after each round or at the end of the game. During the very first game the player with the 3♠ determines the card clearing procedure for that game.

Draw Pile Thirteen (San Jose Style)

Draw Pile Thirteen does not change basic rules of play.

Pro-Play Thirteen

Pro Play Thirteen does not change the dealing or basic rules of play. The variations generally expand the combinations available to play:

Level 4
1 Quad 2s (Unbombable)
2 QQQ, KKK, AAA, 222
Level 3 (Can bomb three 2s)
3 TT, JJ, QQ, KK, AA, 22
4 3 Quads†
5 Four-triple straight of triples (333,444,555,666)
6 KKK, AAA, 222
7 Six-pair straight of pairs (33,44,55,66,77,88)
8 JJ, QQ, KK, AA, 22
9 Five-pair straight of pairs (33,44,55,66,77)
10 QQ, KK, AA, 22
Level 2 (can bomb two 2s)
11 Three-triple straight of triples (333,444,555)
12 2 Quads†
13 Four-pair straight of pairs (33,44,55,66)
14 KK, AA, 22
Level 1 (can bomb one 2)
15 Quadruples (5555)
16 Three-pair straight of pairs (33,44,55)

† Note multiple quads can be played as one bomb and do not have to be consecutive, for example: 4444 + 9999 can be played together

Players play for 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th. No extra points for holding 2's or having extra cards unless you didn't get in as stated below in the 'Got to Get In' rule. First place gets 2 points, 2nd gets 1 point, 3rd gets minus 1 point & 4th gets minus 2 points. Variations of the points can be increased as long as it's still a zero sum game. One extra point is given to someone who bombs someone's two. Points compound using the hierarchy of bombs listed above.

Guaransheeds are a special case in which a player believes he or she can guarantee a first place win. If the Guaransheeding player is successful, the Guaransheeding player will receive an additional point from each player in the game. If unsuccessful, the Guaransheeding player must give 2 point to each player in the game. A Guaransheed must be approved by all players before play begins.

Blind Guaransheeds are similar to Guaransheeds except the Guaransheeding player has not seen his or her hand before guaranteeing the victory. If the Blind Guaransheeding player is successful, that player will receive two additional points from each player in the game. Otherwise the Guaransheeding player must give two points to each player in the game.

Got to Get In: If a player goes out and any of the players has not yet played a card, each player who has not played forfeits two points to the player who is going out.

White - out: If a player does not hit a single card before another player finishes, they are automatically eliminate from the game. For scoring, they will owe x2 the "set amount" for a normal loss.

Cambodian Switcheroo: When a player suggest you pass, insinuating he will go low or hit a card you like, sometimes even by showing you the card. Only to switch it at the last moment for another.

See also


  1. Encyclopedia of Play in Today's Society, Rodney P. Carlisle, p. 136 ISBN 978-1-4129-6670-2 "Indeed, there are a number of card games largely played only in China, and these include Atom, which involves three packs ... Tien Len, which originates in southern China and Vietnam;"
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