Which casino game is played with a set of a set of 32 Chinese dominoes? The answer to this question is Pai Gow.
Pai Gow, which in Chinese means “make nine”, is the most popular casino game in Macau. If thousands of years ago it was just a domino game, today it is spread all over the world as Poker Pai Gow. At the Pai Gow game, the dealer separates the domino pieces into four equal groups, then rolls the dice to determine which group of pieces each player receives. Pai Gow, which is considered the most popular gambling casino game in Macau and plays with 32 dominoes, became famous among players in the 1800-1900s. Then it spread all over the world, in various versions, influencing the most popular table games in casinos. It is played not only in the big casinos in Macao, but also in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand casinos. It is said that Pai Gow was brought to America by Chinese immigrants.
In time, the game changed, the place of the traditional dominoes being taken by the playing cards. In the late 1900s, Fred Wolf and Sam Torosian invented what is today known as Pai Gow Poker. It is played with a deck of 53 cards, including a joker, which acts as a Wild Card or can be used as an Ace. The game is played on a blackjack table with a maximum of six players and a banker, against whom, moreover, he will play.
Pai Gow Rules
The Pai Gow rules are: Tiles are shuffled on the table and are arranged into eight face-down stacks of four tiles each in an assembly known as the woodpile. Individual stacks or tiles may then be moved in specific ways to rearrange the woodpile, after which the players place their bets.
Next, each player (including the dealer) is given one stack of tiles and must use them to form two hands of two tiles each. The hand with the lower value is called the front hand, and the hand with the higher value is called the rear hand. If a player’s front hand beats the dealer’s front hand, and the player’s rear hand beats the dealer’s rear hand, then that player wins the bet. If a player’s front and rear hands both lose to the dealer’s respective hands, the player loses the bet. If one hand wins and the other loses, the player is said to push, and gets back only the money he or she bet. Generally, seven players will play, and each player’s hands are compared only against the dealer’s hands; comparisons are always front-front and rear-rear, never one of each.
Selection of tiles:-
There are 35,960 possible ways to select 4 of the 32 tiles when the 32 tiles are considered distinguishable. However, there are 3620 distinct sets of 4 tiles when the tiles of a pair are considered indistinguishable. There are 496 ways to select 2 of the 32 tiles when the 32 tiles are considered distinguishable. There are 136 distinct hands (pairs of tiles) when the tiles of a pair are considered indistinguishable.
Scoring in Pai Gow-
The maximum score for a hand is nine. If a hand consists of two tiles that do not form a pair, its value is determined by adding up the total number of pips on the tiles and dropping the tens digit (if any). Examples:
- 1-3 with 2-3: value 9 (nine pips altogether)
- 2-3 with 5-6: value 6 (16 pips; drop the 10)
- 5-5 with 4-6: value 0 (20 pips; one’s digit is zero)
Gongs and Wongs
There are special ways in which a hand can score more than nine points. The double-one tiles and double-six tiles are known as the Day and Teen tiles, respectively. The combination of a Day or Teen with an eight results in a Gong, worth 10 points, while putting either of them with a nine creates a Wong, worth 11. However, when a Day or Teen is paired with any other tile, the standard scoring rules apply.
Gee Joon tiles
The 1-2 and the 2-4 tiles are called Gee Joon tiles and act as limited wild cards. When used as part of a hand, these tiles may be scored as either 3 or 6, whichever results in a higher hand value. For example, a hand of 1-2 and 5-6 scores as seven rather than four.
There are 16 pairs. A hand made up of a pair, it always scores higher than a non-pair, no matter what the value of the pips are. (Pairs are often thought of as being worth 12 points each.)
When the player and dealer both have a pair, the higher-ranked pair wins. Ranking is determined not by the sum of the tiles’ pips, but rather by aesthetics; the order must be memorized. The highest pairs are the Gee Joon tiles, the Teens, the Days, and the red eights. The lowest pairs are the mismatched nines, eights, sevens, and fives.
When the player and dealer display hands with the same score, the one with the highest-valued tile (based on the pair rankings described above) is the winner. If the scores are tied, and if the player and dealer each have an identical highest-ranking tile, the hand is ruled a copy and the dealer wins.