Learn to play Pai Gow, also known as Chinese Dominoes, a rewarding table game where players create two hands out of four tiles and square off against the dealer.
How to play Pai Gow
Pai Gow Tiles is a casino table game steeped in folklore and tradition. Also known as Chinese Dominoes, this challenging and rewarding table game lets players create two hands out of four tiles and square off against the dealer.
Initially, Pai Gow can look confusing. However, you will only need to watch for a short time to realise that it is very similar to many card games but using tiles in place of cards.
Pai Gow is played with 32 tiles. 22 of these tiles form 11 Identical Pairs and the remaining 10 tiles form 5 Mixed Pairs (see illustration). The illustration shows the tiles in their highest to lowest order (or rankings) both as Pairs and as Individual tiles. Familiarise yourself with the tile rankings, as you would for a deck of cards.
At the beginning of the game
The dealer shuﬄes the tiles and then shakes the dice cup, while announcing, “No more bets.” Four dice are exposed, three one colour and the fourth is a diﬀerent colour. The three dice are used to determine which playing area receives the ﬁrst stack of tiles and the fourth to determine which of the six tile cuts will be used when the house Banks. Players will now have the opportunity to handle, view and set their tiles.
Each player and the Bank (or house) needs to construct two separate hands with their four tiles called a Low Hand and a High Hand. The player’s hands and the Bank’s hands are then compared to determine who wins.The dealer has no choice about the way they set the Bank’s hands as they follow a set of rules known as The Star’s Pai Gow House Way. New players who are unsure of how to set their tiles can ask the dealer to set the tiles House Way for them.
The player wins
When your Low Hand and High Hand is of a higher value than the Bank’s Low Hand and High Hand you win. All winning wagers are paid at even-money less 5% commission.
The player stand-off (push, money back)
If only one of your hands is of a higher value than the Bank’s hands, the result is a stand-off.
The bank wins
Wagers only lose if the Bank’s Low Hand and High Hand are both of a higher or identical (copy) value than your Low Hand and High Hand.
When the tiles are in your hand
Step 1. Look for a Pair: After receiving your 4 tiles, look for a Pair. Remember that Pairs have the highest ranking.
Step 2. If there are no Pairs, look for a Teen or Day tile with a 7 or 8 or 9: It is possible to combine one Teen or Day tile with a 7 to form a High 9; a Teen or Day tile with an 8 to form a Gong; a Teen or Day tile with a 9 to form a Wong.
Step 3. If there are no Pairs and no Teen or Day tile with a 7 or 8 or 9:
- The red and white dots represent the numerical value of that tile.
- When the dots exceed a numerical value of 10, just drop the ﬁrst digit.
- Remember, the numerical value closest to nine wins unless a High 9, Gong, Wong or Pair beats it.
- Try balancing the hands by combining a tile with the most dotswith a tile with the least dots or see if two tiles with the least dots can be combined to form hands.
- However, if you and the Bank have a numerical value of zero in the Low Hand, the Bank wins.
Special tiles; Gee Jun
As a Pair, Gee Jun is unbeatable but when separated, each individual Gee Jun tile is ranked the lowest. However, they act like wild cards since each can have a numerical value of either 3 or 6. You choose the value that gives you the best hand.There is no set way a player has to play Pai Gow and the above is only a simple guide. You can have fun experimenting with the diﬀerent tile combinations or try Player Banking.
Aim of the Game
The aim of the game is for your hand to beat the dealer’s hand by drawing a card of a higher rank than the card drawn to the dealer. Casino War also has an optional bet called a ‘Tie Wager’ where odds of 10 to 1 are paid if your initial card drawn is of equal rank to the dealer’s initial card.
Casino War is played with 6 decks and the cards are dealt face-up so you can see your rank value.
The rank of cards from highest to lowest is Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. All suits have the same value.
How to Play
Before any cards are dealt, you must place an ‘Initial Wager’ and you may place an optional ‘Tie Wager’ in the appropriate wagering areas of the layout. You are then dealt one card and then one card is dealt to the dealer.
If your first card is of a higher rank than the dealer’s first card, you will be paid at odds of 1 to 1, otherwise if the dealer’s first card is of a higher rank than your first card, your bet will lose and the dealer will collect your ‘Initial Wager’.
In the event that your first card and the dealer’s first card are of equal rank, you are then to declare your intentions whether to ‘Surrender’ or ‘Go to War’.
If you elect to ‘Surrender’, you will forfeit half your ‘Initial Wager’.
Go to War
If you elect to ‘Go to War’, you will be required to place a ‘War Wager’ in the appropriate area of the layout of an amount equal to your ‘Initial Wager’. You are then dealt an additional card and then an additional card is dealt to the dealer.
Where your additional card is of a higher rank than the dealer’s additional card, you will be paid at odds of 1 to 1 for your ‘War Wager’ only. Your ‘Initial Wager’ will be a ‘stand off’ where you shall neither win nor lose.
Where your additional card is of equal rank to the dealer’s additional card, you will be paid at odds of 2 to 1 for your ‘War Wager’ only. Your ‘Initial Wager’ will be a ‘stand off’ where you shall neither win nor lose.
Where your additional card is of a lower rank than the dealer’s additional card, you will lose your ‘Initial Wager’ and ‘War Wager’.
For the Wager
If you have placed a Tie Wager and your first card is of equal rank to the dealer’s first card, you will be paid at odds of 10 to 1, otherwise your bet will lose and the dealer will collect the ‘Tie Wager’.