Pai Gow Tiles
Pai Gow is a Chinese gambling game played with 32 domino-like tiles. “Pai Gow” means “to make nine”. In the game, the player competes against the Banker, a role usually handled by the dealer, by betting on whose tiles will produce a higher score. (See more on the Banker below.)
How is it played?
The object of Pai Gow is to win the pot by betting on who will get the better tiles: player or Banker. All players and the dealer receive four tiles each that they must split into two pairs – the lower-scoring “front” hand and higher-scoring “rear” hand. The challenge is to arrange each pair so they score as close as possible to nine, a perfect score.
1. Before any tiles have been dealt, the dealer will call for bets.
2. After all bets are in, the dealer shakes a dice cup to see who gets their tiles first.
3. Once players have received their tiles, they need to be arranged to form the best hands possible—see hand rankings below.
4. If a player’s front and rear hands beat both the Banker’s hands, that player wins. If only one of a player’s hands beats only one of the dealer’s, it’s a tie and the player’s bet pushes.
In Pai Gow, the “Banker” is not always the dealer. Instead, the dealer offers the role around the table before rounds. The “Banker” covers the wagers of the other players on each round, wins on all ties and has special betting privileges—they can increase their bets by up to 10% more than other players at the table.
How hands are ranked
In Pai Gow, hands are ranked according to a specific Chinese counting method.
Here’s a basic breakdown:
Ranks 2 – 12: Bo
Any matched pair of tiles. Ranking depends on the value of the combo a player puts down.
Ranks 17 & 18: Wong
A pair of tiles that includes either a:
- 12 & any 9 (ranked 17)
- 2 & any 9 (ranked 18)