Pai Gow, a unique dice game, comes from southern China. It is believed to have originated in Fujian Province, where it was first published in 1985. Zhi Zhong wrote a well-researched and accessible book on the origins of Pai Gow. This version does not list the names of the players, only the scores. While the rules have been simplified for the western audience, there is still enough complexity to be enjoyed by the more experienced players.
Pai Gow’s goal is to “bank” points. This can be done by placing your dominoes on the rows of counters and rolling them on top of them. It’s important to get to the finish line before any of your opponents do it on their own. The banker is the last player in each row. He gets all the money he won in the game and can immediately pick up new cards from his deck. The banker has the ability to call “rain” or “flip” tiles. This leads to all other players scattering their piece combinations and creating a new arrangement.
Pai Gow is very easy to master. All you need to win the game is a strong hand in dominoes and a good sense of when to place them. Your sets of Chinese dominoes must be placed face up on the table. You are not allowed to put any of your Chinese dominoes in your pockets. You will place your bets on the value of your Chinese dominoes. The remaining Chinese dominoes are then flipped face up into the pot when you win a flip. If you lose a flip, the entire pot will fold. The dealer takes the cards from the folding board and places them in the center of the new set.
After all players are set up and ready to play, the dealer gives each player seven dice. He or she places the dice face down in the center of the dealer’s dice cup. The dealer throws the ball, known as a “pai gow”, towards the “pai” table. The ball can land either in the player’s home row or in the dealer’s pocket. The player who lands in his home row wins one point.
Each player is given ten pairs of dice to add excitement to the game. In the regular game, four pairs of dice are used by each player. These dice are still part of the regular rules. The hand is decided by the tenth pair of dice (called “domino”), which can affect the outcome. Pai Gow’s regular version has ten pairs of dice. Two players must sit in front of each other at the same table. The hand is influenced by the ninth pair of dice.
Pai Gow does not recognize straight lines. Each player receives four to nine dominoes. You can combine two of the hands, but you have to decide which hand has more valuable tiles.
Pai Gow can be played in two ways. The most popular strategy is to use the dealer’s tables.
Each player must draw from the discard pile after the last round. The first two parts drawn count. The dealer then discards the top piece known as the “burn” and gives each player seven dominoes. The game will restart and the dealer will discard the top piece (called the “burn”) and deal seven new cards to each player.