Pai Gow is a traditional game of chance and skill, played using Chinese domino tiles. From the sound of the dice shake to signal a round, the feel and click of the tiles, to the aesthetics of the symbolic tile rankings, this is a completely engaging game.
How to Play Pai Gow Tiles
Pai Gow Tiles is the original game on which Pai Gow Poker is based. Both games have the same main objective: To set up two hands to beat that of the dealer. Where Pai Gow Poker uses cards and poker hand ranks, Pai Gow Tiles is played with a set of Chinese dominos, consisting of 32 tiles.
- Play begins with all players placing their bets. The dealer “shuffles” the tiles face down and puts them in eight stacks of four. The dealer then shakes three dice to determine the order in which the tiles are dealt.
- After the dice are exposed, the player may no longer change his bet.
- Each player is dealt four tiles, which must be arranged into two hands—the high hand and the low hand—each consisting of two tiles. The stronger of the two hands is the high hand.
- After all dominos have been arranged, the dealer and players will turn over their hands. Each player compares his hands to the dealer’s.
- If the player wins both hands his bet pays even money, less a 5% commission.
- If the player loses both, he loses his entire wager.
- If the player wins one hand and loses the other, then it’s a push and the player’s bet is returned.
- Two tiles that form a pair make the best hand. A pair in Pai Gow is not just two identical tiles. There are specific tile combinations considered as pairs, and the value of a paired hand is determined by its ranking (see table on the next page).
- If you do not have a pair, you combine your tiles to get as close to 9 as possible. You simply add the number of spots on the two tiles, disregarding the first digit of the total if it is over 9 (e.g. If there are 17 spots, the value of the hand is 7). If your unpaired hand is higher than the dealer’s, you win that hand.
- If the two unpaired hands being compared have the same value, the hand with the higher ranking tile wins.
- If the two hands have the same value and their higher ranking tiles are the same, then the hands are tied exactly. The tie goes to the banker/dealer.
- You can play Pai Gow even if you haven’t completely memorized the tile rankings. Simply play it “House Way” and the dealer will arrange your tiles for you.