Pai gow (Chinese: 牌九; pinyin: pái jiǔ; jyutping: paai4 gau2) is a Chinese gambling game, played with a set of Chinese dominoes. Pai gow is played in unsanctioned casinos in most Chinese communities. It is played openly in major casinos in China (including Macau); the United States (including Las Vegas, Nevada; Connecticut; Atlantic City, New Jersey; and cardrooms in California); Canada (including Edmonton, Alberta and Calgary, Alberta); Australia; and, New Zealand. It dates back to at least the Song Dynasty, and is a game steeped in tradition.
The name "pai gow" is sometimes used to refer to a card game called pai gow poker (or “double-hand poker”), which is loosely based on pai gow.Pai gow loosely translates to "make nine" and was the basis for games like chemin de fer and baccarat.
Starting the Game
Tiles are randomized on the table, and are stacked into eight stacks of four tiles each in an assembly known as the woodpile. Various ritualistic "shuffles" are made, rearranging the tiles in the woodpile in standard ways that result in a new woodpile. Bets are then made.
Next, each player (including the dealer) is given four tiles with which to make 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.
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