When it comes to invention, China is a world leader. The Four Great Inventions – gunpowder, printing, paper, and the compass – all originated in the East and are believed to have had a profound impact on the development of civilisation around the world.
China also lays claim to the mechanical clock, alcohol, tea, silk, umbrellas, kites, porcelain, and much more, including: gambling. The idea of risking something, for a bigger reward, has been a part of Chinese culture for more than 4,000 years.
In the west, the most popular casino games are Bingo, Baccarat, Keno, Roulette, Blackjack, and Poker, and the slots. In Asia, only Baccarat and Keno are in the top seven. In fact: Baccarat is the single most popular game. In 2017, Baccarat was responsible for more than 88 per cent of the $33.2 billion made in Macau’s 40 casinos.
But Baccarat is the exception: a card game that originated in the west before moving east. However: many believe that Baccarat is a derivation of pai gow. Literally translated: pai gow means ‘make nine’ – the same as a ‘natural’ in Baccarat.
Pai Gow – Two Ways
Pai gow is a uniquely Chinese game. Popular both in real world casinos and online, the game can be played with cards or Dominoes. In the Poker version of the game, the rules are fairly simple; especially if you understand the basic hand rankings of Poker.
Seven cards are dealt and players must create their two best hands: one of five cards, one of two. You need to beat the dealer with both hands to win. If it’s 50/50, it’s a push. Tactically, this means you sometimes sacrifice an unbeatable five card hand to create two good hands.
The tiled version of the game is more complicated and uses 32 Chinese Dominoes. Again: both the players and dealer must create two hands. This time, everyone is dealt four Dominoes. The numbers of each pair are added together to get as close to nine as possible. Once again: strategy is key and you must win both hands to beat the dealer. in pai gow, it’s about balance.
If the Craps and Roulette table sneaker off and had a baby, it would look something like sic bo. Sic bo is another ancient Chinese game. Literally translated, sic bo means ‘precious dice’. Played with three dice, its closest cousin is Roulette. Instead of using a Roulette wheel, three dice are used. There is a table layout where players can make their bets and see the potential payouts.
The sic bo table features six main categories of bets: single numbers, two number combos, three number totals, triple bets, pair bets, and big and small bets. All neatly laid out on the table. It’s a pure game of chance. The dice sit inside a clear shaker. Roll and win.
Fan-tan is another ancient Chinese game with roots that stretch back to the Northern and Southern dynasties in around 400 AD. Formerly known as yanqian – meaning ‘covering coins’ – fan-tan is a game of pure chance that owes a lot to roulette.
Fascinating fan tan in action
Keno and Pachinko
Keno is one of the most popular casino games in the world. It’s basically an instant lottery and very similar to Bingo. It also originated in China where – legend has it – revenue from game helped build the Great Wall of China.
The noise! Pachinko in Japan
Finally, Pachinko. Originating from Japan, Pachinko is a crazy hybrid of slot machine and pinball table. Hundreds of tiny ball bearings rattle through the machine. If you can catch them, you earn money. Pachinko parlours are popular in Japan and the craze is filtering through to more and more Asian casinos. One day, they may even give slots a run for the money.
If you have never tried your luck on any of these amazing games, the good news is that you can find most of them online. Although they are still working on the Pachinko. What are you waiting for? Try something different today.