Pai Gow Tiles

Pai Gow Tiles is the predecessor of Pai Gow Poker. It has its roots in Ancient China and is arguably one of the oldest games that is currently played in casinos. On this site, we focus primarily on Pai Gow Poker. The game uses standard playing cards and poker hand rankings; most gamblers enjoy the familiarity.

That said, a lot of people prefer to play Pai Gow Tiles. The game moves more slowly than Pai Gow Poker, which makes it easier to preserve your bankroll. And because the game uses dominoes rather than playing cards, it offers a unique flavor to the gambling experience.

On this page, we’ll give you a comprehensive tutorial for playing Pai Gow Tiles. Think of this as a mini workshop. We’ll explain the rules and hand rankings (using dominoes), so you’ll have everything you need in order to get started playing immediately.

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Rules Of Pai Gow Tiles

The game is played with 32 dominoes, each with two sets of dots. For the remainder of this page, we’ll refer to the sets in a “top:bottom” format. So, a 3:4 means 3 dots on top and 4 dots on the bottom. Some dominoes, such as the 3:6 and 2:5, appear only once. Others, such the 6:6 and 1:5 appear twice. Even though some dots are red while others are white, the color is irrelevant.

  • The goal of Pai Gow Tiles is identical to the goal for Pai Gow Poker: to beat the dealer (or technically, the banker when the dealer isn’t banking).
  • At the beginning of a hand, the banker will mix the 32 dominoes and arrange them in 8 stacks of 4.
  • The players (up to 7 besides the banker) will choose their bets.
  • Then, dice are rolled to determine the distribution of the 8 stacks of tiles – each player receives 1 stack.
  • Your job is to arrange your 4 tiles into two hands. Each hand will contain 2 tiles. Each tile (or domino) has a value based on its two sets of dots.
  • If both of your hands beat the banker’s hands, you’ll win and your bet is paid even money.
  • If both of your hands lose against the banker’s hands, you’ll lose your bet.
  • If you win one hand while the other hand loses, you’ll push and your bet is returned to you.
  • If you win both hands, the banker will collect 5% of your winnings as a commission. This is one of the reasons it’s an advantage to act as the banker.

Hand Rankings In Pai Gow Tiles

Hand rankings and scoring in Pai Gow Tiles will seem complicated to novices. Remember these two rules of thumb:

  • Hand values are calculated by adding the dots on the dominoes and dropping the tens place. For example, a hand comprised of 3:4 and 4:5 would be scored as “6”. Here’s the math: 3:4 equals 7 and 4:5 equals 9. 7 plus 9 equals 16. Drop the tens place digit and you’re left with 6.
  • A nine is the best hand possible (with a few exceptions detailed below).

That’s the easy part. Now, let’s cover Days, Teens, Gongs, and Wongs.

  • A 1:1 tile is called a Day.
  • A 6:6 tile is called a Teen.
  • If you pair up either of them with an eight (i.e. 2:6, 3:5, 4:4, etc.), the resulting value is 10, not zero. The hand is called a Gong and outranks a nine.
  • If you pair up either with a nine (i.e. 3:6, 4:5, etc.), the resulting value is eleven, not one. The hand is called a Wong. It too, outranks a nine.

There’s more to learn…

A 1:2 tile and a 2:4 tile are both known as Gee Joon tiles. They can represent a value of 3 or 6, depending upon which yields the best score. For example, suppose that you have a 1:2 tile paired with a 4:5 tile. Normally, with the 1:2 tile representing 3, the hand would be scored as 2 (3 plus 9 equals 12, drop the tens place digit). However, because the 1:2 is a Gee Joon, it can represent 6, giving the hand a score of 5 (6 plus 9 equals 15, drop the tens place).

Let’s move on to pairs.

Among the 32 Pai Gow Tiles, there are 16 possible pairs (for example, a hand comprised of a 2:3 tile and a 1:4 tile). A pair always beats a non-pair hand, regardless of the dots. The ranking of pairs is as follows, starting from the highest score to the lowest score:

  • #1 – 1:2 and 2:4
  • #2 – 6:6 and 6:6
  • #3 – 1:1 and 1:1
  • #4 – 4:4 and 4:4
  • #5 – 1:3 and 1:3
  • #6 – 5:5 and 5:5
  • #7 – 2:2 and 2:2 (vertical)
  • #8 – 2:2 and 2:2 (horizontal)
  • #9 – 5:6 and 5:6
  • #10 – 4:6 and 4:6
  • #11 – 1:6 and 1:6
  • #12 – 1:5 and 1:5
  • #13 – 4:5 and 3:6
  • #14 – 2:6 and 3:5
  • #15 – 3:4 and 2:5
  • #16 – 2:5 and 1:4

Unfortunately, there is no easy system for memorizing the above ranking order.

Playing Pai Gow Tiles To Win

The strategy for Pai Gow Tiles involves splitting your 4 tiles into two hands that maximize your chances of winning both hands. It’s more complex than it sounds. Given the time, we could provide beginner, intermediate, and advanced strategies. We may do so in the future. In the meantime, there are very few online casinos at which to play Pai Gow Tiles. Most offer Pai Gow Poker because it is far more popular with gamblers.

We recommend that you visit Bodog Casino to play Pai Gow Poker. They’ll give you an instant 10% sign-up match on your first deposit. Rather than placing your bonus into a pending account until you earn it out, Bodog drops it into your active account, so you can start using it immediately. Visit Bodog Casino today to start enjoying Pai Gow Poker.