Mah Jong: The classic Chinese gambling game. The game is played similarly to Rummy, except instead of cards, tiles are used. To win, a player must assemble four sets of threes (either three of a kind or a sequence in the same suit) and an extra pair. In addition, there are a number of special hands that can be made which score higher than the usual amount of points and have exotic names such as “Heavenly Peace,” “Moon from the Bottom of the Sea,” or “Thirteen Orphans.” The game is played differently from country to country, province to province, even household to household. There are plenty of official rule sets in use, including International, Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, Hong Kong, and numerous American variants. Many families play at least once a year, when they are together for the New Year’s celebrations. But even at times like those, among family, Mah Jong is still played for money. The stakes are usually much reduced then, however. For a long time, Mah Jong was banned in Communist China. Bowing to inevitability, the government finally allowed the game, at the same time publishing an ‘official’ set of rules by which it should be played.
Pai Gow: Pai Gow is played with a set of 32 Chinese Dominoes. The dominoes are a bit larger and a bit thicker than American Dominoes. In addition, the pips for the number 1 and the number 4 are in red, the rest are in white. This has no significance to the game, however, it is merely following the tradition of Chinese Dice, which are red on the 1 and 4. Each player in Pai Gow is dealt a hand of four dominoes, which he must arrange in two pairs, one high and one low. House rules typically state that you must beat the banker with both the high hand and the low hand in order to collect. Jackie Chan in his biography My Story talks about his addiction to Togel online gambling, and among all gambling games, he cites Pai Gow as the ruin of the most families and fortunes, including his own. The trouble lies in the fact that the banker changes with each round, one of the players taking on the role. The player who becomes the banker for a round puts up a certain amount of money as a bet. Then, all other players may put up the same amount of money. If the banker wins, he stands to collect a great deal, but if he loses, he must pay out to everyone who bet against him, which can lead to devestating losses.
Fan-Tan: A traditional and very simple pebble-counting game. “Fan” means “to turn over” (a bowl or cup) and “Tan” means “to spread out” (the stones). The banker places a quantity of small stones, coins, beans, or whatever under a bowl, while the players place bets on one of four squares, numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4. Then the bowl is removed and the stones are removed, four at a time, until there are four or less remaining. Winners are those who placed bets on the numbered square which corresponds to the actual number of remaining stones. Bets are typically payed out 1 to 1. There are 1 to 4 odds to win a game of Fan-Tan, making it a popular game with a low risk factor.
Belankas: This unusual game comes from the Javanese. A four-sided top, marked with a crab, flower, fish, and prawn, is spun, and covered with a bowl. Players place their bets on squares marked with the same images. If you bet on the shape which lands face up when the top has stopped, you win.
Sic Bo: This is the classic dice game that features in every gambling film. In Sic Bo, three dice are shaken in a cup and placed hidden under the cup on the table. Bets are made. The simple bet is high or low. Low is when the sum of the dice is less than 10, high when it is greater. Winning this kind of bet pays 1 to 1. Guessing the actual numbers thrown make for much higher payoffs. In the gambling genre, great gamblers are supposed to be able to ‘hear’ the way the dice fall in the cup, and are able to control the numbers they throw when they are shaking them. Failing that, having a magical power to see through the cup is the next best thing. A gambling movie just isn’t a gambling movie without at least one fierce round of Sic Bo.
Card Games: Nothing suprising here. Blackjack and five-card Poker are the usual games. In five-card Poker, the first card is dealt to each player face down, the next three face up, and the last one face down. Between each card, players have the option to bet, raise, call, or drop out. These are the games that master gamblers can, after much experience, actually gain an edge against the house.