Chinese Gambling Games Guides

Gambling holds a prominent place in Asian culture and dates back to more than 2,000 years ago. Many classic casino games we know and love today originated from China and other Asian countries, including Chinese gambling games Baccarat, Sic Bo, Mahjong, and more.

Lewis Kaye
Feb 07 2022

Despite being a big part of its culture, most forms of gambling are banned in China today. However, there is a sizeable underground gambling scene where players still enjoy these Chinese card games and gambling games from the West. Popular Chinese gambling games are also available at all the best online casinos for people worldwide to enjoy. 

Want to learn more about Chinese gambling? Looking to discover the best Asian casino games you can play online? You’re in the right place! In this helpful guide, we give you an overview of the four most popular and exciting Chinese gambling games and tell you where to play them online. 

Top 4 Chinese Gambling Games Worth Learning

Arguably, the four most exciting Chinese gambling games you can play are Baccarat, Pai Gow, Mahjong, and Chinese Poker. These titles are incredibly straightforward to pick up, and you can find them at most casinos in the UK, including the recommended online casinos right here on this page! 

You might notice a running theme of luck in each of these Chinese gambling games; the concepts of fortune, fate, luck, and chance hold a big place in China’s cultural identity. Yet these elements make these casino games extremely exciting and different from many Western games. Think luck could be on your side? Learn these Chinese card games and see if you’re right!

 

Baccarat

Baccarat is the most popular game at China casinos and is the most prevalent Asian casino game worldwide. The game is thought to have originated in the 1400s in Italy. However, it is considered by many to be a Chinese gambling game as it accounts for 85% of Macau’s gross gaming revenue. Why do the Chinese love this game so much? Because it is entirely pinned on luck! It is also super straightforward to learn and an excellent option for beginners.

If you want to play Baccarat online, we recommend Paddy Power Casino. This site has a great selection of Baccarat and other Chinese gambling games for UK players to enjoy. Similarly, Paddy Power offers several free play Baccarat titles, meaning you can experience the fun and excitement of playing without investing your own funds. The site also offers a great selection of electronic Baccarat games and several exciting live dealer options, like Live Baccarat and Lightning Baccarat. 

How to Play Baccarat

Baccarat is one of the easiest Chinese gambling games to learn. The aim is simple; two hands are dealt, and you have to bet which hand is closest to a value of 9. Cards all have their pip value, while J, Q, K and A all have a value of 10. Here is how each hand plays out:

  1. Players bet on either the “banker” (the dealer) or the “bettor” (the player).
  2. Two cards are dealt face-up to the banker and the bettor.
  3. The value of each hand is worked out by adding the card values together. If the total hand is greater than 9, the “1” is dropped from the front.
  4. If either hand is below a value of six, another card is dealt.
  5. At the end of the round, whichever hand is closest to nine wins.

 

Pai Gow

Many UK players will already be familiar with Pai Gow Poker. This Chinese card game is derived from popular Chinese Pai Gow tiles used to play dominos. As such, Pai Gow Poker resembles a game of dominoes in many ways. However, the Chinese gambling game is more complex as it uses 52 cards rather than 32 dominoes. It is a unique poker variant that is enjoyed widespread across the globe. 

You can partake in Chinese gambling and play Pai Gow Poker at any of our recommended sites. However, our experts recommend Ladbrokes Casino for the best experience. The operator was established way back in 1886 and really knows its stuff. Plus, the site offers several varieties of Pai Gow for you to enjoy. 

How to Play Pai Gow

The primary aim of this Chinese card game is simple – you want to beat the banker. Players do this by making two hands using the seven cards dealt. One of these is a five-card high hand, while the other is a two-card low hand. However, there are no betting rounds. Like many Chinese gambling games, the outcome depends on luck and how the cards are dealt.

If both of your hands win, you receive a payout, whereas the dealer wins if their hands beat yours. The money stays on the table if one hand wins and the other loses. Here is what a typical hand of the Chinese gambling game looks like:

  1. All cards are dealt into seven piles of seven cards, and the remaining cards are discarded.
  2. Each player takes one pile of seven cards as their hand.
  3. Players look at their cards and work out what their best hands are. The highest for a low hand is a two-pair, while standard poker hand rankings apply to the five-card hand.
  4. All players place their hands face-up on the table.
  5. Any players with two hands that beat the dealer’s win a payout.

 

Mahjong

Mahjong is one of the oldest Chinese gambling games and can be traced back over 2,000 years. Yet it is currently prohibited at China casinos and mainly takes place at underground venues. Thankfully, UK players won’t need to step outside the confines of the laws to play Mahjong. The game is available and legal at many of the best UK casinos recommended by our experts. 

Mahjong is different from the other Chinese gambling games on this list as you can apply strategy and skill. Of course, there is a little luck involved too! Moreover, unlike Baccarat and Pai Gow Poker, Mahjong games are gambling board games played with tiles and dice instead of cards. There are 144 tiles, each printed with an ancient Chinese symbol. These symbols are split into categories:

  • Bamboos (four sets of nine)
  • Characters (four sets of nine)
  • Dots (four sets of nine)
  • Dragons (three sets of nine)
  • Flowers (four)
  • Seasons (four)
  • Winds (four sets of four)

For Chinese gambling players, each of these tiles is symbolic. For UK players, the symbols won’t mean as much. Still, it is still an exciting new game to try nonetheless. 

How to Play Mahjong

The aim of Mahjong is to make matching pairs and sequences of tiles, also known as “Melds”. There are three different Melds you can make: Pung (three identical tiles), Kong (four identical tiles), and Chow (three tiles of the same suit). To win Mahjong, players need to make a 14-tile hand consisting of pairs and Melds. Once they have a winning hand, they must shout “Mahjong” out loud to the group. 

Here is what a typical hand of the Chinese gambling game Mahjong looks like:

  1. All players roll the two dice. The player with the highest roll becomes the dealer.
  2. All the tiles are turned face-down, placed in the middle of the table, and shuffled.
  3. Each player takes 13 tiles and hides them from other players.
  4. Players take turns drawing new tiles from the middle. These can be kept and exchanged with another tile in their hand or immediately discarded.
  5. The game ends when one player has a winning 14-tile hand. They must shout “Mahjong” and then show their hand to the group.

 

Chinese Poker

The last of the Chinese gambling games recommended by our experts is Chinese Poker. This variation of traditional poker originated in China casinos. Unlike Western poker, which relies heavily on skill, Chinese Poker is influenced mainly by luck. For this reason, it is one of the best Chinese card games for beginners. You can find Chinese Poker at many of our recommended UK casinos, so learn the rules and see if luck is on your side!

How to Play Chinese Poker

Chinese Poker uses the same card rankings as traditional Hold’Em Poker. The overall aim of the game is also the same – build a higher poker hand than other players, and you’ll win. However, this Chinese gambling game doesn’t resemble other poker varieties much in terms of gameplay. For better understanding, here’s a look at how a hand typically goes:

  1. The game starts with all players being dealt 13 cards, meaning a maximum of four players can play Chinese Poker at once. 
  2. From these 13 cards, players have to construct three poker hands as follow: a back hand (five cards), a middle hand (five cards) and a front hand (three cards).
  3. If happy with their hands, players can choose to up their bets. On the other hand, they have the chance to fold if they have bad cards.
  4. All players still in the game reveal their hands. The players with the highest hands win. 

 

Chinese Gambling Games Summary

Many of the best casinos games have origins in Asia, whose culture is closely linked with luck, so we recommend giving these Chinese gambling games a try. They’re not too dissimilar to Western card games, so you’ll pick them up in no time. So, to discover the most exciting Chinese card games, take a look at the online gambling sites recommended on this page. Not only do these sites boast incredible Chinese gambling titles, but they also give you access to unbeatable bonuses.

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Written by: Lewis Kaye
Feb 07 2022
Lewis Kaye is a sports fanatic. Whether its football, tennis or golf he has it covered. Over 25 years of watching, attending and betting on all different types of sporting events. Whether its Premier League, Champions League, Golf Masters or Wimbledon he is the man to listen to. We are delighted that he will run this blog and write articles on the upcoming sporting events. He will also add his betting tips of the week! Keep up to date, you don’t want to miss out!