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A Short Guide to Less Common Table Games: From Sic Bo to Fan Tan

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We all know the casino classic table games like blackjack, roulette and craps, but what about the more unusual games you can find in a casino? We’re going to give you a brief introduction to some of the less commonly found table games out there ready to play.

As the Asian market grows as the new casino wonderland with the glitzy mega-casinos of Macau and Singapore, Asian games are gaining an edge in the casino industry with games like Sic Bo and Pai Gow slowly gaining popularity.

Casino games have come and gone over history, with games like Faro dying out in the 1980s, but we think that it’s time to see what’s unusual and interesting out in the casino world.

Sic Bo

Sic Bo is perhaps one of Macau’s hottest games after Baccarat, and while it appears complex on first glance, its not too bad once you’ve got the hang of the system.

The game is played thus, there is a table with a variety of possible bets, think of the Roulette table with possible combinations like odds, evens or specific numbers, where the players can place their bets on a number of outcomes.

The dealer then puts three dice in a chest, which is then shaken and opened to reveal a combination.

Players have the option to bet on small (4-10) or big (11-17) number outcome. There are also other ways to play, like betting on the total value of dice combinations, for example.

Like roulette, the value of the bet is related to the probability of the outcome.

Pai Gow

On first glance, Pai Gow looks like a headache for novice players. This game is played with 32 Chinese dominos where each player, including the banker gets four tiles.

The player needs to separate the tiles into two hands, where one is the high hand and the other is the low hand. The aim of the game is to beat both the banker’s high and low hands. If you beat one, then it’s a push.

Any ties go to the banker, although any of the players can have the role of the banker.

Forgotten Casino Games:

Faro, a late 17th century card game from France, is often played between a banker and a group of players. This was once a popular card game, which became extinct in the casinos around the 1980s.

Biribi was a low stakes game that is very similar to today’s lottery, which was outlawed in 1837. It was played on a board with numbers 1-70 marked where players placed their stakes before the draw.

Basset was a very polite card game that was reserved for the elite due to its great losses and gains. It was one of the most popular games in Venice’s Il Ridotto, the very first casino in Europe.

With Pai Gow, the players do need to learn what the different tiles mean and how the combination will work for them in their favor. With good Pai Gow strategy it is possible to win even with low tiles.

Despite the complex combinations and the use of Chinese names associated with the tiles themselves, the betting strategy of Pai Gow is very similar to Blackjack.

Even though Pai Gow, as it is traditionally played, is very much an Asian game, there is an Americanized version known as Pai Gow poker that is played using cards instead of Chinese dominoes.

This uses a standard 52-card deck and a joker card, where the players try to beat the banker.

This also follows the idea of creating two poker hands out of a seven-card hand that the player is dealt by the dealer – the five-card hand and the two-card poker hand.

Instead of two pairs, the five-card hand must exceed the two-card hand, where the corresponding hands must beat the bankers. The concept is the same as the Pai Gow with dominoes, only it runs on a different scoring system.

Pai Gow poker is a game you can find on a number of online and mobile casinos offering a wider range of games.

Casino War

If the above games make your head spin from their complicated rules then maybe Casino War is the perfect antidote.

This is by far the easiest card came out in the casino circuit, and in fact evolved from a child’s game.

Casino War is played with six decks of cards, which are ranked in the same way as poker, except that the aces are always high, and the suit doesn’t matter.

In the casino version of the game, players make a wager and each player and the dealer get one card. This is then compared with the dealer’s card, and if the player’s card beats the dealer then they win, if not the player loses.

Ties mean that the player can either surrender or forfeit half of the bet, or follow the namesake of the game by going to war.

By going to war, the player raises his or her bet by an equal amount to the wager. The dealer will then burn three cards and both the player and dealer get another card each.

In the case the player’s second card equals or beats the dealer, then the player wins back on the raise only and the original wager shall push. In the event the player loses to the dealer, then he or she will lose both bets.

Fan Tan

This is another Chinese game found in Macau’s larger casinos. The set-up of the game looks a bit like the accessories of a magic trick with a pile of white buttons, a cup and a wand.

It’s often played on a table similar to a large craps table, with the middle being reserved for the dealer and is covered by a clear plastic dome. The other side is reserved for the players and their bets.

The Fan Tan table has a large square at the center, which is flanked by sides numbered one to four.

The croupier places a cup over about 60 buttons, and the players place bets on the numbers one through to four by laying their bets on the side of the square corresponding to the number there.

The dealer then removes the cup and uses the wand to count off the buttons under the cup in groups of four. This goes on until there are four or less buttons that remain and if the final group has four buttons, then the bet on four wins.

If three remain, then three wins, and so on.

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