Tile Games
Game Guide

Rules, terms and playing tips are published for all games in our exclusive glossary format. Paigow Poker is a derivative played with cards, however the paigow tile game or the game without cards is different as explained below.

These games have a common thread in that all 3 tiles games have a long history and boast passionate players worldwide. Let's begin this glossary with the ancient game of mahjong.

Tile Games Glossary

Mahjong Introduction

The skill game of Mahjong dates back to 500 AD when the game became legalentertainment among the common people living in China. Over two thousand years back, during the era of King of Wu, this lucrative pastime was for the royal class only.

In all probability, this game was devised by Confucius, who traveled in China during that era. He was fond of birds - perhaps that is why the game was christened as Mahjong, which denotes a sparrow. Some experts say that the three cardinal virtues professed by Confucius were represented through three dragon tiles - red, green, and white.

Later, with cultural changes, the game was accepted as one of the most entertaining games not only in China, but other countries as well.

Mahjong Tile Games Rules

The game is set with 4 players seated at a square table depicting the four wind directions of North, South, East, and West. All tiles are placed face down and after shuffling, each player selects a total of 36 tiles.

These tiles are arranged in 2 rows with an equal number of tiles in each and stacked one on top of the other. The dice is then rolled and flower tiles are exchanged.The winning player completes a hand before anyone else. This completed hand would have four sets of three tiles in a suit. Additionally, there would be an identical pair of any other suit.

Mahjong Terms

Mastering this unique game is easier when one knows the terms of Mahjong. Mahjong tiles have 3 divisions: Suits, Honor, and Flowers.

can be Stones, Bamboo, or Characters depending on what the tile represents. For example, if a tile consists of a number of bamboo sticks, it is a Bamboo Suit.
suit is further divided into Wind tiles and Dragon tiles.
suit has flower tiles such as plum, chrysanthemum, orchid, and bamboo.These are four plants historically referenced by Confucius.
a player completes a Meld when he/she abandons a tile and any other opponent calls or bids for it.
Pong or Pung
are 3 similar tiles:
are 4 identical tiles.
occurs when three tiles of the same suit are in a particular sequence.
mahjong term for two similar tiles.

Mahjong Bidding

Players use various types of bids such as Tse, Pung, and Gaung.If money is placed on the bid, the loser has to pay the score difference between him/her and the winner.

The winner earns 20 points. The other players win points based on the type of tiles they have. Each tile has a certain amount of points.If you like playing games of strategy, you are sure to be drawn to Mahjong.

Tile Games Glossary

Dominoes History

The first brush with a skill game most people experience is in the form of Dominoes. After learning dominoes, one realizes the numerous possibilities and odds this game throws open.

The name comes from the Latin dominus that means master. It arrived at this name via the French winter hoods and Venetian Carnival masks. The game however originated, like most of the non-card skill games in Asia. The first mention of dominoes or pips carved from bones is made in Mahabharata, the longest epic.

The present day version can be attributed to the Chinese who made it popular and standardized the game. The game was introduced and subsequently became popular in Europe in the 18th century. The US got its first taste of this skill game in the 1900s.

Domino Tile Games Rules

The player who disposes of all their tiles before other players determines a win in the game of Dominoes. This player racks up points based on the other players' remaining tiles. The game begins with all tiles face down, shuffled and each player selecting 7 tiles. The player receiving the highest double tile starts the game.

Play proceeds in one of 2 ways:

  1. After the first player places their domino tile or bone, the next player has to match the pips at either end of that domino and place the tile accordingly. If a player does not have a match in hand, he/she must choose from the domino pile not selected by other players.
  2. After the first player sets down a tile on the board, subsequent players have to play a tile that adds up the total of the open-ended pip and their tile total to a previously agreed sum. For example, if the open end has 2 pips and the previously agreed sum is 9, then the next player has to play a 7.

Domino Terms

Dominoes are made of ivory, wood, synthetic material and ceramics with all possible dice combinations ranging from 0 to 6. These combos can total from 18 to 190 tiles. Popular sets offer 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18 double tiles.

There are many other tile games besides dominoes that are a spin off or played with dominoes. Dominoes are also played professionally in tournaments and enjoys a special place among passionate players of skill games.

dominoes with only 1 dot, pip or spot.
Bar, Center or Divider
term for the line separating either end of a domino.
Blank, Zero, White or Pale
refers to a domino with no dots/pips. A double blank is a domino with both sides blank.
Block or Jam
term for a domino game where no player can make a move or advance usually resulting in an end to the game.
another name for domino tiles.
Boneyard or Reserve
refers to area where all dominoes are shuffled and placed face down available for players to choose at the beginning or during a game in progress.
term for a domino with 2 dots/pips.
a single bone or game tile and/or last tile to be played before the end of a game.
Dot or Pip or Spot
numbers on a domino tile.
Double Value Tiles
an example is 0 to 12 set of tiles=double twelve as the highest pip for this set would be 12 spots on both sides. The number of tiles in a set also varies with the highest valued pip. Thus, a three-six is a tile that has 3 on one side and 6 on another.
Double or Doublet
tiles with same number on each side.
number of dominoes picked by each player to play that game.
Open End
term for a tile not connected or linked to any other tile. Play can only continue at an open end.
is determined by the sum of pips. The higher the sum, the heavier the bone.
action of placing a tile on the table either at the beginning or during a game. Also, if a player does not make his/her bid during the game, then he/she is set.
term for first double played in game. Depending on the agreed rules, this domino tile can be designated to have 4 open ends available for play.
all tiles with a common end. Examplwe: all tiles with 5 on one side would belong to the suit of 5.
Tie Game
determined by the first team in clockwise direction, counted from the first hand played wins. In case of teams, the team with the lowest score wins.

Pai Gow
Tile Games Glossary

Paigow Rules

Ancient China has given us many gems and this tile game happens to be one of them. Paigow simply means to make nine; therefore, you have to get a tile score as close to 9 as possible.

Points are counted up to nine after which the modulus 10 rule applies with subsequent numbers starting again from 1. The woodpile is four tiles long in height and eight tiles wide in length.

The dice are thrown three times, the numbers added up and counted counter clockwise from the bank to determine which player would be the first one to draw a hand. Players get a four tiles stack.

At the start, the banking authority resides with the house but as ones play progresses, the bank is passed around to other players in counter clockwise direction. A player can refuse to take on the bank.

The dealing is referred to as Paigow Cuts. These tile games can have up to eight players, one being the banker. Later, any number of people can chip in.

Each player has two hands in the game. This is done by dividing the four tiles into sets of two. The usual chips are used as stakes - at home as the fake currency and at bank as the real currency that can be cashed in later.

Winning Paigow Tile Games

The game is won when a player’s high hand beats the bank’s high hand, and the player’s low hand beats the bank’s low hand.

If only one of the hands of a player outranks the bank, the game is drawn and the player gets his/her money back. If both the bank’s hands outrank the player’s hand then he/she loses the game.

Once all the players have examined their tiles and placed their stakes, other people can participate by tossing in their stakes alongside the players. Also, the banker can set an upper limit for the stakes.

The players then show their high hands in counter clockwise direction from the bank. The bank then reveals its high hand.

This procedure is followed by the players showing their low hands, as does the bank. Either the bank or a player has to outrank the other on both the hands to win a round.

There is the possibility of a draw with two players winning a hand each. The bank pays these players plus the people who had bet with these players, on the lines of their stakes. The game continues with the player to the banker’s right taking over the bank in following rounds.

Paigow Poker is an American derivative of Paigow played with standard playing cards requiring that the player set two hands--a high and a second highest, trying to beat the banker’s two hands. It should not be confused with Paigow, the tile game.

Paigow Poker rules are detailed in the Poker Games Glossary #7.

Paigow Strategies

Keep in mind that even one point is enough to beat the bank’s hand, so pairing up the good tiles for a strong high hand and leaving the weak tiles for a low hand will only result in a draw. Balance out the tiles properly and win the game.

Look out for the unmatched pairs that might give you a winner. If you get a [6-6] or [1-1], play them with tiles totaling 7, 8 or 9. Be certain that you make the required 9 and you will be in the game!

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