The following section will be reposted on Anything Goes under "Pai Gow Anyone?" (see http://www.paigow.com
for more details, including basic strategy):
Hagar, regarding the pai gow tiles there is a "system" to remember the ranking of the pairs, even if you don't know the symbolisms. There are 32 tiles total and some tiles have exact doubles and some don't. The gambling game you see in the casino is one way to play this game in which each player gets 4 tiles and the players need to make 2 hands of 2 tiles each. With 4 tiles you have a choice of 3 different permutations (i.e., call the 4 tiles A, B, C, and D so you could play AB, CD; or AC, BD; or AD, BC). With 4 tiles per player you can accommodate a maximum of 8 players which one player is the bank and all other players bet against him/her.
The highest pair is 1-2 and 2-4 which is called Supreme (since the game "Pai Gow" means "Tiles Nine" or "To make nine" it is logical that supreme "pair" consists of 3 pips and 6 pips because it adds up to nine pips. The next highest pairs in descending order are all doublets with some dots painted red: 6s, 1s, 4s, then followed immediately by the pair with 1-3. Then the next ones are doublets again 5s, 3s, and 2s (this sequence of 3 is a little easier because pairs with more dots beat the ones with less dots). The next 4 are pairs with 5-6, 4-6, 1-6 and 1-5. Then the last four "pairs" are the ones which do not have mates but the pips are the same, and they go by descending order where tiles with more pips beat the ones with less.
To summarize the pair ranking
1-2 2-4 Supreme
6-6 6-6 Heaven (each tile symbolizes the Chinese zodiac of 12 animals, like the Year of the Rat,etc. Also there are 12 divisions a Chinese day instead of 24 hours in a Western system)
1-1 1-1 Earth (the 2 dots symbolizes the 2 elements of earth, namely land and water)
4-4 4-4 Man (the idea man supposes to have 8 virtues: loyalty, filial piety, kindness, compassion, trustworthiness, righteousness, peacefulness, and even temperament)
1-3 1-3 Plant or Harmony (the one red dot means "from the earth" and the 3 white dots symbolize the stalk of the rice grain. The Chinese character harmony is a homonym of the character for rice grain)
5-5 5-5 Plum Flower (the national flower of China, which consists of five petals. This flow is chosen because the plum blossoms in the winter, which symbolizes toughness of character)
3-3 3-3 Mountain (important to the survival of mankind since man gets valuable resources from the mountain such as wood for cooking fuel, game, and fruits)
2-2 2-2 Bench or House (the 4 dots look like 4 legs of a bench. They also symbolize the 4 pillars of a house)
The rest of the tiles I am not too familiar with the symbolisms so I will just list the ranking in descending order:
3-6 4-5 Mixed Nine
2-6 3-5 Mixed Eight
3-4 2-5 Mixed Seven
1-4 2-3 Mixed Five
The above are the 16 "pairs" which are the highest hands you can make.
The next rank below pairs (17th) is made out of one Heaven tile with a nine-pip tile called â€œWongâ€? which means King, such as 6-6 4-5 or 6-6 3-6
18th rank is also Wong and consists of one Earth tile with a nine-pipe tile either 1-1 4-5 or 1-1 3-6
19th and 20th ranks are called â€œGongâ€? which means Steel and consist of one Heaven tile with any eight-pip tile or one Earth tile with any eight-pip tile. Notice you have 1.5 time more chance of making Gong than Wong because there are 3 eight-pip tiles versus only 2 nine-pip ones.
If you cannot play pairs, Wong or Gong then you will try to make your hand closes to nine with your 2 two-tile hands. Any time the sum goes over 10 or 20 you eliminate the 10 column (like Baccarat) e.g. 4-6 6-3 would be a 9 and 5-5 5-6 would be a 1. 9 being the highest and zero being the lowest.
Lastly, the tiles that make the supreme pair (i.e., 1-2 and 2-4) are â€œwildâ€? when you play them individually. You can play either one as a 3 or a 6, whichever number that will make your hand higher (e.g. 3-4 1-2 would be a 3 instead of a zero and 1-3 2-4 would be a 7 instead of a zero).
When you wager against the bank you match your low hand against bankâ€™s low hand and your high hand versus the bankâ€™s high hand. If you manage to beat both hands you win. If you are beaten on both hands then you lose. If you win one and lose one it is a tie.
When both of you and your opponent have the same number the tile breaker is the highest tile in your hand. For example if your low hand is 6-6 1-3 (6 points) and your opponent has 1-1 1-3 (also 6 points) you will win because you have a Heaven but your opponent has a Earth. The supreme pair, although wild, rank the lowest when played individual. Otherwise the ranking order for pairs is exactly the same as individual ranking.
If both players have the same point count and the same higher ranking tile then whoever is the bank wins the push. Similarly, if both players have Gong with Heaven the banker wins the push. The tie breaker does not extend to the second ranking tile. Also, the banker wins all pushes when both have zero regardless of the rank.
There you go. May be it is more than you ever want to know about the game.