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Popular Asian gambling games

As gambling in Asia becomes increasingly popular for both locals and foreign visitors, tourists wishing to partake in casino life are keen to swot up on the huge variety of Asian gambling games on offer alongside the traditional poker, blackjack and roulette.

Many of these games are now played through online portals and casinos such as M88 Indonesia, bodog and sbobet. Here are just a few of the games you’re likely to come across:

Pai Gow

You might be familiar with American Pai Gow Poker but this ancient game dates back to 1000AD and is played with Chinese dominos rather than traditional playing cards. Meaning ‘make nine’, Pai Gow is thought to be the precursor to Baccarat and sees players attempting to beat the dealer’s hand with tiles that add up to -- or closest to -- nine.


With it’s huge glass globe filled with numbered balls, Keno might be a familiar sight to Bingo fans or those who love to play the lottery. Players mark their choices on numbered tickets and the amount they win depends on how many of their chosen numbers match the 20 balls that have been drawn at random.


Also known as Chinese chess, Xiangqi is similar to Western chess in that it sees two ‘armies’ facing eachother on the board. Differing rules include having ‘river’ and ‘palace’ sections of the board and disc-shaped engraved pieces signifying generals, advisors, elephants, chariots, cannons and soldiers.


Now sadly being overtaken by more modern, Western forms of gambling, Fan-Tan is a simple Asian gambling game in which players bet on the number of small objects briefly shown to them by the dealer and then covered using a ‘tan koi’ (metal bowl). Popular in China and all across Asia, Fan-Tan was even exported to the States by Chinese immigrants and Fan-Tan parlours were once a common sight in Chinatowns across America.

Sic bo

Also known as ‘tai sai’ or ‘dai sai’, Sic Bo is a dice game which involves betting on the outcome of the dice using a specially marked out table. Players bet on various dice combinations shown on the table before the dealer rolls three dice. Money is won depending on how accurately the player’s guesses match the combinations on the dice. Sic bo is hugely popular across Asia and is played everywhere from Macau to the Phillipines as well as in some American and English casinos.