7 Most Popular Casino Games in Asia

By Randy Ray in Casino
| May 7, 2017 12:00 am PST
Popular Casino Games in Asia

Casinos and gambling have become a huge hit in Asia over the years. At this time the gambling industry is thriving and growing at a rapid rate. The estimated gambling revenue for Macau alone in 2015 was over $28 billion.

In the past citizens of the Asian countries would have to travel to the United States or other countries to try their hand at the art of gambling.

To be of better service to its customers the owners of many casinos in the United States started opening casinos in different areas of Asia. Macau is the largest gambling city in Asia and continues to grow each year. At this point, the casinos in Asia are exceeding that of their counterparts in the United States.

Some of the games that are popular in Asia don’t have the same following in the states and around the rest of the world. Each of the games on this list can be found in casinos in the United States, but these games are nowhere near as popular here as they are in Asia.

1 – Baccarat

In Asia baccarat is one of the most popular games in both online and land-based casinos. This game tends to have a higher roller stigma in the states but it hasn’t transferred with it to the Asian countries. Asians are fans of baccarat because there isn’t really a way to win consistently and it’s all left up to fate. Asian cultures are true believers in fate and that draws them to the game of Baccarat.

Baccarat is not a hard game to play and it’s one of the simpler ones to learn. For those players that want a game that has a specific chance of wins, this isn’t the game for them.

Baccarat is a game of chance and the only way to make sure you don’t lose money is to not play.

Strategy is important in any casino game, whether it’s a strategy on how you play the game or on how you bet. If you don’t have a strategy you’re more likely to leave empty handed. Sadly, no strategy for baccarat exists that can overcome the house edge.

Baccarat has different rules depending on which game you’re playing. If you go into a casino and play at the big table the rules are a tad different than if you hit the mini or midi tables.

Big table baccarat doesn’t have a set dealer position; instead, the deal is rotated around the table to each player. The player has the option to not deal by passing to the next player. When the bank loses is when the deal is transferred to the next player. To start the game the players must place their bets on the player, the bank, or a tie.

Like most games found on casino floors, you must place your bet before being dealt a single card. Once the bets are down the play starts with the dealer placing two cards face down under the shoe. The dealer will then deal two more cards face down to the player with the greatest bet.

This player looks at the cards and returns them to the dealer. The player dealing the cards will then turn the cards over and one of the casino dealers will announce the total. Once the totals are determined the casino dealer will instruct the player dealing to deal a third card. Once the third card is dealt the casino dealer will pay out winnings and collect the losing ones.

The rules of the game are simple and it’s usually played with eight decks of cards. Each card is given a value and Ace = 1, cards 2-9 = pip value, and face cards = 0. At the beginning of each game, the dealer will turn over one card to determine how many cards to burn. The usual number of cards burned is 10.

The cut card is then placed exactly 16 cards from the bottom of the shoe. When the cut card appears this lets the dealer know to finish the hand and play one more before starting a new shoe.

The score of the hand is the right digit of the total of the cards. For example, if the two cards are seven and nine then the total would be 16 and the score for the hand would be six. The score will always range between zero and nine without a chance to bust.

The third card is only dealt depending on three rules. If the either the player or the bank have a total of eight or nine they both stand. If the player’s total is less than five the player hits. If the player stands and the banker have less than five then he hits.

2 – Mahjong

Mahjong is a game that you probably are familiar with from your computer or the non-gambling version that is has become relatively popular in the United States. In Asia, it takes on a different version and can be found in most of the Asia-based casinos as a popular table game.

The game is played with dominoes instead of cards, which is different from most games. Before any tiles have been dealt you must place your bet. As soon as everyone has placed their bet the dice is rolled to determine who the dealer will be.

After each round, you can place another bet based on the tiles you received. To start the game the 136 tiles used in the game are placed face down on the table and shuffled thoroughly. The dealer then deals 13 tiles to each player face down. You then turn your tiles face up and make a wall with the tiles and starts pairing them into sets of three and four tiles.

The game moves on as each player picks up an additional tile from the wall. If the tile picked up from the wall can be used to complete a winning hand, you keep the tile and announce “Mahjong”. If the tile doesn’t give you a win then you must discard one tile in the middle of the table, face up. You can only have 13 tiles on your board at all times during the game.

When you discard a tile, any of the other three players has a chance to use the discarded tile to complete a winning set. If more than one of the other three players can benefit from the tile the one with the highest rated win gets to claim it. In order to use a discarded tile you must reveal the set it will complete before you’re allowed to pick up the tile.

The first player to complete a winning hand of 14 tiles and announces “Mahjong”, wins the game.

The main reason this game is so popular in the Asian casinos is because it’s a game that was developed through the Asian culture. It also requires you to stay attentive and be fast at making critical decisions. If you falter it can be detrimental to your game.

3 – Pachinko

Pachinko is a game that’s similar to what Americans would call a pinball machine. It’s a game that is a mix of both pinball and a slot machine. It originated in Japan and uses small metal balls inside to play the game. The game has evolved quite a lot over the years from the original being completely manual to the more recent digital versions that have popped up.

The game isn’t widely played around the world but can be found in the Asian casinos for the enjoyment of its true fan base. The game dates back to the early 1900’s and consisted of a horizontal board with holes cut out for the balls to go into. When the person would land a ball in one of the slots they would receive a reward of sweets for the kids and soup, soap, or tobacco for the adults.

The objective of the game is to shoot small balls across a now vertical version of the game with the hope that they land in one of the pockets found on the board. When the ball lands in a pocket it triggers the slot machine element of the game.

When the slot machine element is triggered the reels spin. When the reels stop spinning you find out what you’ve won. It can be anything from a monetary prize to free chances at the game. Most of the time when you shoot the ball they go straight through without landing in a pocket which means you lost that round and have to try again.

For the Asian culture luck is a very real thing and since this game is based completely on luck it draws the players in like a moth to a flame.

4 – Sic Bo

Sic Bo is from the ancient Chinese culture and has been played for thousands of years. It’s now being played in casinos all over the world but isn’t nearly as popular as it is in the Asian casinos. It, like many of the other games popular in the Asian market, is based on pure luck.

The game has great wagering options and gives the player up to 50 different options to choose from. The game has a decent payout rate as well of about 180 to 1 for the top payout bets. Sic Bo is a fast paced game that can seem confusing at first, but once you figure out the table there isn’t an easier game to play.

The object of the game is to predict the faces of the dice before they’ve been rolled. You can choose to wager on one, two, or all three of the dice by placing your chips on the correct sections of the table. To start the game you select the amount you want to wager and place it on the table on the combination or total you want to bet on.

Once you’ve placed all of your wagers the dealer rolls the dice. If any of the dice roll the numbers you placed your bets on you win. In Sic Bo there’s no strategy to the game, it’s all based on the luck of the roll. The game comes with multiple ways to bet on the dice with each one paying out differently than the others.

If you want to give Sic Bo a try on your next trip to the casino we recommend that you try it first online. Many of the online casinos have the game available for free so you can see what works for you and what betting options are best to use.

5 – Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow Poker is a fairly recent edition to the gambling world. It was invented in 1985 by Sam Torosian who based his game on the game of Pusoy but simplified it. Pai Gow Poker is similar to the original Chinese game of Pai Gow but is played with poker cards instead of Chinese dominos.

The idea of the game is to create two poker hands out of the seven cards that you’re dealt. These two hands should be a five card poker and a two card poker hand that beat the dealer’s hands. The five card hand must also outrank the two card hand to be eligible for a win.

The cards are shuffled and dealt into seven piles of seven face down cards. Betting positions are then assigned starting with the banker and continuing counter-clockwise around the table. The four unused cards are placed in the middle of the table. As the betting positions move around the table, you place your bet, and if a person isn’t sitting at a spot, the cards are dealt to that place and moved to the center of the table with the four unused cards.

Once all the bets are placed the dealer goes around the table again to see if anyone wants to wager anymore and play the dragon hand. The first player to claim the dragon hand gets it. The dealer then turns the cards in the middle of the table to reveal the dealer’s hand.

If both of your hands beat the banker’s hands then you win. If only one of your hands beats her hands then she pushes, which means that neither you nor the banker wins. If your two cards hand outranks your five card hand then you’ll be penalized and if there’s a tie then the banker gets the win.

6 – Keno

Keno is said to have originated in China in ancient times from a need to raise money. During war time the game is said to have saved a city and help fund the building of the Great Wall of China. The game is similar to the lottery and bingo games we all know and love.

At the casino when you play this game you’re given a card with numbers from 1 to 80. You can choose any amount of numbers on the card from one to 20 and then take the card to a Keno writer to place your bet. With keno, you have multiple options for betting purposes.

The betting options for keno include a straight ticket, king ticket, and combination ticket. If you place a straight ticket bet you’re betting on all the numbers you marked as a single wager. This is the simplest way to place a bet and the best way to go if you’ve never played the game before.

The other two betting options are a little more complicated but each of them has their benefits. Once you’ve gotten the hang of the game you can switch the way you place your bet and find which one works best for your playing style.

In most casinos, you can place bets for keno drawings any time. The drawings are done at different times throughout the day. When the drawings take place there are 20 numbers drawn and if you have a winning ticket then you receive a payout based on the pay table the casino has chosen. Each casino has its own pay table so make sure you check it out before you place your bet.

This is another game based on pure luck and has the ability to pay out great rewards which make it very popular in the Asian casino world.

7 – Pai Gow

Pai Gow is another ancient Chinese game that has survived over many centuries to become a popular game in the Asian casino market and to also find a home in other countries as well. The name Pai Gow roughly translates to make nine which is the basis of the game.

At the table, the Chinese dominoes are laid out face down and shuffled then formed into eight stacks with four face-down dominoes in each stack. The stacks are then moved around and you’re asked to place your bets.

Once all the bets have been placed the dealer gives each player one stack of four tiles. You then need to try and make two hands out of the four tiles. To win the hand both of your hands must outrank the two hands of the dealer. If either of your hands is ranked lower than the dealers then you lose that hand.

In the event of a tie between the player and the dealer the hand that has the highest value takes the win. If on the rare occasion the scores are tied and both the player and the dealer have the same ranking hands then the hand is ruled a copy and the dealer wins the hand.

Pai Gow is one of the more complicated games in the casino. Most of those who go to casinos that aren’t of Asian descent have no idea of how to play the game. But you have to play to learn so if you plan on giving it a try the next trip you make we recommend you try the free versions first so you don’t feel like you’re a burden to the dealer or other players.

The one good thing about the game is if you don’t know anything about the game you might be able to play and catch on as you go since the play is at a rate of about 30 hands per hours. This gives you the ability to ask the dealer for help in arranging your hands the house way.


With the explosion of gambling in the Asian countries, it’s not hard to see how these games are the most popular games on the floor. Each one of these games is fun and has their own following. Many of them have made their way over to other countries as well.

Most of these games have ancient ties to the Asian culture and are deeply loved by the people of Asia. The Asian culture is very much a traditional culture so they find these games to be easy and feel comfortable playing the games they know.

With the continued growth of the gambling market in the Asian culture, I’m sure you’ll see the new and improved version of the games being introduced but I know that no matter what these seven games are always going to have a huge following.

Even if some of the games are harder to win, the fact that most of these games are based purely on luck appeals to the culture and because you never know what’s going to happen, the win means more no matter what the size.

Not being able to use strategy to determine the outcome of a game is what makes these games so much fun to play. These games have helped put this newer gambling market on the map and are going to help it grow to the point where it just might eclipse that of the American gambling industry.



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