Sunday, 2 July 2017

Daun Tiga ,Pa gow (打九) or Sam Cheong ( 三张) -- Part 1

This game seems to be a farily popular game. It is fairly frequently met with in books on Malaya. The description in this article is based on Dobree's Gambling games of Malaya.
In a second post, I will investigate an account of the game found in Skeat's Malay Magic,  A book published about 50 years earlier. It bears several interesting differences from the game discussed here.

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Dobree gives three names for this rather simple game: Sam cheong 三张 (three cards), Pa gow 打九 (beating Nine), or Daun Tiga ( three leaves in Malay). It bears some similarities to the game of "Koo Kiew" featured on this blog earlier  In both games, players compare the value of their hands against a banker, and there is an emphasis on collecting cards of the same kind. The name of the game in

This game is played with an ordinary anglo-american deck of 52 cards, but Dobree states that the game may be played with mahjong tiles. The game with majhong tiles is described at the end of this post.

  Up to 17 people can play at this game, but bystanders can also bet on the players of the game.
  Prior to play, a banker is selected. Dobree tells us that this is done by dice.
  The cards are shuffled. Three cards are dealt to all players, face down.
  Without looking at the cards, Players then stake the amount they please.
  Once all the stakes have been placed, the cards are revealed.
  Players whose hands score lower than the banker lose their stakes. Players whose hands score higher than the banker are paid a dividend equivalent to the stakes, also keeping their original stake.
  If there is a tie between a player and a banker, no money passes between them.
  The turn of banker passes anticlockwise, to the next player, each deal. But if the banker loses to all the players at one deal, he may repeat another deal as a banker.

1) A Three-of-a kind beats all other hands.
2) The three-of a kinds are ranked as follows:
3 Aces ( Highest)
3  Twos
3 Threes
3 Nines
3 Tens
Any 3 Picture cards ( lowest)
The suit of the cards is irrelevant in all of these combinations. 

3) For hands other than three-of-a-kind, a point score is assigned to each, ( Much as in Koo kiew). The Hand with the higher point score wins.
4) The cards score their numerical value ( i.e. Ace scores 1, Two scores 2, Ten scores 10), but the picture cards score Zero.
5) If a hand's score exceeds 10 points, only the last digit is considered. So a score of 15 reckons as 5, a score of 11 reckons as 1, and a score of 29 is reckoned as a 9.
6) However, if a hand's score adds up to 10 or 20, in both cases, the score is reckoned as a 10, not zero.
Note: In some versions of the game, a score of 10, 20 or 30 scores Zero instead of Ten.

Additional Rules : "Long"
Dobree describes an additional "contract" in this game. This contract hinges on the player's hand having a score of 8 and above. In the terminology of the game, this is called "Long".

If a player wishes to engage in this contract, he places two stakes, instead of one. These two stakes don't have to be equal. Let's call them the first and second stakes. Play between the banker and the player proceeds as usual, but with the following extra rules:

1) If the Player's cards Long, the banker pays out for both stakes.
2) If the Player's cards does not Long,  ( i.e, score less than eight) , but still beats the banker's hand, only the winnings from the first stake is paid out.
3)  If the banker's cards cards Long, and beat the player's cards, both stakes are taken.
4) If the Banker's cards do not Long, but still beat the player's cards, only the first stake is taken by the banker.

Dobree does not tell us what happens when either the banker or the player has a three-of-a-kind. These are my suggestions for dealing with such cases.

5) If the player has a three-of-a kind, and beats the banker, only the winnings from the first stake are paid out.
6) If the player has a three-of-a-kind, but loses to the banker, both stakes are taken.
7) If the player's cards "Long", but the banker has a three-of-a kind, only the first stake is taken

CASE 1: Banker, hand with score 5; Player, hand with score 8.
In this case, banker pays out both stakes.
CASE 2: Banker, hand with score 5. Player, hand with score 6.
In this case, banker pays out only first stake.
CASE 3: Banker has a three-of-a kind, Player, a hand of 9:
In this case, Banker takes only the first stake. ( rule 4)

Play with mahjong tiles

Neccessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. So, the ingenious gamblers of Malaya have invented a way of playing this game with a set of mahjong tiles. ( See for a description of the structure of the mahjong deck)

Instead of a full set of 144 tiles, only 52 tiles are used. This reduced tileset is made by extracting the number tiles, ( one to 9)  from the suit of tens of thousands, bamboos or coins.
The 10s, Jacks, Queens and Kings are replaced by the "wind" tiles. The 10s correspond to 東, the jacks to 北, the queens to 西, and the kings to 南, as you see above.

This substitution can be done, because the suits do not matter in this game. Such a deck can alo be used to play at games like blackjack, where the suits also don't matter.

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