Online gambling is an international industry. Valued at over $60 billion in 2020, it has a global following, with people from around the world enjoying this high-risk – and potentially high-reward – pastime.

However, gambling isn’t the same in every country. As well as different laws governing what is and isn’t allowed, the sorts of games that are popular differ widely, with a marked difference between East and West.

While it might be baccarat and rummy that reign supreme in the Western world, dragon tiger and mahjong are more popular throughout Asia and the East. In this article, we’ll take a look at a few favourites that those in the UK, US, and so on might not be familiar with.    

Mahjong

In the West, rummy is a hugely popular game, but, in Asia, mahjong reigns supreme. While the two share many similarities, this table game is played with dominoes instead of cards, but that makes it no less exciting.

Before the tiles are dealt, players must place their bets. Once everyone around the table has done so, the dice is rolled. It’s this that decides who the dealer will be. Following each round, it’s possible to place fresh bets based on the dominoes dealt.

Mahjong

To start, each player receives 13 tiles. As the game progresses, players pick additional tiles with the aim of creating a winning hand. For each tile picked up, another must be discarded, so players have the same number of tiles throughout the game.   

When tiles are cast aside, other players can choose to add them to their line-up. The first player to create a winning hand must say “mahjong” to make their victory official.   

Dragon tiger

Dragon tiger is popular too, especially in South-East Asia. Sharing many similarities with baccarat, it can be played at both land-based and online casinos. As asiabet.org explains, there are several different table layouts you might encounter. While these can look wildly different from one another, the game remains the same regardless.

Dragon tiger is one of the simplest card games around, which perhaps goes some way to explaining its popularity. It’s possible to master the basics in minutes. Essentially, there are two cards on the table: a dragon and a tiger. The idea is to bet on the one you think will be higher.

As well as betting on the dragon or tiger, you can choose to wager on whether the outcome will be small (ace to seven) or big (eight to king).

Pachinko

While pachinko may not have caught on in the Western world just yet, anyone who’s visited Japan can attest to its popularity. It’s so widely played that most cities have multiple ‘pachinko parlours’, where the game can be enjoyed night and day.  

Pachinko is similar to a pinball machine if this were married to a slot game. It uses small metal balls, and there are lots of variations on the original out there, with digital versions now in existence. The game came into being in the early 1900s and features a vertical board with cut-out holes. The aim is to get the metal balls to go into these, and when this is achieved, the player is rewarded with a prize.

When the ball settles in a pocket, the slot machine element of the game is triggered, and reels begin to spin. This reveals what the player has won, with trophies ranging from sweets and tobacco to cash prizes.  

Pai gow poker

Like the other games mentioned, pai gow has a Western counterpart in the poker game we’re all familiar with. This can be played at both online and land-based casinos, as we illustrate and discuss at tech4gamers.

Pai gow poker was only invented in 1985 but is based on an old Chinese game played using dominoes. Essentially, players are tasked with creating two poker hands from the seven cards they’re dealt. One should have five cards in, the other two. The former must outrank the latter for players to win.

Cards are dealt into seven piles, with four unused cards laid in the centre of the table. Bets are placed before anyone sees their hand. Once they’ve taken a peek, players are free to make additional bets. The cards in the middle become the dealer’s hand. To win, both of a player’s hands must beat the banker’s.

Tell us, which of these four popular Asian casino games would you most like to play?

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Hardware enthusiast, Gamer, Writer. I enjoy picking up games, putting them back down, and then writing about it.