Gambling activities have been firmly established in many Asian countries since ancient times: in India, they were even considered as a way of conflict resolution, while the early production of paper in China pushed the invention of cards. Today, Asia is the world’s biggest gambling region. This does not only provide great entertainment for local communities; it also influences Western casinos to a great extent. We can hardly imagine a large gambling platform without our beloved Keno or Pai Gow Poker. Lots of games that are in high demand in European and American markets have Asian roots or are inspired by Oriental culture. Let’s explore some traditional games that came to us from Eastern countries.
Western customers are acquainted with a version of poker influenced by this game, while Pai Gow per se can really be considered a kind of Chinese dominoes. The main purpose of the game is to collect the maximum score of nine points: the dominoes are placed into eight stacks, and every player has to make two hands out of a stack containing four piles which would be higher than the dealer’s hands. It is a complex game, with some rather complicated scoring rules, including many exceptions; and because of this, Pai Gow remains a rather exotic form of entertainment, which is not attractive to the general public.
Pai Go Poker, by contrast, is extremely popular in both Eastern and Western casinos. Each player attempts to create a five-card and a two-card hand, in order to beat the banker’s ones. The game was invented in 1985 by a Los Angeles casino owner who was inspired by a Chinese poker called Pusoy.
This is a globally successful game that wins over gamblers by being easy and captivating. It seems a combination of lottery and bingo: players pick 5-10 numbers from a set, hoping they would match 20 numbers that will be randomly generated. Keno requires neither skills nor experience: users can even run an automatic mode which allows to play up to 10 times with previously selected numbers.
Just like the slot machines Western gamblers are familiar with, pachinko games are Japanese luck-based attractions. Pachinko parlors have a massive success among locals and are promoted as a must-visit for tourists. The older versions have rotating reels, while the newer ones feature animated screens. These machines, usually decorated in strident colors, have metal balls that activate the spinning: it’s somehow a mix of pinball and slot. Pachinko games are played quite slowly: it will take time to win.
This type of entertainment represents a significant item of Japanese revenue. In 2017, the number reached ¥25 trillion, which is more than Las Vegas and Macau bring together. Still, the majority of Western casino visitors don’t know what pachinko is.
This one is a popular dice game, also of Chinese origin. It’s a fast-paced entertainment which uses three dice, unlike a relatively similar game of craps which features two dice. It was introduced to the United States and Europe in the 1980s by Asian immigrants. The house edge for Sic Bo ranges between 2.78% for the most profitable bet and a horrible 33% for the sucker bet. There are lots of people who love this game, especially when it comes to the live dealer section.
This resembles a Western game of rummy, which is considered more as entertainment for home parties than for casinos. Usually, there are four participants in mahjong: everyone gets 13 tiles, and then they draw and discard the tiles in order to collect a hand of four melds (sets) and one eye (a pair).
Baccarat is one of the most popular games among Easter players. Some believe it suits the cultural preferences of Asian gamblers the most. Dragon Tiger is a two-card version of baccarat; it is usually set in a themed environment with oriental ornaments on the background. Two mythological creatures, the Dragon and the Tiger, serve as competing cards in this game.
There’s a huge variety of casino games that have originated from Asia. Apart from the ones we’ve mentioned, which are even well established on Western gambling platforms as well, there are some lesser known ones:
Also, a lot of slots produced by big European brands have Oriental themes, which draw upon both mythology and pop culture. With the Asian market growing, and some countries changing their laws in favor of casinos, we can expect some new waves of influence from this continent!
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