|Suits in decreasing rank||Cards in decreasing numerical value||Leeten|
The game hinges on single and multiple card combinations. When a single card is played, only a card of the same suit can be played against it. Looking at the above table, a card from the right will be beaten from one to the left, because numerically, the left side is higher than the right. If the player has no card high enough to beat the single card offered, then he or she will throw away a card from his own dealt hand faced down. This is known as Pug Pai ( ).
In multiple card combinations, two possible classes are can be considered.
Special exception is made when four people are playing, and the Leeten card is included. If a player holds all four of the regular value one cards, and also the Leeten card, then the Leeten card may be used in combination with these ones to form a five card cluster. Since there are only four of every other number, there are no combinations which can beat this. This is known as "Ung Fu Ha San" or "Five Tigers Descending the Mountain" ( ). Any player holding this combination wins by default, no matter if he is the first or last to have been in the order of the deal.
In the Hakga dialect, the use of same numerical value combinations is known by the word pronounced Gok () which means "all". The number usually is included after the word, so when there is a three's combination, we say Gok Sam or "all threes". It does not matter whether there are three or four cards when using this word phrase. The following are all the possible combinations:
|Gok Zau||All one's|
|Gok Ngee||All two's|
|Gok Sam||All three's|
|Gok See||All four's|
|Gok Ung||All five's|
|Gok Luk||All sixes'|
|Gok Tid||All seven's|
|Gok Bad||All eight's|
|Gok Giu||All nine's|
When winning a round, or game, we say Da Yang (or Da Zang) (). Here are some examples of same valued clusters in offer and winning combinations
|Eights combination -> |
<- Fives combination
|Three's combination -> |
<- Two's combination
Nines combination -> |
<- Ones combination
This is a special case where only a nines
combination can beat the ones combination.
If there were four ones, only four nines may beat it.
Five Tigers Descending the Mountain
|The Ung Fu Ha San winning hand.|
In the Hakka dialect, there are two possible names for these same suitd combinations, depending on the suits. The highest three ranking suits, Sip, Gon and Sop, use the word Sun ( ). So the cards 345 (or any numerically increasing combination - see above) of the Gon suit is known as a Gon Sun. For the lowest ranking suit, it is usual to call them Kia (), or Ten Kia. Below are the four possible Horizontal combinations:
|Sip Sun||Sip combination|
|Gon Sun||Gon combination|
|Sop Sun||Sop combination|
|Ten Kia||Ten combination|
Examples of same suit clusters.
Low ranking Sop suit combination is beaten by |
a higher ranking Gon suit combination, though
the numerical value of the cards are lower
Low ranking Ten Suit is beaten by higher ranking |
Sop suit, even though there is a red card. This
is one case where a red value one card becomes an
ordinary card with no Lao Sui priviledge.
Generally, red cards are high or Lao Sui . However, for 8 Sip, it can only become Lao Sui if 9 Sip has been revealed. Lao Sui Pai may only be downed if it is used singly or in combination to beat an offer from another player. They can be downed to accumulate winning cards contributing towards the goal of the game (having six or more winning cards). They can not be downed without reason, because that would make the next highest number card Lao Sui. A good reason for downing a red card is when a Lao Sui Pai from the highest ranking suit remains after all ordinary cards have been played. This is because all cards of high ranking suits must be used up before one resorts to playing a card from the next highest ranking suit. During this move, the lead player downs the Lao Sui Pai, and all other players must discard a bad card or Pug Pai, and declares he is moving onto the next highest ranking suit going on to lead the next card after the others have discarded.
Cards which have no red imprints become lao sui only when cards of the same suit that are numerically higher have been revealed during play. This is a handy thing to spot because you can add towards the number of winning cards.
The place settings of the players is as below. The Chinese characters are the usual terms for the players. South is called Tdiu Ga or the head person. (Ga can mean family, and also used like -er in paint-er.) East is Ngee Ga or the second person, West is Mui Ga or the final person. North is called Tsuk Mung ( ) (literally holding the dream).
Before dealing, the pack is shuffled. W is allowed to cut the shuffled cards, so he has part of the deck and so does the dealer (S). Cutting the deck is known as Tsed Pai ( ) W's half of the pack is placed under the dealer's half and cards are dealt out anticlockwise from the dealer (S) to E the one card to N, and then to W. The fifth card is dealt to the dealer, the sixth to E and the seventh to W and continues S, E, and then W until the end of the deck. Since W is always recieves the last card, he may see the card immediately after he has cut.
A variation to this dealing, is to wait till sometime in the middle of the dealing to deal N the single card. This is sometimes thought to be a more random selection, though it is up to the whim of the dealer. Again, the card at the bottom of the deck belongs to W.
Supposing his cards are not so good, he will pass on the buck to the next active player at East. The same happens if East has a bad hand. It is now down to West to decide. If he has a bad set of cards also, he will say Um Tsoh, and the pack of cards is gathered and reshuffled, to be dealt out once again. Supposing East or West decides that they have a good hand, then the first player to lay down a card must be the dealer.
It is not necessary to start the game with a combination. A single card will do, but this requires that the next player beat it or not with a single card of the same suit. In fact each offer must be beaten by the same number of cards, or an equal number of cards is discarded. There are three conditions which are laid down.
The winner of the game announces the number of winning cards that s/he has. This involves saying the total number and and "Fu" to indicate how many winning cards there are. You can check the phrases in the scoring system page.
Supposing the above case were encountered, and South plays 2 Sip. If E holds the 1 Sip, it is numerically less than 2 Sip, and therefore, it cannot be played even though it is alread a red imprint Lao Sui card itself. E must throw away a bad card.
The reverse to this is that if South had only the 1 Sip and someone else had the 2 Sip, then he must not down his 1 Sip unless he is completing his 6 or more to win. Even though the next active player may have 2 Sip which is numerically higher it cannot be played if South during this move. South must declare himself winner by announcing the total number of cards he has winning for it to be allowed. If he does not have enough cards to win, he must retain his 1 Sip card until the time when he can make the move just mentioned.
However, when a person has only the Lao Sui 1 Sip Yau Bak Tsu left, and knows that there are higher Sip cards still unrevealed, he can only reveal this card if he runs into the situation that it is his last card of the highest ranking suit, and having play from the next highest ranking suit in the following move. Since 1 Sip is definitely Lao Sui when used by itself, no cards can be played against it when it is played in this way.
The trivial case must be explained for completeness, that if someone's last card of the highest ranking suit was say 2 Sip card, while higher value cards of the same suit remains unrevealed, this card can be beaten by these other cards.
Only the person who says Tsoh can down any of the Lao Sui cards when he chooses. All the others must abide by the above rules. The reason for this is that if the person who says Tsoh does not win because someone else has, then the Tsoh person is liable to pay all the losses whilst the other losing player does not. By paying out the losses of another player is known as Bao Su (), literally "enveloped by a lost game".
When someone can win by downing Lao Sui cards, each of the cards Leeten, Yau Bak Tsu (1 Sip), Zau Ten (1 Ten) are Yid Fu Tded ( ), meaning One Tiger of Iron, because they are impervious to attack.
The dealer has the responsibility of opening the game with a card singly or by combination. If someone other than himself say Tsoh, then he must open the game by playing cards which are not impossible to beat. For instance if he came out with triple ones, when the only combination which can beat it is triple nines, this is frowned upon, and the person who has said Tsoh has the right to not pay up when someone else wins. Also, if the dealer, being the first person to play, can put forward any card he so chooses. Any other player must use the cards of his higher ranking suits first before resorting to lower suits, so if East or West has no Sip card, he can open with Gon, failing that Sop or Ten, depending on his situation.
|North : Tsuk Mung||Does not need to do anything - Cannot loose or forfeit any points||Must sit out the game not playing|
|South : Tdiu Ga|
|The Dealer begins the game, and like most games the opening influences how the game proceeds. He also takes the first decision to say Tsoh or Um Tsoh. He can play any card from any suit he feels like, so long as it can be beaten.||Has to do the physical work of dealing the cards. Is restricted in some ways as how he plays the opening if he is not the person who says Tsoh.|
|East : Ngee Ga|
Second active player
|E's reply may be too high for West to beat, in which case he can then become the person who plays the next hand.||His offer may be beaten by West.|
|West : Mui Ga|
Third active player
|Gets to Split the deck and sees a card of his own before all the others. If W says Tsoh, the dealer is obliged not to play a high valued card or combination to be played as a matter of courtesy.||Has to wait till last to reply to S and E's play.|
The person who thinks itself as having the best chance of winning
|This player gets some breaks depending on if he is in S, E or W when the game starts.||To balance his perks, he also has the threat of the loss of double points if he looses.|