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Pai Tong (ไพ่ตอง, ‘tong cards’) is a draw-and-discard card game from Thailand, played with Thai money cards. It is also known as Pai Phong Thai (ไพ่ผ่องไทย) or Pai Chot (ไพ่จอด).a[p. 71–6]

Very similar games are also played in Kelantan in Malaysia.

Thailand and Malaysia, with Kelantan’s location highlighted.

Equipment

The game is played with six or seven people and uses two full decks of money-suited cards (120 cards total, four copies of each card). Any style of card will work.

In Thailand playing cards are produced by government monopoly, so all decks are the same.

Thai-style government-printed money cards.

Setup & Play

Shuffle the cards, and deal six cards to all players, then a second round of six cards to the starting player and five cards to all others, so that the starting player has 12 cards and the rest 11.

The first player starts the game by discarding any card. Play proceeds with the next player in an anti-clockwise direction.

On a player’s turn they draw one card, and then — unless they have won the game by completing their hand — they discard one.

The goal of the game is to form a complete hand of 12 tiles, comprising four sets of three. A set is called a tong (ตอง), and comprises three cards of the same rank.This term is also used in other card games to describe a triplet. For the purposes of forming sets, all the honour cards are considered to be of the same rank, so a set can be made of three different honour cards.

Instead of taking from the draw pile, a player may also take the previous player’s discard, if they can form a tong using it. The cards forming the tong must be placed face-up on the table, and then the player makes a discard as usual.

If a player only requires one card to win, they may take the winning card from any player’s discard to complete their hand. If multiple players try to claim the same card to win, the next one in seating order takes it. To complete the hand and go out is called kin (กิน, meaning ‘to eat’).

Scoring

The Thai game seems to have multiple scoring combinations and I have not yet been able to find or get a good translation for them.

Pong

The game is also played in Malaysia under the name Pong. In Gambling Games of Malaya (p. 137–8) it is described as being played with Mahjong tiles, but I think it is probably also played with Ceki cards. According to the book, it is played in the state of Kelantan, which is adjacent to Thailand.

In Malaysia it is only played with four players.

To play with Mahjong tiles, use 120 tiles: all of the suited (circle, bamboo, character) tiles, as well as the honour (“dragon”) tiles, but no winds or flowers.

To deal, build them into four walls of 30 tiles (15 long × 2 high), then draw the tiles one at a time from the wall in a clockwise direction, as in Mahjong.

Play and win as in the Thai game.

A set of three identical cards or tiles is called a tong, a set of three mixed tiles is called a tong serong (“crooked tong”).

The winning player scores 2 points + 1 point for each pure tong they have in their hand. Thus, the scores range from only 2 points for a hand containing four tong serong, up to 6 points for a hand containing four tong. Payment may be collected from the other players on the basis of some fixed amount per point.

References

  1. [Pannapong Wongnasri] and [Nanthida Chansiri] (). . ศูนย์ศึกษาปัญหาการพนัน คณะเศรษฐศาสตร์ จุฬาลงกรณ์มหาวิทยาลัย: Thailand.

  2. (). Gambling Games of Malaya. The Caxton Press: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.