Tau Ngau

The name means "Bull Fighting". This is a game for three to six players, but on-lookers can place side bets. The goal of the game is to have a higher hand than the dealer, much like Baccarat.

One player is picked by dice to be the banker for a hand. He stacks up a woodpile and sets limits on the betting. Each player places a bet and the banker deals them each a hand of five tiles.

The Discard

Each player picks three tiles from his hand which total to a multiple of ten and discards them. The [4-2] and [2-1] are the two "wild cards" in the woodpile, and can be used as either a 3 or a 6 when making totals (i.e. they substitute for each other).

If a player cannot make his discard, then he loses his bet. If the banker cannot make his discard, then he plays off all the players who did make their discard. The players who also could not make a discard get their bets back in this situation.

The Play

Each player adds up all the pips on the two remaining tiles and takes the total, modulo ten -- i.e. keeps the last digit of the total as his score. For example if his two tiles are [6-5] and [6-1] the total is 18 and his score is 8.

If he has a higher total than the banker, he wins. If the banker has a higher total, the player loses. If they tie, they both take their bets back.

If the banker had a discard, then the bank passes to his right. If he did not make his discard, then he retains the bank.

Comments

A little basic mental math helps with setting the discard. Divide the hand into odd and even numbered tiles. A multiple of ten is an even number and the laws of such numbers tell us that:

  • (even + even + even) = even, possible multiple of ten
  • (odd + odd + even) = even, possible multiple of ten
  • (odd + odd + odd) = odd
  • (even + even + odd) = odd
  1. If your hand has five odd numbered tiles, then you cannot discard.
  2. If your hand has four odd numbered tiles, then look for a discard by starting with the even numbered tile and add two of the others to it.
  3. If your hand has three odd numbered tiles, then look for a discard in an (odd + odd + even) combination.
  4. If your hand has two odd numbered tiles, then look for a discard with them and one of the even numbered tiles. The look at the three even numbered tiles for a discard.
  5. If your hand has one odd numbered tile, then turn it upside down and look for a discard in the remaining four tiles.
  6. If your hand has no odd numbered tiles, then look for a discard in the remaining five tiles.