Where to Play Pai Gow in New Zealand

SkyCity Casino in Auckland is the best place in New Zealand to play Pai Gow. Perhaps it’s because the Sky Tower reaches up to the heavens and the casino carpark sinks down into the earth. In any event Pai Gow has been played at SkyCity Casino ever since Pangu first  separated the heavens and the earth. Or at least since the early 2000’s when SkyCity discovered how popular it was with wealthy Chinese gamblers. Many of whom love it so much they stay at a casino hotel.

What is Pai Gow

Pai Gow is a fun gambling game played with Chinese dominos. It’s the oldest gambling game played in any casino, and is believed to predate dice by several thousand years.

Pai Gow players play against the house not each other. The game uses 32 dominos referred to as tiles. Each tile has between 2 and 12 spots on it. There 11 identical pairs and 5 pairs that have the same number of dots on each tile but arranged in a different way. The tiles all have crazy names and it’s confusing as fuck. Just put you money on the table and ask the dealer to set your tiles to the house way.

At first you won’t have a clue what’s happening. They’ll be wongs and gongs, you’ll win some money have a few drinks and then lose it all. But you’ll have a great time and after a few hours and several thousand dollars it will all start to make sense and you can take control of setting your own tiles. Much like blackjack the best odds come from following the house way. But that’s hardly gambling. Go big or go home. That money won’t launder itself.

The dealers at SkyCity are pretty friendly and can explain the rules as you go. As required by NZ law if you’ve got a problem call the Gambling Helpline on 0800 654 655.

Pai Gow Odds

Pai Gow at SkyCity Casino in Auckland pays 19-20. So the house basically takes 5%. As with any gambling game you can’t change the odds and there always in the hose favour. The best you can do is change the shape of the bell curve. Doing this involves placing all of your money in one giant bet and then walking away win or lose. The more hands you play the more certain it is you’ll lose. This is actually the reason for a maximum bet. The casino want you to make a lot of smaller bets not one big one.

Pai Gow Hands


There’s 16 pairs in Pai Gow That rank in the following order. These are what you’re looking for.

  1. Gee Jun
  2. Heaven
  3. Earth
  4. People
  5. Harmony
  6. Flower
  7. Long
  8. Bench
  9. Axe
  10. Screen
  11. Tall Seven
  12. Weird Six
  13. Mixed Nine
  14. Mixed Eight
  15. Mixed Seven
  16. Mixed Five

Wongs, Gongs and High Nines

Looking for Wongs at a Pai Gow table isn’t nearly as racist as it sounds. It’s part of the game.

  1. Heaven Wong
  2. Earth Wong
  3. Heaven Gong
  4. Earth Gong
  5. Heaven High Nine
  6. Earth High Nine

Numerical value

Here you are adding the dots on both tiles. But if the total is over 10 you ignore the 10 and just use the right hand digit so 13 becomes 3, 12 becomes 2 etc. 0 is the lowest and 9 is the best.

In a tie the the tiles all have ranks and sometimes they take your money even when you thought you won which is bitterly disappointing, especially if it’s your last chip. But don’t worry they never cheat, if you keep playing it will all make sense.