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Street gambling games

Street gambling games are popular in many countries and regions, including China, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam. But those are not the only countries that can enjoy casual gambling on the street with friends! Find out what games can be particularly attractive for Indian gamblers.


Mahjong is a game of strategy and calculation. It’s also a game that helps you develop patience.

It is a traditional Chinese game, and versions of it have been played for hundreds of years. It’s often referred to as the “world’s best gambling game” because players can win or lose significant amounts of money in some variations of the game.

Mahjong rules vary depending on the version played, but there are several common elements to all versions.

Each player starts with 13 tiles. Players take turns drawing and discarding tiles as they try to match open pairs of images, or “pongs.” The winner is the first person who can discard all their tiles.


In Italy, there is an interesting gambling game called ‘Fingolo’. There seem to be many variations of this game, but the basic principle is that the bank starts by choosing a starting hand, and all players have to play that same hand. This continues until someone wins the round or everyone folds.

The first person to bet is the bank. A card is then turned face-up, with the suit being chosen at random by someone other than the bank. The value of this initial card can be anything from 0 up to 2 or 3 and only applies to the first three cards dealt out in that round.

If there are other players (which there will be in the first round), they can then fold, call or raise. The bank will then have a chance to match any bet made by another player and continue playing until all players but one has folded.


A trick-taking game for 4 players, which is popular in Europe. There are five different scoring variations with different pay-outs and rules of play:

The Common Version

The four players form two teams. Partners sit opposite each other, and each player plays a card to one of four kitty piles, trying to win the trick.

When a player wins a trick, they must follow suit if possible, and the highest card of the suits played wins that trick.

Players receive 1 point for each trick they win, plus an additional 2 points for taking all four tricks in a hand (the ‘Chinchou’). The game ends when one team reaches 8 points.

The New Version

The four players still form two teams but play individually against their opponents, trying to win tricks by playing trump cards that must be beaten to capture the trick. The game is played until one team accumulates 8 points.


This name seems to refer to a number of different games, all involving the deal and play of cards. It is a game for 3 players, which can be played with special cards or just the standard pack without Jokers, plus chips to represent money.

The dealer deals three piles of 15 cards each (with the remainder of his cards forming the fourth pile). He then turns up one card and whoever holds the highest card of that suit wins the trick and scores 4 chips from each opponent.

If no player has a card of the same suit as the turned-up card, it is then dropped into a centre pile to form part of a ‘Fifteen’ (in which case anyone holding the second highest card in that suit will win). The winning card can be any card except a Jack (unless it is the turned-up card that counts as 1).

The game ends when someone reaches 31 chips, with the winner being whoever has the most chips.


A gambling game for 2 players. The dealer shuffles his pack of cards and announces an amount of money, e.g. 100 credits, which the loser will pay to the winner (typically in a fantasy or sci-fi setting with players being portrayed as ’emperors’). The dealer then deals four cards each, face down.

Players can only look at their own hand and may not show it to their opponent. Each player must then decide whether to ‘pay’ or ‘play’, placing their money onto the table.

If a player pays, the opponent must then turn over one of his cards and must match that amount on payment to stay in the game (or else he too will have to pay).

If a player chooses to play, both players reveal their hand, and if it is worth more than the amount offered, the player who put down the lowest bid loses (i.e. pays). The game is over when one player wins a specified number of games without going bust and can be continued for ‘higher stakes’ using Jokers to represent raising the bet by 50 credits per hand.

Nap (Napoleon)

Originally a three-hand version of Oh Hell, this game can also be played as a four- or six hand game with Jokers acting as an extra hand. Two people are involved, each playing for themselves using the standard 52 card pack (without Jokers).

The players split their cards into 3 equal piles and then place a bet on the table consisting of one of each denomination. The dealer then deals two cards face down to himself and one face up to his opponent. After examining their cards, both players make an additional wager of equal size but opposing in value to the one already made.

The dealer next deals two more cards to himself and another face-up card to his opponent, again making an additional wager of equal size but opposing in value to the existing bets. After looking at their hands, both players place a third wager, this time using one less denomination than before but with the same total value as the previous two wagers.

The dealer then turns over a card from his pack, placing it on top of one of his existing cards (either face up or face down). The value of this added card is used as an ‘ante’ and goes to whoever has the highest value matching set in their hand. When both players have placed their ante, they look at their hands and discard up to any number of them from their hand into a common discard pile. The dealer then deals another two cards to each player but this time face down.

Each player then looks at his own hand and plays any number of the cards in his hand, trying to make sets out of the cards that remain or by playing cards that will improve the value of those he has already played. The players then score points according to how many matches there are between their remaining face-up cards (but only one match per card), as follows:

  • Double – for 4 cards of the same value, e.g. four 6’s or four 8’s etc.
  • Triple – for a combination of 3 cards whose values add up to the same, e.g. two 6’s and a Jack or Queen etc.
  • Quadruple – for 4 cards, all of which have different matching values (e.g. four 6’s, four Queens and a King or three 10’s, a king and two diamonds).

If the value of a person’s remaining face-up cards is more than that shown on their turned-up card, they are said to have ‘gone bust’ and lose whatever amount was put down as an ante before play started. The dealer then turns over another card from his packet and deals out another two cards (this time face down). The game is over when one person has gone bust and loses whatever amount was outstanding.

Gambling games on a go

The appeal of these games is that they allow players to have a good time with minimal equipment. That’s why they are also ideal for long car journeys or plane flights or playing outside with friends as all one needs is a flat surface and enough people to make up two teams.

And finally, card games can be enjoyed by almost everyone and so become an excellent way of bringing people together.

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