Pok Deng is one of the popular card games in Thailand. In fact, it is often played whilst drinking with friends and buddies. So those who want to immerse in Thai lifestyle should learn how to play Pok Deng to learn more about the country’s culture and daily living. The game is one of the easiest and fun games to learn.
What is Pok Deng?
Pok Deng, also known as Pok Kao, is a gambling card game popular in Thailand. Its main goal is to have a hand with a ones digit that can beat the dealer’s, whilst accounting for the pairs, three of a kinds, and flushes. It has excellent playing patterns and can accommodate two to 17 players including the dealer.
How to Play Pok Deng in Thailand
The first step of playing Pok Deng is by placing the bets. If you plan to gamble real money, make sure to do it discreetly or better yet avoid it all cost since gambling is strictly illegal in Thailand. Some Thai locals use candies, chips, or drinks as their bets.
When all the bets are placed, the dealer will shuffle the card and will deal two cards to each player, with the dealer being the last. Players can choose to stand or draw one more card. Afterward, the dealer will have to compare their hands against some of the players. The dealer may draw an additional card before comparing the hands against the other players.
As mentioned, Pok Deng can accommodate a wide range of players from two to 17. However, the ideal number of players should be three to nine only. Before beginning a game, the players should choose the dealer. They can nominate the dealer to remain for the rest of the game or they can agree to switch as the game progresses.
Do note that each game is fast and short, lasting only a couple of seconds. Players must be ready to place their bets in the form of chips, candies, drinks, or cash. The game is always against the dealer and not against the other players. The dealer can choose to deal the card either clockwise or counterclockwise but each player must get two face-down cards, with the remaining cards being the draw pile.
Playing the Game
The play follows the order the cards were given. If the dealer gave out cards counterclockwise, the game will proceed in counter-clockwise order. Each player will have their own turn, in which they can choose to draw an additional card or not. Players who choose to draw must only get one card on top of the draw pile, allowing them to have three cards at one time.
Should the player’s starting hand has a taem made up of eight or nine, the player has a pok. The player must then announce it and show the cards face-up. Since this is already considered a good hand, the player is not allowed to draw an additional card.
On the event that the dealer has a pok, the cards are also turned face-up and compared against the player’s hands. Should the dealer fail to secure a pok hand, he can choose select players to reveal their cards and compare before drawing an additional card and comparing it with the rest of the players.
In Pok Deng, three factors determine the player’s score: type of hand, the numerical value (taem), and the bet multiplicator (deng).
Taem is the numerical score of the hand. It is determined by the values of the cards presently on hand. The card values are as follows:
- Ace is equal to one
- Two to nine has face values
- 10, Jack, Queen, and King are equal to zero or ten.
The taem of the hand is equal to the ones digit o the sum of the cards so it does not really matter whether the 10 cards have 10 or zero values. For example, a hand with a 2 and 4 has a 6 taem. The same goes for a hand with 8 and 8 because it is equal to 16 or a ones value of 6. A hand with a 10 and 6 also has a 6 taem.
The deng or the bet multiplier will depend on the relationship among the cards in hand. For instance:
Song Deng: Once a player only has two cards in hand, sharing the same suit or a flush or a number or letter or a pair. The payout for a song deng hand can be as much as twice of the original bet.
Sam Deng: A player has a sam deng once the players have three cards sharing the same suit. The payout for a sam deng can be thrice as much as the original bet. Some variations of the gameplay allow three straight cards to be called a sam deng as well. It should be noted, however, that a straight cannot wrap around from Ace to Two or vice versa.
By default, hands that do not have any special properties are considered one deng. A Pok may have one or two deng whilst a normal hand may have one to three deng.
In Pok Deng, a hand type may be one of the four types (in decreasing rank):
Pok: a player’s starting hand has a numerical value of eight or nine.
Tong: a player has three cards with similar numbers or letters (three-of-a-kind). This can beat sam lueang and deng of five.
Sam lueang or Sam krabeung: a player has three face cards that do not necessarily match. This hand beats a normal hand has three deng.
Normal: any other type of hand.
When it comes to scoring against the dealer, players can beat, tie with, or lose. First, the players must compare the hand type, then the taem, and lastly the deng. In general, the hand type and taem automatically determine the winner but the deng is the tiebreaker and the one which determines how much the winner can win.
Hand Type: when comparing hand type, the better hand always wins. The winning amount is the winning player’s deng multiplied by the original bet. In case, the dealer and the player has similar hand types, they compare the taem. The better taem wins and the winning amount again determined by the deng. In cases where the player and the dealer has similar hand types and taem, the deng is then compared. The one with a better deng wins and the payout is the difference of the hand’s deng. In rare cases, the dealer has the same hand type, taem, and deng with the player, it is considered a tie and the original bet returns to the player.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. One is if one of the hand has a tong and the other has a sam lueang. As discussed earlier, tong is better than sam lueang thus the hand with tong wins. The payout is double the original bet.
Players of Pok Deng often introduce additional rules to spice up the game. These are optional, of course.
Additional Rules for Pok Deng
A player may choose to play multiple hands for as long as the number of players does not exceed 17. However, the player cannot share cards between hands. The players can also choose to bet on each hand.
Players also have the option to play a single shared hand, which should remain in the centre. Players can put their bets on that particular hand. It can be dealt first or last and is played by the players who placed a wager.
The dealer can choose to deal one or more face-up hands to his liking to somehow disrupt the player’s sense of luck. The junk hands must be dealt as two normal cards. As the play goes on, the dealer can decide to stay or draw a face-up card for the junk hand.
Now that you have an idea how to play Pok Deng, invite some of your friends over to have a go at Thailand’s popular card game. You can also try out online Pok Deng.