Bpauk Daeng – Thailand’s Gambling Game

I swear I’ve never played this game because gambling is illegal in Thailand. 🙂

Bpauk Daeng is a Thai gambling game that is very popular here in Thailand. It’s somewhat like Baccarat but with a Thai flavor. I was unable to find much in the way of information on the game so I thought I would do a write-up for any other farangs who find themselves getting invited to join a game.

Whoever suggests playing usually wants to be the dealer/banker (or what the Thais call The King) for the game. I haven’t done the math but the dealer/banker has a slight edge on the players that I will explain later.

Before each hand is dealt players must declare a bet amount. In most of the games I’ve seen played in bars and in private homes the stakes range from around 20 baht (0.60 USD) to around 100 baht ($3 USD) per hand. Normally the money should be on the table but when played in a public place usually the money gets exchanged at the end of the hand so there’s no cash sitting on the table.

I’m not sure if it’s a rule of the game but most of the time I see the game dealt counter-clockwise. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody deal clockwise from the dealer position.

Players are dealt two cards face down, one at a time just like in hold’em. I assume it is the dealer’s discretion since I’ve seen it played both ways, but the dealer CAN deal burn cards face up. I asked about this and was told that it’s done when the dealer feels unlucky and is trying to mess up the order of the cards.

Players then sum up the total of their cards.

A = 1 point
2 – 10 = 2 – 10 points accordingly
K, Q, J = 10 points

Just like in baccarat, you drop the tens when adding up the total. So, if your cards total 10, you would drop the tens and have zero. Or if your cards totaled 15, you drop the tens and have 5 points.

Any player who has an 8 or 9 turns their hand up and they cannot draw any cards.

At this point if the dealer has Bpauk Bpet (Bpet is Thai for 8) or Bpauk Gao (Gao is Thai for 9) the dealer will ask everyone to open their hands. If the player can beat the dealer (8 vs. 9) they are paid. If they match the dealer it’s a push. Otherwise the dealer wins and all players surrender their bets to the dealer.

If the dealer doesn’t have Bpauk Bpet or Bpauk Gao play continues with the dealer asking each player if they would like an additional card. Each player is allowed to draw 1 card if they choose. You are not obligated to take a card unless you have a hand total under 4.

Both the players and the dealer must draw on any hand under 4. There is no option to stay on a point total of 1, 2, or 3. However, if after the third card the player (or the dealer) has a total of 1, 2, or 3 that is their score since no player can be dealt more than 3 cards.

After dealing drawing cards to all of the players the dealer MAY decide to ask all hands that have drawn a third card to open their hands before deciding whether or not to draw themselves. Players that stayed put on two cards do not have to open their hand.

If the dealer asks the players to open the dealer then turns over their cards and winning hands are paid, equal hands push, and losing hands pay the dealer.

After the dealer has made their decision to draw a card all hands are opened up and bets are settled accordingly.

Payouts and Special Hands

The normal payout is 1:1. If you bet 20 baht and you beat the dealer the dealer pays you 20 baht. However there are some special hands that payout more than 1:1. Keep in mind that if the dealer gets these hands the players must pay the dealer at the same odds.

Pairs, flushes, sets, and a K, Q, J straight pay out as follows.

Pairs: 2:1
Two card flush: 2:1
Three card flush: 3:1
Sets: 3:1
K, Q, J straight: 6:1

However, with the exception of the K, Q, J straight, your hand must still win. For instance, if you have pair of fives or three tens your point total is zero. If the dealer has a score higher than zero you still lose the hand and lose your original bet.

Where it becomes interesting if when the dealer hits a hand. For instance, if the dealer was dealt 333 for a total of 9 points then everybody with a point score lower than 9 must pay the dealer 3:1. As an example, if you bet 20 baht you would owe the dealer 60 baht.

The House (Banker) Edge

Like I said, I haven’t done the math but I’m assuming the dealer’s edge comes from the fact that if they make a two card 8 or 9 other players aren’t allowed to draw but if the players make 8 or 9 on two cards the dealer can still draw to a push or a win.

Looking at the odds for baccarat it seems that the dealer holds a 1.286% advantage when playing baccarat with no house commission and one deck. But there are so many little variances I’m not really sure you can use the baccarat odds here.


One of the things I find entertaining about this game is that it’s not a casino game where the casino has figured out the optimal strategy and puts that into the game’s rules (i.e. dealer must stand on 17 in blackjack). That means that the dealer may be playing horribly and someone playing optimal strategy can clean up against a bad dealer. And considering there’s always booze involved when this game is being played you can pretty much count on bad play.

There’s also the issue of the Thai reliance on luck. I’ve seen people draw on a 33 hoping to make a set . So they’re taking a 24:1 flyer on the hopes of getting paid out 3:1.

All in all, even though the house holds an advantage I think if one simply draws on anything under 6 and stays on 6 or better they’re playing pretty much an optimal strategy and can actually beat the house. Of course, if you’re playing against a dealer who knows how to play optimal strategy then you’re just gambling.

And remember, I’ve never actually played this game because, you know, gambling is illegal here. 🙂

13 thoughts on “Bpauk Daeng – Thailand’s Gambling Game”

  1. Thanks for the detailed explanation. I am beginning to understand this game now.

    Interestingly, gambling is legal at a wake or funeral! I am sitting at one now trying to understand this card game. We sit on a road where an aquainrance died from drinking Lao kao this morning. Since he was poor. His wake was established here with a tent erected over his casket. As soon as the monks finished tgeir lengthy chant and left, out came the cards and whiskey. While researching Thai card games, I found a comment concerning this legality loophole confirming my suspicion about gambling at funerals since we sit on the street and as police drive by, nobody tried to hide the cards or money on the table! Amazing Thailand!

  2. I know this game inside and out. I have “studied” for years from the far north to southern tips, and they all love the game. There is a different understanding of rules and play in different regions, as well as subculturally to aviod “confrontation.” choke dee

  3. I’m heard Thai have a special Poker Game by my Boss,
    So I try to found it.
    You offer me much information about Bpauk Daeng.
    You unlock a lot of questions.


  4. Bill~
    Thanks for your information 🙂
    I very agree ” it’s difficult to look up in Thai ” and all about gamble in Thailand is Prohibited.
    Maybe I need to learn Thai frist. XD
    I will try google Bpauk Daeng by Thai 🙂

    Thanks again ~~^__^

  5. Sorry if that was a little verbose but I go back to my previous comment and say that this is a Thai game. You probably won’t find anybody other than Thais who play it (perhaps an occasional farang here and there who has spent time in Thailand). So, if you want to play you have to play with Thais and they can explain it to you in detail. You don’t need to look up anything on the internet.

    However, if you simply think it sounds like a fun game and you want to play with your buddies . . . just make up your own rules. Use what I’ve written as a guide and whatever I’ve missed you can fill in yourself.

  6. Not surprising. Bpauk Daeng is an English transliteration of Thai script. If Thais are writing for other Thais it’s highly unlikely they would be writing transliterated Thai. They would simply write in Thai script. Thus why I said that my reading and writing of Thai isn’t advanced enough for me to find out any further information on the game.

    Also, Thai is a tonal language so I’m not even 100% sure of the meaning of Bpauk so I wouldn’t know how to spell it in Thai. I’m guessing on the context of the word that it means “say” or “speak” since you are supposed to declare your 8 and 9 hands. So, I’m guessing “Say 8 – Say 9” is a common name for the game. And if I’m correct on Bpauk then I’m guessing Bpauk Daeng means “Say Red” (Daeng means Red in Thai) but that doesn’t make as much sense and saying it with even a slightly different tone can completely change the meaning of Daeng so I have no idea.

    Assuming I am correct about Bpauk, the Thai script is: พูด
    Thai script for 8 is: แปด
    Thai script for 9 is: เก้า
    And assuming I am correct about Daeng the Thai script is: สีแดง

    NOTE: สีแดง means, color red. It’s a Thai thing to classify everything. For example, person American or country Thailand. I’m guessing you could eliminate สี and just use แดง for red.

    Part of the problem for people learning Thai is that it is not a phonetic language. You can’t hear a word and know how to spell it. There are several different characters that make the “K” sound for example. Same with “T”, “S”, and several other English letters. And then you have funny rules about things like roo rua (ร) which normally has an “R” sound having an “N” sound at the end of a word (even though there are other letters that also have an “N” sound).

    To give a concrete example of what I’m saying, the major BKK airport is Suvarnabhumi Airport. But that’s not how you say it. In Thai, Suvarnabhumi, is written สุวรรณภูมิ. However both Thais and foreigners pronounce the name of the airport, Sawanapum. What happened to the “R” (which is also in the Thai spelling) and the “I” (pronounced “E”) on the end (which is that little symbol over the last letter in the Thai spelling)? Nobody knows.

    So imagine someone saying the name of the airport Sawanapum and trying to spell it or look it up on a map in Thai. Even if you know the Thai alphabet you can’t get to the spelling from the spoken word. And that’s if you catch all the correct tones. Is it a short A or a long A? Totally different letters.

    See why I say it’s difficult to look up in Thai? 🙂

  7. Hi Lofe,

    Sorry, I just know what I’ve learned playing the game. I would assume that there are probably some sites in Thai that have more information but I don’t read/write Thai well enough to be able to digest much of the information that might be available.

    Don’t worry though, if you’re in Thailand and you ask some Thais to play they’ll show you how. Since they’re usually playing for 5 or 10 baht a hand you can keep your losses minimal while you learn 🙂


  8. Hi Bill nice to meet you~do you know how to found more about “Bpauk Daeng” information?
    (my english is poor…but I think you know what I mean ^_^|)
    Thanks 🙂

  9. Sounds very similar to baccarat indeed the way you described it. The odds are still in favor of the banker the same way with baccarat also. But if I’m not mistaken in baccarat there are only 2 hands that is dealt all the time designated as banker and player. For this game, Bpauk Daeng, each of the players on the table is dealt 2 cards? That becomes more like baccarat and blackjack combined. Don’t you think? 😀

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