Fantan - Encyclopedia

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FANTAN, a form of gambling highly popular among the Chinese. The game is simple. A square is marked in the centre of an ordinary table, or a square piece of metal is laid on it, the sides being marked I, 2, 3 and 4. The banker puts on the table a double handful of small coins - in China "cash" - or similar articles, which he covers with a metal bowl. The players bet on the numbers, setting their stakes on the side of the square which bears the number selected. When all have staked, the bowl is removed, and the banker or croupier with a small stick removes coins from the heap, four at a time, till the final batch is reached. If it contains four coins, the backer of No. 4 wins; if three, the backer of No. 3 wins, and so on. Twenty-five per cent is deducted from the stake by the banker, and the winner receives five times the amount of his stake thus reduced. In Macao, the Monte Carlo of China, play goes on day and night, every day of the week, and bets can be made from 5 cents to 500 dollars, which are the limits.

Fantan is also the name of a card game, played with an ordinary pack, by any number of players up to eight. The deal decided, the cards are dealt singly, any that are left over forming a stock, and being placed face downwards on the table. Each player contributes a fixed stake or "ante." The first player can enter if he has an ace; if he has not he pays an "ante" and takes a card from the stock; the second player is then called upon and acts similarly till an ace is played. This (and the other aces when played) is put face upwards on the table, and the piles are built up from the ace to the king. The pool goes to the player who first gets rid of all his cards. If a player fails to play, having a playable card, he is fined the amount of the ante for every card in the other players' hands.

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