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Joined: Nov 17, 2009
October 25th, 2011 at 2:01:16 PM permalink
No, it's not a car race in Arizona's largest city (but that would be awesome).

The Wizard wrote up an article on this coin tossing game at the Venetian Macau on his WOO site.

In a nutshell, players wager on the outcome of two coins flipped in the air. Instead of "head/tail", each coin has an image of a dragon on one side, and a phoenix on the other. When I first read this description, my first reaction was of course, the "other" casino from "Vegas Vacation". Interestingly, the players, not the dealers, get to flip the coins. I figure this makes the game vulnerable to coin "setters" (to borrow a term from craps), since one can easily imagine that the toss of a coin can be controlled with enough practice, and studies have shown that even random tossing produces biased results, as whatever side of the coin is facing up before the coin is flipped, has a 51% chance of success.

So, the nagging question is: "How does the coin toss work?" At first I imagined that the players were sitting at a Pai Gow, or Baccarat table, and would flip the two coins like a traditional coin toss, either by stacking them one on top of the other, on the thumb of one hand, then flipping both at the same time onto the table; or using the same, traditional technique, but flipping a single coin twice. The other thought I had was that the coins were place in some sort of shaker or cage like the dice at a Pai Gow table, or the cage used in Sic Bo. It turns out that, according the "World Gaming" website, the game is totally different:

Quote: World Gaming Magazine website

Dragon Phoenix is not played on a table, it's played in a large ring. Players stand in a circle outside the ring, and the spinner stands in the middle of the ring. Everyone who wants a turn to spin the coins has a chance to do so (the option to be spinner moves around the ring, just like the option to be the shooter in craps moves around the table). The spinner's first job is to decide if they are trying to throw three Dragon spins in a row, or three Phoenix spins in a row. They place a bet accordingly, called the 'spinner's bet' (minimum HK$100 to maximum HK$1,000).

The spinner's bet is only available to the spinner. Everyone else places bets on each single spin being either Dragon or Phoenix. These bets are placed in squares around the edge of the ring, with a maximum of three player's bets in each square. The minimum bet is HK$200 per player and the maximum HK$20,000 per square. The crowd goes wild and the spinner steps into the middle of the ring and throws the two coins in the air, off a small wooden block called a 'kip'. The spinner must throw the coins well above their head and the coins must be spinning. If the spin is no good the dealers will run in and hit or kick the coins before they land, so no one will know what the result might have been!

The article mentions that the game is loud and raucous. Sounds "crapslike".
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - Leonardo da Vinci
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