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Winning In-between: Odds and probability of winning and hitting 'tiang'

Guide to Winning In-Between: Probability of Hitting 'Tiang' & Card Being on the "Outside"

profileMing Feng

“Testing” our luck for the year with our friends and family is usually part of our Chinese New year (CNY) celebration.

Regardless of what our Chinese Zodiac Feng Shui prediction says about our luck this year, it is only fair that we put it to a test to either confirm or debunk what we read.

Actions speak louder than words, and sometimes by action, we mean a game of “in-between” with our friends and family members.

A typical gathering kicks off with the feasting of Chinese New Year Goodies before we ease into a game of ‘Ban Luck” (Blackjack).

Source: Facebook | Chops Grill & Sides

After having “warmed up” our luck, we then proceed to the intense game of “in-between” where the outcome will determine if we have buffets or Maggie Mee for the rest of the week.


Hitting the ‘TIANG’ Over a Game of In-Between

If you are unfamiliar with the game of in-between, we have provided you with a quick recap below.

For those who are familiar with the game of in-between, our greatest fear is that we will end up hitting the ‘tiang’. 

Source: Facebook | SAYS

Hitting the ‘tiang’ is a translation of hitting the goal post. It refers to a situation where the third card matches one of the cards instead of being in between or even outside of the 2 cards that were already on the table.

 

Source: Witty Futty

Should you hit the ‘tiang’ during a game of in-between, you lose double the amount which you bet on.


Probability and Odd of Hitting the ‘Tiang’ Over a Game of In-Between

Source: Facebook | Sgag

Having been a victim of hitting ‘tiangs’, losing money and walking home from Jurong to Yishun during Chinese New Year, I made it my life’s mission to uncover the probability of winning the game of in-between with the help of statistics.

Depending on the mechanics of the in-between game that you and your friends or relatives have decided on, I will first break down the statistics with a few assumptions:

  • Firstly, we start from a fresh deck (with all 52 cards) every time the cards are dealt to an individual.
  • Ace will hold the value of ‘1’
  • King is the biggest card.

This means that getting an Ace and a King is the most optimal starting hand, in the game of in-between.

Possible Winning NumbersNumber of Cards in BetweenProbability of Winning
(Being in between)
Probability of Hitting 'Tiang'
(Pay double)
Probability of 'Outside'
(Being out of the range)
11
(Example: Ace & King)
11 x 4 = 4488%12%0%
10
(Example: Ace & Queen)
10 x 4 = 4080%12%8%
9
(Example: Ace & Jack)
9 x 4 = 3672%12%16%
8
(Example: 3 & Queen)
8 x 4 = 3264%12%24%
7
(Example: 3 & Jack)
7 x 4 = 2856%12%32%
6
(Example: 5 & Queen)
6 x 4 = 2448%12%40%
5
(Example: 2 & 8)
5 x 4 = 2040%12%48%
4
(Example: Ace & 6)
4 x 4 = 1632%12%56%
3
(Example 4 & 8)
3 x 4 = 1224%12%64%
2
(Example 9 & Queen)
2 x 4 = 816%12%72%
1
(Example 3 & 5)
1 x 4 = 48%12%80%

To make sense of the table above:

  • The probability of winning is the odds of which the third card is in-between the two cards on your hand.
  • Possible winning numbers refer to the number of winning numbers in between.
    For example, if your hand is Nine and Queen, there are 2 winning numbers (ten and Jack)
  • As there are 4 suits of each number, the number of cards is the number of winning numbers multiplied by 4.
  • There will be a constant 12% of which you will hit the ‘tiang’, no matter the combination of your hand.
Source: Sgag

The way most Singaporean play is that we do not start each hand with a fresh deck of cards, meaning we carry on with the cards until we deplete the deck.

This gives us a slight advantage of being able to see what are some of the cards that are already out.

To assist you with the calculation of the probability, simply

  • Add 2% to your winning probability if the card is outside
  • Minus 2% to your winning probability if the card is in between
  • You can also minus 2% from your probability of hitting a ‘tiang’ if it is a similar number to the cards on your hand.

Further Reading: How To Play In-Between?

Here’s a quick recap on how to play in-between.

  • After the dealer shuffles the cards, one of the players will ‘cut’ the deck, splitting the deck into two. This is to ensure fairness in the game.
  • Each player will contribute a standardise amount into the pot of money to start the game

  • The dealer will open 2 cards for the first player and the player will then bet an amount of money, according to the change of the 3rd card falling in between the 2 numbers of the cards on his hand.
  • Winning or losing money depends on the 3rd card the dealer opens for you
  • If the card:
    • Falls in between the 2 cards: Win the amount you previously bet from the common pot of money
    • Falls outside of the 2 cards: Lose the amount of money you bet to the common pot
    • Is exactly the same number as either 2 of the opened cards: Lose X2 the amount you previously bet to the common pot of money

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About Ming Feng
A stint in Bloomberg gifted me with a beer belly, which only grew larger when I moved on to become a Professional Trader. Now I turn caffeine into digestible finance-related content.
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