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For Locals, Expats and tourists in the Philippines.
Tong-its: Poker Filipino Style

Tong-its: Poker Filipino Style

Tong-its is the most popular card game in the Philippines. It is being played everywhere, by people from all walks of life and various age and sexes. Its history and origin remains unknown, but the spirit of fun can be felt during the game, no pressures unlike other card games.

This has been the favorite past time amongst Filipinos for generations. During the start of the game, it may seem that players are helping one another, but in the end there is always a winner who gets to take home the pot.

Just like any card game, Tong-its has its rules to follow.
This is played by 3 players, the dealer deals out 12 cards to each player and an extra card for the for them for a total of 13 cards. The dealer will start first, by discarding 3 straight flush or trio (tapon), then the next player (the one to the right) can choose either to take the discarded cards or pick a card from the deck (bunot).

If the player chooses to pick the discarded cards then the player has to discard 3 cards with the card the player picked up. If the player chooses to pick a card from the deck, it will just complete the flush or trio and no need to open their cards. A player also has options to connect (sapaw) to any set of open cards, either by extending the straight flush or adding 1 card to a trio making it a 4 of a kind.

After that move a player has to discard one card to end the turn. One of the best strategies is to drop at least one completed cards to make it difficult for the other player to call a draw. There are also some tong-it things to avoid; out of cards meaning when the deck is gone and one of the players completes their card the game is over.

Each player will count their cards, whoever has the lowest number of cards wins. Tong-it, a player can call this if one is able to drop and connect all the cards at hand. A player can call a draw if one had opened the card and thinks that the opponent has a higher point total. If a player called a draw and nobody opened then the caller wins the game. If a player has burned cards (sunog) meaning the game ended and still has not opened the cards, he has to pay the winner extra (if playing for money).

In this game, there are ways of betting if it is a money game. A peso is dropped into the pot for winning, and an extra peso for tong-it, sunog,and draw. The winner of the game is called hitter, who will be in charge of dealing the next round.

Indeed, this simple card game had gained much popularity. The rules are very easy to understand. Moreover, it is really fun and it can really take away one’s boredom. Not to mention, earning a few bucks.
From its humble beginnings, now the game has evolved with technology. There is now PC software for this game, where one has to play against the computer. There are also some websites where one can play on line (check security first). In the future, tong-its will be played by people from different parts of the globe with as much enjoyment as Filipinos.


  1. Neil ni Des

    @4: u can pick the 7 only if they have the same symbol.. example.. tinapon ung 7 of hearts then u have 6 of hearts and 8 of hearts in your hand then u can pick it

  2. BJ Vergara

    I heard the game originated somewhere in Isabela, in the 70’s. My friend’s father used to drive logging trucks. whenever the wait for their cargo, they play mahjjong using cards. This game developed into what is called tong-its.

  3. jt


    1.wag mag tago ng baraha kapag iisa lang ung hinihintay example (Q and K, so J lang ang kulang wag dapat hintayin un, discard mo na agad Q, K)another example, (4,5) option mo eh 3 and 7 nakita mo ng tinapon ung 3 so wag mo na intayin ung 7.

    2.always check ung mga tapon, at kung may BASAG ka, hahaha ung pinapatong sa mga buong cards. thats what you called BASAG,!

    3. be sure na may Buo ka or tinatawag na BAHAY, kasi diba pag may naka tong its automatic talo ung walang naka babang BAHAY.

    4.always discard high valued card,

    5. kapag madami kang BUO or BAHAY na hawak wag mo ibaba lahat kasi mapapakinabangan yan ng kalaban mo, example (4,5,6) (J,J,J) ibaba mo na lang muna ung (J,J,J) kasi isa lang naman kulang dyan, unlike dun sa (4,5,6) pwd nila lagyan yan ng mga card nila, which is advantage nila na mabawasan ung card nila,

    6. this always happen to me. i have two A (Club,and Diamond) i always keep the diamond and in the end , diba pa babaan ang laban i always lose, kasi mas mataas pala ang diamond card sa iba, (Diamond, Heart, Spade, Club) haahaha. SO ALWAYS KEEP THE A CARD WITH THE CLUB SIGN RATHER THAN THE A CARD WITH THE DIAMOND SIGN,

    7. Relax lang sa pag lalaro. lalo na kung di naman perahan hahahaha.!


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