This is it, guys. The Tongits guide you’ve been all searching for. We’ll deep dive into the Tongits game details and reveal how to play Tongits with strategies, tips and tricks gathered from experts, peers and fellow Tongits enthusiasts. Tongits continues to be one of the most played games in the Philippines. Almost every Pinoy knows how to play Tongits like a pro. Without a doubt, the Tongits game will be here to stay and grow even more especially with online Tongits.

We wouldn’t want to miss a beat when we’re tackling how to play Tongits with you guys. Just read on and find out how things are working backstage and onstage. After all, Tongits is a dynamic game that makes every player focused on the totality of the Tongits game. If one blinks, one can miss the opportunity to win. It is a matter of skill, lots of practice and how to tune into the fine details of what’s happening as the play moves forward. Let’s give it a go!

What is Tongits?

To make sure that we’re all on the same Tongits page, let’s first tackle the basics. What is Tongits? Tongits is a game similar to Gin rummy. It hails its roots from Tonk (a card game introduced by the US Military) as well. There are only three participants and we’re using a deck of cards without the jokers.

The object of the Tongits game is to be the first to play all of your cards or to have the lowest points value of cards in your hand. That’s how simple it is. To get to a win is the adventure. Read on folks.

three men playing tongits
Image source: gamesguide

Tongits: How does it work?

For the beginner, it’s best to take a backseat and observe about a round of three games. Let us assure you that after witnessing three rounds of Tongits, you’ll be the most eager beaver who’d want to have their turn to play next.

Setting up the game

  1. With the roll of the die, players decide who the first dealer will be on who has the highest roll. 
  2. The next dealer will be the winner of the previous round.
  3. The dealer starts dealing in a counterclockwise direction. 

Card Dealing 

  1. The dealer has 13 cards while the other players have a total of 12. The dealer has the plus one-card advantage to get a good combination for the game.
  2. The rest of the cards will be placed in the centre of the table. This will be the stockpile where players will draw one card at every turn.
  3. The dealer starts the game by throwing a card beside the stockpile, marking this as the first of the cards on the discard pile. The next player can always get the topmost card on the discard pile. And, with that, the game begins.

Starting the game

  1. With every turn, a player takes three actions. One, get a card from the stockpile. Two, throw a card to the discard pile and third make sure that they have a meld or melds of their own or if they can connect a card to other players’ melds.
  2. A player cannot get a card from the discard pile until they have presented a meld. The melds are placed face up in front of the player who owns it.
  3. When a player runs out of cards they can declare “Tongits” on their turn and the game ends.
  4. A player whose turn it is can call “Draw” — declaring that they believe they have the lowest points in hand. If no other player calls a “Challenge”, the player wins.
  5. However, when a “Challenge” is declared, all players must present all the cards in their hand to be tallied. The one who wins the game has to have the lowest points in hand. The player who calls a “Draw” but loses is considered “Burned” and lost the game.
  6. The game can also reach its end when the stockpile has run out of cards. All players tally the total number of points in their hand and the one with the lowest number of points wins the game.
Video source: wikiHow

How to Win Tongits

The best advantage a Tongits player will have is their knowledge of how the game rolls and their keen awareness of the possible cards that are in the other players’ hands. The fun part of winning in Tongits is that even if you think you have a bad hand, you can still win if you plan your melds and which cards to throw in the discard pile.

Here are other tips to win tongits to include:

  • Pace yourself and have ready plans for melds and throws. A player who disposes of their cards efficiently usually can win the game by calling a “Draw” or emptying their hand and calling, “Tongits
  • Always watch out for the top card on the discard pile. You can use this as a guide on your melds.
  • When it’s your turn, take time to observe the cards thrown and discreetly check if there are so many cards in the stockpile and in the other players’ hand. Make sure to also check the other player’s melds. You might be able to connect your cards to them.
  • Be alert if you can call a “Draw” or when other players call a “Draw”. You can always counter this by calling it a “Challenge” — remember, only the cards in hand are counted. The melds are not.
  • There are ways how you can prevent a player from declaring a draw. You can always meld a good set of cards thereby showing an illusion or indication that you have good cards in hand. The other way is to lay off cards to other players’ melds. You can lay multiple cards if this fits the meld.
  • Calling a “Draw” can be a good way to win if no one will challenge the call. After all, if everyone folds, the player who called the “Draw” is not required to show their cards. No one will know if it’s a bluff.
  • In the same way, the “Challenge” call can prevent any bluff from winning and can give an advantage if players do have a good hand but are just hesitating to call a “Draw”.

Tongits Card Points

Every Tongits player has to know the points assigned to every card by heart. This will greatly help in fast and good decisions on what cards to throw and what to keep. Do note that melds can also supersede the points of a card especially if this means you can lay off cards with other melds or create more melds. 

  • The face cars, Kings, Queens, and Jacks are worth 10 points each.
  • Number cards are worth their face value or number value. For example, the 8 of spades has 8 points, the Ace has a 1-point value.

The most effective Tongits player would be able to balance which to give more weight to on their hand. The pace of Tongits can be too fast for beginners. It’s best to practice first. 

It is also good to remember that only loose cards — those that cannot connect with melds — are the only ones counted. So, for example, you are still holding 7 cards of which 6 cards are melds — only the one card that can’t fit will be counted. 

Tongits Betting

The Tongits game is very flexible on how betting will be. It’s up to the players to decide how winnings can go. They can have a pot that can be won after winning two straight rounds. Or, the players can assign chips to tally the points as games are played.

There are no hard and strict rules on betting. Another option is that every winner of the game wins the agreed amount the players wagered. Aces played can also have a plus one on the winnings. You can also assign categories of adding rewards for exceptional melds or a bigger pot for a “Challenge” winner.


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