Saturday, February 7, 2009

The belangkas game

When I was still in the primary school, I used to follow my father when he pushed his tricycle to sell things in the village. On his tricycle would be put sugar-canes, candies, jelly and fried bean curds. We would usually go to a Chinese temple because a gambling group would gather by the side of the temple. The gamblers would play ‘belangkas’ (king crab), a die with cylindrical stick in its middle and made to spin. On the four sides of the die one could see pictures of a prawn, a fish, a flower and a king crab. There would be a piece of paper with four columns placed in front of the ‘chong’ (the person who pays the gamblers who win). The four pictures drawn were the same pictures on the die. Gamblers would place their money on the column they liked. The ‘chong’ would spin the belangkas die and when it stopped, the picture on the topmost would determine the winner. Suppose the picture is prawn and you place one dollar on the column with the prawn picture on it, you will be paid three dollars. Sometimes my father allowed me to play a small amount such as ten cents.

Gamblers were allowed to place their money in between two pictures such as prawn and fish, fish and flower, and flower and king crab. They will get only get half the amount of money if the belangkas stops with any one of the two pictures where money is placed topmost. Suppose you place two dollars in between prawn and fish and the belangkas stops at fish topmost, you are paid one dollar by the ‘chong’.

I wonder whether people nowadays still gamble this way.

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