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Pai Gow Poker - The Basics

27 November 2011

Contrary to the common belief that Pai Gow Poker is an ancient Chinese gambling game, Pai Gow Poker actually was developed in American casinos in the late 1980s. Some credit Sam Torian the owner of the Bell Card Club with creating the game, which he supposedly based on a Chinese card gamed called Puy Soy.



Others say the game was developed by professional poker player
Fred Wolf. He is said to have based it on the Chinese tile game Pai
Gow.



Pai Gow Poker is played at a table that resembles a blackjack
set-up, with a 53-card deck, including a joker. The joker can be treated as an ace or be used as a "wild card" to complete a straight, flush, or straight flush.



As with blackjack the players compete against the dealer's hand.
The actions of each player have no effect on the other players at the table. The game has been described as "laid-back" and "relaxing." For craps players such as me it is a nice break from the non-stop action of craps. Plus it is a sit down game so it gives the player a break from standing at the table.



Pai Gow is also relatively easy on the bankroll. The rules of the game result in many hands ending in a tie; and barring a bad losing streak, a player's buy in can last a relatively long time.



The player and dealer tie about 42% of the time. The player wins
about 29 percent; the banker wins about 30% of the time.



The game is simple to play. After the players place their bets, a number randomly generated by a computer determines which player receives his cards first. Rather than each player receiving one card at time, each player receives a pack of seven cards. The player then arranges his cards into a five-card hand and a two-card hand.



The five-card hand is ranked as in poker. It should be noted that, curiously, the hand A-2-3-4-5 is treated as the second highest straight. This hand is known as "a wheel".



The two-card hand is ranked by pairs and then single ranks. In other words A-A is the best two cards hand while 3-2 is the worst.



It is important to keep in mind that, when setting the hands, the two-card hand cannot be higher then the five-card hand. If it is, then both hands are deemed a "foul" and the player loses his wager.



After each player has completed setting his hand and placed them face down on the table, the dealer will turn his cards face up for everyone to see. He will then set his two-card and five-card hands based on a set of rules known as the "house way." These rules vary slightly from casino to
casino.



After setting his hand, the dealer will turn over each player's hand
one by one. He will compare his two-card hand to the player's two-card hand and his five-card hand to the player's five card hand. To win the wager the dealer must beat both of the player's hands.



Conversely, for the player to win, both his hands must beat the dealer's hand. If one of the dealers hands wins and one of the players hands wins it is a draw and the bet remains on the table. If the player and the banker "ties" with the same hand the dealer wins. This is known as a "copy" hand.



Winning hands are paid off at even money, with a five percent commission deducted for the casino.



An idiosyncrasy of Pai Gow Poker is the player has the opportunity to be the banker. The opportunity to bank sometimes rotates around the
table. Other times the player is offered the opportunity every other hand.



When a player-banked hand is completed the player will pay a 5 percent commission to the house on his net win. Since the dealer wins copy hands, it is to the player's advantage to act as the banker.



Pai Gow Poker sometimes has a side bet that pays off the five-card hand based on a jackpot table that is usually printed on the felt.

Scan
Scan works in a top-secret government agency and he is therefore not allowed to reveal his real name or show a picture of himself. We’ve used a clip-art drawing to indicate his nature. Needless to say, he is an extremely bright guy. He is an active member of the goldentouchcraps.com private members-only Web site where he posts his thoughts and gambling theories on a regular basis.
Scan
Scan works in a top-secret government agency and he is therefore not allowed to reveal his real name or show a picture of himself. We’ve used a clip-art drawing to indicate his nature. Needless to say, he is an extremely bright guy. He is an active member of the goldentouchcraps.com private members-only Web site where he posts his thoughts and gambling theories on a regular basis.