Learning the Basics of Pai Gow Poker
Pai Gow Poker is known for its easy-to-digest and easy-to-follow rules, beginners and first-time gamblers even think that the rudiments of the game can be picked up easily on a one-time basis. While this may be true, still it is highly essential for one to know and understand the basic odds and ins of Pai Gow before he could even emerge as a winner of a single round or even a couple of rounds. Pai Gow casino players are easily noticeable in the casino, for they tend to be very quiet in concentrating on their moves during the game as opposed to loud and noisy craps players. But, one cannot actually blame these players because every move one does is crucial for his winning.
The Story Behind the Game
Similar to Keno, Pai Gow originated in Asia. The game is deemed to be traditional, and is still being played in most parts of the said continent. The original Pai Gow actually had small bricks with Chinese characters on them. They appear like domino tiles with certain calligraphy. Today, Pai Gow is not only known as Pai Gow, but Pai Gow Poker to emphasize its Western touch. Instead of using the traditional bricks, the modern version simply uses a standardized set of cards. This was done because most Americans tend to get confused with the Chinese characters as some of them usually appear the same. The cards are patterned from the tiles and they also follow the ranking system of the traditional version.
The Setting of the Game
Pai Gow Poker is played with a standardized set of 52 cards with a single joker only. However, one must not underestimate the use of the joker for it has the most complicated and tricky role in the game. The first use of a joker is for it to act as an ace. When one has a joker, he can demand that he has a card which has the same value as the ace. The second use of joker is even trickier. For one, a player can use it as a substitute to any missing link in a straight, a flush, or a straight flush. When this happens, the player may get a higher chance of winning the round.
A table that is similar to the blackjack table is used in Pai Gow Poker. The game can only accommodate up to 6 players. Only a single dealer gets to facilitate the game. Finally, a banker, someone who is intended to play against all of the rest of the players, is also necessary in the game. While most casinos provide a third-party banker, it is still subject to the decision of the majority of the players if they will need one, as they may choose to bank the game on their own just like how it is done in the traditional version of Pai Gow.
The Mechanism of the Game
The game begins by the time player put their bets on the table. The dealer will shuffle the cards and deal them out in 7 groups of 7 cards. This is already a standard procedure of the game, no matter how many the number of the players is on the table. The banker, on cue, will roll the three dice on the table to find out who gets to play first.
Once the first player has been chosen, everyone will be given the chance to strategize, arrange, and or come-up with the best two-card and five-card hand patterns they can manage to create. These hands will then be placed on the designated areas for the two-card and the five-card hands, respectively. The rule requires one to put his two-card hand on top of the five-card hand. Then, the winner or winners will then be determined based on the values of the hands in contrast to the banker’s hand. If both the two-card and the five-card hands of the player beat those of the banker, he wins right away. If only one of the two beats the hands of the banker, the round is said to be a “push,” which means that there will be no winners and no losers between the two. Contrarily, if there is a tie in the values of both the banker’s and the player’s hands; the banker automatically emerges as the winner of the round. Furthermore, if both hands of the banker get to beat the hands of the player, the player loses the round.
The five-hand card is of higher importance to the hand of the player than the two-card. The player must always go after prioritizing the five-card had in all circumstances. If, in case, the two-card hand gets to have a bigger value than the five-card hand of the player, he is seen to have a foul, which accounts for automatic loss.
The Different Jargons and Strategies
- Back – the five-card hand
- Front – the two-card hand
- No Pair – the player places the highest card at the back and the other two highest in front
- One Pair – the player places the pair at the back and the two highest cards in front
- Two Big Pair having Jack thru Ace – the player should put the small pair on front
- Two Big Pair having 7s thru 10s – the player should put both pairs at the back, and if applicable, the ace should be in front
- Two Big Pair having 2s thru 6s – the player should put both pairs at the back, and if applicable, the king should be in front; otherwise consider a split
- Three Pairs – the player should put the big pair in front
- Three of a Kind Aces – the player should put one ace in front together with the next highest card
- Three of a Kind Kings and Below – the player should put the three at the back and the highest cards in front
- Straight, Flush, and Straight Flush with No Pair – the player should put the highest cards in front and leave the others at the back
- Straight, Flush, and Straight Flush with One Pair – the player should put the highest cards – whether or not it is the pair itself – in front and the rest shall follow at the back
- Straight, Flush, and Straight Flush with Two Pairs – the player should use the two pair strategy
- Straight, Flush, and Straight Flush with Three Pairs requires – the player should put a pair in front and the rest at the back
- Full House – the player should put a pair in front and the three of a kind at the back
- Four of a Kind with Jacks thru Aces – the player should split and put a pair in front and one at the back
- Four of a Kind with 7s thru 10s – the player should put four of the kind at the back and, as much as possible, put the ace or the king in front, or split if otherwise
- Four of a Kind with 6s or Below – the player should put a card higher than the four of a kind in front
- Four of a Kind with a Pair requires – the player should put a pair in front and the four of a kind at the back
- Four of a Kind with Three of a Kind – the player should put the full house at the back and the highest pair in front