CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

A Look at Pai Gow Poker

2 July 1999

I recently received an e-mail message with the following question: "John, are you aware of any casinos in the area (I live in Lockport) that have Pai Gow Poker? What are your thoughts on the game?" Thanks. Signed John.

To answer the first part of your question, Pai Gow Poker currently is not an approved game by the Illinois Gaming Board and therefore is not played at any riverboat casino destination in Illinois. It is, however, approved in Iowa and Indiana. The nearest locations that have Pai Gow Poker on its casino floors are the Majestic Star Casino and the Trump Casino, destinations which share the same pavilion in Gary, Ind.

As for my thoughts on the game, I have to be honest with you and reveal that I've never played Pai Gow Poker. I have "scouted" the game on my trips to Las Vegas. Its presence is not prominent in the casinos, but you'll find a table or two almost everywhere you go and there's always someone playing.

I've spoken with people who have played the game and they tell me it's a great way to stay in action for a long period of time without subjecting your bankroll to the volatility of big short-term losses, or gains for that matter. Perfect basic playing strategy keeps the house edge to about 2.5 percent, which isn't bad when compared to some other games such as roulette and Caribbean Stud poker.

Pai Gow Poker is a casino "hybrid", a game that's a cross between Chinese dominos (pai gow) and American 7-card poker. It's played at a blackjack style table using a 52-card deck plus one joker.

The joker is not wild in pai gow poker. Rather it can be used only as an ace or as a card to complete a straight, flush, straight flush, or royal flush. A game consists of a dealer and up to six players, each of whom is dealt seven cards face down for each round of betting.

The object of the game is for each player to arrange his cards in a 2-card poker hand and a 5-card poker hand. The dealer sets his hands according to established house rules. Your 2-card hand cannot outrank your 5-card hand or you automatically lose your bet.

When all the hands are set, the dealer compares his hands with those of the players. The player wins his bet if both of his hands outrank both of the dealer's hands. If one is higher and one is lower, it's a push. You lose your bet if the dealer beats your hands or his hands are identical in rank to yours.

All winning bets are paid off at even money, however, every time you win, the casino collects a five percent commission, or 25 cents on a five dollar hand.

If you like poker, it can be a fun game to play and a great way to spend time in the casino without getting hurt too bad. I'm told that if you are a novice player, you may ask the dealer to set your hands for you and he has to oblige you.

There is definitely a skill factor involved in setting your hands. Computer studies have shown there are optimum ways to play, the precepts of which keep the house edge down and increase your chances of winning.

If you'd like more information about the game of Pai Gow Poker, look for the books Optimal Strategy for Pai Gow Poker, written by Stanford Wong, or Henry Tamburin on Casino Gambling, The Best of the Best, Second Edition.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp