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Best of Frank Scoblete

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Learn your table-game lessons: Part three: Pai Gow Poker

8 March 2007

Pai Gow Poker is played with a 52-card deck and one joker. The joker can only be used as an ace or to complete a straight, a flush or a straight flush. Each player must make two poker hands that rank higher than the dealer's two poker hands. Each player receives seven cards that must be split into a High hand consisting of five cards, and a Low hand consisting of two cards. The ranking of hands follows the traditional poker rankings for the High hand. Thus, a royal flush is the highest hand. For the Low hand, the highest-ranking hand is two aces.

A player may opt to be the bank, in which case that player must pay the other players on winning hands and collect the losing hands for himself. The casino will assess all winnings a five percent tax. If no player is the bank, the casino will bank all the bets. No player can be the bank for every hand.

Before the deal of the cards, three dice are shaken and the results determine the order of the deal. Each player is then dealt seven cards from which to make two hands as indicated above. The rank of the High hand must be higher than the rank of the Low hand. The casino dealer must set his hand according to a fixed set of rules. Even if a player is banking the table, the casino dealer still plays. If no player is banking the table, the casino will bank it. Also, the bank (be it the dealer or a player) wins all copies (ties) -- where both the High hand and Low hand are identical.

Since you have to win both hands to win, it is important to realize that a powerhouse draw must be split into two strong hands. For example, if you are given four aces and the joker that means that you now have five aces -- an unbeatable five-card hand. However, what good does it do to win the High hand only to lose the Low hand? No good. Thus, the intelligent choice is to split the five aces, putting three in the High hand (a strong hand) and two in the Low hand (an unbeatable hand).

Although not set in stone, the house usually has a 2.5 percent edge over the average Pai Gow Poker player. The good news is that the game is very slow, with many no-decision hands.

There are also "jackpot" games, often called "Fortune Pai Gow," where you face a mere 1 to 2 percent house edge on the side bet. These side bets will sometimes allow you to win money on the premium hands of other players. Considering most casino side bets at table games come in with double-digit edges, the Pai Gow side bets are quite good comparatively.

Pai Gow Poker Strategy

  • Always break up "powerhouse" hands into two strong hands. Remember that you must win both hands to win.
  • Keep in mind that the 5-card hand High must be stronger than the two-card Low hand. Thus, you can't have two kings in the Low hand and an ace high in the High hand.
  • When in doubt, ask the dealer to set your hands according to "house rules." This is the easiest way to learn how to play your hands.
  • Whenever you can, if you can afford it, play as the Bank. You will actually be playing with an edge over the casino when you do so.
  • If you want to play some of these "other" games, my simple strategies will keep the house edge low and your chances for winning on a given session high.

Articles in this Series
Best of Frank Scoblete
Frank Scoblete

Frank Scoblete is the #1 best selling gaming author in America. His newest books are Slots Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machines; Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo and Pai Gow Poker!; Beat Blackjack Now: The Easiest Way to Get the Edge; Casino Craps: Shoot to Win!; Cutting Edge Craps: Advanced Strategies for Serious Players; Casino Conquest: Beat the Casinos at Their Own Games! and The Virgin Kiss.

Frank and Casino City Times columnist Jerry "Stickman" teach private lessons in dice control. Frank's books are available at Amazon.com, in bookstores or by mail order. Call 1-800-944-0406 or write to Frank Scoblete Enterprises, PO Box 446, Malverne, NY 11565. Frank can also be reached by email at fscobe@optonline.net.

Frank Scoblete Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com

Books by Frank Scoblete:

Cutting Edge Craps: Advanced Strategies for Serious Players

> More Books By Frank Scoblete

Frank Scoblete
Frank Scoblete is the #1 best selling gaming author in America. His newest books are Slots Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machines; Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo and Pai Gow Poker!; Beat Blackjack Now: The Easiest Way to Get the Edge; Casino Craps: Shoot to Win!; Cutting Edge Craps: Advanced Strategies for Serious Players; Casino Conquest: Beat the Casinos at Their Own Games! and The Virgin Kiss.

Frank and Casino City Times columnist Jerry "Stickman" teach private lessons in dice control. Frank's books are available at Amazon.com, in bookstores or by mail order. Call 1-800-944-0406 or write to Frank Scoblete Enterprises, PO Box 446, Malverne, NY 11565. Frank can also be reached by email at fscobe@optonline.net.

Frank Scoblete Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com

Books by Frank Scoblete:

> More Books By Frank Scoblete