Pai Gow Poker brought to you by Sycuan Casino

by Pete Rocky

Gambling Tips

What is pai gow? When you walk through a casino, you run into all the standard games like blackjack, poker, roulette, craps and more. When you stop to watch pai gow, it will probably confuse you. It’s next to the blackjack tables but looks more like poker with more bells and whistles. Well, you’re right: pai gow is a poker derivative. It seems complicated like craps but it’s basically poker on steroids. If you know how to play and enjoy playing poker, pai gow will be right up your alley. There are way more ways to win and it yields great odds for you as a player.

To have both of your hands rank higher than both hands of the designated “Banker.” Hands are played and ranked as traditional poker hands.

The object of the game is the same as regular baccarat (i.e. to have the highest total point hand, the highest hand being a natural, two-card 9). All face value cards and 10 value cards have a point value of zero, and aces have a point value of 1. The card point values are summed, and the tens column of the total count is ignored.

Each player places his or her wager before the cards are dealt.

The dealer then deals seven hands of seven cards each, face down in front of the tray.

The dealer then places the “Action Button” on one of the seven hands. This determines the order in which the hands are given to the players.

A “Dice Cup” containing three dice is shaken by the Banker to determine who receives the first hand (signified by the Action Button) and the order in which hands are played against the Banker’s hand. In pai gow, the Banker position is always 1, 8 or 15; numbers are clockwise.

At this point, once the dice are dealt, no further wagers are permitted.

Each player, including the Banker, is given seven cards according to the total indicated on the dice. The player then arranges these cards as two separate hands: a two card front hand and five card back hand. The five card back hand must be higher than the two card front hand.

After all players have arranged their hands (set their hands), the hands are compared in comparison to the Banker’s hand. In order to win, the player’s two card hand must rank higher than the Banker’s two card hand and the player’s five card hand must rank higher than the Banker’s five card hand. Should one hand be EXACTLY the same as the Banker’s hand, it is called a “copy” and the Banker wins on that hand.

If the player wins one hand (ranks higher) and loses the other hand (ranks lower) to the Banker, no money exchanges hands. This is considered a “push.”

Sycuan Casino

When you arrive at Sycuan to play pai gow, find yourself a nice table that you’re comfortable with especially the limits. If you ever wonder what you’re supposed to do, the dealer will always be nice enough to help or play your cards the “house way.” This means they will play your hand for you by the standard the house uses every time. Since there are no consequences for individual play for the dealer like in blackjack, other players will never be upset with your individual play. Be respectful of the dealer and the other players but never forget to always have fun! Remember, tipping the dealer might not increase your odds of winning but it will definitely increase your odds of being a good person.