Brought to you by Sycuan Casino

by Pete Rocky

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 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.

THE SET UP
– Standard single 52 card deck with one additional joker card

– Each player gets 7 cards

– You make two poker hands, 5 cards high and two cards low

– You must win both hands to win or lose both hands to lose

– Each player plays against the dealer

– Deck is reshuffled after every round

– You are not supposed to share your hand with others or coach

– There are several types of bonuses and side bets

(featured in future issues)

THE ACTION
A lot of times you will hear an entire pai gow table hooting and hollering. The reason why? Because the dealer got pai gow, which means he or she got squat. They have a bad high hand as well as a bad low hand. Because you have to win both hands to win the bet, the dealer getting pai gow is the best thing ever. Conversely, since you have to lose both hands to lose your bet, there are a lot of pushes in this game. This particular table does not take a commission so you can play a long time without spending a lot of money.

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.