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Pai Gow Poker

The game of pai gow poker arrived in Nevada in the late l980s, having gained popularity in California, where it is known as Asian Poker and Double Hand Poker. The Asian population is very fond of the game. The game seems to have originated in the Philippines and is a combination of Chinese dominoes (Pai Gow) and American poker.

To begin, the house dealer shakes a cup containing three dice and then rolls the dice on the table. The number on the dice determines where the play begins. (A button is used to signify this.)

The house dealer then gives each player seven cards at once (starting with the button). Each player must then "set" those cards into two separate hands ­ a five-card and two-card poker hand. The five-card hand must have a higher value in poker than the two-card hand. To win, the low hand must beat the low hand of the house. The high hand must beat the high hand of the house also.

If you do win, you will be paid about 95% of the amount you bet. (A 5% commission is charged on all winning wagers, which is similar to the game of baccarat.) Note, however, that if you beat only one of the dealer's hands, it is considered a tie and no money will change hands. However, if the house beats both of your hands, you lose.

It's extremely important to know how to set your hands. If you set them incorrectly, you will lose automatically. If the dealer sets his hand incorrectly, the house loses. And, because of the complexity of hand setting, the dealer can (and does) make mistakes.

Pai Gow Poker has a few unusual twists you may wish to remember. Yes, there is a joker in the deck -- but only one. In your mind it might be a completely wild joker, but it's not. Remember it can be used only as An ace in a flush or a straight. And too -- this joker automatically assumes the highest rank possible to fill the hands.

As in a straight where you had a 6-clubs; 7-diamonds; 8-diamonds; 9-clubs, the joker would immediately fill in for the l0, not the five. And too -- the joker never helps form pairs, triplets, four-of-a-kind or five-of-a-kind with any other cards except Aces.

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