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Gambling Novices Should Try Their Hand at Pai Gow Poker

March 29, 2010 at 5:55 PM | by | ()

We're Vegas regulars, but up until recently, we were gambling virgins. Hardcore players intimidated us, and we were afraid of embarrassing ourselves by using the wrong hand signals. But we're on our way to becoming high rollers with the help of the pai gow poker tables.

Pai gow poker, which combines the Chinese tile game of pai gow with the American favorite of poker, is a great game for those looking to earn their gambling stripes. It's relatively simple and there's no hostile environment as in other table games.

The rules are straightforward. Place your bets and you'll get seven cards. These are arranged into two hands, a five-card "high hand" and a two-card "low hand." If the names didn't give it away, the high-card hand must have a higher value than the low one. The card face values aren't any different from other games, but here the joker is a wild card. It can sub as an ace, or complete a straight, flush or straight flush.

The goal is for both hands to be better than the dealer's. There are four possible outcomes:
1. both of your hands beat the dealer's and you win (the house takes 5 percent of your winning wagers)
2. only one of your hands beats the dealer, which is a push and no one wins
3. one of your hands has the same value as the dealer's, in which case the dealer wins
4. the dealer beats both of your hands and you lose.

There's lots of pushes, which makes for a nice, slow game pace. Another aid for players-in-training is your fellow pai-gowers. Since everyone at the table plays against the dealer, and not each other, and there's no crazy card strategies like in blackjack, people are neighborly. Players constantly flash cards to one another asking for advice on hand combos. The dealer will even help you out.

If you're still nervous about playing, order a drink. Free alcohol is like liquid confidence.

[Photo: zieak]

Archived Comments:

Good tip

This is one table game I haven't played as I never attempted to lookup the rules or just sit down and try it.  I'll give a go now based on this. Especially when I have a group of newbies visiting again. Thanks!