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Pai Gow Poker is fun and simple to play

Updated on June 26, 2008

Popular Asian game is fun for all

 

When you walk the casino floor at many casinos on a weekend, you'll likely notice the Pai Gow Poker tables are full and surrounded by players waiting for their chance to play. One casino where the game is a guest favorite is Cache Creek Casino Resort in Brooks, California, nestled halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento. Vice President of Table Games Bill Harland says the game is popular for many reasons. "You don't have to make a lot of decisions, but the game still incorporates poker hands into play and you can play a fairly long time because there are a lot of ties."

Harland encourages anyone who likes poker to give Pai Gow a try, and dispels some of the mystery surrounding the game. "Pai Gow Poker is easy to play. If you understand the rankings of a poker hand, then you can certainly play. For example, an Ace High hand beats a King High hand, a Pair beats Ace High, and so on."

At its base, the strategy is to beat the dealer's two hands with your two hands. "You're dealt seven cards from which you form your two hands: a five-card hand (back hand or high hand) and a two-card hand (front hand or low hand). The five-card hand must be higher in rank than the two-card." Adding to the possibility of constructing a winning hand are the Jokers, which can be used to complete a straight, flush, or as an Ace.

If you beat both of the dealer's hands, you win. If you only beat one of the hands, don't worry - it's a push. "There's a 5 percent commission taken on all winning hands," Harland reminds new players. You can play the Fortune Bonus of $1 to $25 to increase your winnings, so the 5 percent doesn't reduce payouts much. Fortune Bonuses pay out for hands such as Full Houses and Flushes, regardless of whether you break them up between the high and low hand.

One aspect of the game that Harland is excited about is the Pai Gow Progressives which were recently added. "For example, today our jackpot is over $425,000 and climbing. To win the jackpot, you must wager $5 on the progressive. If you make the $5 wager on the Progressive and are dealt a seven card Straight Flush, you can call for the Brinks Armored Truck to help you haul away the loot."

There's more than one way to win a share of that big money, too. "If you're dealt five Aces and make the $5 Progressive wager, you take home 10 percent of the progressive amount," explains Harland. "Someone recently won almost $43,000 on that hand."

It's easy for beginners to get a little help on a tough hand. If you're stumped, just ask about the "house way" to play. "If you have any questions please ask one of our dealers - they'll be happy to assist," says Harland.

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