Pai Gai Poker & Gambling Superstitions

Pai Gow Poker Table.

I have really enjoyed playing Pai Gow Poker lately.  While the game is slow, with a low house advantage (good for bankroll, not so good for comps), I find it fun.  The gamblers at the table are usually interesting, whether there are language barriers or not.  It’s not a social game, but you can show your hand for advice in separating your cards into hands to other players, the dealer or even the pit boss f.  It’s a different camaraderie than the screaming at the craps table.

I find this variation of Pai Gow Tiles, which originated in Asia, has many gambling superstitions. Of course, superstitions are also a part of most table games, or gambling et al. There are both ethnic based and arbitrary depending on the individual.

Because of its close Chinese origin, many Asian gamblers favor this poker game and bring with them strong superstitions about poker and cards in general.

Red is a very popular color to wear in Pai Gow because the Chinese believe the color brings fortune and joy when you wear it. For that matter, why not change the felt for Asian-based games to red?

Numbers also play a huge role. I like 4 because it represents my birth month – purely arbitrary.  But many times, if there’s a choice, the 4th seat at a table mine, or 4th seat on a bank of slots or VP.  Four , however, in the Chinese language, sounds almost exactly the same as the word death does and, as such, is a very unlucky number in Pai Gow Poker.


  • Three – a lucky number symbolizing the three stages in people’s lives.
  • Five – there are five elements in Chinese culture, hence the reason why five is considered lucky. Additionally, you’ll find that there are five arches in the Forbidden City main entrance, and that the Emperor was often associated with the number five.
  • Six – this is a number that represents wealth and is a lucky number.
  • Seven – this is considered the luckiest number in the West as well as a very lucky number in Chinese culture.
  • Eight – a very auspicious number and lucky number used both by businesses and in card games.

Tip your Pai Gow Poker dealers. Courtesy of Wizard of Odds.


  • It was interesting recently observing the Pai Gow Poker table I was playing at. I would say by the bets, it was a variety of big to small bettors, most of who knew the game.  Here are some of my observations:
  • Some players diminish bets when relief dealers come in.  They might be considered unlucky or even casino “coolers.”
  • When a player decided to bank the hand instead of the dealer, everyone pulled back their bets.  I personally have had bad luck against the player banking, so I pulled my bet back, too.  (Peer Pressure?)
  • Either play the side bet or not……but decide and stick to it.  Because you know what happens when you play it and then don’t – 5 aces shows up in your own or an other player’s hand.  (Been there, not happy.  Lost $250 envy bet. It is forever engraved in my memory.)
  • Avoid counting your wins and losses during the game. This can incur bad luck and is quite impolite to other players especially if you’ve just won big.  That said, I count because I forget where my bankroll is at.  Heck, I recheck my low-hand often because I forget what I put in it.
  • The cards – when picking up the cards, some at the table would spread them very slowly.  On person picked up his hand every time in a neat pile, picking from the back of the pile first every time.  Strange……..oh wait, that was me!

It was a fun session. I made $50 after 2 1/2 hours of play.

For related posts on how to play Pai Gow Poker, go to 

How To Learn New Casino Table Games – Let’s Try Pai Gow Poker

7 Beginner’s Tips for Pai Gow Poker

Resouces for Gambling Part 3 – Pai Gow Poker

One consideration to be made.  Tip the Pai Gow dealers.  They rarely get tipped like other dealers. I like to put a $1 -$2 bet for the dealer.  It’s not much, and I know it cuts into the already low house edge, but you’ll make a friend usually, which usually translates into a little help if there is a problem.

That’s all for now.




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