Face Up Pai Gow Poker

During my last visit to Las Vegas, I had my first chances to play Face Up Pai Gow Poker while staying at Red Rock Casino Resort and Treasure Island.  I first heard about it on the best recreational gaming podcast, You Can Bet on That.  If you haven’t heard of Mark & Dr. Mike, you are missing out.  I suggest you binge listen for three days and learn something from these two funny and informative guys.

Dr. Mike & Mark
Dr. Mike & Mark at VIMFP with alive podcast

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I have learned to love Pai Gow Poker for many reasons. Low house edge, slow pace, many pushed hands and a chance to relax.  With a high minimum such as $15, $20 or mostly $25, it’s usually found in Asian game areas, or better yet, high limit rooms. Hard Rock Atlantic City has Pai Gow Poker in the nicest  Asian Game area I have played in.

RELATED POST – Pai Gow Poker Tips for Beginners

Face up Pai Gow Poker – Differences from Original Game

My first experience was at Red Rock Casino Resort in Summerlain.  We haven learned to love driving all around Las Vegas and surrounding locals such as Summerlain, Henderson, and North Vegas. Red Rock is always a visit on every visit to Sin City.

Red Rock Resort Casino
Red Rock Resort Casino Hotel, the Gem of Stations Casinos

The wonderful thing about playing at any Pai Gow table is that showing your hand for help is no big deal.  Dealers, pit bosses and players can help divide your hand into high and low hands. This particular time, a friendly gentleman and an outstanding dealer Dave, helped me with strategy differences.

There are four big differences in Face Up Pai Gow Poker according to the Wizard of Odds:

  • Dealer cards dealt face up.
  • No 5% commission.
  • Dealer ace-high pai gow is an automatic push.
  • No player banking

NETG Analysis of Face Up Pai Gow Poker

I loved it.  First, the lack of commission is a breath of fresh air. Working with those quarters is a pain in the you know what. No player banking doesn’t bother me, since I never sit with a high enough bankroll to bank the hand. Besides, I usually pull my bets back when a player banks – call me a “little-stitious.”

The dealer push on all ace-high pai gow can be annoying, but that’s how they get the house edge- that and the side bet.

The best rule as you can imagine is the dealers card “face-up.”  This will occasionally alter basic strategy to the player’s benefit.

HOW Basic Strategy can be Modified

The dealer deals cards to players, then takes their dealt hand and immediately shows hand, according to house rules – a set way of making the high and low hands by the casino. Basic strategy can now change due to the house rule setting.  If dealer shows AH, 8S, 8D, 3H, 3C, 8C and 10D.  The house rules dictate for the dealer’s two hands to be HIGH HAND – two pairs, LOW HAND – Ace /10

Now, the player has been dealt two pair also – 5’d and 2’s, with a A/4 for the low hand. Basic strategy would expect the player to keep two pair in HIGH HAND, A/4 in LOW HAND. Basic strategy would cause the player to lose. But, by seeing the dealer’s cards, the strategy is changed to player keeping 5’s in HIGH HAND, 2’s in LOW HAND causing a push instead of a loss.

Pai Gow Poker Table. The key is how you set up your hand.


I’m waiting to see Face Up Pai Gow Poker pop up in New England casinos. as of now, the closest game is in Borgata, AC as of August, 2019.  I liked it.  If you play Pai Gow Poker, try it if you have a chance.

That’s all for now.  Remember, when gambling, “embrace the math, not the myth.”


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