Face Up Pai Gow Poker – A New Variation

During a visit to Las Vegas before the pandemic, I had my first chance 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, and 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.

Face Up Pai Gow Poker
Dr. Mike & Mark at VIMFP with a live podcast

RELATED POST – You Can Bet on That,   #186: Tipping Other Casino Employees

I have learned to love Pai Gow Poker for many reasons. The 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 Summerlin.  We have learned to love driving all around Las Vegas and surrounding locals such as Summerlin, Henderson, and North Vegas. Red Rock is always a visit on every visit to Sin City.

Face Up Pai Gow Poker
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 a commission is a breath of fresh air. Working with those quarters is a pain in, you know what. No player banking bothers 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 dealer’s card, “face-up.”  This will occasionally alter basic strategy to the player’s benefit.

HOW Basic Strategy can be Modified

According to house rules, the dealer deals cards to players then takes their dealt hand and immediately shows a hand, according to house rules – a set way of making the casino’s high and low hands. The basic strategy can now change due to the house rule set.  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

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

Face Up Pai Gow Poker
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.”


Binbin and NETimeGambling.com

Miguel, Binbin, and Bert – The NETG Staff

Robin Aubin (AKA Binbin at NETimeGambling) has been a guest on Cousin Vito’s Casino Podcast, The Bettor Life Podcast, The Art in the Game Podcast Springfield, Massachusetts, as well as ZorkCast with Michael Trager. In 2013, he created NETimeGambling com. The mission was to provide a resource for recreational gamblers visiting New England’s expanding casino market events. We offer trip reports, gambling tips, casino promotions, entertainment, and more for those visiting our nine casinos. NETG also provides general gambling tips for those recreational gamblers inside and outside the northeast.

He is now retired from teaching middle school music for 41 years and performing professionally for over 50 years. Robin has performed at Mohegan Sun’s Wolf Den, Foxwoods’ Atrium Lounge, and Twin River’s Lighthouse Bar & Lounge.

Follow us on Twitter at @NETimeGambling, and on Facebook at NETimegambling. And subscribe to our new podcast – The New England Casino and Gambling Podcast.

Join the New England Casinos Facebook Group and chat about your gambling experiences.