Pai Gai Poker and Gambling Superstitions

Pai Gai Poker

Pai Gai Poker and Gambling Superstitions go hand in hand. I have enjoyed adding Pai Gow Poker to my game repertoire. While the game is slow, with a low house advantage (good for the bankroll, not so good for comps), I find it fun. 

Pai Gow Poker Table.

The gamblers at the Pai Gow table can be interesting, whether there are language barriers or not. It’s not a social game, but you can show your hand for advice to other players, the dealer, or even the pit boss as long as all players have already “set” their hands. It’s a different camaraderie than the screaming at the craps table. This game has many gambling superstitions involved. In this case, these superstitions are ethnic and arbitrary, depending on the individual.

Superstitions Galore

Because of its close Chinese origin, many Asian gamblers favor this poker game. Subsequently, players bring with them strong superstitions.

Red is a meaningful color to wear in Pai Gow since the Chinese believe it brings good fortune and joy when you wear it. For that matter, why not change the felt for Asian-based games to red? In the Asian Gaming area at Mohegan Sun, the felt color is red. Besides, the new Encore Boston Harbor Resort is full of red tones in the casino.

With Pai Gai Poker and Gambling Superstitions, numbers also play a huge role. I like four because it represents my birth month – purely arbitrary. If there’s a choice, I often sit in the 4th seat at a table or the 4th seat on a bank of slots or VP. However, in Chinese culture, four sounds almost the same as the word death does and, as such, is a very unlucky number in Pai Gow Poker.

LUCKY NUMBERS, Pai Gow Poker and Gambling Superstitions

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

MORE INDIVIDUAL SUPERSTITIONS – Pai Gow Poker and Gambling Superstitions

It was interesting recently observing the Pai Gow Poker table I was playing at. I would say by the wagers; it was a variety of big to small bettors, most of who knew the game. Here are some of my observations concerning Pai Gai Poker and Gambling Superstitions:

  • Some players diminish bets when relief dealers come in. They might be considered unlucky or even casino “coolers.” However, this is just part of the “gambler’s fallacy.” Every single deck – 52 cards and one joker – is shuffled by a Shufflemaster designed for Pai Gow Poker, with no dealer intervention.
  • When a player decides to bank the hand instead of the dealer, some players, like “moi,” pull back their bets. I have had some bad luck against the player banking. But it’s also a chance to let a hand go without betting that’s considered understandable to the house.
  • 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 show up in your or another player’s hand. (Been there, not happy. Lost $250 envy bet – forever engraved in my memory.)
  • Avoid counting your wins and losses during the game. Some say this can bring bad luck and is impolite to other players, especially if you’ve just won big. I count because I forget where my bankroll is according to my play limit. 
  • When picking up the cards, some at the table spread them very slowly. One person picked up his hand in a neat pile every time, picking from the back of the pile first. Strange……..oh wait, that was me!

Where To Play Pai Gow Poker in New England

Only five New England casinos offer Pai Gow Poker, and they are all in the southeast.

  • Encore Boston Harbor usually has up to four tables, mostly starting at $50. In the morning, you can find one table for $25. These tables are 24 hours.
  • Twin River & Tiverton, in Rhode Island, usually have two tables at limited hours, starting most days at 12:00 PM. Limits usually start at $25. Related Post –
  • Foxwoods, in Connecticut, used to have a full Asian casino in the Rainmaker. However, that has been closed since pandemic protocols were put into place. The Hampton Club, in the Pequot Tower, offers a few tables, usually $25 on weekdays and $50 on weekends and multiplier days.
  • Mohegan Sun offers the most Asian Games in Sunrise Square. They also offer the most Pai Gow Tiles and Pai Gow Poker tables of any New England casino. Up to 8 tables run on busy days, from $25 to $50. In the morning or less busy times, Sunrise Square offers two tables at $25 and sometimes two tables at $15.
  • Due to the pandemic and a small Asian clientele, MGM Springfield has 86ed all Gai Pai Poker.
Pai Gai Poker
Tip your Pai Gow Poker dealers. Courtesy of Wizard of Odds.

Tip Your Dealers

One consideration is 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 usually make a friend, which usually translates into personal reminders or a little help if there is a problem.

That’s all for now.