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

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

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. Here is a first look video from owners Shuffle Master:

HOW basic strategy can be changed for player’s benefit

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.

Conclusion

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

Caribbean Stud Poker Basics

Some friends of mine still enjoy going to the CT casinos to play Caribbean Stud Poker. Based on a classic form of poker, Five-Card Stud, Caribbean Stud borrows the most basic concepts from the original. It is a fast-paced game of chance where you play against the house, rather than the other players. Even though it was one of the first “carnival” table games, it has lasted in casinos. So, let’s revisit Caribbean Stud Poker Basics.

A Brief History of Caribbean Stud Poker

CaribbeanStudOnline.org says “According to popular Caribbean Stud history, it is believed the game originated in Aruba, an island in the Caribbean some time in the 1980s. Some stories state the game was officially discovered after it was found being played on a cruise ship that was sailing to Aruba. Unusually, for such a recently developed game, the person who created the game is yet to be found though several individuals have made claims they invented it. The most famous of these is renowned author and gambling expert David Sklansky.

Before you play Caribbean Stud Poker, know the official poker hand rankings. Once you understand that, the game is very straight forward.  Here’s how it works:

Playing Caribbean Stud Poker. 

Step One – Ante

Like any form of Stud poker, you begin the game by placing an Ante. The size of your ante is up to you, but must be within the table’s designated minimum and maximum bet amounts.

Step Two – Look at Your Cards

After all players have ante’d the dealer deals each players five cards. The players cards are all dealt face down, while the dealer turns one of his five cards face up. Players are not allowed to talk about, or show their hand to any other players on or off the table.

Step Three – Bet or Fold

After looking at your hand, you are required to either bet or fold. If you fold, you forfeit your ante and wait for the next hand. If you bet, your bet must be exactly equal to twice the amount of your ante.

Step Four – Dealer

Once all players have chosen to fold or bet, the dealer turns up his remaining four cards. If the dealer does not have a hand equal to or better than Ace-King high (meaning they have both an ace and a king in their hand), all players are paid 1:1 on their ante, and are returned their bet. If the dealer’s hand is equal to Ace-King high or better, then the dealers hand is said to “qualify”.

The dealer then compares your hand to their own. If your hand is worse than the dealer’s qualifying hand, you lose your ante and bet. If you hand is better than the dealer’s qualifying hand, you receive even money (1:1) on your ante, and payment on your bet in accordance to the pay scale.

Caribbean Stud Poker Progressive Jackpot

Players can also bet the progressive jackpot side bet. An additional $1 during the ante stage of play is required. Players are then eligible to win a piece of, or all, of the progressive jackpot.

To win a piece of the jackpot a player must have a premium hand (flush or better), and it must beat the dealer’s qualifying hand. The player receives a percentage of the progressive jackpot after these conditions are met.

Basic Strategy – Not too difficult

If the dealer’s one show card is either an Ace or a King, you should only bet if you can beat an Ace King.  In general you should bet anytime you have ace-king or better.  It’s a guessing game whether or not the dealer will qualify, thus it’s often not worth risking three times the amount of your ante to potentially make back only 1:4 on your money.

When I played, it did seem to be a team game – everyone trying to beat the house without the worry of making mistakes that supposedly “hurt” the other players.

So, try it with some friends.  Bring this playing strategy on a card – most casinos don’t mind because they know that game gives them an advantage of over 5% with perfect strategy.

Related Post – Poker Based “Carnival Games” on the Casino Floor

That’s all for now.

Binbin

 

Pai Gow Poker Tips – Pai Gow Poker Rules

Pai Gow Poker sounds like a difficult game to play. Playing any new table game at the casino for the first time can be intimidating. Knowing how to play your cards as well as knowing the rules of the table is a lot the first time. This is when Pai Gow Poker Tips come in handy.

The emotional feeling of being embarrassed in front of other players is enough to go play the nearest slot instead. Even though there is that intimidation factor in playing any new table game, Pai Gow isn’t necessarily one of them.

Last year I made a resolution to play new games.  So far, I have learned Pai Gow, 3 Card Poker and continues playing Craps. Here are my personal suggestions that helped me dig into that resolution and DO it!

Related posts: Pai Gow Poker Tips for Beginners and Resources for Gambling Part 3 – Pai Gow Poker

Tip #1-Prepare Pai Gow Poker before playing at the casino.

Practice, using an app for your smart phone and (I can’t say this enough) visit the Wizard of Odds website. Once there, you can learn the basics of the game, and learn strategy with the training game, all for free.

Tip #2-Play in the early morning

I enjoy playing early when I have the casino to myself. This is an opportune time to ease into play. When I played at first at Borgata last year,  I was very lucky to find an empty table just waiting for me.  The dealer and the pit boss both taught my first live lesson. I had my own personal table, complete with professional tutors!

Tip #3-Things you can only learn at the table.

There are just some things you can’t learn on an app, like:

  • With the use of a shuffle master, you have to wait for the green button to go off before picking up your cards.  You have to wait to be sure the deal is good.
  • There is a  commission on each hand. It equals $1.25 on a $5 winning bet.
  • The Fortune bonus side bet is available. Dealers and players will help you.
  • The house has certain rules to set both hands, and the player can always ask to have the hands done by house rules as well as asking other players.
  • The numbers on the table refer to the random number chosen to start dealing the hands.

Pai Gow Poker Final considerations

  • Over 60% of the hands played will end in a push
  • The Strategy is not hard to learn
  • Pai Gow has a very low house edge, which makes it a good game to play to lengthen your session.
  • because of the low house edge, comps are harder to come by because rewards points are often slower to accrue.

While I didn’t last that long (being the only player at the table will do that) at Borgata, it was a great experience.  I have since played at MGM Springfield, Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods, Twin River Casino and Tiverton Casino, with varying results.  But, I find it fun, slow for those times you want to spend more time, and usually a friendly game.

It’s Story Time

Here is one last story. While I was attending Zorkfest, Las Vegas, I decided to go next door to the Mirage to play some Pai Gow. I never played side bets because I always thought they had too much of a house edge for me to play them. According to the  Wizard of Odds website, “Fortune” is a side bet in Pai Gow Poker pays based on the value of the player’s seven cards. It doesn’t not matter how the player sets his hand. In addition, you will get an “Envy Bonus.” if another player has a four of a kind or better and played the Fortune bet  At every table I have seen there is a $5 minimum and the Envy Bonus is a fixed amount.

Like I said, I never play the side bet. But, On this night, however, one player at the table had 5 Aces (there is one joker that can be the value of an ace).  At 400 to 1, his $5 bet won $2000.00.  Everyone else at the table was paid the envy bonus of $250, except one – ME!

Needless to say, I almost always play the Fortune Bonus.

Binbin