An introduction to Pai Gow Poker

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If you’ve been to a casino lately, then I’m sure you’ve played one of the standard casino go-to games: Poker, Blackjack, Craps, Roulette…but have you ever played Pai Gow Poker? Yes, it’s another one of those Poker variants: a slow-paced but fun card game for experienced casino players. It is loosely based on an ancient Chinese gambling game known as Pai Gow, or Pinyin (as it is called in the Cantonese dialect): a game which uses domino-like tiles with 21 unique patterns. It is played by having 7 tiles dealt to each of the players, and they would then bet on who gets the better set of tiles.

It would take the efforts of American casino owner Sam Torosian, who owned the Bell Card Club in Los Angeles, to combine elements of Chinese Pai Gow with a Filipino card game called Pusoy, and of course Poker to come up with his very own game; which he called Pai Gow Poker in 1985. His game used 2 hands of cards arranged as one 5-card hand and one 2-card hand. The game wasn’t too hard for players to learn; so it quickly became a popular addition to the gambling games being played on the Las Vegas Strip in the latter part of the 80s, and its popularity soon spread worldwide. Although he wanted to file a patent for his game; the two people he consulted gave him bad legal advice and told him that card games were not eligible for patents. Because of this; he never got any credit as the game’s creator, and he never received any royalties from the other casinos who used his game.    

At its core, the goal of Pai Gow Poker is simple: create two poker hands consisting of 5 cards and 2 cards. Arrange your hands so that the 5-card hand outranks the 2-card hand. If your two hands beat the dealer’s two hands, then you win. If only one of your hands wins, then it’s a “push”, and if both your hands lose; then you lose your bet. The game’s odds are in favor of the “one-hand per deal” win, so expect to push quite a lot. It’s a game that encourages a lot of camaraderie as each of the players is playing against the banker (sometimes played by the dealer), so they usually either win together or they lose together. You can even ask the dealer for help in arranging your hands. It’s a great game to play at a leisurely, relaxed pace: it’s not as high-risk as most of the other card games out there and it’s easy to learn for people who play poker. So the next time you’re at the casino, why not give Pai Gow Poker a try?

Aces Up Casino Parties can turn your private party, fundraiser, or corporate event into a Las Vegas-worthy casino experience with all of the games that you’d expect: Poker, Blackjack, Roulette, and Craps; plus other games such as Let it Ride and yes, Pai Gow Poker. We’ll work with you to provide all of the elements to make your event a success: from the LED signs, to the dealers, to the gaming tables, to the Bar and DJ service, and even to the accessories such as table linens. We are the San Francisco Bay Area’s foremost casino party provider. Give us a call at 510-785-5922 or e-mail us at info@acesup.com for all of your casino party inquiries or for more information. Better yet, request a proposal for your event online.

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