History Of Pai Gow Poker

Sat, 07 Jun 2008 19:33

History of Pai Gow Poker

Learning about the past of pai gow poker.


The presence of Chinese culture in America is truly undeniable. From the martial arts stylings of Jackie Chan on the silver screen to the thousands of Chinese take-out counters found all over America, one can get a good dose of Chinese in any daily encounter. But if one decides to take a trip to Vegas and gamble in the casinos, then surprise! You'll find that in Vegas, and now, in a lot of places in the country, even an ancient Chinese game has been turned into an enjoyable casino past time.

Pai Gow is a thousand year old game of dominoes influenced by a complicated Chinese military tradition. In this game of dominoes, four pieces are given to a player to create the best possible front hand and back hand. From these four pieces, a participant must get a sum of nine to win a game. These are the basic goals of Pai Gow, and from these rules, Pai Gow Poker was modified to suit the American gambler's taste.

There have been many changes made to this traditional Chinese game, but when California casino moguls Fred Wolf and Sam Torosian introduced their version of Pai Gow Poker in the latter part of the eighties, their game instantly became a hit.  Pai Gow Poker retained the main idea of the ancient Chinese domino game, which is about forming the best hand.  In this American version, the players are given seven cards. From these cards, one must form a front and a back hand. The front hand consists of two cards for the best possible pair while the remaining five cards follow the usual poker combinations like the flush, the straight, the full house, etc. This set must have a value that is higher than the pair.  For example, should a player have a pair of sixes in the five cards, then the pair must not have anything higher than that. If no pairs can be made for the front hand, then the highest cards are used.

To make this game even more exciting, an extra card is stacked with the regular 52-card deck. A joker may be used as a wild card or it can stand for an ace. A game of pai gow poker involves six players which includes a banker. A player at a pai gow table has to keep track of his or her front and back hands. In order for one to succeed against the banker, the player should have a higher front and back hand. If only the front hand is higher, then there is a possibility for a tie. If both hands of the player are lower, the game goes to the banker.

The rules of Pai Gow poker do seem rather complex but with some practice, one can easily see that there is excitement in getting ahead in this slow and steady variety of poker. And while there is still some confusion when it comes to tracing the roots of this Chinese-influenced game, it certainly has grown to become one of the favorite games of gamblers all over the American casino landscape.