Pai Gow Poker
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Rules and Strategies for
This game was first
tried on an experimental basis aboard cruise ships and was so successful that it can now
be found in most casinos. Each player antes, then is dealt five cards from a regular
52-card deck. The dealer also gets five cards and turns one over. After seeing this card,
you must decide whether you want to stay in the game, or fold. If you fold, you lose your
ante. If you decide to stay, you must double your ante by making a separate wager called a
The dealer then reveals his/her remaining four cards. If the dealer does not
"qualify" by having at least an ace and king, the hand is over and each player
who called wins the amount of his/her ante. If the dealer does qualify , the hand is
played to completion. You win both your ante and your call bet if your hand is higher than
the dealer's. If the dealer's hand is higher, you lose both bets. There is a bonus payout
schedule for winning hands, which makes Caribbean Stud more exciting:
- one pair pays 1 to 1
- two pair pays 2 to 1
- three-of-a-kind pays 3 to 1
- straight pays 4 to 1
- flush pays 5 to 1
- full house pays 7 to 1
- four-of-a-kind pays 20 to 1
- straight flush pays 50 to 1
- royal flush pays 100 to 1
The dealer must qualify and
you must win the hand in order to receive a bonus payout.
The real attraction of Caribbean Stud is the chance to win big by hitting the progressive
jackpot. This bet is purely optional on your part. To be eligible for winning all or part
of this jackpot, you must wager an additional $1. There is a drop slot for this bet
directly in front of your position on the table. The progressive jackpot payoffs are as
- flush pays $50
- full house pays $75
- four-of-a-kind pays $100
- straight flush pays 10% of the progressive jackpot
- royal flush pays 100% of the progressive jackpot.
Jackpots are paid regardless of whether the dealer's hand qualifies. Payoffs on the
straight flush and royal flush are aggregate (if two or more players win on the same hand,
the jackpot is divided proportionately).
Most gaming experts agree that betting the extra $1 for this wager is not a wise idea,
even if the progressive jackpot gets up to $200,000. The odds of drawing a royal flush on
your first five cards are 649,739 to 1. If you play eight hours a day, it would take you
seven years, five months, and two days to play that many hands. But some people win
lotteries. You never know, you could be the next lucky one.
The biggest drawback to
Caribbean Stud is that the dealer must qualify by having at least an ace and a king. You
might have a great hand, but if the dealer doesn't qualify, all you'll win is your
original ante. The house edge at Caribbean Stud is about 5.3% when played with optimum
Don't let the dealer's up card scare you out of the game. Many novice players will fold
when the dealer exposes a good card, but the dealer may flip over four bad cards, and
you've thrown in a winning hand. Also keep in mind that you cannot bluff in Caribbean
Stud. If the dealer does qualify, it means he has a good hand. And he will qualify often
enough that you shouldn't risk the call unless you have a good hand yourself.
The optimum strategy for Caribbean Stud might be the easiest to remember of any game that
requires hand evaluation. You should simply call the dealer if your five-card hand is
ace-king-jack-8-3 or better, and fold otherwise. That's all there is to it.
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