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Strategies for Pai-Gow Poker and Carribean Draw30 May 2002
New table games in the last decade have been dominated by poker-based games that are easy to learn and have a familiar feel to anyone who knows the ranking of poker hands.
Easy as they may be, it takes a little skill and knowledge to get the most out of these games. Recently, we checked out basic strategies for Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride and Three Card Poker. This week, we'll stick with poker-based games for strategies in pai-gow poker and Caribbean Draw.
In pai-gow poker, the highest possible hand is five Aces, including the joker that may be used either as an Ace or to complete flushes or straights. But if you're dealt five Aces in your seven cards, the best play is to break them up, using three Aces in the five-card "high" hand and two in the two-card "second-high" hand. Keeping the five Aces together risks losing a weak two-card hand.
With flushes, straights or straight flushes, we gladly take a strong five-card hand while making the remaining two cards our second-high hand.
On lesser hands, if we have no pairs, we put the highest-ranking card in our five-card hand and the second- and third-ranking cards in the two-card hand.
With one pair, we keep the pair in the five-card hand, and make the two highest remaining cards our two-card hand. We split up two pair, with the higher pair in the five-card hand and the lower in the two-card hand. With three pair, we make the highest the two-card hand, with the other two pair making a strong five-card hand.
We keep three of a kind together, while making a two-card hand of our two highest remaining cards. But we split up full houses, with the three of a kind in the five-card hand and the pair in the two-card hand.
We keep together four of a kind if the cards are 2s through 6s. But with four 7s or higher, we're more aggressive, keeping a pair in the high hand and moving a pair over to the second-high hand.
I get frequent e-mail on Caribbean Draw, and published a strategy not too long ago in response to a letter from a reader. But the questions keep coming, so let's go over this once more.
The start of basic strategy is to make the bet of twice the ante in every hand. Never fold.
You then may discard up to two cards and draw replacements. Use this basic strategy for drawing cards:
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Best of John Grochowski