Figuring rank in pai gow poker

Sep 2, 2003 7:38 AM

Which of these two pai gow poker hands is higher? It’s a simple question anyone can easily answer, right?

This week I am digressing from craps to illustrate a situation that happened, a few years ago on a pai gow poker table on which I was dealing.

I had the club flush for a high hand and a player had the heart flush.

The player insisted his high hand was higher than mine (hence not a "copy tie") because his joker was a second ace of hearts. I seem to remember the floorman paying him, just to keep the player happy and to end the beef.

But I went home and did a little research in order to find out if the player was referring to a genuine phenomenon or was just clutching at straws in order to get paid for his twenty-five dollar bet.

My "Hoyle" and other books referred to nothing that would give credence to the player’s claim but "Scarne’s Complete Guild to Gambling" said that the gentleman would have what Scarne referred to as a "double ace high flush." I later talked to a man that frequented Southern California poker rooms and he said he had played in rooms that recognized double ace high flushes.

Other people, that I have shown this example to, try to convince me that the club flush is higher because it doesn’t utilize wild cards. I have yet to find any reference either for or against this, perhaps the authors consider this argument to frivolous to warrant mentioning.

Quite a few people I have shown this example to, tell me that this is a case when the "rank of suits" is used as a tiebreaker. The only problem with the people that make this case can’t seem to agree on what the rank of suits is and John Scarne’s books are the only ones I’ve found that make reference to it. Mr. Scarne insists that there is no rank of suits in poker.

My personal belief is that the hand I have illustrated is a copy tie as most of the people I have shown this to agree. When I helped write the pai gow poker rules for a casino I worked for I specifically mentioned that casino did not recognize "double ace high flushes" or a rank of suits.

Those people supervising pai gow poker tables might think it is too obvious to concern themselves with, until the inevitable beef occurs and then it might be nice to have the situation covered in the house ways.

Dale S. Yeazel is the author of "Precision Crap Dealing" and "Dealing Mini-Baccarat." Full color E-books on CD-Rom available for only $20 each (plus tax) at Gamblers Book Shop and Gamblers General Store in Las Vegas.