Casino poker finds new popularity

Jun 29, 2004 3:18 AM

The recent surge in popularity of poker has helped fuel a renewed interest in casino poker games such as Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride and Pai Gow.

Unlike live poker, in which players compete against each other and pay a seat rental to the house, casino poker games are banked by the house, which covers bets placed by the player.

Here is a quick and easy primer for playing those house poker games.

Caribbean Stud Poker

Originally developed for Caribbean cruise ships, Caribbean stud poker has become popular in Las Vegas because of its progressive jackpot, which often reaches into six figures. The game is based on five-card stud poker and played on a blackjack-style table.

Players are dealt five cards face down after placing their ante bets - a minimum of $5 in most casinos — and their $1 progressive ante, if they choose to play for the escalating jackpot, the value of which is displayed on an electronic reader board at the table. The dealer receives four cards face down and one card up. If the player doesn’t like his cards, he may fold and surrender his ante bet. If he thinks he can win, he places a "call bet" equal to double his original ante.

The house has an advantage because the dealer must have an Ace/King or higher to continue play. If he doesn’t, the hand is over, and the players who remained in the game are paid even money on their original ante, but their call bets are returned.

If the game continues and the player’s hand fails to beat the dealer’s, he loses the ante and call bets. But if the player’s hand beats the dealer’s, he’s paid even money on his ante, plus a bonus amount on his call bet according to the following schedule:

Ace-King high, 1-1

One pair, 1-1

Two pair, 2-1

Three of a kind, 3-1

Straight, 4-1

Flush, 5-1

Full house, 7-1

Four of a kind, 20-1

Straight flush, 50-1

Royal flush, 100-1

Whether or not the player’s hand beats the dealer’s, he wins the following payouts if he bet the $1 to enter the progressive pool:

Flush, $50

Full house, $75

4 of a kind, $100

Straight flush, 10 percent of progressive pool

Royal flush, 100 percent of progressive pool

Let It Ride Poker

This variation of five-card stud is interesting in that players don’t compete against the dealer or each other. Instead, they try to get a good hand by combining three cards dealt to them with the dealer’s two "hole" cards. To help their cause, players can remove up to two-thirds of their original bet during play to reduce the risk when chances for a winning hand seem bleak.

Here’s how it works: Players make three equal bets and are dealt three cards. Then the dealer receives two cards face down. If the player’s not happy with his deal, he can remove one of his bets or let it ride.

The dealer then turns over one of his cards, which is counted as the player’s fourth card, and the player must decide whether to withdraw his second bet or let it ride. In either case, the dealer then turns over his second card, and all the players lay down their cards. The players’ hands are determined by combining their three and the dealer’s two cards. The minimum winning hand is a pair of 10s or better, which pays even money. If the player has a winning hand, he is paid on all his remaining bets according to the following schedule:

Pair of tens or better, 1-1

Two pair, 2-1

Three of a kind, 3-1

Straight, 5-1

Flush, 8-1

Full house, 11-1

Four of a kind, 50-1

Straight flush, 200-1

Royal flush, 1000-1

Pai Gow Poker

Despite its name, Pai Gow Poker bears little resemblance to its ancient Chinese namesake, which is played with 32 domino-like tiles. Rather, it’s a kind of seven-card stud in which players arrange their cards into a five-card and a two-card hand, then try to beat the dealer’s similarly arranged hand.

The game is played with a standard 52-card deck, and hands are ranked the same as traditional poker. After bets are placed, the dealer deals seven cards face down to the players and himself. Each player arranges his cards into a two-card and five-card hand, making sure the latter outranks the former. If the value of the five-card hand isn’t higher than the two-card hand, the player automatically loses.

Because the game frequently ends in a tie with no money changing hands, players find they can play longer with a given bankroll than at blackjack, which actually enjoys a slightly lower house advantage.