If you’re new to gaming in general, you might not know about domino poker even though it’s been around for a while. The Chinese game of Pai Gow is most likely the oldest form of domino poker out there, and there are numerous variants on this game, including Pai Gow Poker. Most of the various forms of domino poker are table games (as they are traditionally), but video domino poker and online domino poker games also exist.
Pai Gow in its original form uses a set of 32 Chinese dominoes, with some variants using western dominoes and others substituting cards for the dominoes (as is the case with Pai Gow Poker). Even in its original form, Pai Gow has caught on outside of China and Macau, and is played in the US and Canada as well as Australia and New Zealand. The words Pai Gow mean “double hand”, and this seems to be a pretty apt title for the game.
In a game of Pai Gow, the tiles are first shuffled on the table before they’re divided up into eight stacks of four. Every player – including the dealer – is given a stack, and the idea is to form two hands of two tiles each. The front hand is the lower value pair, while the rear hand is the higher one. A player wins if both of her hands beats the dealer’s hands, and if one hand wins and the other loses then the player gets their money back. Obviously, if both hands lose, the player loses the bet.
The western variants on domino poker follow the same basic premises as Pai Gow, but there are some variants where each hand has more dominoes and many variations do not require eight players. Generally, the money is pooled among players and there are pre-determined betting amounts and limits. The popular version of domino poker deals domino tiles in the same way as Pai Gow, but players get five dominoes and there are usually between two and four participants. This game functions much the same as a conventional poker game, with players choosing to check, call, bet, fold, or raise during their turn.
There are different combinations of tiles which will cause a player to win the bet, with the highest hand being the “royal hand” – where the player has five doubles in their hand. Next in the hierarchy is having “straight sixes” – wherein there’s a sequence in the suit of sixes. Then there’s four of a kind, which is exactly what it sounds like. Next is having “straight fives” – which is like straight sixes, only with the sequence occurring in the suit of fives. All of the aforementioned hands can only be held by one given player at a time, so there shouldn’t be any worries about ties. Players can also have a “full house” (where there are three doubles and two of any suit), straight fours, three of a kind, a “flush” (where there are five tiles from the same suit), or a pair. If none of those end up happening in the game, then the winner is the one with the highest double. If that doesn’t happen, then victory defaults to the person with the highest card in the highest suit.
Players of domino poker99 who aren’t typically poker buffs might find domino poker easier than those who are, because they won’t have to unlearn the rules of poker in order to understand the game. This is demonstrated by facts like straight sixes, fives, and fours all being equally probable but holding different rankings in the game. You might want to try out domino poker regardless, and if you like games with a lot of bluffing then you may find that it’s for you.