Approaching a table in either a small or major casino today necessitates understanding of game play, of the rules of the house, of potential opponents and an overall plan of attack. A check of the casino’s poker room will reveal a number of games including Pai Gow Poker, Caribbean Stud, Hold’em Tournaments and tables for Omaha and Hold’em. Being a highly attuned players requires a careful study of your competitors in advance of you laying down your chips at any table. Accomplishing this, along with carefully deciding on your position and playing carefully you can optimize your advantage.
While traditional table poker games have a distinct house advantage, there are strategies that can help ensure you maximize your chances of winning and may even come out ahead when you factor in comps and other perks from the casino. Solid poker players, however, rely upon skill and intuition to play well at traditional competitive games where they are playing against other players rather than the house.
House Games – Pai Gow and Caribbean Stud
In casinos dealer games provide a chance to play directly against the house and require you to implement a dominant strategy in order to cut your losses. Usually house games give the dealer an advantage, even when you implement the best winning strategy.
Pai Gow, or double hand is one of the more popular games. It uses a standard 52 card deck and a joker. The table for Pai Gow is set for six players plus the dealer, and the aim is to better the hand of the banker. Seven cards are dealt, and the player builds two hands – one with five cards the other with two. The players five card hand must count higher than the two cards. Hands are ranked according to standard poker rules, with jokers normally counting as aces. The joker can be wild to make a flush or a straight. Both the five card and two card hands of the player must be better than the dealer in order for the player to win — and the dealer wins all ties. This give the dealer some advantage, and some tables may require antes or commissions in order to increase the house advantage.
Also popular is Caribbean stud poker. In this table game, similar to stud poker, the players are dealt five cards and the dealer shows one of his cards. Players are not permitted to share hand information. After studying their hands player can place their bet (double their ante) or give up their initial bet (fold).Dealer hands at Ace-King JOKER123 or better are entered into play (or else the ante bets are returned) and the highest hand wins. This hand choice delivers a slight house advantage, but most players will choose to play all hands greater than Ace-King (at least a pair). Raising against a dealer’s week hand when your are holding strong cards can also result in the best possible play.