Last Updated: October 23, 2009

Asia Poker

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Introduction

Asia Poker is a clever variation of pai gow poker and a Chinese game called "13 cards." I've been getting requests for information about it for years. I think it started in Atlantic City, and moved its way west. When I finally saw it at Harrah's Rincon in California, and the Rio and Gold Coast in Las Vegas, I couldn't keep ignoring the game.

Rules

  1. A 53-card deck is used, including one joker. The joker may be used to complete a straight, flush, straight flush, or royal flush, otherwise it is treated as an ace (the same way as in pai gow poker).
  2. After making a wager, the player and dealer each get seven cards.
  3. The player should arrange his cards into a one-card low hand, a two-card medium hand, and a four-card high hand.
  4. The low hand may not be higher in poker value than the medium hand, and the medium hand may not be higher than the high hand. A violation of this rule will foul the hand, resulting in a loss.
  5. There are just pairs and two singletons in the medium hand, no straights or flushes.
  6. The poker rankings in the four-card hand are the same as in conventional poker, except there are no full houses. One reader has disputed this rule, so this needs to be verified.
  7. The dealer shall set his hand according to the "house way," which is detailed below.
  8. The player's three hands shall be compared to the corresponding dealer's three hands. In each comparison, the hand with the higher value shall win. Ties shall go to the dealer.
  9. If the player wins at least two of the three hands, then he shall win even money on his wager. Otherwise he will lose. Note that no commission is charged on wins.
  10. In addition, a Bonus Bet may be offered, based on the poker value of the player's seven-card hand. The pay tables for the Bonus Bet are explained below.

Strategy

Most hands will be obvious. If you aren't sure what to do, I would ask the dealer to set your hand by the "house way."

House Edge

The game owner tells me the house edge is 4.82%. Based on my own analysis, I think this figure is correct.

House Way

The following house way is from the Gold Coast in Las Vegas. I have an unconfirmed report that Harrah's (I'm not sure which one) uses a different house way.

For purposes of the house way, cards are defined into the following groupings:

  • 2-6 = Low
  • 7-10 = Medium
  • J-A = High

Garbage

Play the 3rd highest card in the low hand, the 2nd and 4th highest cards in the medium hand, and the rest in the high hand.

One pair

With a high pair, and either no high singletons or one high singleton lower than the pair, split the pair between the medium and high hands.

Otherwise, play the 2nd highest singleton in the low hand, the 1st and 3rd highest singletons in the medium hand, and the rest in the high hand.

Two Pairs

With a pair of aces or kings, and no high singletons, play the two pair together in the high hand.

Otherwise, split the two pair, playing the highest singleton in the low hand, the low pair in the medium hand, and the rest in the high hand.

Three Pairs

If one of the pairs is aces or kings, and the singleton is low or medium, then play a card from the high pair in the low, the other ace or king and the singleton in the medium hand, and the other two pair in the high hand.

Otherwise, if the singleton is low or medium, then play a card from the highest pair in the low hand, the medium pair in the medium hand, and rest in the high hand.

Otherwise (with no ace/king pair and a high singleton), play the singleton in the low hand, the highest pair in the medium hand, and the other two pair in the high hand.

Three of a Kind

With three 2-10: Play the 2nd highest singleton in the low hand, the 1st and 3rd highest singletons in the medium hand, and the rest in the high hand.

With three jacks and no high cards: Play the highest singleton in the low hand, a jack and 2nd highest singleton in the medium hand, and the rest in the high hand.

With three jacks and one high card: Play a jack in the low hand, the two highest singletons in the medium hand, and the rest in the high hand.

With three jacks and two high cards: Play the same way as three 2-10.

With QQQ-AAA and one or two high cards: Play a pair in the high hand, otherwise maximizing the low and medium hands.

Three of a Kind Twice

Split up the high three of a kind between the low and medium hands.

Straight, Flush, Straight Flush, Royal Flush

If you can play the four-card hand in the high hand, and a pair in the medium hand, then play that way, except if the pair is aces and the singleton is a not a king, then split the pair between the low and medium hands.

If the hand contains two pairs, three pairs, or a three of a kind, then break up the four-card hand, and follow the appropriate rule for two pair, three pair, or three of a kind.

If you can make both a straight or flush in the high hand, then play the way that results in the better medium hand.

If the medium hand is the same either way, then play the way that results in the best low hand.

If the four-card hand contains three or four high cards, and no additional high card, then play according to the "garbage" rule. With an additional high card, play the four-card hand in the high hand.

If the hand contains a pair inside the four-card hand, and you have an ace, king, or queen and jack, then retain the four-card hand in the high hand. Otherwise, with a pair inside the four-card hand, play the pair in the high hand.

Full House

The "usual way" to play a full house is to play the highest singleton in the low, the pair in the medium, and three of a kind and low singleton in the high hand.

With three queens or higher, and the singletons are both low or medium, split the three of a kind into the low and high hands, retaining the pair in the medium hand. With at least one high singleton, play the "usual way."

With a pair of aces of kings, and no high singletons, split the pair between the low and medium hands, and the three of a kind in the high hand. With at least one high singleton, play the "usual way."

With a three queens or higher, and a high pair, and no high singleton, split up the three of a kind between the low and high hands. Otherwise, with at least one high singleton, play the "usual way."

In all other situations, play the "usual way."

Three of a Kind and Two Pairs

With no high pairs, split the three of a kind between the low and medium hands, and play the two pair in the high hand.

Otherwise, play a card from the high pair in the low hand, the low pair in the medium hand, and the rest in the high hand.

Four of Kind

With a low four of a kind, and two high cards including an ace, play the four of a kind in the high hand.

With four aces or kings, and no high singletons, split the four of a kind into a pair in the high hand, and one card each in the low and medium hands.

Otherwise, split the four of a kind into a pair in the medium and high hands.

Four of a Kind and a Pair

With four aces or kings, play three of them in the high hand, and one in the low hand.

Otherwise, play the pair in the medium hand, and the four of a kind in the high hand.

Four of a King and a Three of a Kind

With four queens or higher, and a low or medium three of a kind, play the three of a kind in the high hand.

Otherwise, play the four of a kind in the high hand.

Five Aces

Play an ace in the low hand, two aces in the medium hand, and the rest in the high hand.

Bonus Bet

Game literature shows four possible pay tables for the Bonus Bet. The following four tables show the probability and return for each one.

Asia Poker Bonus Bet — Pay Table A

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
8888 + Any 3 of a Kind 5000 54 0.00000035 0.00175162
5 Aces 800 1128 0.00000732 0.0058543
Royal Flush 200 26132 0.00016953 0.03390616
Natural Straight Flush 80 38728 0.00025125 0.02009977
St. Flush with Joker 40 146104 0.00094785 0.03791387
Four of a Kind 30 307418 0.00199437 0.05983103
Full House 5 4188528 0.02717299 0.13586494
Flush 4 6172088 0.04004129 0.16016517
Three of a Kind 3 7672500 0.04977518 0.14932555
Straight 2 11034204 0.07158417 0.14316833
9-High 10 31080 0.00020163 0.00201631
Nothing -1 124525116 0.80785408 -0.80785408
Total 154143080 1 -0.05795704

Asia Poker Bonus Bet — Pay Table B

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
8888 + Any 3 of a Kind 5000 54 0.00000035 0.00175162
5 Aces 800 1128 0.00000732 0.0058543
Royal Flush 200 26132 0.00016953 0.03390616
Natural Straight Flush 50 38728 0.00025125 0.01256235
St. Flush with Joker 40 146104 0.00094785 0.03791387
Four of a Kind 30 307418 0.00199437 0.05983103
Full House 5 4188528 0.02717299 0.13586494
Flush 4 6172088 0.04004129 0.16016517
Three of a Kind 3 7672500 0.04977518 0.14932555
Straight 2 11034204 0.07158417 0.14316833
9-High 10 31080 0.00020163 0.00201631
Nothing -1 124525116 0.80785408 -0.80785408
Total 154143080 1 -0.06549445

Asia Poker Bonus Bet — Pay Table C

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
8888 + Any 3 of a Kind 5000 54 0.00000035 0.00175162
5 Aces 800 1128 0.00000732 0.0058543
Royal Flush 200 26132 0.00016953 0.03390616
Natural Straight Flush 50 38728 0.00025125 0.01256235
St. Flush with Joker 40 146104 0.00094785 0.03791387
Four of a Kind 25 307418 0.00199437 0.0498592
Full House 5 4188528 0.02717299 0.13586494
Flush 4 6172088 0.04004129 0.16016517
Three of a Kind 3 7672500 0.04977518 0.14932555
Straight 2 11034204 0.07158417 0.14316833
9-High 10 31080 0.00020163 0.00201631
Nothing -1 124525116 0.80785408 -0.80785408
Total 154143080 1 -0.07546629

Asia Poker Bonus Bet — Pay Table D

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
8888 + Any 3 of a Kind 5000 54 0.00000035 0.00175162
5 Aces 800 1128 0.00000732 0.0058543
Royal Flush 150 26132 0.00016953 0.02542962
Natural Straight Flush 50 38728 0.00025125 0.01256235
St. Flush with Joker 40 146104 0.00094785 0.03791387
Four of a Kind 25 307418 0.00199437 0.0498592
Full House 5 4188528 0.02717299 0.13586494
Flush 4 6172088 0.04004129 0.16016517
Three of a Kind 3 7672500 0.04977518 0.14932555
Straight 2 11034204 0.07158417 0.14316833
9-High 10 31080 0.00020163 0.00201631
Nothing -1 124525116 0.80785408 -0.80785408
Total 154143080 1 -0.08394283

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