Joined: Nov 8, 2010
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July 3rd, 2019 at 4:35:21 PM permalink
My wife and I were playing pai gow poker together at a casino in Nevada. We like to bank as often as possible. She banked a hand and lost $25 against the house, won $10 against one player and pushed against the other players.

I have seen two ways to calculate the commission on a situation like this.

NET: The dealer keeps the chips in front of them, totals up the wins and losses on the hand, and if there is a net win to the player-banker, takes 5% of the net win in commission. In the example above, there would be no commission due, as the player-banker lost $15 on the hand.

GROSS: The dealer racks the losing bet first, then settles up individually, asking the player-banker for commission for each time they win. In the example above, there would be a 50 cent commission due.

Dealers in Nevada are often unfamiliar with banking procedures, and so are the floor personnel. I have had many dealers try to take gross commission, to be overruled by the floor personnel.

In the case above, the dealer said that it was their "house rules" that all "wins" pay commission. I appealed to the floor, and contrary to my usual experience, two floor personnel agreed with the dealer. I asked to see the floor procedure, and my request was denied.

I felt that 50 cents was not enough to raise a formal dispute with Gaming, but my curiosity was piqued. I wrote Gaming and asked the following:

1) Where do I find the Nevada rules of pai gow poker?
2) Is there a standard procedure in Nevada for dealing pai gow poker, and adjudicating a player-banked hand?
3) Does a player have the right in Nevada to see the rules of a casino card game? Does this include the "house way" to set hands in pai gow poker, or can a casino claim the "house way" is proprietary, thus leaving a player uninformed how the house will respond to a particular hand?

Overall I just want to find out whether a player has the right to know the rules of a game before sitting down to play at the table. I included the house way question because I believe the Wizard and others have had issues obtaining copies of a casino's house way (and since the house sets their hand following player exposure, that is an important element of the rules of the game). I also had an issue recently with a casino saying that the "wheel" straight was the lowest straight according to their house rules, which resulted in a player-win turning into a push (that casino at least showed me their written rules).

Surprisingly, Gaming actually opened an investigation for my paltry 50 cent claim. However, their response surprised me:


You believed [your wife] didn’t have to pay a 50 cent commission on her $10 win because of a “net loss.” You were told by the dealer and management the house rules impose a 5% commission on all wins incurred by the player - banker. You requested to see the house rules and their request was denied.

The investigation determined the [casino] did not violate any provision of Regulation 5, Methods of Operation, when they asked your wife to pay the required 5% commission on her winnings. The Pai Gow Poker game rules clearly state a 5% commission must be paid on all winnings regardless of any losses during the game.

Although the licensee will show the house rules upon request as a customer service measure, they are not mandated to do so depending on the circumstances and timing of the request.

Pai gow poker is obviously an approved game in Nevada, but although I can find rules for the supplemental versions of it (Emperor's Challenge, etc.), I cannot find rules for the base game.

It always has seemed obvious to me that the commission should be paid only on a net win, but I do not have anything written and official to back me up on that.

Subsequent to the event above, I was at a different Nevada casino and the same issue happened. I appealed to the floor, and the floorperson said to pay me the full amount. But he came to me privately a few minutes later and let me know that it was a courtesy and that the next time I would have to pay commission in that situation. Then the following day I played at the same casino and the dealer calculated the commission on the net, as I would expect.

I understand that different casinos can set their own procedure for how often banking is allowed. What is funny is that the same casino will have different rules depending on which dealer and floorpeople are working at that time. The whole banking procedure seems very ad hoc, and this strikes me as not the way Nevada typically operates.

Anyone have insight on where I can find the Nevada rules for pai gow poker?
Joined: Sep 24, 2011
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July 3rd, 2019 at 6:59:34 PM permalink

I often bank at PGP (at casinos far from Nevada), and have always paid commission on "net" wins only. This "pay for each win" method is completely new to me, and seems like nothing more than another way to the casino to screw the players.

The problems I have with PGP are these:

1. No posted or available "house way". In fact, I've only once seen a casino that posted the house way on the PGP tables: the Horseshoe in Tunica, but that was many years ago. Several other casinos will show a player the house way rules on request, but don't advertise that.

2. Inconsistent rules about banking frequency. I played one casino, Treasure Bay in Biloxi, where one particular dealer insisted after I banked a round that I had to wait for 13 rounds before I could bank again, even though the table was not full and no other player wanted to bank. On the other hand, every other dealer there allowed me to bank every other hand, as long as no other player wanted to bank. Other casinos also disallow frequent banking.

3. Other players who sit out on the rounds that I bank. I've never understood this odd diffidence, but at least this isn't the casino's fault.

Dog Hand
Joined: Apr 11, 2010
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July 4th, 2019 at 11:49:10 AM permalink
Everywhere I have ever worked or played, commission was charged on the net win only.

The casino fought that hard over 50 cents. Make sure you tell all your friends not to patronize that establishment.
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