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Paigowdan
Paigowdan
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January 12th, 2012 at 2:04:09 AM permalink
A hand on the Bovada question/complaint thread brought up an interesting quirk of the Joker in Pai Gow Poker.

A question arose as to whether the joker takes on a specific card value - so where you can have in existence a suited pair operating in the deck - at the time that it is used in a hand, or is it like a "connector' or fill-in putty, where the completed flush or straight is simpy "a completed flush or straight," not interfering with the card that could be used. If it is used to form a suited pair is in the same hand, it may be a clear non-starter:

The hand Ah-<joker>-Qh-Jh-10h is a Royal flush, and NOT Ah-Ah-Qh-Jh-10h - which is a flush that simply has a suited pair of aces, the way Bovada sometimes treats it.
So we can first assume you may not use it to create a suited pair in the same hand, as it acts like the King of hearts to complete the Royal, instead of making it a double Ace-high flush.

Now, if that Royal faces another heart flush, lets say it faces Kh-9h-7h-3h-2h, you now have a Pai Gow deal where a Royal "containing' the King of hearts beats a King-high heart flush, this time with the Real McCoy King of hearts. No conflict here. not in the same hand, or used for the same poker components.

So okay. We can make a rule that the joker replaces another exact card in the deck, but it cannot do so in the same hand, although it can face another hand that clearly has that card out in the open, without it being a "suited pair" issue arising. It sounds like a good rule, right?

But now, what about the hand 5d-5s / 7s-6s-<joker>-4s-3s. You now got a striaght flush with a pair of fives up, AND it is a perfectly valid Pai Gow poker hand.
And it has two 5 of spades in the SAME hand, one in the pair top, and one to complete the straight flush! Huh? Try to let someone tell you that the high side ISN'T a straight flush because the 5 of spades is used on the two-card said in the pair, and watch the arguments begin.

It isn't used in ther same side of the hand, that is, it is used within a different poker component or element. So in this latest hand, The joker may take on a unique value that isn't a duplicate within the same hand side, although it is within the same full hand; the 'joker 5 of spades" is completing a straight flush, while the real 5 of spades in completing the pair part in the same hand on the other side, and it's a valid hand, too. 5d-5s / 7s-6s-<joker>-4s-3s. This hand is valid. But think of the straight flush jpker as a connector or "flush putty,' and not as another 5 of spades.


Instead of the joker being "another 5 of spades," it is instead some sort of a "valid fill-in connector," with the Real McCoy 5 of spades not conflicting with it. The real 5 of spades is still simply that, but the joker is simply "magic putty" to fill in the straight flush card gap, and not another 5 of spades clone as it is just flush putty.
In practice it is: 5d-5s / 7s-6s-<flush putty>-4s-3s, and NOT 5d-5s / 7s-6s-<another 5s>-4s-3s

If you look at the joker as replacing an exact card, you will always have a suited pair in the single deck somewhere. If you look at the joker as a connector like magic putty that fillls in a straight or flush rather than "it is exact card 'x', you might be better off in handling the joker. It is essentially "valid straight fill putty" or valid 'flush fill putty" that doesn't so much take on a card value as much as it is a connector that fills the gap in the poker component that needs it, without needing to steal the identity of another existing card in the deck. Now the clause becomes: the joker (acting like putty) must fill in an available space in the straight or flush, and not a space already used by an existing card in the same poker element. The joker is a gap-filler, and not another copy of some other card, especially in the same poker element. It fills in a gap like a connector.

So when it is truly treated as a duplicate of another card within the SAME Poker element, a la Bovada (Ah-*Ah-7h-5h-2h) instead of (Ah-*Kh-7h-5h-2h), it is acting like a suited pair within the same poker element, a flush, an impossibility, instead of filling a gap like a valid poker "connector" had it filled the King spot as it should.

Which is why you cannot use it as a second suited card on the same hand side, as the Real McCoy ace was already there. The joker doesn't replace an existing card in the deck, it simply connects over an absent card putty-style, to complete an otherwise incomplete poker element. That's really the essence of the bug joker. In this sense the joker is not any sort of copy of the real card used somewhere else, it a connector for the poker element at hand, and only that.

Certainly, when used in five aces, it is the fifth ace of "no suit," Now here it doesn't replace any other card or ace, it's putty to fill in the five of a kind.

If we think of the bug joker as a "Poker element connector for an open slot," we'll always use it right.
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odiousgambit
odiousgambit
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January 12th, 2012 at 3:24:37 AM permalink
Wow, I am amazed at how dense I am sometimes. Let me ask a couple of questions, maybe it will help clear it up for someone else too.

Quote: Paigowdan

you may not use it to create a suited pair in the same hand



There is such a thing as a suited pair? What is the significance of it being suited, if it is a pair?

Quote:

Which is why you cannot use it as a second suited card on the same hand side, as the Real McCoy ace was already there.



In a way I guess this is the same question twice, but surely there is no reason the top hand couldnt be ranked as a pair of Aces using the joker, as long as the other hand has a higher value? This must have something to do with declaring two cards as something that I have never heard of. You can't have Ad 5d in the top hand and say you have a flush. So what can a pair be other than a pair?
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NowTheSerpent
NowTheSerpent
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January 12th, 2012 at 4:35:49 AM permalink
This why I think the damn joker should just be removed entirely from Pai-Gow Poker. So what if it adds umpteen percent to the house edge; it's simpler to know what your holding and how to set it without surprises caused by the unusual rules surrounding the Bug. In any game of Poker, it doesn't make logical sense to use a joker to represent either (a) a card that is already drawn and held in some hand or (b) a rank in a "fifth" suit when a French deck only has four suits. If a joker is restricted to being only a discarded, undrawn, or otherwise unheld card (a "transporter"), that makes more sense.
DJTeddyBear
DJTeddyBear
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January 12th, 2012 at 5:16:03 AM permalink
Quote: NowTheSerpent

So what if it adds umpteen percent to the house edge....

I do not think it adds anything to the house edge, unless the house gets the bug more often than a player.

I.E. It helps whoever has it the same as it helps anyone else when they have it.



Quote: NowTheSerpent

it's simpler to know what your holding and how to set it without surprises caused by the unusual rules surrounding the Bug...

If a joker is restricted to being only a discarded, undrawn, or otherwise unheld card (a "transporter"), that makes more sense.

These comments are contradictory.

If the value of the bug changes because someone else is holding a specific card, then that's a surprise too.



I was going to go with the "putty" argument, until I thought of the hand with 5 aces and a pair. You'd keep the aces together, therefore, you'd be playing two of a specific card.

Based upon that, I think the hand in question from that threasd about Bovada was correctly scored.

Also, I have voted "replace" although I would say "Replace or duplicate."
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P90
P90
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January 12th, 2012 at 5:50:20 AM permalink
I believe there are only two reasonable ways to treat the joker:
a) Replace any undealt (discarded, etc) card, at player discretion, if such is applicable;
b) Any game with a joker is a N+1 deck game. A joker is an entire deck of cards, of which you can play any.

Generally the second one makes more sense. In older poker variants with a joker, there is such a hand as five of a kind.
The "connector" justification of otherwise arbitrary and chaotic rules is a bit too magical TBH.
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NowTheSerpent
NowTheSerpent
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January 12th, 2012 at 7:38:29 AM permalink
Quote: DJTeddyBear

I do not think it adds anything to the house edge, unless the house gets the bug more often than a player.

I.E. It helps whoever has it the same as it helps anyone else when they have it.



Thanks. I hadn't done the specific combinatorics with a joker factored in and wasn't sure whether it made a mathematical difference.

Quote: DJTeddyBear

Quote: NowTheSerpent

it's simpler to know what your holding and how to set it without surprises caused by the unusual rules surrounding the Bug...

If a joker is restricted to being only a discarded, undrawn, or otherwise unheld card (a "transporter"), that makes more sense.



These comments are contradictory.

If the value of the bug changes because someone else is holding a specific card, then that's a surprise too.



I just mean that I think the best poker (any, not just Pai-Gow) has no jokers, but if one insists on them, then the restrictions I described make the most sense, IMO.

BTW, When you refer to a "queen-high pai-gow" hand, what are the hallmarks of such a thing besides, obviously, the queen. What does the "pai-gow" refer to in the rest of the hand (if anything)?
Paigowdan
Paigowdan
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January 12th, 2012 at 8:00:19 AM permalink
Quote: odiousgambit

There is such a thing as a suited pair? What is the significance of it being suited, if it is a pair?


In multi-deck games suited multiples exist as play elements, in single-deck games, even with a joker, they're verbotten.
For example, in the Bust-it side bet for multi-deck blackjack, the bonus pays its jackpot on three suited 8's - a suited three of a kind.


Quote: odiousgambit

In a way I guess this is the same question twice, but surely there is no reason the top hand couldnt be ranked as a pair of Aces using the joker, as long as the other hand has a higher value? This must have something to do with declaring two cards as something that I have never heard of. You can't have Ad 5d in the top hand and say you have a flush. So what can a pair be other than a pair?


Game rules are arbitrary creations. The game designer creates - by fiat - the rules of a game based on what he sees as possible outcomes, while considering its possibilities. (and however, if the game designer leaves out some deep details, then the "house" or casino operator will create some arbitrary rules when situations arise). Hopefully, the more thought put into a game, the better. In the bust-it side bet game, the creator made a rule that the suited htree of a kind outranks a "same color" three of a kind, which outranks and off-suit, two-color three of a kind, when the dealer busts on three 8's.

As for the joker's existence in PGP:
1. the joker was used in some poker games by the point Pai Gow Poker was created at the Bell club in California, and;
2. the joker helps "unbalance" (or create more win-loses decisions) to counter-act the abundance of pushes.

The basic game of Pai Gow Poker was created by Sam Terrosian and Fred Wolfe at the Bell Club in the 1980's, and the casino version of it (along with Pai Gow "Asian" Tiles) was configured as specifically a casino house-banked pit game by William "Billy Woo" Walsh
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DJTeddyBear
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January 12th, 2012 at 8:24:47 AM permalink
Quote: NowTheSerpent

BTW, When you refer to a "queen-high pai-gow" hand, what are the hallmarks of such a thing besides, obviously, the queen. What does the "pai-gow" refer to in the rest of the hand (if anything)?

The term "Pai Gow" specifically means "No hand." In fact, in some Asian language, it actually means "nothing".

When you're at a PGP table, you will sometimes hear the other players chant something. I originally thought it was "plop-plop". I later realized that it was my American ears hearing the heavy Asian accent, saying "pai gow" - they were calling for the dealer to have no hand.
Superstitions are silly, childish, irrational rituals, born out of fear of the unknown. But how much does it cost to knock on wood? Note that the same could be said for Religion. I.E. Religion is nothing more than organized superstition.
Paigowdan
Paigowdan
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January 12th, 2012 at 9:06:33 AM permalink
I heard it ("pai gow") means "makes nine," - which is also a nothing hand in Tiles.

In Pai Gow Poker, a Pai gow type hand has no poker elements aside from high-card singletons: Qd-Js-10h-7d-5h-3c-2c. Getting a hand like this is like sevening out at dice, the "Aww, sh]t, I shouldn't have bet black" flowing out of your mouth means you know you lost.

I agree with Serpent, the tighter the upfront restrictions the less fudge-factor there is in hand disputes.
I had players sometimes try to argue that the Broadway straight is "higher with the joker," - that AKQ<joker>10 is higher than AKQJ10 because it is "also is another Ace." Bovada thinking. No it isn't, both Ace-high straights are copies. When it's in a flush or a straight, the joker is not particularly viewed as "card x" (looking at it as a card replacement) as much as it "makes the straight or flush," by plugging the highest unoccupied gap in the poker element, looking at it from the point of view of completing a particular poker element. That's it.

However, the joker IS considered separately when looking at it bonus bet value, versus its hand-setting value.
The hand AA / AKQ<joker>10 is:
1. Four aces for the bonus payout, but
2. Just an Ace-high straight with a pair on top for the play-of-the-hand.

In other words, the hand's strongest poker element is four aces for the bonus bet's purposes, but it's strongest element is a straight - for the play of the hand's purposes.
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ddloml
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January 12th, 2012 at 9:16:03 AM permalink
Once I was playing Pai Gow Poker and one of the players referred to the bad (no pair) hand as a 'Cow Pie'. It was an amusing American twist on a meaningless Asian term.

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