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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