How to Play Pyramid Poker

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The game known as Pyramid Poker has been described as a simplified version of Pai Gow Poker. Instead of seven cards, it uses only three, which makes it sound rather easy. However, skill is still required as, just like Pai Gow Poker, strategy comes into play in the betting and in the setting of the hands.

In most casinos, Pyramid Poker is dealt from a shoe containing six or more standard 52-card decks with the jokers removed. It may, however, be played with a single deck. Before the cards are dealt, the player has the opportunity to make three separate wagers in the three corresponding locations on the table layout. Each wager must conform to the table’s minimum and maximum limits as determined by the House. The three wagers may be different amounts.

The first of the three wagers is a bet on the player’s three-card Pyramid Poker hand to beat the dealer’s three-card hand. It is also referred to as the “Main Bet.” The second wager is an optional side bet on the player’s hand to “qualify” for a payout as per a bonus pay table. The third wager is an optional side bet on the combined six cards of the player’s hand and the dealer’s hand to qualify for a payout as per a separate bonus pay table.

Once the wagers have been made, each player and the dealer receive three cards apiece, dealt face down. Players must then arrange their cards into two hands—a two-card hand and a one-card hand. As in Pai Gow Poker, the two-card hand must outrank the one-card hand. The dealer will arrange his or her three cards into two hands according rules known as the “House Way.”

All casinos make available information regarding the “House Way” and the established rules the dealer must follow without fail. For example, when holding three unpaired cards, the middle-ranking card must be placed in the dealer’s one-card hand. When holding a pair of 2s through 8s, the pair must be placed in the dealer’s two-card hand. When a pair of 9s or high is obtained, the pair always goes in the dealer’s two-card hand, as long as the singleton is at least a six or higher. Otherwise, the pair should be split according to additional House Way rules.

Once the cards have been arranged, each of the player’s hands is compared to the dealer’s hands. In order to win even money on the Main Bet, the player’s two-card and one-card hands must both outrank the dealer’s respective hands. If the player wins one hand and loses the other, the result is a “push,” no winner, and the wagered amount is returned. If the dealer wins both hands, the player loses the bet.

For the second wager on the player’s three-card hand, any hand containing cards valued at 7 or lower and no Ace is paid out as a “push,” no winner, and the bet is returned. A pair pays even money, a flush pays 2-to-1, a straight pays 5-to-1 and a three-of-a-kind pays 20-to-1. A straight flush is worth 30-to-1 and the A-K-Q suited pays 50-to-1. All other hands lose.

For the third wager on the six-card combined hands of the player and dealer, two pairs pay even money, three-of-a-kind pays 2-to-1, a straight pays 5-to-1 and a flush pays 6-to-1. A full house is worth 7-to-1, four of-a-kind pays 10-to-1 and a straight flush gets 75-to-1, while a royal flush pays 200-to-1. In the multi-deck version of the game, there are also payouts for five-of-a-kind at 50-to-1 and six-of-a-kind at 1,000-to-1. All other hands lose.

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