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  Pyramid Poker:

Pyramid Poker, despite its name, has nothing to do with Egypt. It actually has a lot more to do with China, or at least an Americanized version of Chinese games. Confused yet? Here is how it goes:

Once upon a time, there was a Chinese game called Pai Gow, which was very exciting and played with special tiles. This game was adapted so that it could be played as a type of poker, with each player having to make two hands out of seven cards. However, some people complained about the inconvenience of having to deal with so many cards, so the game was simplified even further. Now it is played with three cards. The end. Well, not quite, but those are the basics of Pyramid Poker’s complex heritage as an adaptation of an adaptation.

We now have a starting point to discuss the rules of Pyramid Poker, particularly for those who are unfamiliar with Pai Gow Poker. Of course, we must start with Pyramid Poker’s distinguished predecessor. In Pai Gow Poker, both the player and the dealer have to take seven cards. They then divide them into two hands: one of five cards, the other of two. The two-card hand value must be smaller than the five-card one. Players win if their hands beat those of the dealer. However, if they only win one hand (for example: the five-card hand is higher than that of the dealer, but the two-card hand is not), money is neither won nor lost. The player loses his or her bets if both of his hands are lower than those of the dealer. Conventional poker hand rankings apply, of course.

The major difference between Pyramid Poker and Pai Gow Poker is in the number of cards used. Participants get three cards, which they must then separate into a two-card hand and a standalone card. The value of the standalone card must be lower than that of the two cards. Otherwise, all mechanisms are the same, including those of the bets. Players must still place an initial bet before being dealt cards. Once they see what they have, they can choose to either fold or place another bet, in which case hands are compared.

Pyramid Poker


So, how does the fact that you only have to deal with three cards impact your playing experience?

The most obvious result is that you will not have to perform finger-acrobatics in order to arrange your cards, all while keeping them hidden from the dealer. This can be a significant concern for players who are not used to handling many cards.

The second result has to do with how you divide your cards. To understand this point, we must go into a somewhat in-depth discussion of the process of dividing cards into hands.

In Pai Gow Poker, players have to think carefully about how they divide their cards into two hands. This often leads to a dilemma. If they try to make one great hand and one bad one, they lose nothing. If they make two good-to-mediocre hands, they may win, or at least lose nothing again. However, there is the chance that the dealer may have two very good hands, in which case the player loses, and it would have been better to focus on building at least one excellent hand.

In Pyramid Poker, however, the player rarely has to think very hard about making such a decision. There are only three cards to choose from, after all, and the decision is usually made already by the rule that requires the value of the lone card to be lower than that of the other two. To some players, this may be quite a relief. To others, who prefer to have more personal influence to the outcome of their games, this can be very frustrating. In effect, the reduction of cards increases the influence of chance and decreases the influence of skill in Pyramid Poker.

Pyramid Poker Online


Therefore, strategy in Pyramid Poker is quite complicated to describe. It many ways, one can adapt Pai Gow Poker strategy to Pyramid Poker, especially when it comes to whether to raise or fold. Then again, when it comes to building your hands, the opportunities for implementing any kind of strategy at all are rather limited.

Pyramid Poker is therefore a much simpler game than Pai Gow Poker, all due to the reduction in the number of cards used. Sometimes, you will get a set of three cards in which the rules do not dictate your hand-building choices for you, but the very fact that the hands are so small means that you will have an easier time choosing.

The lower number of cards can also increase the pace of play. The dealing-out process is shorter, and due to the reasons discussed above, participants tend to finish preparing their hands much more quickly than is the case in Pai Gow Poker. Players who like to get hands over with quickly will relish this more fast-paced play. However, others, such as those who like a long “breathing space” between rounds, or those with limited playing funds, may be somewhat chagrined at the relative speed of Pyramid Poker. As with so many things in gambling, this speed is a two-edged sword. It can be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on your situation, and what you are looking for in a game.

Pyramid Poker is a great demonstration of how tweaking just one rule can have major impact on the way a game is played. It is ideal for people who like Pai Gow Poker, but wish it were faster and simpler. Like Pai Gow Poker, it can also be quite appropriate for the player on a budget, since there is plenty of opportunity for a tie. Besides being better for your wallet, Pyramid Poker can also be relatively soothing for frayed nerves. If you are a bit jumpy after too many rounds of high-stakes Texas Hold ‘Em, you might want to sit down for an hour or so of Pyramid Poker.

  List of casinos with Pyramid Poker:

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