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Three Hundred Miles to Bust: Handshake Takes On Pai Gow

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Image via gail m tang on Flickr

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Here’s something to file under “do as I say, not as I do”: Don’t drive 300 miles to play Pai Gow at a Connecticut casino without first understanding at least the basics of the game.

Otherwise, you’ll be standing at a table surrounded by middle-aged Chinese men and cigarette smoke, trying to figure out the difference between the red dots and the white dots on the domino-like tiles used to play the game. If you don’t ask, it will probably take a long time to realize there is no difference between the colors.

Another bit of Pai Gow advice: the guys who play regularly (and the players at Foxwoods are, to a person, male) are superstitious. Some have little rituals they do between each hand. Some of these rituals interfere with the flow of the game, but the dealer and other players are expected to accept them.

But if, say, a Handshake staffer shows up at the table without having even so much as read the Wikipedia entry about Pai Gow and tries to ask what the dots mean, he should expect to get yelled at by the same old Chinese guy who stops a game so that, in between hands, he can go run in little circles.

For more of this misadventure, check out the September issue of Handshake magazine.

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2 Responses to “Three Hundred Miles to Bust: Handshake Takes On Pai Gow”

  1. avatar Nick McCrea says:

    Sounds like quite an adventure…doesn’t sound like you won us much money? Can’t wait to see the article!

  2. avatar Matthew Millham says:

    In the end our correspondent busted. But he held in there for quite a while. It should be noted that Pai Gow dealers go to school for months to learn the game, and the players, well, most of these guys learned to play in the womb. I swear, instructions must be scrawled on the walls of all Chinese uteri the same way baseball stats are scored into the wombs of Red Sox and Yankee mothers.