Pai Gow poker takes its name from the ancient Chinese game of Pai Gow. Pai Gow, which is Chinese for "make nine," is a game of dominoes, whereas Pai Gow poker is a game of cards. In both games, players create a front hand and a back hand, trying to beat the dealer's two hands.
However, Pai Gow hands are won by making high point totals (hence "make nine" with nine being a high point total), while the winner of a Pai Gow poker hand makes a better hand than the dealer.
Evolution of Pai Gow to Pai Gow Poker
In the late 1980s, casino manager Fred Wolf and Sam Torosian realized the potential of turning this old dominoes favorite into a card game. Noting the proliferation of Asians at California card clubs and their fondness for domino games, he realized he could get the best of both worlds by combining Pai Gow and poker. Pai Gow poker caught on almost immediately. The experiment was a success.
Pai Gow Poker Today
Today appears not only in California card rooms, but also in casinos throughout the world and online. The popularity of the game may stem from its ability to give traditional poker an Asian game feel. Another appealing thing about Pai Gow poker is that it creates a table game played against the House, rather than other players (or at least, that is played only against the player that chooses the role of banker).