Pan Poker

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Pan poker is a phenomenon in Asia but much less popular in the U.S. While Easterners have been playing pan (short for panguingue) poker for ages, the game has just begun to filter into American casinos. Some of the resistance, it seems, stems from the game's complex set of rules, which, as with many casino games, don't seem quite so bad once you've played a few times.

The main object of pan poker is to create "melds" of cards. The winner is the player who manages to make melds of an entire 11-card hand. Each player is dealt 10 cards but must draw a new card on each turn, then discard either the drawn card or one of the existing cards. Drawing takes place from the remaining deck or the discard pile--the choice is left to each player on each turn.

The Rules of Pan Poker

The deck is composed of eight different full decks with a few key omissions. The eights, nines, and 10s are removed from each deck, and one deck is entirely stripped of its spades. What results should be a 310-card pile from which players take turns drawing in order to create melds.

There are two types of melds--ropes and squares. Ropes are akin to straights (or, more precisely, straight flushes) in poker; they consist of successive cards in the same suit and must have a minimum of three cards to make a meld. Squares are made up of cards in the same rank but either in different suits or matching suits. The exceptions to this are kings and aces, both of which can come in any suit to form a meld. For more information on this increasingly popular online casino game, please read on. Pan poker is complex enough to warrant several pages of explanation but rewards the effort expended in learning the game.

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