The hybrid table game known as Break Poker was developed by eTable Games Incorporated, a small casino game manufacturing company based in Alameda, California.
The company has also produced other table games over the years, including Arizona Stud, Shortie Blackjack, Roll ‘Em Hold’em, and Casino Mah Jong.
The trademark application protecting the Break Poker name was filed by eTable Games Inc. in 2011, and that same year a U.S. Patent claim was filed by the game’s inventor, Wayne Hong.
Break Poker – which is an offshoot of the classic Pai Gow Poker table game – made its brick and mortar casino debut in August of 2011, at the Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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Never Became Popular Enough
Despite an early rush of interest from gamblers, Break Poker never managed to develop the steady level of demand new concepts need to succeed in the competitive casino game industry. It doesn’t appear that Break Poker ever expanded beyond the initial placement at the Orleans, although it may have been tested out in various venues over the last five years.
In any event, Break Poker is very likely to be a thing of the past in today’s casino landscape. Even so, games like this can always be revived, either through a tweak to the rules, or when a curious casino manager takes a shot in the dark.
Learning the Game Anyways
With that in mind, this page was written to provide a one stop shop for Break Poker knowledge. Here you’ll find a detailed description of the game’s rules and structure, including the betting procedures, hand ranking system, and payouts. In addition, we’ve compiled a few tips on a strategy to help readers play the game to the best of their abilities.
Break Poker may be gone for now, but you never know when it may make its return to a table game pit near you.
Rules and How to Play
To begin, readers who may not be familiar with Pai Gow Poker should take a few minutes to read up on the game on our Pai Gow Poker page.
Break Poker is essentially just a variant on regular Pai Gow Poker, and although certain elements between the two are quite different, the basic structure remains the same. Thus, you should brush up on ideas like a hand setting before diving into differences offered by Break Poker.
The same deck used in Pai Gow Poker is also found in Break Poker, so you’ll be playing with a standard 52 card deck of playing cards, plus a single joker card.
This joker acts as a semi-wild card, which means it can be used only in the following ways: as an ace; or as any card which will complete three of a kind or a straight.
Break Poker Hand Rankings
Unlike the five card hands you make in Pai Gow Poker, this game requires you to set a total of five cards into separate three cards “high” and two cards “low” hands. These hands are ranked according to the hierarchies listed below:
As you can see, aces in break poker can be ranked as either low cards or high cards, so the lowest straight you can make is A 2 3, while the highest possible straight is Q K A.
Comparing Hands & Lucky Break
When comparing three card hands of the same rank (high card, pair, straight, three of a kind), the usual system of poker hand comparisons will be used to break the tie. This means one pair of aces beats one pair of kings, while a king high straight beats a queen-high straight, and so on.
If you happen to hold two strong hands among your two cards and three card hands – one pair plus three of a kind, or one pair plus a straight – this is known as a “Lucky Break.”
Any Lucky Break hand always beats a non-Lucky Break hand in Break Poker.
|Steps to Playing Break Poker|
To begin each hand, players must put up a mandatory Ante bet which is equal to or higher than the posted table minimum. At this time, you can also place one or both of the optional side bets: the Dealer Break Bonus and the Break Bonus (these side bets will be described in greater detail below).
Once all players have put up their Ante bet, and optional side bets if they so choose, the dealer will then distribute seven cards face down to each player, along with seven cards face down to themselves. You may examine your own hole cards, of course, but no sharing of information between players will be permitted.
Dealer Qualifying Round
After all, players have set their cards, the dealer will then reveal their own seven hole cards and follow the same hand setting procedures. The dealer must be able to make at least a K 3 2 or better for their three cards high hand in order to qualify.
House Way Rules
The guidelines used for the House Way can be reviewed below, and take note of them, as you can always ask the dealer to set your own hand according to the House Way:
Player Hand Strength
After the dealer applies these House Way rules to set their own three cards high hand and two cards low hand, they will then compare their own hands to yours.
Optional Side Bets
Finally, break poker’s pair of optional side bets are both rather straightforward.
The Dealer Break Bonus bet pays out whenever the dealer manages to table a Lucky Break. If they do, you’ll earn an even money payout on your wager. That payout jumps to 4 to 1 when you happen to hold a Lucky Break at the same time as the dealer.
The Break Bonus bet is paid out based on the combined strength of your final five cards, using the following rankings and payouts:
Break Poker Example Hand
For the sake of illustrating these gameplay concepts more clearly, we’ll use a running example hand throughout the rest of this section. For our hand, we’ve decided to put up the standard $5 chip on the Ante bet, and $1 each on the Dealer Break Bonus and the Break Bonus bets.
Dealt a Strong Hand
Let’s imagine we’ve been dealt the Ah Ks Qc 7d 7c 5h 2s as our seven hole cards. We’ve picked up a strong holding with Ah Ks Qc 7d 7c 5h 2s, so we’ll take the obvious route and use the Ah Ks Qc for a straight in our three cards high hand, and the 7d 7c for a pair of sevens in our two cards low hand.
We showed down a Lucky Break with our A K Q straight in the high hand, and our 7 7 pairs in the low hand. Thus, we’d automatically receive an even money payout of $5 on our Ante bet, no matter what the dealer showed down.
However, let’s say we could only manage something like A A 4 in the high hand, and K Q in the low hand (a much more likely occurrence than a Lucky Break). In this case, the dealer shows down a J J 6 in the high hand, and a 10 9 in the low hand.
No Lucky Breaks
No Lucky Breaks have been tabled, so now we compare each hand to its equivalent. Our pair of aces in the high hand beats the dealer’s pair of jacks, while our king high beats their 10 high in the low hand. Once again, we’d earn a $5 profit at even money on the Ante bet.
If the dealer showed down A 2 in the low hand, however, they’d beat our king high with ace high, and we’d only have one winning hand out of the two. In this case, the $5 Ante bet would simply be returned as a chop.
Best Places to Play Break Poker
At this point, it appears as though Break Poker has faded away into the casino gambling industry’s long line of defunct table game concepts.
The Orleans Hotel & Casino, where Break Poker initially made its debut, no longer carries the game, nor do any of the Caesars affiliated casino resorts located throughout Las Vegas and the rest of the United States.
With so many Pai Gow Poker variants out there today, Break Poker likely failed to emerge from a particularly crowded market, and without a consistent level of player demand, casino operators simply moved on to more profitable alternatives.
A search for Break Poker games found in online casinos also turns up no results to speak of, so it’s safe to say that this table game has moved past obscurity into outright extinction.
Even so, don’t be afraid to place a few phone calls to your local casino venues or favorite Sin City destinations. Asking around doesn’t cost a dime, and you may just get lucky and find a table game manager who knows where a few holdover tables can be located.
Strategic Considerations for Break Poker
|For games inspired by Pai Gow Poker, the concept of the House Way can be used by players to generalize an optimal strategic approach to setting their own hands.|
For the most part, in Break Poker you should be mimicking the House Way rules which govern the dealer’s hand setting procedures.
This means you should employ the following guidelines:
Break Poker House Edge
When using this basic strategy outline for Break Poker, the house edge offered by the game stands at a quite reasonable 2.48 percent.
As for the game’s pair of optional side bets, the Dealer Break Bonus and the Break Bonus, one offers slightly better odds than the other.
When making the Dealer Break Bonus bet, you’ll face a house edge of 5.735 percent, as opposed to the higher house edge of 7.238 percent incurred on the Break Bonus bet.
Players who love the allure of a good side bet, but still like to keep themselves on the right side of probability, will be best served by sticking to the Dealer Break Bonus bet only and avoid the rest. The house edge is manageable and won’t break your bankroll as fast as other games.