Pai Gow Poker

  • Pai Gow Poker screenshot 1
  • Pai Gow Poker screenshot 2
  • Pai Gow Poker screenshot 3

Play Pai Gow Poker

The Chinese domino game, Pai Gow, was the inspiration for this casino game. In Pai Gow Poker, from a 53-card deck, which includes the Joker, players get 7 cards each. Two hands are formed from the seven cards that are dealt, consisting of a hand of five and two cards. The aim of the game is to get the best poker hand, beating the house.

You win if your hands are higher than the dealer's. In the situation that you win a hand and lose the other, you can push and that makes nobody a winner. The dealer gets to win the tie for a hand if you get a copy (tie) on both hands.

All standard Poker hands apply. The house pays the winner - minus a 5% commission.

How to play Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow is an Asian traditional casino game that is played with Domino-like tiles. The fusion version of Pai Gow and Poker is a widely appreciated game in America where it is played with standard playing cards from a 52 card deck. The ranking and hands are fashioned after Poker and it's a simple card game that requires quick thinking and skill.

Pai Gow Poker is played with a standard 52-card deck and one joker, a total of 53 cards. The joker is a wild card that can be used to form paying hands – straight, flush or straight flush. The player plays against the dealer in this game. The casino collects a five percent commission on all winning bets. To start off, the player makes a minimum bet of 2 and a maximum bet of 250. The cards are shuffled and seven cards each are dealt to the dealer and the player. The computer automatically sets the cards according to the best possible hand. The player has to take a look at the cards and then split them into two hands – a five card hand (Back Hand) and a two card hand (Front Hand). The dealer does the same to his cards.

Once the player splits their cards, the dealer's cards are shown and who ever has the best five card hand and the best two card hand, wins. If the player gets the better five card hand but the dealer gets the better two card hand, the game results in a push. In short, if both hands – the player's or the dealer's, are better than the other's then only there's a win. If the player's hand has the exact same value as the Banker's hand it is a tie, or a copy and the Banker wins. Before you split your cards, remember that the five card hand must be of a higher value than the two card hand.

Take a look at a typical example of what cards you get and how you should split them:

Let's say you have the following cards: 7, 5, A, 7, 7, 3, Q.

The dealer will straightaway arrange it as 7, 7, 7, A, Q, 5, 3, putting the best cards forward. Once that combination is reached, you have to split the hand into a five card hand and a two card hand.

Split them into 7, 7, 7, 5, 3 and A, Q. Here in your five card hand, you have a three of a kind hand. The two card hand is also b because you have two high value cards. The value of the five card hand is more than the two card hand.

Pai Gow Poker Strategy

The only optimal strategy to expand your odds of winning in the game of Pai Gow Poker can be employed while splitting a seven card hand into five card and two card hands. You can use this splitting strategy to the best of your ability by following the basic Pai gow poker rules mentioned below:

  1. No Pair: In case you don't have any pair, just split the hand by placing the highest card in the five card hand and the second and third best cards in the two card hand. e.g. the hand K-Q-J-9-7-4-3 can be played as K-9-7-4-3 and Q-J.
  2. One Pair: If you get a pair, make sure you play the pair in the five card hand and the next two highest cards in the two card hand. e.g. the hand A-Q-Q-9-6-5-3 can be split into Q-Q-6-5-3 and A-9.
  3. Two Pair: The strategy to split the hand having two pairs depends upon the value of the pairs that have been dealt to you. So, before you use this two pair trick, assign "levels" to the different card values in the following pattern: 2s through 6s- Low Pair; 7s through 10s - Medium Pair; Jacks through Aces - High Pair. Then proceed as below:
    • Two Low Pairs: In this hand always play the pair with highest value in the five card hand and the one with the lower value in the two card hand. e.g. the hand 4-4-6-6-4-9-7 can be played as 6-6-4-9-7 and 4-4.
    • Two Low Pairs With Unpaired A or K: If however, you draw an unpaired Ace or King along with the two low pairs, play the two low pairs in the five-card hand and the unpaired A or K along with the next best unpaired card in the two card hand. E.g. 4-4-6-6-9-A-Q can be played as 4-4-6-6-9 and A-Q.
    • A Low Pair and a Medium Pair: Play the medium one in the five card hand and the low pair in the two card hand. e.g. 4-4-8-8-2-10-7 can be played as 8-8-2-10-7 and 4- 4.
    • A Low Pair and a Medium Pair with Unpaired A or K: Play the two pairs in the five card hand and the unpaired Ace or King along with the second best unpaired card in the two card hand. e.g. 4-4-8-8-2-K-Q can be played as 4-4-8-8-2 and K-Q.
    • A Low Pair and a High Pair: Play the high pair in the five card hand and the lower one in the two card hand. e.g. 4-4-K-K-10-6-2 can be played as K-K-10-6-2 and 4-4.
    • A Low Pair and High Pair With an Unpaired Ace: In this case play the two pairs in the five card hand and the unpaired Ace along with the next highest unpaired card in the two card hand. e.g. 4-4-K-K-10-A-2 can be played as 4-4-K-K-2 and A-10.
    • Two Medium Pairs: Play the medium pair with the higher value in the five-card hand and the one with the lower value in the two card hand. e.g. 8-8-10-10-4-6-2 can be played as 10-10-4-6-2 and 8-8.
    • Two Medium Pairs With an Unpaired Ace: Play the two medium pairs in the five card hand and an unpaired Ace along with the next highest unpaired card in the two card hand. e.g. 8-8-9-9-2-Q-A can be played as 8-8-9-9-2 and Q-A.
    • A Medium Pair and a High Pair: Play the high pair in the five card hand and the medium pair in the two card hand. e.g. 9-9-J-J-2-6-K and be played as J-J-2-6-K and 9-9.
    • Two High Pairs: Always play the high pair with the highest value in the five card hand and the one with lower value in the two card hand. e.g. Q-Q-A-A-10-7-4 can be played as A-A-10-7-4 and Q-Q.
  4. Three Pairs: If you get three pairs, it's always better to place the highest pair in the two card hand and the lower one in the five card hand. e.g. the hand K-K-7-7-4-4-A can be played as 7-7-4-4-A and K-K.
  5. Three-of-a-Kind: Play the three-of-a-kind in the five-card hand. e.g. a hand with 8-8-8-6-J-5-10 can be split into 8-8-8-5-10 and 6-J. There are few exceptions in the three of a kind poker hand where you would need to alter this rule for better results:
    • Three Aces: In case the three-of-a-kind are aces, play the pair of aces in the five card hand and the third Ace along with the next highest card in the two card hand. e.g. the hand like A-A-A-2-J-8-4 can be played as A-A-2-8-4 and A-J.
    • Three Kings with a Queen or Higher: You can also split three kings if your remaining card is a Queen or higher. e.g. the hand K-K-K-J-9-7-6 can be split into K-K-9-7-6 and K-J.
  6. Two Three-of-a-Kind: In the case where you are dealt with two three of a kinds, you must pull out a pair from the high three of a kind and play it in the two card hand. Play the three of a kind with the lower value in the five card hand. e.g. the hand like, Q-Q-Q-7-7-7-A can be split into 7-7-7-A-Q and Q-Q.
  7. Straights, Flushes and Straight Flushes: The trick for these three types of Poker hands is simple to apply with few basic points that you must keep in mind.
    • No Pair: Like if you have no pair in the hand, make sure you play the straight, flush or the straight flush in the five card hand. Play the other best cards in the two card hand. e.g. the hand like, 10-9-8-7-6-J-K can be played as 10-9-8-7-6 and J-K.
    • One Pair: If you are dealt with a pair along with the straight, flush and straight flush in the five card hand play the pair in the two card hand. e.g. the hand, 10-9-8-7-6-K-K can be played as 10-9-8-7-6 and K-K.
    • Three of a Kind: If you are dealt with a three of a kind along with the straight, flush and the straight flush in the five card hand, pull out the pair from the three of a kind and play it in the two card hand. e.g. the hand, 10-9-8-7-6-6-6 can be played as 10-9-8-7-6 and 6-6.
  8. Flush with Two Pairs: If you are dealt with a Flush having two pairs play the hands as two pairs and discard the Flush as the objective of the game is to have the best possible two card hand as well. A Flush with 6-10 of spades with a 6 of clover and 8 of diamond can be split as 6-7-8-9-10 of spades and 6 clover and 8 diamond two card hand. But the better way would be 8-8-7-9-10 and 6-6.
  9. Full House: If you get a full house, it is better to play the three-of-a-kind in the five card hand and the pair in the two card hand. e.g. J-J-J-10-10-7-8 can be played as J-J-J-7-8 and 10-10. But if the pair has a very small value and the rest of the cards are very high, it would be safe to play the full house in the five card hand and the rest of the high cards in the two card hand. e.g. the hand, 5-5-5-3-3-A-Q can be played as 5-5-5-3-3 and A-Q.
  10. Full House with a Three-of-a-Kind and Two Pairs: In this case make sure you play the highest out of the two pairs in the two-card hand. e.g. The hand, Q-Q-Q-2-2-9-9 can be played as Q-Q-Q-2-2 and 9-9.
  11. Full House with Two Three-of-a-Kind: In this kind of hand it is always sensible to pull out the pair from the highest three-of-a-kind and play it in the two card hand. e.g. the hand, Q-Q-Q-9-9-9-2 can be played as Q-9-9-9-2 and Q-Q.
  12. Four-of-a-Kind: In this case, you need to play the hand wisely by employing the strategy based on the card value of a four-of-a-kind hand.
    • Low Four-of-a-Kind: In the hand with four cards having values ranging from 2s to 6s, you must play the four of a kind in the five card hand. e.g. the hand, 4-4-4-4-7-9-2 can be played as 4-4-4-4-7 and 9-2.
    • Medium Four-of-a-Kind: In the hand with four cards having values ranging from 7s to10s you must split the four-of-a-kind by playing a pair in the two card hand. e.g. the hand, 8-8-8-8-4-7-10 can be played as 8-8-4-7-10 and 8-8. But in case the side cards are Kings or Aces, you must play the four-of-a-kind in the five card hand and the King or an Ace in the two card hand with the next highest card. e.g. the hand, 8-8-8-8-K-10-4 can be played as 8-8-8-8-4 and K-10.
    • High Four of a Kind: In the hand with four cards having values ranging from Js to Ks, you must split the four of a kind by playing a pair in the two card hand. e.g. the hand, Q-Q-Q-Q-4-9-2 can be played as Q-Q-4-9-2 and Q-Q. But if one side card is an Ace, you must play the four of a kind in the five card hand and the Ace along with the next highest card in the two card hand. E.g. the hand, Q-Q-Q-Q-A-9-2 can be played as Q-Q-Q-Q-2 and A-9.
    • Four Aces: Always split the four of a kind with the four Aces without a Joker. e.g. the hand A-A-A-A-10-J-7 can be played as A-A-10-J-7 and A-A. Never split the four Aces with a Joker.
  13. Four of a Kind with a Pair: In this case you must play the four-of- -kind in the five card hand and the pair in the two card hand. e.g. the hand, Q-Q-Q-Q-10-10-4 can be played as Q-Q-Q-Q-4 and 10-10.
  14. Four of a Kind and a Three of a Kind: In this hand you must always pull out the pair from the three of a kind and play it in the two card hand. e.g.the hand, Q-Q-Q-Q-10-10-10 can be played as Q-Q-Q-Q-10 and 10-10.
  15. Four Aces: If you are dealt four Aes with a Joker, you obviously hold it –it is the top-ranking hand in Pai Gow Poker, and is five-of-a-kind; A-A-A-A-J-8-10 should be played as A-A-A-A-J and 8-10.

Tips

Whatever hands you get in this game are purely based on chance. Once the card is dealt, your skill comes in to play. Try to optimize the odds for beating the dealer. The following is a brief description of what to do with the most common hands. The trick is in splitting your cards. We have for you a short guide on what hands you are dealt with and how to optimize those hands.

Your Hand Back Hand (5 Cards) Front Hand (2 Cards)
No Pair Highest Card Second highest and third highest.
One Pair Pair Next two highest cards
Two Pair One Pair Other Pair
Three Pair Second and third highest pair Highest pair
Three of a kind Three of a kind Two highest cards
5,6 or 7 card straight Lowest cards to complete the straight Two highest cards that keep the five card hand's straight

In Pai Gow Poker, since both the 5 card hand and the 2 card hand have to be better than the Dealer's, it is important for you to split the two hands in a way that both hands have a strong chance of winning against the dealer.

History of Pai Gow Poker

The Americanized version of Pai Gow, a Chinese domino game, was popularized by Fred Wolf. He was a games inventor, in addition to being the casino manager of one of the best American casinos in the early 1980s.

Fred Wolf decided to introduce his new Super Pan-9 game in the Bell Club, in the city of Bell, California. He realized the need to innovate new gaming structures so that his business could overcome the competition posed by the flashy and glamorous casinos of Los Angeles. Pai Gow Poker became a popular casino table game almost immediately and quickly spread to the entire Californian gaming market. From California, it spread around the whole world.

Glossary

Bankroll: total amount of money the player can gamble with.

Back Hand: the five card hand in Pai Gow Poker.

Bet: Wager.

Betting Limits: is the minimum or maximum amounts you can wager on one bet.

Bug: The Joker.

Copy: In Pai Gow Poker this is when the player and the Dealer have the same hand. Dealer wins all copies.

Flush: is a hand where all cards are of the same suit.

Four of a Kind: four cards of the same denomination or of the same rank, also known as quads.

Front Hand: two card hand in Pai Gow Poker.

Full House: is a hand consisting of a three of a kind and a pair.

Hand: is the cards that you hold, also a player's best five cards. A hand is also everything that happens between shuffles : cards are dealt, betting is done, a winner is declared, and the pot is pushed.

High Roller: is a big bettor or a person who likes to play for large stakes, or in the biggest casino games online.

Joker: the 53rd card in a deck of cards sometimes used as a wild card.

Odds: ratio of probabilities of either winning a hand or losing the hand.

Push: in stud pass an offered card to the left or to bet too often or too much also to Split a pot and a split pot.

Rank: this is usually the value of the card as opposed to the actual suit of the card.

Royal Flush: is the ace high straight flush, this is the best poker hand to have.

Run: is a straight or a series of good hands.

Set: in Pai Gow this is where the players set their hands in two separate hands of five cards and two cards each, in Hold'em and stud is a three of a kind, or a set of four of a kind.

Straight: is a hand that consists of 5 cards in sequence but not in the suit.

Straight Flush: is a hand that consists of 5 cards in sequence of the same suit.

Suit: this is the 4 types of cards such as Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts and Spades.

Three of a Kind: this is where a player holds three cards of the same suit.

Two Pair: this is when a player has a hand consisting of two sets of pairs and a single card.

Wild Card: this is a joker or standard card that can be used to represent any card desired