How To Play Pai Gow Poker

In Pai Gow poker, a player will aim to make two different poker hands from seven cards, a five card hand and a two card hand. The value of the five card hand should exceed the value held by the two card hand and there is always a need to come out on top against the banker.

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How To Play Pai Gow Poker

The game is played with a deck of 52 cards but a joker is also used. The joker can be used to play as an Ace or it can used in order to complete a flush or a straight. All players involved with the game can place their bet into a circle which is directly in front of the players. After this, the dealer will roll a dice and this will determine which of the players around the table will receive the cards first.

From here, players receive seven cards and it is up to them to make two distinct poker hands, one of five cards and the other with two cards. The five card hand will be referred to as the high card section and the two card hand will be referred to as the low card section. Players need to ensure that their five card hand is the one that scores highest. If they don’t, they lose straight away so this should always be on your mind when playing Pai Gow.

If the low hand is higher than the high hand, this is referred to as a “foul” and the player will in essence forfeit the bet that they have played at this point of the game.

Pai Gow Poker Strategy: You must think of both high and low hands

In order for a player to win, their highest hand and their second hand must be better than the highest hand and the second highest hand from the dealer. If both the dealer and the player win a hand each, it is referred to as a tie or a push. In this instance, the bet is not won and it is not lost.

One of the things that helps to make Pai Gow interesting is the fact that any player involved with the game can ask to become to the banker. When this happens, every player around the table will compare the hands that they hold with the banker and not the dealer. In this instance, the banker will be the winner in any push or tie game. The banker will collect any wager that loses and they need to pay the winner from their own supply of cash. However, even if this happens, the casino will still collect as they take a 5% commission on all winning hands. This is the same as per the rules of baccarat or for mini-baccarat.

Given that the banker holds an advantage with the fact that they win tie games, it is often sensible to rotate the position of banker around the table. This is to ensure that every player has the same chance of winning over the course of an evening or an extended passage of play. Not every player has to be the banker and it up to players to decide if they wish to drop out or not. In some cases, this will see the banker role reverting back to the house or it could pass on to the next player at the table.

When it comes to ranking the high hand, the following order is the one that is commonly used in Pai Gow poker:

  • Five Aces, which utilizes the joker card as being the fifth and final ace
  • Royal Flush, which represents a 10, J, Q, K and Ace from one suit
  • Straight Flush, which represents 5 cards of the one suit in a row and this is a slight change from the traditional rules of poker.
  • Four of a Kind
  • Full House, which is 3 cards of one rank and then a pair of cards of a separate rank
  • Flush, which is 5 cards of one suit
  • Straight, which is five cards in a sequence
  • Three of a Kind
  • Two pair
  • One pair

Given that the lower hand needs to be a of a lower value than the high hand, once the ranking starts to dip down to two pairs and one pair, it is important for players to rank and position their cards accordingly. While the chances of winning may be slim if this is the level of cards that the player is able to play, it is better to have a valid pair of hands than to automatically forfeit.

Pai Gow, while always being a niche game in many casinos has managed to flourish in the era of online casinos. When it comes to finding a game that utilizes the rules of poker but provides them in a fresh manner, Pai Gow poker is a natural choice for many players.