How to Play Pai Gow Poker - Tips & Strategy

By Casinogurus

Pai Gow Poker-Best strategy for winning

October 15, 2020 | 908 Views

If you aim to win a game of Pai Gow Poker, the best thing you can try to do is to prepare yourself before you sign up to an online casino and hit the Pai Gow Poker table. Please look at our Pai Gow Poker Strategy section to learn how to play like the best.

Pai Gow Poker-How to Play

Pai gow poker is the American variant of pai gow – a Chinese dominoes game. The game quickly gained a reputation and nowadays is considered a standard.

Pai gow poker is less severe than other poker forms and becomes a real joy to play once you understand the fundamentals. You’ll discover how to play pai gow poker in no time by following our step-by-step guide:

1. Basics of Pai Gow Poker

Pai gow poker shares relations with other poker games but uses a 53-card deck: 52 cards plus the joker. The game is played with a dealer and a maximum of 6 players around the table.

The game aims to beat the “banker.” The banker can be the dealer, another player, or a team made up of a player and the dealer.

2. Make the First Move

To begin playing, you need to place a bet according to the table least. After all the bets are made, players at the table are dealt 7 cards. You need to form two poker hands with these cards: a 5-card poker hand and a 2-card poker hand.

The 2-card hand is known as small, low, on top, in front, or minor hand. The 5-card hand is often regarded as the bottom, behind, high, or big hand. 

3. Understand Your Hands

5-card hands follow the regular winning poker hand rules. The 2-card hands are simply pairs and high cards. The most significant 2-card hand is a pair of Aces, and the worst hand is a 3, 2.

The joker can double up as wild card or an ace to complete a Straight, Flush, or a Straight Flush.

4. Playing Your Cards

When building two hands from your 7 cards, make sure your 5-card hand has higher cards than the 2-card hand. For example, if you’re dealt A-A-4-6-7-10-J, put the Aces in your 5-card hand, not the 2-card hand. If your 2-card hand has the most powerful cards, it’s a foul, and you lose automatically.

5. Determining the Winner

All players’ hands are ruled against the bankers. If both the hands are better than the bankers, you’re the winner. If only one of your hands knocks the banker’s, that round is considered a draw or push, in which you neither lose nor win.

If both of the banker’s hands are greater than yours, you lose your bet. You will also fail if you draw with the banker.

6. Beating the House

The house maintains its power in pai gow poker in several methods. The house edge for a regular player varies from an average of 2.5% to 2.8%. A section of that edge comes from players losing a tie to the banker (around 1.3%). The remainder arises from the commission taken on winning hands.

A failsafe pai gow poker strategy is to take on the role of a banker. Your chances of winning will improve: the house edge falls to around 1.4% if the casino allows you to bank half of your hands, and even more if you’re able to bank more hands.

Taming the Dragon in Pai Gow Poker

Eventually, many gamblers who play this game will agree that you must be prepared to implement some tactics to tame the dragon. As you only play against the dealer and no other players, this approach is not as rich as the usual poker strategy. Nevertheless, you will benefit from playing an optimal game. It’s a tiny percentage which perhaps, in your opinion, will not make any exception.

House Way Strategy

If you want to knock the house, you should think and act as if you were the casino’s dealer. Please look at our Pai Gow Poker Strategy, which imitates how the house would play below!

1) If you have lady luck on your side and have a full house, you should split except when you have a pair of 2’s, and an ace/king is played in front.

2) If you have dealt with no pair, you should place your most powerful card in your backhand and whatever your next two highest cards in the front, whatever they may be.

3) If you end up with two three-of-a-kinds, you should play the lowest three of a kind in the five-card and split the greater three to play a pair in the front hand on the other hand in the backhand.

4) When you’re dealt three-of-a-kind, you need to keep all the three cards that are of the same place in your backhand. Still, if you happen to be holding a three-of-a-kind with three aces, you need to put two aces in the backhand and one in the front.

5) keep the highest pair of cards in the two-card hand and the two left pairs in the backhand, given that you have dealt a three-pair.

Using Jokers to Your Benefit

Most varieties of Pai Gow Poker include Jokers, which act as semi-wild cards. A joker has counted automatically as an Ace. However, if it’s used to complete a flush, pair, etc., it can stand for whichever card you need to make up the hand.

Player Can’t Be the Banker in Pai Gow Online Game.

In brick-and-mortar casinos, the hand of Pai Gow Poker seldom starts with a player taking on the responsibility of being a banker. Hence the player has some advantage over other players around the table and reduces the house edge.

Although this is seen very often at the land-based casinos, you will find that online Pai Gow Poker generally does not have this option. By default, the house is always the banker. So, in online Pai Gow, you will not get the opportunity to “run the game.” Therefore, you’ll always find the player trying to beat the dealer.

Acknowledge the Pai Gow Poker Odds

Either you’re playing at a brick and mortar casino or online, you must keep in mind that the lion’s shares of casino games run on luck. Pai Gow Poker is, of course, no objection to this statement. So, you really should notice the odds involved. Still, the house way and the strategies used by players at casinos can differ. 

Implement Pai Gow Poker Strategy and win the Prize!

Pai Gow Poker is a result of Chinese history and American ability, adopted by many brick-and-mortar casinos and online casinos worldwide. It is one of the scarce casino games which is not based on luck and can include some strategy. Ultimately, if you have the approach into your game instead of playing instinctively, you’ll be able to better your game and probably walk away with some cash in your pocket!