Pai Gow Poker Guide

pai gow pokerPai Gow Poker is an exciting casino game where you form the best hand with 2 hands from 7 cards. The aim of the game is to beat the dealer with a betting strategy. The online casino game has its roots in an ancient Chinese domino game.

If you haven’t played Pai Gow Poker yet then this guide is for you. Not only do we tell you which online casinos are the best to play the game at. We tell you more about the game’s terminology, and how to win more money when you play it.

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The Definition of Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow Poker is a casino game that players play with a 52-card deck and a single joker.

The Chinese game is all about beating the dealer and other players with your two hands. The game also combines elements of baccarat and dominoes.

How Pai Gow Poker Evolved

Despite a few attempts to modify Pai Gow Poker in the 1980s, it never caught on. However, the crowning moment came when they reduced the game to 7 cards. This enabled more players to play the game with plenty of ties and pushes. So, if you’re looking for a game that’s slower than most table games, you’ll love this online casino game.

Rules of the Pai Gow Casino Game

pai gow poker cardsThe dealer and the player each receive 7 cards of which they must build two poker hands. One hand contains two cards while the other hand will have 5 cards. You must try and beat the dealer’s cards with your hands.

What happens if one of your hands beat the dealer’s and the other one loses? It’s a push. Moreover, if the dealer’s hand is better than your two hands you’ll lose. As you can see, the Pai Gow is an easy game to learn.

The Joker Card

The joker card in Pai Gow Poker has its own rules. You can use the joker as an ace to complete a straight flush or a royal flush.

Hand Ranks

In Pai Gow Poker the 5-card hand ranking hand is the same as that in normal poker. The “broadway” 10, J, Q, K, A is the best hand. The other top hand just below it is the “wheel straight” of A, 2, 3, 4, 5.

If we turn our gaze towards the hand with the two cards. Either it can be a high card or a pair. The rules state that your two-card hand can never be stronger than your five-card hand.

High Card: The high card remains in the big hand. The card just below it goes into the small hand.
Pair:  Keep the pair in the big hand. The next two highest cards slot them into the small hand.
Two Pairs:  Unless the two pairs are below a certain rank, keep them in the big hand.
Three Pairs:  Put the highest pair in the small hand and the other cards in the big hand.
Three of a Kind: Keep them in the big hand but only if they are above a certain rank.
Full House:  Split the three of a kind into the big hand and the pair into the small hand.
2x Three of a Kind:  Put the highest pair into the small hand.

The Dealer’s Hands and “House Way Rules”

The dealer must follow the “house way” rules at all times. The good news is that you don’t have to when you build your hands. Just like the rules of blackjack that dictate when a dealer must hit or stand, the house is similar. Both the dealer and the player must divide their single pair. Yet, when a pair or a straight comes along they’ll have to split their cards in another way.

Pai Gow Poker Table

Below the chip stack, you’ll see the dealer’s hand, the betting area, and the slots where you place your cards. The slots are the Low Hand, “Small”,”2nd Highest” or Top Hand. Below the Top Hand is the High Hand, or “Large” or “Back Hand”.

pai gow poker table

Image Credit: How To Play Pai Gow Poker

How to Play Pai Gow Poker

Now that you know the rules the next step is to play Pai Gow Poker for real money online.

Start Betting

Place your bets before you can play. Above your cards, you’ll see a small circle where you must place your bets or chips in.

Deal the Cards

Once the dealer completes the ante bets. The next step is to deal each player 7 cards face up and 7 cards face down.

Build Your Hands

Make sure your highest cards go into the five-card or big hand. If you’re not sure how to build the right hand, refer to the hand ranking table above.

The Dealer's Hands

Remember the house way rules? It’s important that you do because it decides how it splits the dealer’s cards.

How to Win

You’ll win the hand if both your high and low hand beats the dealer’s hands. If one of your hands beats the dealer’s hand it’s a push. Note, if both your hands are weaker than the dealer’s hands, you’ll lose.

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Strategy Pai Gow Poker

How to Split Your Pairs

live delar card icon

Don’t put the best cards into your large hand because you’ll push a lot of pots. Instead, it’s better to slot the lower cards into the two-card hand. If you want to beat the dealer consistently, form the best combination with your two hands.

What to Do with Two Pairs?

As a rule of thumb, always put a pair, straight, or flush into your big hand. More often than not it’s a catch-22 when you receive two pairs. Should you keep them together or should you split them? Resort World Casino tells you what to do.

Pai Gow Poker Strategy

To understand the finer nuances of Pai Gow Poker play the game with free credits. The free play practice option allows you to hone your skills and string together a betting strategy. Keep tabs on the way you play and learn from your free play mistakes.

Example of Pai Gow Hands

There are several ways to play the seven cards the dealer deals you. Not all of them are good though. This section explains to you the best way to divide your cards. If you receive Q, Q, 5, 5, 7, 4, and 2, you can play them as follow.

Example 1: Strong Back Hand

Hang onto the Queens and fives in the big hand. The seven is your strongest front hand. The goal here is to beat the dealer’s hands. The thing is you could beat the dealer on the stronger behind hand, but lose the small hand. That will then result in a push, not so?

Example 2: Balanced Hands

You could split up the Queens and fives. Therefore, your strong hand would have Q, Q, 7, 4, 2, and your two-card a 5, 5 pair. Initially, it might seem that you have a weaker back hand. Your chance of winning the pot is so much better. Hope that makes sense.

Pai Gow Poker Games

You’ll find Pai Gow Poker in the game lobby of an online casino once you register an account. You can play for small or for big bets, and there are a variety of Pai Gow Poker games.


Play Pai Gow Now

When you play Pai Gow Poker for real money online use this expert guide. Simply pick any of our recommended online casinos, deposit some cash and start playing!

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the author

Otto Bergstrom

the author

Otto Bergstrom, a casino and gambling veteran with 20 years of experience, writes for USAcasinos247. He is a Technical gambler and very few have his expert capability when it comes to Online Casinos and game play stratergies