Pai Gow Poker sounds exotic. In truth, it strikes the perfect balance between traditional Chinese skill game and strategic challenge.
In the past two decades this relatively new game has made a name for itself in casinos throughout the world. Though most Asian gamblers are familiar with its casino card game rules, most European, Australian, and American players continue to think of it as a less traditional card game. Fans of both card and casino games will find something old and something new in Pai Gow Poker online.
With such universal appeal, it’s no wonder that so many internet casinos have chosen to feature this popular gamble in their stable of casino games. If you’d like to experience it for yourself, take a look at our internet Pai Gow Poker game instructions to get the most from every hand you play.
Pai Gow Poker Rules
Participating in an internet Pai Gow Poker game is, without question, a unique experience, and its casino card game rules are deceptively easy to learn. We make them even easier by explaining them in layman’s terms. New Pai Gow Poker players will have no trouble getting into the game after reading our Pai Gow Poker casino card game rules page.
How to Play Pai Gow Poker for Money
Pai Gow Poker is a casino card game with a twist, and one of several unique poker game variations. The below Casino Bonus guide to Pai Gow Poker rules will help you learn the fundamentals of this unique casino card game and most undeservingly neglected of poker game variations. If you want to learn to play poker, but are looking for something a little off the beaten path, Pai Gow Poker may be for you.
It’s easier than you think
A common refrain among casino game fans is that Pai Gow Poker rules are too difficult to learn. However, once players wrap their minds around the general principles, Pai Gow Poker rules are actually quite simple.
The first step towards learning Pai Gow Poker rules is to understand the deck. This unique game commences with a standard fifty two card deck plus one of the jokers. It is one of only a few poker game variations that includes the joker in the deck, so understanding this step is crucial if you want to play properly.
According to Pai Gow Poker rules, the additional joker often acts as an Ace. However, this rule is very loose and changes depending upon the cards you hold.
If you happen to be dealt either a flush or a straight, you have the option of using the joker as a wild card. These wild cards allow for a greater number of opportunities to win the pot, and are one of several advantages that a casino card game like Pai Gow Poker has over its Stud, Omaha and Holdem counterparts.
Unlike most other poker game variations, this game is played with seven, instead of five card hands. Following the initial seven card deal, players must immediately split their seven cards into two different hands. One hand will consist of five cards; the other of two cards.
The five-card hand must rank higher than the two-card hand. If it doesn’t, the player will automatically lose. Because of this splitting of the hands, players must learn to instantly recognize valid ranking hands.
By including wild cards, Pai Gow Poker rules allow players to create hand combinations that are not seen in traditional poker hand rankings. Pai Gow Poker hands are also unique because there are two of them per player per round – one hand consists of five cards; the other of two.
Despite both of these twists on traditional poker, it is necessary that players memorize standard poker hand rankings because they determine who holds the winning hand.
Five Card Pai Gow Poker Hands
Below is a chart displaying winning Pai Gow Poker hands, in descending order, for the five card combination.
|5 Card Hand Rankings
|Highest ranking hand. 4 Aces + Joker (that is valued as an Ace).
|A, K, Q, J & 10 all of same suit.
|5 cards all of same suit.
|Four of a kind
|4 cards of the same rank (e.g. 4 Queens).
|Three of a kind plus a Pair.
|5 cards of the same suit.
|5 cards in a sequence regardless of suit (example: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).
|Three of a kind
|3 cards of the same rank (e.g. 3 Queens).
|2 cards of the same rank + 2 cards of the same rank (e.g. 2 Q, 2 J).
|2 cards of equal rank (e.g. 2 Queens).
The Jokers Wild rule means two players within a game will rarely end up with exactly the same hand; it also means that standard suit rankings take precedence.
Two Card Pai Gow Poker Hands
- The highest two-card hand is a Pair of Aces.
- From here, all two-card hands are ranked in descending order from a Pair of Kings to a Pair of Twos. Singletons then follow, also in descending order.
It is crucial that players remember their five-card hand must rank higher than their two-card hand. When they don’t, they are ousted by foul and automatically lose.
Pai Gow Poker Rules: You vs. the Dealer
The dealer also divides his initial seven cards into two hands. Both the player’s five- and two-card hands are then compared to both of the dealer’s hands in order to determine the game winner.
Several possible outcomes may occur:
- Both of your hands beat both of the dealer’s hands –
This occurs when your five- and your two-card hands rank higher than the dealer’s. This outcome is very rare.
- Both of your hands beat both of the dealer’s hands –
- One of your hands is better than the corresponding dealer hand and the other is not –
This is the most common result and is known as a “push.” When this occurs, neither player nor dealer collects winnings for the round. Because of this, Pai Gow Poker is traditionally a much slower game than other poker game variations.
- One of your hands is better than the corresponding dealer hand and the other is not –
- Both dealer hands are better than yours –
Player loses his bet.
If you are able to master Pai Gow Poker rules and Pai Gow Poker hand rankings, you should be able to win Pai Gow Poker games without spending a great deal of money. Good luck!
Pai Gow Poker Strategy
Because the game is so straightforward, its strategy is simple but strict. If you want to win, then you’d better be consistent in how you play. Our strategy guide gives Pai Gow Poker players step-by-step advice on how to play Pai Gow Poker online in every situation. After reading this section, you’ll know exactly which hands are worth putting your money behind.
How to Win at Pai Gow Poker
Pai Gow Poker strategy is simultaneously similar to and completely apart from the poker tactics employed when playing Holdem, Omaha and Stud games. Despite the fact that it is considered one of the simplest of card games, one of this very different poker games little known gambling secrets is that it actually does require a fair amount of logic and a heavy dose of quick thinking.
It is precisely this thinking – that Pai Gow Poker strategy doesn’t exist because the game is simple – that gets players into trouble. With no raises or rivers and only a single betting round at the start of the game, most beginning players mistakenly believe there is no Pai Gow Poker strategy to be had. As their bankrolls will soon attest, they are wrong.
Lucky for you, Casinobonus.org has put together a straight-forward guide to Pai Gow Poker strategy that includes tips on everything from how to build the best high and low hands to how to build your bankroll. Read on for insight to the most often ignored of gambling secrets – Pai Gow Poker strategy.
Know what you need and forget the rest
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Pai Gow Poker strategy is not the same strategy you’ll use when playing Holdem or Omaha or Five Card Stud.
The casino poker prowess involved in games with hole and up cards, multiple betting rounds, and the need to outwit not one dealer but several opponents does not apply here. Don’t waste time over-thinking things that don’t help your game. Know what you need to know; forget the rest.
Pai Gow Poker strategy is comprised of a single, important decision. The point: make it a good one.
Know poker hands like the back or your hand
The only and the most important player decision you get to make in this game is how to split your hands. This will be covered in Pai Gow Poker Strategy point #3, but before all that, let’s go over the hand rankings that apply to nearly all of the different poker games.
Below is a simple chart. Learn it. Love it. Live it.
|5 Card Hand Rankings (in descending order)
|4 Aces + Joker (valued as an Ace).
|A, K, Q, J & 10 – all must be in the same suit.
|5 cards – all must be in the same suit.
|4 of a kind
|4 cards of same rank (example: 4 Jacks).
|3 of a kind plus a Pair.
|5 cards of same suit.
|5 cards in a sequence regardless of suit (example: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).
|3 of a kind
|3 cards of same rank (example: 3 Jacks).
|2 cards of same rank + 2 cards of ame rank (example: 2 Q, 2 J).
|2 cards of equal rank (example: 2 Jacks).
Cut your cards wisely
You are required to split your cards into one hand of five cards and a second hand of two cards. Here again we say, the most important Pai Gow Poker strategy involves deciding which of the seven cards you are dealt you put in which of your two hands. Thus, etching the above five-card hand rankings into your mind is crucial.
Look out for the little guys
There are three possible game outcomes:
- Both player hands beat the banker’s corresponding hands – player wins his bet at even money.
- One player hand beats the banker – result is a push.
- Both player hands lose to the banker – player loses his bet.
These game outcomes reveal another of Pai Gow Poker’s gambling secrets: the two-card hand plays an important role. Some other casino card games and several different poker games focus solely on building a strong five-card hand. Here, we see something else.
Don’t look at your two card hand as your “reject” cards. Instead, try to keep something of value there. Think of it as insurance against a total bet loss. If you lose the five card hand to the dealer (above game outcome #1), you at least have a chance at a push (above game outcome #2).
Here is a quick breakdown of two card hand values:
- Highest hand = Pair of Aces
- Second highest to lowest two-card hands rank in descending order from 2 Kings to a Pair of Twos.
- Singletons follow after lowest ranked pairs in numeric descending order = lowest possible two card hand is 3 -2.
Raise the Stakes
Because of its unusual parameters, this game does not see big bets won and lost in minutes. Employing winning casino poker tactics often means maintaining a slow and steady pace. It also means that you can afford to play higher stakes, as less is lost than in other casino poker games.
Practice Pai Gow Poker Free
This game isn’t just for high rollers. The internet made it available to players of every country; free Pai Gow Poker online has made it available to players of every budget. You don’t have to be rich to play Pai Gow Poker online. In fact, playing requires no money at all. If you play your cards right, Casino Bonus can even show you how to win real cash while playing free online Pai Gow Poker.
Pai Gow Poker Odds
This game’s odds are both similar to and different from other card games. The addition of a joker changes what are universally accepted poker hand probabilities. The objective of building two hands from seven cards changes the way players must look at those odds. Get the lowdown on the new numbers in our Pai Gow Poker online odds page.
Pai Gow Poker Probabilities & Payouts
When playing casino games, all outcomes should be looked at according to their probabilities. The degree to which a player can positively or negatively affect these probabilities depends on the game. In most card games, for example, wins, losses and game and pot odds are greatly affected by player decisions and the poker math players employ after making each of these decisions. The same cannot be said of Pai Gow Poker odds.
Pai Gow Poker odds are unique because they are pretty much fixed. There are really only two factors that can improve your Pai Gow Poker odds: the first is increasing the ratio between how much you bet when you are the banker vs. how much you bet when you are the player; the second is how you decide to split your hands.
Lucky for you, you don’t have to deal with many of the complicated poker math calculations that govern other types of poker. Complicated strategies like accepting additional cards and using a pot odds calculator have no bearing here.
But, while Pai Gow Poker odds may appear to be so simple as to be disregarded, there are still some basic Pai Gow Poker odds that every player should be aware of before sitting down to a game. Casinobonus.org covers these below.
Pai Gow Poker Odds: The House Edge
Let’s start with the absolute fundamentals. Any player participating in any type of casino game should be concerned with the house edge. Here, the house edge averages 2.85%. This means that those who play Poker Pai Gow forfeit an average $0.028 for every dollar bet.
A 2.85% house edge does seem like a lot at first glance, but because this percentage is calculated based on perfect player decisions – and how often does that actually happen? – it is often much higher.
Naturally, fluctuations in house advantage will occur based on how well or how poorly a player divides his hands.
Even more important, however, is how much of the game action a player banks. The idea is that one should never pass up an opportunity to be banker, provided, of course, he has enough bankroll to meet the minimum bet requirements for each player. The banker position carries a much lower house edge than the standard player position.
Below are two charts. The first displays statistical probability for each of the game’s three possible outcomes. The second displays the average house edge according to a simple player versus dealer match.
Pai Gow Poker Probabilities – Game Outcome
|Player Wins Both Hands
|Banker Wins Both Hands
House Edge in One on One Pai Gow Poker
As you can see, the Pai Gow Poker odds that the banker wins both hands is lower than a push, the most common outcome, but beats the average player wins both hands outcome by 1.3%. Combine this with the much lower banker house edge and you can see how your potential earnings can substantially increase when you place higher bets while sitting in the banker position.
A Fixed Game
Those who play Poker Pai Gow agree that one of the most assuring aspects of the game is that it is standardized. Dealers face the same set of rules you face. You must split your cards; the dealer must split his cards. There is absolutely no way to manipulate Pai Gow Poker math in order to favor the house beyond its existing house edge.
Below is a third chart. It lists possible 5-card hands, their potential number of outcomes and the statistical probability for making these hands. This information is crucial for splitting your 5-card hand to your best advantage. Knowing the Pai Gow Poker odds for making a hand also means knowing the Pai Gow Poker odds against it.
Again, there is no need for complicated anaysis or a pot odds calculator. Simply commit this chart to memory and you’ll have a profound advantage over many competitors.
Pai Gow Poker Probabilities – Hand Combinations
|# of Possible Combinations
|Straight / Royal Flush
|4 of a Kind
|3 of a Kind
Pai Gow Poker Tips
Not satisfied with strategy alone? Still confused by the game? We’ve got some online pre- and in-game tips that will make playing and winning a whole lot easier. Simplify your big and little hand strategies so that you can play Pai Gow Poker online and win!
Pai Gow Poker tips provide the details that can take your game from ordinary to extraordinary. While it is true that there are not many player decisions to be made in this game, a few small but significant Pai Gow Poker tactics can give you a substantial advantage.
Below are Casinobonus.org Pai Gow Poker tips for taking these actions. They include Pai Gow Poker secrets and Pai Gow Poker tactics that the pros use in order to decrease their loss to win Pai Gow Poker ratio.
Pai Gow Poker Tips: Know Your Game
The first of our Pai Gow Poker tips is an obvious but often ignored bit of advice: Know the game perfectly before you play.
Pai Gow Poker can be a confusing game for beginners, mostly because it is so different from other variations. Do not try to play this game with traditional poker strategies in mind, and do not try to figure out the rules of Pai Gow Poker as you go. This most ineffective of Pai Gow Poker strategies will only leave you penniless and embittered.
Instead, learn the rules of Pai Gow Poker before you pick up the cards.
Pai Gow Poker Tips: Play Free Games
In order to win this game, you’ve got to practice, and like we said above, practicing with real money is not a best-laid plan. Playing free online games allows you the advantage of seeing how scenarios play out with actual cards, without risking any actual cash. The benefit here is that you won’t end up in a situation where you have all book knowledge and no practical experience.
Pai Gow Poker Tips: Bank, Bank, Bank!
Now come the real, the in-game Pai Gow Poker tips. First up, be the banker whenever you can.
A few notes on being the banker:
- Why should you be the banker? Because the banker wins when hands tie, while the just plain player loses. Since we know, thanks to our Pai Gow Poker odds page, that the tie hand is the most common outcome – it occurs an average 41.48% of the time – being the banker can substantially increase how often you win Pai Gow Poker. In fact, the banker advantage puts the odds in your favor by an additional 1 to 2%.
- To be the banker you have to have a thick wallet. The banker must be able to cover all other player bets, a requirement that often prevents otherwise willing players to bank.
- When you are banking, bet big. Conversely, bet smaller when you are not banking. Most pros suggest betting 6 to 14 times your average bet while banking. You will take a hit in the short term – we won’t lie to you – but the long-term benefits are great and the odds much more in your favor.
- Find a table with no other players and it will be only you versus the dealer. Here, you may be able to bank every other hand.
Pay Attention to your Two-Card Hand
Beginning Pai Gow players often either forget or disregard the fact that the two card hand is as important as the five card hand. Building a strong five-card hand at the expense of your two-card hand is unwise. It is better to consider the two hands in conjunction.
Look to build hands whose combined odds have the highest chance of winning, keeping in mind that the front hand (five-card) must always be stronger than the two- card hand.
Ask the Dealer for Help
Surprisingly, most casinos and live games allow players to request help from the dealer.Take advantage of this unique opportunity. It doesn’t yet exist in online poker rooms.
Practice Good Money Management
Bankroll management is perhaps the most fundamental requirement for successful gambling. It is absolutely imperative that you decide how much you can afford to wager before you sit down to the table. Never wager more than you can afford to lose, and always remember that the bright, plastic chips on the table represent your real-life hard-earned cash.
Take a Break
If you feel like you are playing less than your best, take a break from the table. If you sit too long, you run the risk of going on tilt, a term used for players that have “lost it”, the “it” being perspective. Going on tilt causes players to make poor decisions and to bet far more money than they can afford to lose.
The danger of going on tilt is particularly strong at card game and casino websites because there are fewer things to distract you from your game. Stay present while at play and walk away when you lose perspective, become bored or get tired.
Ultimately, whether you lose or win Pai Gow Poker isn’t the only point of playing (though it’s a big one). It’s as much about your enjoyment of the game. Use the above Pai Gow Poker tips to improve both your wins and your gaming experience.
Pai Gow Poker History
Ever wondered how an ancient Chinese domino game became a casino sensation? Or how a game that’s only 20 years old could become so popular so fast on every continent in the world? Wonder no more. Casino Bonus has all the answers to your questions about this game’s long and mysterious history.
Pai Gow Poker history can be either a couple decades long or a couple millennia long depending on how you look at it. The below Casino Bonus guide to Pai Gow Poker history will start with the earliest forms of this classic game.
The term Pai Gow is a clear sign that this unique game variation is quite different than its more traditional poker brethren. The name reflects the influence that an ancient game, played with Pai Gow tiles and that was popular during the time of China’s Han dynasty, had on today’s Pai Gow Poker games.
Western Expansion & Pai Gow Tiles
Pai Gow – the tile game – arrived in the America’s in the 19th century when Chinese immigrants came to the U.S. in search of work on the railroads. Pai Gow was a big hit among Americans who appreciated its subtle techniques and strategies.
However, many poker players found Pai Gow tiles cumbersome and difficult to keep on hand. The game gradually morphed into a form of poker, wherein traditional playing cards and standardized hand ranking replaced the heavy Pai Gow tiles.
In its new form, the game rapidly spread out of immigrant areas and into mainstream American gambling culture. Most card-playing Americans were already familiar with basic poker rules and poker ranking of hands. They found it easy to combine these existing rules with the newly established Pai Gow Poker rules.
Soon, Pai Gow Poker games were popping up in casinos across the nation. Everyone seemed interested in this latest craze and in learning how old card game rules could be change to fit new purposes.
Despite all the game’s hype, it was only in the 1980’s that the game went legit. This is when the rules were formulated and entered into official registries. Casinos could no longer adapt the game’s rules to suit their individual purposes. A California casino standardized the rules in the early 1980’s and they have since been set in stone.
In fact, it was crucial that Pai Gow Poker rules be standardized at this time. California legislators were beginning to draw a distinct line between games of luck and games of skill. Games of luck were prohibited from many casino floors. Standardizing the game’s rules enabled casino owners to show that Pai Gow Poker was a game of skill that should be allowed in California casinos.
Now, hundreds of years after its advent, this game’s popularity continues to grow. Poker players now have far more opportunities to play their favorite game than were even conceivable in the past. Online Pai Gow Poker, which allows gamblers to apply all of the normal poker ranking and rules in a brand new environment, has changed the game forever.
Who would have thought that the classic game of the Han dynasty would travel so far and evolve so much? What does the future hold for Pai Gow Poker? Who knows. But we’re betting the game’s current form remains popular for a long time to come.
Pai Gow Poker Glossary
Confused by game terms that aren’t in your standard card game dictionary? Whether you’re new to Pai Gow Poker or a seasoned vet, our glossary page offers a quick lesson in the game’s unique lingo. Never get lost mid-game and impress your friends and fellow players with your grasp of the terminology.
Playing Pai Gow Poker isn’t just about learning its rules. The ability to participate in the game and develop camaraderie with other players is important as well. To do this, you must understand what is being said at the table – the inside jokes, the quick quips, the Pai Gow Poker terms. It is for exactly this reason that CasinoBonus.org has compiled the below Pai Gow Poker Glossary.
Our Pai Gow Poker Glossary covers all the game slang, language and definitions you’ll need to know to be more than just a casual player. We cover in-game terms, participant titles, betting options and much more. In order to create a comprehensive Pai Gow Poker Glossary, we selected the Pai Gow Poker terms contained herein with both the beginner and the more seasoned player in mind.
Read it. Remember it. Reference it. We’re certain our Pai Gow Poker Glossary will give you a leg up!
Pai Gow Poker Terminology
Ante– A small bet placed on the table before the round commences. Shows dealer you are interested in playing Pai Gow Poker. The size of the ante can vary significantly among casinos.
Banker– The individual who deals the cards in Pai Gow Poker. Unlike many other card game variants, in Pai Gow Poker theb is not referred to as the dealer. The difference in terms is due to the fact that the banker participates in the game, constructing his own five and two card hands, whereas a dealer merely deals cards.
Bankroll– The amount of money that you are prepared to spend gambling. It is very important that you set bankroll limits before entering the casino and stick to them once there.
Bug- This refers to the Joker that is used in a Pai Gow Poker deck. A bug acts as an Ace unless it is used as a wild to complete straight or flush combinations.
Dragon Hand- The dragon hand is a hand dealt out to an empty seat. It functions the same as a “dead man’s hand” in other poker variations. Players may bet on the dragon hand. Its cards are arranged according to the house way.
Fish– An inexperienced player that is taken advantage of at the table.
Foul- A foul occurs when a player does not split his cards according to proper Pai Gow Poker rules. Typically, this means that a player has set his hand so that the lower two card hand beats the higher five card hand. Foul hands are immediately disqualified. Inexperienced online players can avoid a foul by using the auto sort function available on some online Pai Gow Poker games.
House Way– The house way represents the standard Pai Gow Poker practices that bankers must follow. You can improve your Pai Gow Poker odds by following the house way in your own play.
Minor Hand- Your two-card Pai Gow Poker hand. It is also known as the low, front, small or on top hand.
Poker Bonus– A poker bonus is a bonus offered by a casino to its players in return for signing up, showing loyalty, or playing particularly well. A poker bonus can take many forms, but the most popular is a credit to the player’s account.
Rakeback– The rakeback is the percentage that the house collects every time you win a Pai Gow Poker hand. A rack back is necessary in order for the casino to make the profit it needs to stay in business. Average casino rakeback is a 5% commission on a Pai Gow Poker win.