Play Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow Poker is an Americanized version of an ancient Chinese dominoes game, pai Gow (literal translation, “To make nine”). You can easily distinguish between pai Gow and Pai Gow Poker.

The former is played on Chinese dominoes, while the latter is played with cards. If you find pai Gow in a casino, you may also find that Asians are playing it. This is because the numbers printed on the dominoes are in Chinese, which gives American gamblers a good reason to not play pai Gow in its original form.

Pai Gow Poker is a game that provides great winning opportunities, and its pace is slower than Blackjack. Therefore, the game gives players an opportunity to relax a little while they play. The casino’s usual advantage over a player is about 2.5 percent.

How to Play Pai Gow Poker

In Pai Gow Poker, each player receives seven cards and sets (arranges) the seven cards into a five-card and a two-card hand.
The only stipulation for setting hands is that the five-card hand (high hand) must outrank the two-card hand (low hand). To win a bet, you must win both the five-card and the two-card hands.

The deck used in Pai Gow Poker is a standard 52-card deck with the addition of one joker. The joker is not a traditional wild card; it can only be used as an ace or as a card that completes a straight or a flush.

One player is designated the banker. The house dealer is the default banker, but any player can actually be the banker. Players’ hands are compared against the banker to see who wins a given hand.

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How Play Proceeds

Before play begins, each player places their bet on the table in front of them. Starting at a randomly selected seat, the dealer deals seven cards face down to the banker and to each seat at the table, regardless of whether a player is present there or not.

Each player in turn sets his hand to form one five-card hand (the high hand) and one two-card hand (the low hand). Likewise, the banker also sets his or her hand.

Setting Your Hand

Click the two cards for your low hand, then click OK to proceed.

Player’s hands are compared against the banker’s hands to see who is the winner. In order to win a bet, the banker or player must win both the five-card and the two-card hand. If one hand is won and one is lost, this is a push and no money is exchanged. The banker wins tie hands, which are called copies.

A 5 percent commission is paid to the casino for any winning bets by the player regardless of whether he or she is the banker (5 percent of net winnings).

Ranks of Pai Gow Poker Hands

The hand rankings in Pai Gow Poker, ranked starting at highest to lowest, are almost identical to Poker. One exception is that an A-2-3-4-5 is considered the second highest straight (or straight flush), ranking just behind the A-K-Q-J-10, and just ahead of the K-Q-J-10-9.

Five Aces

Four aces plus the joker form five aces. This is the highest-ranking hand in Pai Gow Poker.

Straight Flush

Five cards in sequence in the same suit are called a straight flush. If two straight flushes compete, the hand with the highest-ranking cards in the flush sequence wins. The highest-ranking straight flush is called a royal flush (A-K-Q-J-10).

Four of a Kind

Any four cards of the same rank form four of a kind. If two players have four of a kind, the hand with the four higher cards wins.

Full House

Three of a kind and a pair form a full house. The full house with the highest-ranking three of a kind wins against another full house.

Flush

A hand of any five cards all of the same suit is called a flush. A flush with the highest-ranking cards beats another flush hand. If the highest cards in each players hand tie, the next highest-ranking cards determine the winner, and so on.

Straight

A hand of any five cards in sequence, but not of the same suit is a straight. The straight with the highest-ranking cards at the head of the sequence is the winner against another straight hand. The A-2-3-4-5, as the second highest hand in Pai Gow Poker, is the only exception.

Three of a Kind

Three cards of the same rank, such as three 8s, form three of a kind. The highest-ranking three cards wins against another three of a kind hand. Three aces are the highest, three 2s the lowest. Three of a kind beats two pair or any lower hand.

Two Pair

Two cards of the same rank, and two matching cards of any other rank form two pair. The hand with the highest-ranking pair wins against another hand of two pair. If the highest-ranking pair ties, the hand with the second highest-ranking pair wins.

One Pair

Any two cards of the same rank form one pair. The hand with the highest-ranking pair wins against another hand of a pair. If both hands have the same pair, the highest-ranking unmatched card in the hand determines the winner.

High Card

A hand with no matched cards is called high card. With two competing high card hands, the hand with the highest-ranking card wins. If the highest-ranking unmatched cards tie, the next highest-ranking unmatched cards are compared, and so on.