Online Pai Gow Poker

A unique combination of ancient Chinese dominoes (called Pai Gow) and standardised casino poker has created one of the favourite games.
pai-gow-poker.png The betting structure is quite similar to video poker while the hand rules are more similar to Omaha Hi/Lo.

To keep it short, on this page you will be able to play Pai Gow Poker in few different versions, but if you are a beginner there are also rules and few tips to make things easier.

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It is played with a 52-card deck, including one joker which is Wild Card that can only serve to help form a Straight, Flush or Straight Flush. Otherwise, joker is treated like an ace.
Ranks and hand values are the same as in regular poker, and before we go further with learning process please get familiar with them.

For instance, if the winning number is:

  1. Royal Flush – A Royal Flush is the best possible hand and is achieved by having cards from A-10 all of the same suit. For example, A-K-Q-J-10 all in spades would be considered a Royal Flush. This makes four different possibilities of obtaining this hand. Many casinos offer great prizes to players who get this type of hand.
  2. Straight Flush – A Straight Flush is exactly the same as a Royal Flush, but it can only be any five cards in a row of the same suit. This is the second strongest hand in poker and it is very hard to complete. 4-5-6-7-8 all in hearts would be a Straight Flush, but it would lose to a 9-10-J-Q-K all clubs as the King is higher than the 8.
  3. Four of a kind – Four of a kind is just as it sounds. There are 13 different possibilities of getting Four of a kind. A-A-A-A-K would be the strongest Four of a kind while 2-2-2-2-3 would be the weakest.
  4. Full House – A Full House can be a confusing to understand. They are made by having Three of a kind and a Pair together. For example, having A-A-A-8-8 would be a Full House. The thing to always keep in mind is that the higher Three of a kind always wins. So 9-9-9-K-K would beat 7-7-7-A-A. Even though the one player has two Aces, he would still lose because the 3 nines are higher than the 3 sevens.
  5. Flush – A Flush is very simple to understand because all a player needs are 5 cards all of the same suit. For example, 5-6-J-K-A all clubs would be considered a Flush. When saying your hand, you always call it by the highest card so this hand would be an "Ace high flush". Once again if someone had 4-5-7-10-J all spades and someone else had 5-6-9-Q-K all clubs, the 5-6-9-Q-K would win because the King is higher than the Jack.
  6. Straight – A Straight is a hand where 5 cards are in consecutive order. A-2-3-4-5 is considered the smallest possible Straight (this could change from one casino to another) and A-K-Q-J-10 is the highest.
  7. Three of a kind – Three of a kind is having 3 of the same card. 8-8-8-J-K would be Three of a kind. This term is also called Trips or a Set. Once again the higher 3 of a kind will always win.
  8. Two Pairs – Two Pairs is simply having two separate pairs. A-A-8-8-7 would be two pair Aces and eights. Another example is K-K-9-9-7, now the Aces and eights would beat this hand because Aces are higher than Kings.
  9. Pair – A Pair is just having one combination of the same card. A-A-8-5-4 would be called a Pair of Aces. Again the higher Pair always beats the lower Pair.
  10. High Card – This is the worst possible hand and occurs when no possible hands can be formed. For example, 2-3-6-7-A would simply be Ace High.

OK, now you have learned the hands so we can focus on gameplay.
The goal is to divide your 7-card hand into a 5-card (Highest) and a 2-card hand (2nd Highest). The 5-card hand must always outrank the 2-card hand (thus the names Highest and 2nd Highest). The 5-card hand is ranked just like in poker, but that A-2-3-4-5 straight ranks as the second highest straight. The 2-card hand may be either an individual or Pair of cards. A Pair of aces is the highest 2-card hand and the lowest is a 2-3. Players can opt to split their hand themselves, or have the computer divide it with the house way method.
This is a set of rules which explains how the dealer arranges his or her hand. As well, with a click of the house way button, a player may also use the method on his hand.

The betting structure is short and contains a single round before hands are assigned, which is split into a Hi and Lo hand for the showdown between the player and banker. Bets are made on either one of two hands, which are split into a five card standard poker hand and a two card hand ranked on card value. There is virtually no strategy since all hands must be played as dealt. It is purely a game of luck, resting entirely on the outcome of the deal and whether a player chooses to be the bank or his hand. I would like to qualify the last comment regarding strategy. If a player can be the banker more often, the better their odds will be since the bank automatically wins tie hands. So, there is a bit of a strategy for you.

A game begins with the dealer disbursing the cards into seven distinct hands facedown on the table. There will be four cards remaining in the deck, which the dealer will discard in the sight of all players. At this point, the dealer (or RNG in computer-based games) will ask each player does he want the bank hand, which the player can choose to take or decline. If no player takes that hand, the dealer will automatically take it by default. If a player opts to serve as a banker, the dealer will still play versus the banker with a wager in the amount equal to the player's last bet. As we said, it is a player's best interest to be the banker. However, the player's bankroll must be adequate to cover bets with all the other players at the table.

pai-gow-poker-table.png After the banker is set, to determine who receives the first hand, the dealer will shake a dice cup with three die (live tables). Players are assigned numbers depending on where they are sitting in relation to the dealer (who will always be number 1, 8 or 15). The dealer will count from 1, 8 or 15 (whichever is closest to the value of the dice roll) going from player to player. The player whose seating position corresponds to the outcome of the dice roll is the one to receive the first hand. All players must have their bets on the table before the hands are passed out by the dealer, who then gives each remaining player a stack of seven cards, going round the table in a counterclockwise direction.

Now the players begin shaping their cards into a five and two-card hand. A player cannot separate their hand so that the two-card hand is better than the five-card hand. If they do so, both hands will automatically lose. In order for the player's hand to win, both hands must rank higher than the bank Hand. If the two-card low hand is not a Pair, it will be ranked by the highest card value. In the case when one of the hands tie, the game is deemed a push, no chips are exchanged, and the player's bet is pushed over to the next game.
The five-card hand is ranked according to standard poker hand rankings.

Following all hands have been compared to the bank hand, all chips and cards from losing hands are collected and placed in the discard pile to be shuffled again for the next game. Chips are given to the banker.
Now, all winning hands are left on the table and the banker pays out chips to those players. Winnings are paid out at even odds, minus a 5% commission in most cases. If there are multiple ties, the commission is imposed on the net win, which means it applies only after all losses have been figured into the bankers take.


Of course, the top hand needs to be more valuable than the bottom hand, so high cards usually end up there. Most of the time, players will come up with an ace-high hand on top and leave the Pairs behind in the bottom hand. This is one way to keep the two-card hand more valuable than the five-card hand. If there is a Pair that is medium to high and will still beat the five-card hand, many players will format their hands this way.

The fundamental and probably the most important strategy is to form the absolute highest two-card hand you can and still leave the five-card hand at a lower ranking. If there is a way to balance the hands to try beating both of the dealer's hands and keep the two-card hand higher ranking, this is the way to go.

Even though the dealer has an advantage, seasoned and experienced players can still end up with a large pot to take to home.