How To Play Pai Gow Poker

pai gow

Few casino games give you, the gambler, the opportunity to beat the House. When such a game comes along, it is time to take note and to pay attention. The game we are talking about is Pai Gow Poker. By employing the best betting strategy, you can beat the online casino (House) you’re playing at consistently. The nuts and bolts of Pai Gow Poker are deeply rooted in Chinese culture. It’s an entertaining table game that’s played with a deck of 52-cards, including the Joker.

Pai Gow Poker – Beating The House At Its Own Game

Pai Gow Poker and Blackjack are in the same league, at least as far as their house edge goes, which is in the vicinity of 2.8%. This percentage is outstanding, but what if we tell you that you can reduce the house edge even further by implementing our Pai Gow betting Strategy? If you’re thinking “get outta here,” we kid you not!
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Yeah, there is always a big “but”. By playing Pai Gow Poker you cannot eliminate the house edge entirely. The online casino you’re playing at charges a commission of 5% on winning hands. Unfortunately, it is what is. Luckily you can still reduce the house advantage by more than 2%! So, buckle up, it’s going to be an exciting ride!

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Pai Gow Poker – Slaying The Dragon

When you play Pai Gow Poker, it’s just you and the dealer. Having rummaged the Internet for more information and speaking to the top players, they told us that you could improve your winning chances by 0.15%. Our reply was, “is this all”? Initially, it might sound like nothing, but we soon realized it’s not bad at all.
Once you have made your bet, the dealer deals you seven cards with which you must form two poker hands; one hand with 5 cards and the other with 2 cards.

Bottom and Top

The 5-card hand is known as the “behind,” the “bottom,” “high,” or “big” hand. The 2-card is known as the “in front,” “on top,” the “small,” “minor,” or “low” hand. The first thing you need to remember when you build your hands is that your 5-card hand must always be the bigger or superior hand. If you get dealt A-A-3-6-7-8-J, you are not allowed to make a Flush; the pair of Aces must be added to the 5-card hand and not to the 2-card hand.

Getting Dealt a Pair

What happens if you are not dealt a pair? If you have a high card, add it to your 5-card hand and add your next most top cards to your 2-card hand. Any pair should always be added to your 5-card hand. Also, add your two highest cards to your 2-card hand. Technically speaking, they are not the best hands, yet they’ll give you a shot at beating the dealer.

Let’s say you are dealt two pairs, then split them between your 5-card and 2-card hand. Add the highest pair to your 5-card hand and the lowest pair to your 2-card hand. The logic is this is that when you reverse the pair (in other words, when you add the highest pair to your 2-card hand and the lower pair to your 5-card hand), you are committing the cardinal sin known as “Fouling Your Hand.”

Foul!

As a rule of thumb, never ever foul your hand by splitting your two-pairs into different hands. There are exceptions to the rule and should be done only under the following circumstances:

 1. If you are dealt a pair of sevens without an Ace.
 2. If you get dealt a pair of Aces and other pairs.
 3. Should you receive a pair of Jacks or better, an Ace, 6’s, and pairs.

Now note that everything is inverted, and you are not fouling your hand, so the following must be done:

Add your highest pair of cards to your 2-card hand and the other pair to your 5-card hand. If you receive three-of-a-kind, add them to your 5-card hand or the “behind” hand. What happens if you have three-of-a-kind that are three Aces? Add two Aces to your 5-Card hand and the other Ace to your 2-card hand. Hang onto your hat because from here on in; it becomes more exciting and slightly more complicated.

What To Do With Three of a Kind Pairs

The dealer dealt you two three-of-a-kind pairs; which Pai Gow betting strategy must you follow now? Add your lowest three-of-a-kind pair to your 5-card hand and the other higher one to your 2-card hand. Should a Full House pop in and say hi, hold onto that hand because it’s a biggie!

Add the higher three-of-kind by splitting the highest pair to the 2-card hand and the other to your 5-card hand. If lady luck really winks at you when the dealer deals you two three-of-a-kind, split your cards by adding your highest pair to your 2-card hand (in front) and your lowest pair to the 5-card hand (behind). Straights, Straight Flushes (cards within the same suit), and a Royal Flush must always be added to your 5-card hand.
Four!

In case you receive four-of-a-kind with cards from 2-6, never split them. Add them to your 5-card hand instead. What must you do if you get four 7’s or four 10’s? Unless you have an Ace or better, then split them. The same scenario is applied when you have four-of-a-kind such as Jack to King. Unless you have a pair of 10’s or higher, split them.

Pai Gow Poker – What About The Joker?

The Joker, also called a “bug,” is added to the deck. It serves as an extra ‘Ace,’ which means you can get fives Aces, which is the best hand in Pai Gow Poker. Otherwise, the Joker (Ace) can be used in a Flush or a Straight Flush. The best 2-card hands are pairs, and if you don’t have a pair, a high-card is the next best thing. In a 2-card hand, a Straight and Straight Flush becomes void. Your best 2-card hand is a pair of Aces, and the worst is a 2 and 3.

Pai Gow Poker – Online Casinos Don’t Have a Banker

Unlike at land-based casinos that give Pai Gow Poker players the chance to act as the Banker, online casinos don’t have this option. The reason for this is straightforward; because the banker reduces the house advantage, and it gives the player the edge over other players seated at the table. So, players no longer get the option to serve as the banker at brick-and-mortar casinos because the House (Dealer) is automatically the banker.

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Pai Gow Poker Odds

Just like any casino game, the odds of the House beating you over the long run is always a reality. Sportbookcasinos.com concluded that the dealer would win both hands (5-card and 2-card) approximately 30% of the time and the player 29%. The other 41% usually results in a draw. Pai Gow Poker has roughly 154,000,000 hand combinations. Therefore, the possibility of you getting the following hands are below (Courtesy of Casinotop10.com):

 1. Five-of-a-kind Aces: Possible combinations are 1,128, and the probability is 0.00000732.
 2. Royal Flush: Possible combinations are 210,964, and the probability is 0.00136862.
 3. Four-of-a-kind: Possible combinations are 307,372, and the probability is 0.00199472.
 4. Full House: Possible combinations are 4,188,528, and the probability is 0.02717299.
 6. Flush: Possible combinations are 6,172,088, and the probability is 0.04004129.
 7. Straight: Possible combinations are 11,236,028, and the probability is 0.07289250.
 8. Three-of-a-kind: Possible combinations are 7,470,676, and the probability is 0.04846585.

Pai Gow Poker Frequently Asked Questions

When I Play Pai Gow Poker, How Can I Improve My Winning Chances At Online Casinos?

You can use the casino’s bonuses on deposit, comp point system, apply our Pai Gow Strategy, and look out for future promotions. We would like to remind you of the wagering requirement attached to the bonuses which are not always conducive to table game players. As a result many players just play the game with straight deposits, and if they accept the bonus, they use it to play slot machines instead.

What Is The House Advantage In Pai Gow Poker?

Pai Gow Poker’s house advantage depends on the player, the type of strategy used, and the rules applied by the specific casino. The casino’s House Edge varies from 2.5% to 2.6%. Online casino software houses allow players to deal with the hand according to the house edge. Essentially this means that the house edge is slightly inflated to 2.7%.

How Do The Payouts Occur?

Once the player and the dealer have arranged their cards to form the best possible hands, the player’s 5-card hand gets compared to the dealer’s and his 2-card hand to the dealer’s 2-card hand. If the player’s hands match that of the dealer, he loses.

Should the player win both hands, bets are paid out as 1 to 1, minus the 5% commission to the casino. When a player’s one hand beats the dealer’s one hand, and his other hand loses, it’s a push. All bets will then be returned.

When the player loses both his hand, he’ll lose the bets he has placed. RealTime Gaming charges a commission fee of $0.25 on winning hands. In layman’s terms, it means that the House Edge gets increased by a substantial margin on smaller bets.

Which Casino Games Are The Least Volatile And Which One The Most?

Pai Gow Poker is the least volatile game, while Keno is the most volatile.

If I Want To Stretch My Bankroll, Which Game/s Should I Play?

If we take the odds and the longevity of your bankroll into account, blackjack and Pai Gow Poker are the best. However, if the casino has a $5 table, blackjack would be the better option of the two. If it has a $10 table, you should play Pai Gow Poker instead.

Further Reading

1. https://upswingpoker.com/pai-gow-poker-how-to-play/