Pai Gow Poker

The Basics of Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow Poker blends 2 popular games together – the card game of Poker and the domino game of Pai Gow, which has its roots in Chinese culture. The game uses a 53-card deck, with the usual 52 cards plus the Joker for more of a twist. To get started with the basics of the game, keep reading here.

The Essentials

In Pai Gow Poker players are dealt 7 cards, which creates a Low Hand of 2 cards and a High Hand of 5. Up to 7 players can participate in an offline round, with everyone acting as the Dealer in turn. When playing online, the game is always between the casino and the player, who doesn’t usually have the chance to play the Dealer role.

The game begins with each player laying a bet, or the single player putting money down if playing online. Everyone is then given 7 cards. Offline, if there are less than 7 players the undealt cards and the 4 that are always left over are completely untouched. Online, the casino and the player are both given 7 cards and 39 are left unseen.

Once players are holding their cards they need to evaluate them and decide how best to arrange them into the Low and High Card Hands, with the High Hand always being worth more than the Low Hand. The Joker serves as a limited Wild Card and can be used to complete a Straight, a Flush or a Straight Flush. If the cards that are dealt are such that the Joker can’t be used in this way, it needs to be played as an Ace. Standard Poker hand-rankings are used, except for the highest and second-highest ranked hands. The highest is 5 Aces, comprised of 4 Aces and the Joker, and the second-highest is an A2345 Straight that is known as the Wheel.

After players have set their cards, they need to stand with their cards facing down. At this point the High and Low hand arrangements of the Dealers are revealed. The next phase is called the Showdown where every player’s hand is compared to the Dealer’s, with High Hand against High Hand and Low Hand against Low Hand. The possible outcomes are as follows:

  • If a player’s Higher and Lower Hands both beat the Dealer’s, they win the round
  • If both player hands are lower than the Dealer’s the player loses
  • If one of the player hands beats the Dealer’s and the doesn’t, either with a lesser hand or with a tie, a Push results
  • If both player hands tie with both Dealer hands, or if one ties and the other loses, the player loses their bet

Other Online Points

There are pros and cons to playing Pai Gow Poker online. Because players don’t get a chance to be the Dealer, they lose this advantage, but they can also get help in setting their cards if they don’t know what to do by tapping the House Way button. It’s also much easier to develop Pai Gow Poker skills online, because there are many dedicated websites, chatrooms and apps to help players develop insights and strategies, and anything that is learned can be immediately applied. Free Play games give players more chance to practice and develop as well, so every experience should be richer than the one before.