Pai Gow Poker Overview

Pai Glow Poker is a popular casino game that pits the players against the house in a competition that’s part skill, part luck and all fun. Each player receives 7 cards and must arrange those cards into two separate poker hands; one with 5 cards and one with 7 cards.

The dealer also receives 7 cards and arranges them into two separate hands. The object of the game is to beat both of the dealer’s hands. In cases in which one of the player’s hands beats the dealer but one hand loses to the dealer, the hand is a push and the bets are returned to the player.

How to Play Pai Gow

Pai Gow Poker is played with a standard deck of 52 cards plus one joker. The joker can only be used as an Ace or to complete straights, flushes and straight flushes. Each hand begins with the player placing a bet on the outcome of the hand.

The shuffle and initial deal is a sort of ritual in Pai Gow Poker. No matter how many people are playing, 7 piles of 7 cards are dealt face down in the middle of the table. A die is then rolled to determine which player gets the first pile of cards and then the other piles of cards are handed out counter clockwise around the table.

The player must then arrange his cards so that the 5 card hand is stronger than the 2 card hand. If the player accidentally arranges the cards so that the 2 card hand is stronger, the hand is declared a foul and the bet is lost. The player may set his hands in any manner he chooses, as long as the 5 card hand is stronger.

The dealer always uses a specific set of rules, called “the house way,” to set his hand. If the player isn’t sure of how to set his own hand, the player may ask the dealer to set the player’s hand in the house way also.

Hand Values

5 Card Hand:

Pai Gow Hand Values

The 5 card hand generally follows traditional poker hand rankings except that in some casinos, straights made of the cards A-2-3-4-5 are ranked as the second highest possible straight, between T-J-Q-K-A and 9-T-J-Q-K. In most other casinos, A-2-3-4-5 is ranked as the lowest possible straight like in normal poker.

2 Card Hand:

The highest possible 2 card hand is AA, followed by KK, QQ, JJ and so on down the line. The highest non-pair 2 card hand is AK. Straights and flushes require 5 cards and so don’t exist in the 2 card hand.

The Showdown

After the player and dealer arrange their hands, the hands are compared to determine the winner.

  1. The player wins if both of his hands beat both of the dealer’s hands.
  2. If one hand wins and one hand loses, the result is a tie and the bet is returned to the player without any winnings.
  3. If both of the dealer’s hands beat both of the player’s hands, the player loses his bet.
  4. If one of the player’s hands loses but the other hand is a copy (an exact tie), the win goes to the dealer.
  5. If one of the player’s hand wins but the other hand is a copy, the result is a tie