Pai Gow Poker (pronounced pi gow) combines the elements of the ancient Chinese game of Pai Gow and the American game of poker. A relatively slow-paced game, Pai Gow Poker is played with a traditional deck of 52 playing cards, plus one joker. The joker can be used only as an ace, or to complete a straight, or a flush.
Each player at the table is dealt seven (7) cards which they will use to construct two (2) separate hands of two (2) cards and five (5) cards.
The five-card hand must be higher than the two-card hand (for example, if the two-card hand is a pair of sevens, the five-card hand must contain at least a pair of eights or higher).
The object of the game is for both of the player's two-card hand and five-card hand to rank higher than both of the Banker's two hands. Should one hand rank exactly the same as the Banker's hand, this is a tie and the Banker wins all tie hands.
If the player wins one hand, but loses the other, this is considered a "push" and no money exchanges hands. Winning hands are paid even money, less a five percent commission. Losing hands lose the money wagered.
Normal poker rankings will be used. Any exact copy hand (tie) will be given to the banker. Exact copy hands occur when both the player and the banker's cards (in either the two-card hand or five-card hand) are the same value.
Basic Rules: The Pai Gow Poker deck will consist of 53 cards which includes a Joker. The Joker is wild when used in straights, flushes and straight flushes. If used alone the Joker becomes an Ace.
The dealer shuffles the cards and deals seven hands of seven cards each, face down in front of the dealer's tray. The dealer checks that exactly four cards are left over, then places those cards in the discard holder.
A dice cup containing three dice is shaken by the Banker to determine who receives the first hand. Before the dice are uncovered, all bets must be in the betting circle. In Pai Gow Poker, the Banker's position is always 1,8 or 15. The dealer counts from the Banker's position. The cards will then be placed by the dealer in front of each player-including the dealer-in a clockwise rotation from the starting ping indicated by the dice.
Each player arrange the seven cards dealt to them into the two hands, one hand will contain five cards and is known as the high hand; the other hand will contain two cards and is the second highest hand. The house dealer does not look at the cards until all players and player/Banker have set their hands in the designated space face down. The house dealer then turns his cards over and sets his hand in front of the tray face up. The player/Banker's hand is compared to the house dealer's hand first.
Winning hands are left lying face up next to the betting circle. For losing hands, the wager is picked up by the dealer and the cards are placed in the discard holder. Losing wagers are set in the center of the layout. If the player wins one hand and loses the other, this is considered a push and no money exchanges hands. Tis is the part that makes Pai Gow Poker slower than other games of chance. There are frequent rounds (up to 40% of rounds, in fact) in which no one wins and playing time is simply extended.
Note: If a player touches his hand after the banker has exposed his hand, that player's hand is considered a loser. Any hand "Set Foul" (if the two-card hand is higher in ranking than the five-card hand, or if the two-card hand contains more or less than two cards) is also considered a loser.
Pai Gow Poker Tips & Strategy
Here's a great tip from expert player Matt Villano to avoid losing in a streak:
Every casino table game can get streaky; pai gow is no exception. Because the push rate is so high (again, north of 41 percent), it's a good rule to leave the table if you lose three hands in a row. Strategy-wise, you should generally try to create the highest two-card hand that you can. Most times, your remaining cards will still form a higher five-card hand.
This website encourages you to play responsibly by betting within your limits and by recognizing that over time the house will come out ahead.