Pai Gow Poker: A Guide

Pai Gow Poker is a popular casino game that originated in China and is now played all around the world. It’s a unique twist on the classic game of poker. It involves a set of tiles instead of traditional playing cards. Players are dealt 7 cards that they use to create two separate hands: a 5-card hand and a 2-card hand. The goal is to beat both of the dealer’s hands to win the round.

Pai Gow Poker
Pai Gow Poker

The game is known for its slow pace and low-risk nature. Making it a popular choice for beginners and seasoned players alike. Pai Gow also has a higher likelihood of ending in a tie. Which means players have a greater chance of keeping their bets and not losing money. However, the added element of strategy and skill required to create the two hands also makes it an enticing game for those who want to improve their poker skills.

What is Pai Gow Poker?

Pai Gow Poker is a popular casino game that originated in China. It is played using a standard deck of 52 playing cards plus one joker with a total of 53 cards. In this game, players aim to beat the banker by creating two hands out of the seven cards they are dealt.

The game is played on a specially designed table that can accommodate up to six players. Each player places their bet on the table, and the dealer then shuffles the cards and hands them out to the players. The banker also receives seven cards, which they use to create their two hands.

The objective of the game is to create two hands that are higher than the banker’s hands. One hand is made up of five cards, while the other hand consists of two cards. The five-card hand is called the backhand, while the two-card hand is called the front hand.

Some essential rules of Pai Gow Poker include:

  • The banker rotates clockwise after each game.
  • If one of the player’s hands is higher than the banker’s corresponding hand, it’s a push, and the game is a draw.
  • The joker can be used to complete a flush or straight, or it is treated as an ace.

Pai Gow Poker offers a fun and exciting way to gamble with relatively low risk. The game has a low house edge, making it a favorite among players who love longer gaming sessions. Overall, Pai Gow Poker is a great way to experience the thrill of the casino while also having a good chance of winning.

General information
Cards used
Number of players
House edge

The History of Pai Gow

Pai Gow Poker is a popular casino game that originated in the United States in the 1980s. It is based on the traditional Chinese game called pai gow, which is played with tiles rather than cards. Here is a brief history of how Pai Gow Poker came to be:

  • In 1985, Sam Torosian, owner of the Bell Card Club in California, created Pai Gow Poker. He wanted to come up with a new game that was easy to learn and fun to play.
  • Torosian took inspiration from the traditional game pai gow and decided to use playing cards instead of tiles. He created a game where each player would receive seven cards and form two hands, one with five cards and one with two cards. The objective was to beat both the dealer’s hands.
  • Pai Gow quickly gained popularity in California and eventually made its way to other states and countries. Today, it is a staple in many casinos around the world.
  • The game’s popularity even led to the creation of a World Series of Pai Gow Poker, which was held for a few years in the early 2000s.
  • It has also spawned variations and spin-offs, such as Fortune Pai Gow, EZ Pai Gow, and Double Hand Poker.

Overall, Pai Gow has had a relatively short yet impactful history in the world of gambling. Its unique gameplay and blend of traditional Chinese and Western elements have made it a beloved game among many casino-goers.

How to Play Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow Poker is a fun, easy-to-learn card game that originated in China many years ago. Playing Pai Gow Poker involves both strategy and luck, making it a favorite among casino-goers.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to play Pai Gow Poker:

  1. The game is played with a standard 52-card deck plus one joker. The joker can be used as an ace or to complete a straight, flush or a straight flush.
  2. Each player at the table is dealt seven cards, and they must make two poker hands – one with five cards and one with two cards.
  3. The five-card hand, also known as the high hand, must be higher in value than the two-card hand, also known as the low hand.
  4. After creating their hands, players place them face down on the table in front of them.
  5. Once all players have placed their hands face down, the dealer reveals their own seven cards and creates their own high and low hands.
  6. In order to win, both the player’s high and low hand must be higher in value than the dealer’s respective high and low hands.
  7. If only one of a player’s hands beats the dealer’s hand, it’s considered a push and the player doesn’t win or lose any money.
  8. In the case of a tie, the dealer wins the hand.
  9. Bonus bets can be placed on certain hands. For example, a player might bet on a specific type of hand, such as a four-of-a-kind or a straight flush, in addition to their regular bet.
  10. Remember that the goal of Pai Gow Poker is to make two separate hands that will beat the dealer’s hands. It’s important to think carefully about how to split your seven cards to create the highest-value hands possible.

Pai Gow Poker Hand Rankings

Five AcesFour Aces plus the joker
Royal Flush plus PairA royal flush with any pair
Royal FlushTen, Jack, Queen, King, Ace of the same suit
Straight FlushAny five consecutive cards of the same suit
Four of a KindAny four cards of the same rank
Full HouseThree of a Kind and a Pair
FlushAny five cards of the same suit
StraightAny five consecutive cards of different suits
Three of a KindAny three cards of the same rank
Two PairAny two pairs of cards
PairAny two cards of the same rank
High CardAny hand that does not fit into the above categories

By following the steps above and familiarizing yourself with the hand rankings, you can start playing Pai Gow Poker with confidence. Good luck!

Pai Gow Poker Strategies

When it comes to playing Pai Gow Poker, there are a few strategies you can use to increase your chances of winning. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Separate your pairs: When you are dealt a pair of cards, don’t automatically place them in your high hand. Instead, split them up and place one in your high hand and one in your low hand. This gives you a better chance of having at least one strong hand.
  • Make sure your high hand is stronger: Your high hand must always be stronger than your low hand. If it isn’t, you lose automatically. Make sure to arrange your cards in a way that maximizes your chances of winning both hands.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help: If you’re still unsure about how to arrange your cards, don’t be afraid to ask the dealer for help. They are there to assist you and ensure the game is played correctly.
  • Manage your bankroll: As with any gambling game, it’s important to manage your bankroll. Set a limit for how much you’re willing to spend and stick to it. Don’t chase losses or bet more than you can afford.

Using these strategies can help you make the most of your Pai Gow Poker experience. Remember to have fun and enjoy the game!

Data about winning percentages or other statistical information specific to these strategies are not available or reliable, so no table is provided.

Pai Gow Strategy – A Casino Guide

Pai Gow Poker House Edge

When it comes to casino games, the house always has an advantage over the player. This is true for Pai Gow Poker as well. The house edge in Pai Gow Poker is relatively low, making it a popular game for both novice and experienced players.

The house edge in Pai Gow Poker is around 2.84%. This means that for every $100 bet, the casino can expect to make an average profit of $2.84. However, it’s important to note that this is just an average. Some players will win more than they lose, while others will lose more than they win.

One of the reasons why the house edge in Pai Gow Poker is relatively low compared to other casino games is because players are dealt seven cards, which gives them more opportunities to make the best possible two-card and five-card hands. Additionally, players have the option to split their hands into two separate hands, which can increase their chances of winning.

It’s worth noting that the house edge can vary slightly depending on the rules of the particular casino or table. For example, some casinos may charge a commission on players’ winnings, which can increase the house edge. It’s always a good idea to check the rules and payouts of a particular table before playing.

In summary, while the house does have an advantage in Pai Gow Poker, the relatively low house edge and unique gameplay make it an enjoyable game for many casino-goers.

House Edge

Pai Gow Variations

Pai Gow Poker, like many popular casino games, has inspired several variations. Here are some of the most well-known Pai Gow Poker variations:

  • Fortune Pai Gow Poker: This variation adds a “fortune” bonus side bet that can be placed by the player. The bonus bet pays out based on the value of the player’s seven-card hand. The better the value of the hand, the higher the bonus payout.
  • Emperor’s Challenge Pai Gow Poker: In this variation, the dealer’s cards are dealt face up, and the player has the option to switch some of their cards with the dealer’s cards before setting their hand. Additionally, there is a side bet that can be made on the player’s hand and the dealer’s hand to have a certain type of five-card poker hand.
  • Progressive Fortune Pai Gow Poker: Similar to Fortune Pai Gow Poker, this variation has a bonus side bet that can be placed by the player. However, the bonus payout increases with each game played until someone hits the jackpot.
  • Pai Gow Mania: This variation allows for two side bets. The first bet is similar to Fortune Pai Gow Poker, while the second bet is a “Envy Bonus” side bet that pays out if another player at the table gets a four-of-a-kind or better.

Pai Gow Etiquette

When playing Pai Gow Poker, it is important to observe certain rules of etiquette to ensure a smooth and enjoyable gaming experience for everyone involved.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Know the order of play – In Pai Gow Poker, the dealer will indicate which player receives the first hand. After that, the game proceeds counter-clockwise around the table.
  2. Don’t touch your cards with two hands – It’s considered bad form to touch your cards with both hands. Instead, use only one hand to handle your cards.
  3. Don’t expose your cards – Until the dealer has finished paying out all the hands, keep your cards face down on the table. Exposing your cards prematurely can disrupt the game and throw off the other players.
  4. Don’t touch your chips after bets are made – After placing your bets, avoid touching your chips until the round is over. This helps prevent any confusion or disputes about the amount of the bet.
  5. Keep your phone on silent – To maintain good etiquette, turn off the sound on your phone or set it to vibrate. Using your phone during the game can be a distraction to everyone involved.
  6. Don’t reveal your cards to other players – It may be tempting to show your cards to your neighbor, but this is a breach of etiquette. Keep your cards to yourself until the dealer has completed the hand.
  7. Don’t blame the dealer – Mistakes happen, but don’t take your frustration out on the dealer. Remember, they’re just doing their job. If you have a concern, bring it up with the pit boss or floor supervisor.

Tips for Winning

Here are a few helpful tips for increasing your chances of winning at Pai Gow Poker:

  1. Learn the rules: Before you start playing, make sure you understand the game’s rules and how to play. Familiarize yourself with the different hand rankings. Understand how to split your cards, and know when to make the banker bet.
  2. Manage your bankroll: Pai Gow Poker is a slow-paced game that can quickly drain your bankroll if you’re not careful. Set a budget, and stick to it. Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose.
  3. Divide your hands wisely: When dividing your cards into a five-card hand and a two-card hand, don’t make hasty decisions. Take your time, and carefully analyze your hand. Try to create the strongest two-card hand possible without sacrificing your five-card hand.
  4. Avoid the bonus bet: Although tempting, the bonus bet can quickly eat away at your bankroll. The house edge on the bonus bet is significantly higher than the regular game. So, it’s best to avoid it altogether.

Bonus Bet Odds

Royal Flush800 to 1
Straight Flush50 to 1
Four of a Kind25 to 1
Full House5 to 1
Flush4 to 1
Straight3 to 1
Three of a Kind2 to 1
All Other1 to 1
  1. Be the banker: Being the banker can give you a slight edge over the other players. Although it comes with added responsibilities, it can help you win more often in the long run.
  2. Don’t let emotion guide your gameplay: Pai Gow Poker is a game of skill, not emotion. Don’t let frustration or anger cause you to make hasty decisions. Stay calm, cool, and collected throughout the game.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can increase your chances of winning at Pai Gow Poker. It’s important to remember that like all casino games, there is an element of luck involved, so always gamble responsibly.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re new to Pai Gow Poker, you may have some questions. Below are some frequently asked questions that can help you better understand this popular casino game.

What is Pai Gow Poker?

Pai Gow Poker is a card game that originated from China. It is played with a standard deck of 52 cards plus one joker. Players compete against the banker, who can be either another player or the dealer. The goal of the game is to make two poker hands out of the seven cards dealt – a five-card hand and a two-card hand – and beat the dealer’s hands.

How is Pai Gow Poker different from traditional poker games?

Traditional poker games are played entirely among players, with the dealer acting solely as a facilitator. In Pai Gow Poker, players play against the dealer and have to beat both of their hands to win. Additionally, unlike other poker games, there are no betting rounds in Pai Gow Poker.

What are the payouts in Pai Gow Poker?

Payouts in Pai Gow Poker vary depending on the hand rankings. For example, a royal flush in the five-card hand pays out 500:1, while a straight flush pays out 50:1. The payouts may also vary from one casino to another, so it’s important to check the paytable before playing.

What’s the house edge in Pai Gow Poker?

The house edge is generally around 2.5%, which is relatively low compared to other casino games. However, this may vary from one casino to another, so it’s important to check the rules and payouts before playing.

Can I play it online?

Yes, Pai Gow Poker is available at many online casinos. Playing online offers the convenience of being able to play from anywhere and at any time, as well as access to a wider range of games.

Is Pai Gow Poker a game of skill or luck?

Pai Gow Poker is a game of both skill and luck. While luck plays a role in determining the cards dealt. It’s up to the player to decide how to make the best two hands out of them.

What’s the best strategy for playing Pai Gow Poker?

The best strategy for playing Pai Gow Poker is to split your cards in a way that gives you the best chance of winning both hands. For example, if you have a pair of aces. It’s usually best to keep them together in the five-card hand and create the two-card hand with a lower pair.

Is it a popular casino game?

Yes, it is a popular casino game, especially in the United States. Its popularity has grown over the years due to its low house edge and unique gameplay.

Can I learn Pai Gow for free?

Yes, there are many online casinos that offer free Pai Gow Poker games that you can play to learn the rules and strategies without risking any money.


In conclusion, Pai Gow is a fun game that is becoming increasingly popular in both land-based and online casinos. Here are some key takeaways from this article:

  • It combines elements of traditional Chinese game of Pai Gow and classic poker to create a unique gambling experience.
  • The game is played with a standard deck of 52 cards plus one joker. And the objective is to create two separate poker hands that beat the dealer’s two hands.
  • The house edge is relatively low, making it a good choice for players who want to maximize their chances of winning.
  • Players can improve their odds of winning by following a basic strategy that involves setting their hands according to a set of predetermined rules.
  • Online versions of Pai Gow are widely available at various online casinos. And allow players to enjoy the game from the comfort of their own homes.

Overall, Pai Gow Poker is an enjoyable and easy-to-learn game that offers players the chance to win big while having fun at the casino. With its low house edge and simple rules, it’s no surprise that more and more players are giving it a try. So next time you’re at the casino, why not try your luck?

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