Are you tired of playing the same old online casino games such as blackjack, roulette and slots? Then perhaps you should try Pai Gow Poker, which is an exciting game that blends the Chinese domino-based casino game Pai Gow with Texas Hold’em. If you’re interested in finding out how this fun game works, here is a look at the basics of Pai Gow Poker.
Pai Gow Poker Objective
You’re dealt seven cards in Pai Gow Poker, and from these, you must form a 5-card hand and a 2-card hand. Your goal is to make both of these hands better than the casino dealer’s two hands. For instance, if your 5-card hand consists of a three-of-a-kind against the dealer’s two-pair, and you form a pair with the 2-card hand while the dealer has nothing, you win! Almost every hand in Pai Gow Poker follows typical poker hand rankings - except for the A-2-3-4-5 straight, which is the second highest straight.
If you win one hand and the dealer wins one hand, the round is a push and you get the original bet back. As you may have guessed, losing both hands results in a loss of your bet. Another important thing to note is that the dealer wins all ties; so even if you won a hand and tied the other, the bet would still be a push. The fact that ties go to the dealer is where the house gets its 2.5% house edge (on average).
Pai Gow Poker Rules
Pai Gow Poker rounds begin with each player placing a minimum casino bet on the table. After all of the players have put a bet down to play the hand, they are dealt seven face-down cards; the dealer also gets seven face-down cards. Four cards in the deck are always unused regardless of the amount of players in the hand.
As mentioned before, players must arrange their cards into a 5-card hand (high hand) and a 2-card hand (low hand). After doing this, land-based Pai Gow players go through another round of betting. Once players are done forming their hand and making bets, they show their cards, and the dealer exposes his/her cards. The dealer then goes down the line and either pays winning bets or takes losing bets.
This is the general way that Pai Gow Poker is played, although there will certainly be discrepancies based on if you’re in an online casino or a land-based casino. Most online casinos simply put you one-on-one with the dealer, rather than including a table full of people. Also, many online casinos only include an initial bet at the beginning of the round, which ranges from $1-$25 in most cases.
Another big difference between online and live Pai Gow Poker is that a lot of extra actions are included in the land-based version such as the dealer shaking three dice in a tea cup, then rolling them out to determine who gets the first seven cards.
One more notable difference in land-based Pai Gow Poker is that players can choose to be the banker. When a player is the banker, their hand is pitted against the rest of the table. The banker must pay any player that beats their hand, while they rake in winnings from players with weaker hands. Because the banker must pay out winnings to other players, they need to have a sufficient bankroll in case the majority of the other players win. However, the banker also gets the win when hands tie just like the dealer in dealer-based Pai Gow games. After a hand is over, the banker must pay the casino a 5% commission on net wins.
Pai Gow Poker Strategy
One of the nice things about Pai Gow Poker is that there’s actually some strategy to the casino game. Depending on how you split your hands, you will increase/decrease your chances of winning both hands.
If you want to use perfect Pai Gow Poker strategy, there are strategy charts that will show you what cards to put in your five-card and two-card hand in each situation. Of course, this can get pretty complicated, so there are some easier, more general guidelines you can use.
If you’re dealt a pair, you need to keep the pair in your 5-card hand, and your two highest cards in the 2-card hand. Assuming you are dealt a two-pair, you keep the highest pair in your 5-card hand, and put the lowest pair in the 2-card hand. With a three-of-a-kind, you only split this hand up if you have aces (one ace goes in the two-card hand); with kings and lower, you keep the three-of-a-kind intact, and put the two highest cards in the 2-card hand.
You should keep casino straights and flushes intact, while also moving the two highest cards to the 2-card hand. If you’re dealt a full house, you need to keep the three-of-a-kind in your 5-card hand, and put the pair in your 2-card hand.
The key thing to remember in all of this is that you need to concentrate on forming both a strong 5-card and 2-card hand. Some casino players mistakenly only focus on the 5-card hand, thus leaving their 2-card hand totally weak. But as mentioned before, you can only win if both of your hands are strong.
In any case, if you keep the previously discussed Pai Gow Poker rules and strategy in mind whenever you play these casino games, you’re guaranteed to have a good time!