Mar 26, 2021

Rules and Strategies for Pai Gow Poker

author Luke Seidel

For beginners, Pai Gow poker is one of the friendliest poker games, which comes from China and is played for fouls. In an online casino, you can play it against a one-on-one dealer, even if there are more of you at the table. If you play classic draw poker or Texas Holdem Poker, you won't have a problem getting into the game. But even a beginner will quickly understand the rules.

The game starts with seven cards. And watch out for fouls!

Seven cards split into two piles, one bet. That's how every game of Pai Gow poker begins. Played with 53 French-style cards, one joker remains in the deck. The dealer and player examine the cards and split them into two groups - one with five cards, and the other with two.

How to split the cards? The rules are given and are uncompromising - if it is possible to build a better hand with five cards, the player must do so. Even if he breaks a pair of aces in the second group. If you break the rule (dead hand, also a foul), you are out. Immediately.

The winner is the one whose face-up cards hold up.

After the bets are placed (only one bet is placed before the game starts), the actual game begins. The player or players turn over their cards (the dealer last). Each group separately, and the one with two cards first. If the player has a worse hand than the dealer, he turns the cards back face up. The winner is the one whose cards remain face up, his reward is double the amount bet.

Players never play against each other, each player's opponent is the dealer. What if a player leaves one pile face up and loses with the other? The game ends in a tie and the player gets his bet back.

Why play Pai Gow poker online?

  • Playing one-on-one against the casino
  • The easiest of poker games
  • One bet in each game. No bidding
  • A fast-paced game that packs a punch
  • The basis for success? Knowing your poker hands well

The path to winning? Not being afraid to bet on cards I haven't seen before and knowing the poker hands - disregarding the rules means a foul and immediate elimination.

By the way, any idea why there was one joker left in the deck? It plays the role of a "wild card", replacing the missing card in a straight and substituting for the top card in a flush. If the joker stands alone, it is worth an ace. The strongest Pai Gow hand? Five Aces, a Royal Flush, a Straight Flush, and a Four of a Kind.

History of Pai Gow

Pai Gow has its roots in ancient China, where it was once played with dominoes instead of playing cards. Today it is not known exactly how old the game is, but it is estimated to be at least several hundred years old. Along with Ken, Pai Gow is one of China's greatest contributions to the gambling industry.

Military game

In the old version of the game, the dominoes were divided into several different groups to symbolize military and civilian units. This is reminiscent of Chinese history when it was a very military country indeed. The dealer then rolled the dice to decide which stone would go to which player. Just to briefly point out that in its early stages, Pai Gow was a really complicated game.

Pai Gow becomes a card game

If we continue further into the present day, many forms of the game have emerged in different parts of the world. At the end of the 20th century, the game "merged" with poker and Pai Gow Poker was created as a descendant. One could say that Pai Gow Poker is actually a truly new game, but its roots go back hundreds of years.

In the mid-1980s, Fred Wolf introduced Pai Gow poker, or double-handed poker, to California. The game was an instant hit and it didn't take long until Pai Gow was raised in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. These days, you can play Pai Gow Poker in casinos all over the world, but the game is especially popular in the online casino world.

Strategies for Pai Gow Poker

This game is played with a deck of 53 cards, including a joker. It is played one against one, player against banker and bet against the banker.

Each player is dealt 7 cards, which they arrange so that they have 5 cards in one hand and 2 cards of their choice in the other. They compare the two hands with each other. The ranking is the same as in poker. The higher wins. In the event of a tie, the banker wins the money. If the player beats the banker with only one of the pair, he gets his bet back.

General principles

  • Cards worth 2 to 6 are low pairs
  • Cards worth 7 to 10 are medium pairs
  • Cards ranked J to K are high pairs

The most important factor affecting your chances of winning is the size of the bet. Knowing how to gamble at the right time and bet a larger amount is one of the main factors of the whole game. Another very important thing is how well you arrange your cards. Theoretically, you can use a pre-prepared scheme, but this probably can't be practiced well enough in a real game. A simpler way is to remember that most often you will have 7 cards, where you will get at least 2 pairs. So those pairs should either be kept together or split up, depending on the following view:

Playing with two pairs

A slightly different situation occurs when you get two pairs in your hand. Many players at this point would choose the option of keeping two pairs in the first hand with five cards, then putting the highest remaining card in the second. However, this is not the best option; it is much more advantageous to support the second hand and spread the power across both hands. This is because, as we explained in the last article, the important thing is not to make one flawless and one bad hand, but two good hands.

  • Low pair and low pair - split if you don't already have a king or better.
  • Low pair and middle pair - split if you don't already have a king or better.
  • Low pair and high pair - split if you don't already have an ace.
  • Middle pair and middle pair - split if you don't already have an ace.
  • Middle pair and high pair - split every time.
  • High pair and high pair - split always.
  • Ace pair and any other pair - split always.

Playing with three of a kind

A slightly more complicated situation occurs when you have a three-of-a-kind in your hand. At this point, you need to weigh up all the pros and cons and then act in accordance with the best possible strategy. This involves a simple rule - if you have three of deuces to kings, you keep it in your first hand, then put the highest card in the second hand. The change only comes with the three of aces. The vast majority would be tempted by this very situation to keep a very good hand in one piece. Far better, at least from a numbers perspective, is to break this three-of-a-kind into a pair and a high card. These are then split into two hands (pair to the first, ace to the second).

Playing a flush or straight

A very simple situation arises when you get a flush or a straight in your hand. In this case, you keep your hand and play with very nice cards in the first hand. The only exception is when you are dealt three-of-a-kind or two pair. At this point, it is worth considering the situation (especially with a straight) to see if it would be more advantageous to keep two pair or a broken three. If you manage to get, for example, AA and 55, the lowest possible straight, it is more advantageous to keep two pairs.

Playing with Full House

If you are lucky enough to get a full house, you are on the verge of almost certain victory - you can keep both a pair (in the second hand) and a three of a kind in the first hand. With a full house, there's really no need to think about anything lengthy, the situation is set up really clearly.

Playing poker

As we discussed in the last article, it's also good to tear four-of-a-kind from time to time. While you won't get to situations where you have four cards all that often, and certainly not so often where it's a good idea to tear up this hand, you need to keep in mind that there may be situations where even that solution is appropriate. While it will hurt, it will save you a nice few dollars a lot of times.

Playing with nothing

Often you will find that you get absolutely nothing. It's nothing special, nor is it anything to get too upset about. This is just a classic poker situation and you'll have to learn to play with it anyway. Unfortunately, you can't rely on any strategy in these cases, you have to rely solely on your own will. So the only option is to keep the highest card in your first hand, while putting the second highest card in the second hand. However, it all really depends on the situation and there is no universal advice on how to deal with these or other cards if you don't get any winning hand.

Another helpful tool can be to find out what system the casino in question uses before playing Pai Gow Poker. Individual casinos may also have their own, slightly different systems for splitting pairs of cards.

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