A Beginner’s Pai Gow Poker Guide

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In this Pai Gow Poker guide, we look at all the rules, side bets and strategies that can be used for Pai Gow Poker. The casino poker game is one of the most popular in the industry. It is based on the standard five-card poker game. However, the rules are slightly more advanced as players receive seven cards. Find out more below.

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Pai Gow Poker Guide: An Introduction

Pai Gow poker combines poker with the traditional Chinese game of Pai Gow. The game was created in 1985 by Bell Card Club proprietor Sam Torosian. Pai Gow Poker has since gained enormous popularity among players both online and off. There are several causes for this.

The game is not only a lot of fun and offers the possibility to win large, but it also has a low house edge and low volatility. Since many hands are expected to end in ties as a result, players can play for a long time without suffering significant financial loss.

In Pai Gow Poker, the aim for the player is to create two poker hands – a five-card and two-card hand – and for both of them to beat the dealer. If they both manage to beat the dealer, then the player will receive a full payout.

Before we take a look at the rules for the game, it is important to know how to differentiate and distinguish between poker hand strengths. Thus, we advise you to look at the next section which is about poker hands and how valuable they are from strongest to weakest.

Poker Hands Ranked

In this section, we distinguish between the strongest and weakest poker hands.

  • Royal Flush– This is the strongest hand possible and it contains the cards 10, J, Q, K and A all from the same suit.
  • Straight Flush – This is five cards from the same suit in numerical order; for example, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 of Hearts.
  • Four of a Kind – This is a hand that contains four cards with same value, such as 3 Diamonds, 3 Clubs, 3 Spades, 3 Hearts.
  • Full House – This is a hand that contains three of a kind and a pair, for example, three 4s and two Queens, the suit is irrelevant.
  • Flush – This is a hand of five cards from the same suit, for example, 6, 8, 9, Queen and King of Spades.
  • Straight – This is five cards in numerical order, regardless of suit. For example, 3 Diamonds, 4 Clubs, 5 Hearts, 6 Diamonds, and 7 Spades
  • Three of a Kind – This is three cards of the same value and two unrelated cards. For example, 4 Diamonds, 4 Spades, 4 Hearts, 9 Clubs and Queen Diamonds.
  • Two Pair – This is a hand that contains two separate pairs of cards and one unrelated card. For example, 3 Diamonds, 3 Spades, Jack Clubs, Jack Hearts, 4 Hearts.
  • Pair – This is a hand that contains two matching cards and three unrelated cards. For example, Ace Clubs, Ace Diamonds, 7 Hearts, 5 Diamonds, 10 Spades.
  • High Card – If a hand does not contain any of the above, then it is judged according to the highest value card in it.

In most casino poker games, if both the dealer and player’s cards are equal in strength, the value distinguishes the winner. For instance, a pair of 10s is stronger than a pair of 3s.

How to Play Pai Gow Poker: The Rules


In Pai Gow Poker, players compete against the dealer; nevertheless, the objective is to create two distinct hands that are both stronger than the dealer’s two hands.

Playing cards for the game consist of a conventional 52-card deck plus a joker. Nearly serving as a wild card is The Joker. It counts like an Ace in all other situations and can be utilized to complete Straights or Flushes.

You must place your Ante wager before a round can begin. The dealer then deals seven cards face down to you. Next, you must arrange your cards into two hands after taking a glance at them. two-card and five-card hands both exist. The objective of the game, which use regular poker hands, is for both of your hands to surpass the dealer’s hands.

The two-card hand is referred to as the “Top” while the five-card hand is referred to as the “Bottom.” Never allow the Top hand to be stronger than the Bottom. You cannot, for instance, have a pair of Jacks or higher in the Top if your Bottom hand is a pair of 10s.

The dealer will arrange their hands after you have done so. Then the hands are contrasted. You receive a 1:1 payout for the ante stake if both of your hands defeat the dealer. The wager is considered a push if you beat the dealer on one hand but lose on the other. You lose your bet if both hands are weaker than the dealer’s.

It’s also crucial to be aware that the dealer always prevails in ties; in other words, if you have precisely the same hand strength in both hands, the dealer takes the pot. In addition, you’ll discover that many casinos take 5% of your gains as a commission.

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Pai Gow Poker Side Bets

Pai Gow Poker side bets are available in several casinos. They can vary, but generally speaking, they are a technique to up the excitement level of the game and increase your chances of winning more money.

The player hand having a Three of a Kind or, in some games, a Straight or better across all seven cards is the most popular side wager. Common payouts include 2:1 for a Straight, 3:1 for Three of a Kind, 4:1 for a Flush, 5:1 for a Full House, 25:1 for Four of a Kind, 50:1 for a Straight Flush, 150:1 for a Royal Flush, 400:1 for Five Aces, 1,000:1 for a Seven Card Flush with Joker, 2,000:1 for a Royal Flush and Royal Match, and 8,000:1 for a 7 Card Straight Flush.

Although placing the side bet will raise the house edge, it is the only method to play Pai Gow Poker and receive significant winnings. You must thus plan accordingly and strike your own balance between risk and potential benefits.

A Beginner’s Strategy to Pai Gow Poker


In Pai Gow Poker, there are no choices to be made in terms of betting. There is no chance to bet more after placing your Ante wager. This demonstrates how simple the strategy is. However, choices must be made regarding how to divide your deck into two hands (although, many online games will make recommendations on how to do this).

The objective is to create the best two hands possible, defeat both of the dealer’s hands, and make sure your bottom hand is stronger than your top hand. Practically speaking, this means that you will frequently lose if you create a good Bottom hand but have a weak Top hand, like a 9-high. You want to balance the hands and have two medium strength hands.

How to build the two hands

When building the two hands, the following tips will help:

  • If you are not dealt a made hand (a pair or better), then keep your highest ranking card in the Bottom and put the two second highest-ranking cards in the Top.
  • When you have AA with any other pair, two high pairs (JJ through AA), or a high pair with a medium pair (7s through 10s), then you should always split them.
  • If you have two medium pairs or a combination of a high pair and a low pair (2s through 6s), then you should split them, unless you have an Ace. If you have an Ace, then place two pairs in the Bottom and the Ace-high in the Top.
  • When you have two medium pairs or a medium and a low pair, then always split them unless you have an Ace or a King. If you have an Ace or a King, then you can place Ace or King-high in the Top and place the two pair in the Bottom.

Stronger Hands

  • If you have trips, always place them in the Bottom, unless it is triple Aces, in which case put a pair in the Bottom and once Ace in the Top.
  • When you are holding quads that are Js or stronger, then always split them into two pairs.
  • If you have quads that are 7s through 10s, then split them into two pairs unless you have an Ace to place in the Top.
  • When you have quads that are 6s or lower, then keep the quads in the Bottom and make the best possible hand with the remaining cards in the Top.
  • If you have a full house, always split it into trips and a pair, unless you have an additional pair to go with it. In that situation, put the higher of the pairs in the Bottom.
  • When you have five Aces (four aces and the Joker), then always split them unless you have a pair of Kings to play in the Top.

This may initially seem like a lot to comprehend. But with some experience, you’ll discover that you adapt to it pretty quickly. Remember that you can always refer to these guidelines when playing online; eventually, they’ll come naturally to you.

The Bottom Line

Thus, to conclude this Pai Gow Poker guide for beginner’s, we hope that you have learned a thing or two. The casino poker game is one of the most popular in the world. However, it is not as straightforward to learn as other games. It takes time to become more acquainted to the game. After you are familiar with it, you will be able to play Pai Gow Poker with ease. Alternatively, there are other jackpot games to try out as well.

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