How to Play Pai Gow Poker

Play Pai Gow Poker: The Objective

Let’s learn how to play play Pai Gow Poker. The game is a mix between the ancient Chinese game Pai Gow and American poker. When you play Pai Gow poker, the dealer and the player are both dealt 7 cards. From these 7 cards, the dealer and the player must both make a 5 card high-hand and a 2 card low-hand. To win, the player must beat both of the dealer’s hands. If the player only wins one of the two hands, the round result is a tie. The dealer wins absolute ties (i.e. King/Queen vs Queen/King).

The Rules

A traditional 52 card deck plus a joker are used to play Pai Gow Poker. After every hand the deck is reshuffled. Each player receives 7 cards and must split them into 2 hands — a 5 card hand and a 2 card hand (the high and low hand, respectively). The player’s low hand is played against the dealer’s low hand and the same applies to the high hand. The game follows general poker ranking rules: one pair, three of a kind, etc. (see below).

How to Play Pai Gow Poker
Play Pai Gow Poker; Start playing now!

The 5-card hand must always rank higher than the 2-card hand. For example, if a player’s 7 cards are: A, A, 9, 7, 5, 4, 3, he/she can’t place the 2 Aces as a “low hand.” The Aces must be kept in the 5-card “high hand.” When you play Pai Gow Poker you are following the standard rules of the Nevada Gaming Commission. The exceptions are as follows: players can’t act as the dealer or play the dragon. Also, players don’t lose their bets if they’ve unintentionally produced a “dead hand” (i.e. incorrectly arranging low and high hands). They are, however, warned to rearrange their cards.

The deck is reshuffled after each hand.

Play Pai Gow Poker: The Hands

To play Pai Gow poker, remember that the Joker is wild, however, it can only be used to complete Straights, Flushes, and Straight Flushes. In Straights and Straight Flushes, the Joker is the value and suit needed to complete the hand. In Flushes the Joker is the highest value card in the missing suit. Alone the Joker is an Ace. The Joker cannot be used to form pairs other than with an Ace, 3, 4, or 5 of a kind.

The following chart is from the highest hand to the lowest hand.

Five Of A Kind
Aces only. Four aces plus a joker
Royal Flush
Ace – King – Queen – Jack – 10 of the same suit
Straight Flush
Five cards in sequence of the same suit
Four Of A Kind
Any four cards of the same value
Full House
Three of a kind and a pair
Five cards of same suit
Any five cards in sequence but not of the same suit
Three Of A Kind
Three cards of the same value and two unmatched cards
Two Pair
Two cards with the same value with another two cards of the same value with any other card
One Pair
Two cards of the same value and three unmatched cards

Poker Guides

Now you’re an expert, check out our recommendations for the best sites to play poker. You can find all the rules for Poker here. If you’re looking to improve your game via strategies, then we also have those for you; Poker Strategies.  And finally, to help you understand all those poker terms and jargon, we have compiled a Poker Glossary.