Pai gow poker

Pai gow poker is a very exciting and challenging game. It is played with a standard 52 - card deck and one joker. To start the game, the players make their bets according to the table minimum. Then the banker deals out 7 cards face up and deals himself 7 face down. The object of Pai gow poker is to arrange the seven cards into a 5 - card hand called "high hand" and a 2 card- hand called "low hand".

Pai gow has very few rules: for example, your high hand must be a higher value than your low hand. The joker can be used as an Ace or a wild card to complete a straight or a flush.

Pai gow poker table

 

The main object of Pai gow poker is to gain two hands (high hand and low hand) with a higher value than the banker’s two hands. The higher value hand is established according to the rules of traditional poker. If both of your hands beat the banker's two hands you win. Don’t forget that the casino collects a 5% commission on all winning bets. If the banker's two hands beat both of your hands or if either of your hands has the exact same value as the banker's hand (tie), you lose and the banker collects your bet. If one of your hands beats the banker’s and one loses, it is a push and there are no winners. The bet is refunded.

Pai gow poker differs from ordinary poker: there are several exceptions regarding score values as well as the presence of a joker, as mentioned earlier.

  • The winning hand combination is not a straight flush but a 5 aces hand (including a joker as Wild Card).

  • The highest ranking for the flush is A, K, Q, J, 10 (just like poker) but the second highest ranking for the flush is A, 2,3,4,5 as opposed to poker where such ranking is considered the lowest.

The following chart shows the best Pai gow poker strategy resulting from elaborated computer simulations.

Pai gow poker strategy
If you have a hand of: The best strategy
No pair Place second and third highest card in front
One pair Place pair in back and highest other two cards in front
Two pair Split pairs unless you have:
- pairs of 6s or lower.
- pairs of 10s or lowers plus an ace.
- a pair of face cards and a pair of 5s or lower plus an ace.
Three pairs
Place big pair in front.
Three of a kind
Place three of a kind in back except for three - of - a - kind aces hand.
Two sets Place pair from higher set in front
Straight or flush Place straight or flush in back unless you have a two pair with one of the following hands:
- a pair of aces or any other kind of pair.
- two pairs of 10s or higher
- two pairs of 10s or lower with an ace
Straight or flush with six or seven cards

Place the highest cards possible in back and keep straight or flush in front.
With both straight and flush place flush in back unless the low hand has a King or a higher card; in this case place the highest cards possible in front.

Full
Split unless you have a pair of 2s or whenever an ace or a king can be placed in the low hand (front).
Full with three of a kind and two pair Place big pair in front.
Poker

- do not split poker hand ranking 2 – 6
- split poker hand ranking 7 - 10 unless you can place an ace or a face card in your low hand
- split poker hand ranking jack - king poker unless you have a pair of 10s or higher in your low hand
- split four aces poker hand unless you have a pair of 7s or higher in your low hand

(Minimum) straight flush
Place straight flush in back except for the following hands:
- a pair of aces and any other pair
- two pairs of 10s or higher
- pairs of 10s or lower and an ace
Straight flush
Place straight flush in back except for the following hands:
- a pair of aces and any other pair.
- two pairs of 10 s or higher
- whenever you can place a king or a higher card in front and a straight or flush in back.
Five aces
Split unless you can place a pair of kings in front.

By following this Pai gow poker strategy, the player can gain a slight edge over the bank. For this reason, the casino collects a 5% commission on all players’ winning bets.