How to Play Pai Gow

 

Pai Gow poker, which is also known as Double Hand Poker, is a western version of a more traditional Pai Gow that is played with cards rather than Chinese dominoes, or pai gows. Though Pai Gow poker is certainly an exciting game for you to play, actually understanding the fundamentals of gameplay can be a little bit of a confusing process, especially if you’re just starting out in the world of poker. Thankfully this guide contains a wealth of information that you can utilize to help master the art of Pai Gow poker, so read on to find out more if you want to learn how to play Pai Gow. 

How to play Pai Gow Poker?

Pai Gow Poker is pretty standard in the sense that it uses a basic deck of 52 playing cards with an additional joker, and a maximum of 6 players are allowed to sit around the table with the dealer during any one game. However, this is where things start to change, as Pai Gow poker is unlikely to be similar to any kind of game that you have had the pleasure of taking part in the past. The main object of Pai Gow poker is pretty simple: you need to find a way to beat the banker. The banker can be a number of different people, whether you choose the dealer, another participating player at the game table, or even a player/dealer ‘team’.  

To play Pai Gow poker, you need to make 2 different hands with 7 cards that are dealt out. There is a 5 card high hand (may be referred to as backhand or big hand), and a 2 card low hand (could be referenced as the front hand or small hand). The high hand cards need to be able to beat your low hand cards, so if your low hand is a pair of fives then your high hand needs to be more valuable than this. Once you set your big and small hands, the dealer will then reveal them alongside the banker’s hands. So, when you’re playing Pai Gow there are essentially 3 potential outcomes that you can expect to occur: 

  • Player wins both hands and therefore wins their entire bet.
  • Dealer wins both hands and therefore the player loses the bet.
  • Player wins 1 hand yet the dealer wins the other, in which case the hand is then considered a push and no money can change hands. Ties always go to the dealer in a game of Pai Gow poker.

 

How to set a hand in Pai Gow Poker?

When it comes to setting a hand in Pai Gow poker, you need to pay full attention. For a 2 card hand, you can only make pairs and higher cards, whereas, for a 5 card hand, more of your bog-standard poker hand rankings will apply. It is vital that the 5 card hand can outrank the 2 card hand. As an example, if your 2 card hand is made up of a pair of aces, then your 5 card hand needs to be better than 2 pairs. The joker card can actually be used in Pai Gow poker, but only if you wish to complete a flush or a straight. If neither a flush nor straight is possible, then the joker must become an ace in most casinos and gambling environments. If you can’t manage to make a pair or better with your hand, then your hand will be fouled and can either be reset while abiding by house rules or even totally forfeited! 

Pai Gow strategy

Unfortunately, achieving great success in a game of Pai Gow poker is mostly dependent on the way that the cards are dealt, as of course, there are no betting rounds. However, a little skill is still necessary if you want to set your hand in the best way to have a greater chance of beating the dealer. It’s common for players to be faced with a hand that could be set in a number of different ways, each of which can boast a totally different outcome. If you’re playing Pai Gow poker in a land-based casino, then it’s important to note that your results can be influenced by the amount you wager when you take the opportunity to serve as the banker (as your odds can subsequently change slightly). However, you will not serve as a banker if you are playing online, so as a result, web-based Pai Gow poker strategy can focus more exclusively on the way you split your 7 cards. 

There are many simple strategies that you can pursue in a game of Pai Gow poker, including:

  • For a single pair in a 7 card hand, keep it in your backhand. Instead, place your 2 highest cards in your front hand.
  • If you have 3 pairs, place the highest-ranking pair in your front hand.
  • For 3 of a kind, keep them all together and then choose to put your two highest cards in your front hand.
  • If you’re holding onto a full house, then move the pair to your front hand.

There are also a number of other complex strategies that you can implement to help increase your chances of achieving success, but these take a wealth of knowledge and experience to utilize in the most productive manner. It can be tricky to come out on top even with your best strategy in place, but that’s the excitement of gambling! 

Learning how to play Pai Gow poker has never been a more achievable task when you can utilize some of the brilliant tips, info and ideas that have been carefully detailed above, so what are you waiting for? 

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