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Pai Gow Poker Online

One of the burgeoning online games of the moment is Pai Gow, or more accurately Pai Gow Poker (the original game of Pai Gow was and indeed is, a Chinese game played with Dominoes).

A little like Gin Rummy, it was invented, out of thin air, so to speak, by 2 enterprising casino owners in Los Angeles who wanted to innovate in order to attract more players to their gaming hall.

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How to play Pai Gow Poker?

The standard game comprises 6 players versus the dealer, but when you play Pai Gow Poker online, it’s just you against the dealer (ie. the online casino) so it’s simpler in this respect.

By the normal rules of Pai Gow Poker, a player is dealt 7 cards, but the real difference between the Pai Gow Poker casino game and other table games is that you make up 2 hands rather than 1.

As noted, 2 hands should be made up, one of 5 cards, and the other consisting of 2. The first hand (5 cards) follows normal Poker rankings, with one qualification – a hand made up of 4 Aces and a Joker (one of which is included in the Pai Gow deck remember).

There may also be some differences in ranking between different casinos, so always check the paytables before playing – sometimes a ‘low’ Ace through to 5 straight is ranked lower than a High card – ‘high’ Ace straight.

Jokers either make up the 5th card in a straight or flush, or play as an Ace if a straight or flush is not possible.

They also usually play as an Ace in the 2 card hand, except in some cases where they can be used as a Wild.

If the case is the latter it should be made perfectly clear in the title of the game (‘Jokers Wild’ or similar) but always check the rules.

That’s about all for basic Pai Gow Poker rules, except for one last small but crucial detail. The bottom (2 card) hand must NOT rank higher than the top (5 card) one.

So for instance if you had a high card in the top hand, and a pair in the bottom, your hand would be declared invalid and you would forfeit your stake (obviously it’s your responsibility to ensure this does not happen by arranging your 7 cards into 5 and 2 in such a way as to avoid this).

So when you’ve rearranged your cards and the banker has done the same, it’s flip over time to see who wins – you have to beat BOTH the banker’s hands to win, if only one hand wins and one loses, the bet pushes (ie. you get your stake back), if both of your hands win, payouts are calculated to a paytable, which you can find by clicking somewhere on the casino Pai Gow Poker table, depending on what you got.

Obviously if both hands lose, you lose your stake.

In general, Pai Gow Poker is quite a slow-paced game but it suits small bankrolls and is quite simple to get to grips with, so it is ideal for the newer player.

Also, the house edge (advantage the casino has over the player resulting from the online Pai Gow Poker odds) is better than with a lot of other games, so you can’t easily lose too much either, if you employ a bit of strategy.

Which brings us on to the next point - what about some Pai Gow Poker tips and tricks to help you on your way?

First, as with any games, it’s a good idea to play Pai Gow Poker free online for as long as possible, to get the hang of it before committing yourself.

There are plenty of places to play free Pai Gow Poker online

A lot of casinos will let you use ‘play’ money, and you could also take advantage of Welcome Bonuses and other promos in order to play the game.

Many online versions of this game make it even easier for you by splitting your hand into 5 and 2 for you, the best way possible with the given cards.

This is an additional reason why it’s quite a good introduction to online gambling for a new player to play Pai Gow Poker games.

But for those who want to go it alone and pick their own hands, the following advanced Pai Gow Poker strategy will prove invaluable:

 Put the highest 2 card hand possible without exceeding the 5 card hand as noted. In other words don’t use the bottom hand as a ‘rubbish dump’ for the lowest cards – you have to win with this hand too, remember.

 Put the 2nd and 3rd highest cards in your bottom hand IF you have no pairs, straights or flushes in general.

 If you have just the one pair, keep this in your top hand and put the next 2 highest cards in your bottom hand).

 Obviously if you have 2 pairs, you’d put the lower scoring one in your bottom hand, but if you’re lucky enough to get 3 pairs, put the HIGHEST one in your bottom (2 card) hand as that is still lower than a 2 pair (ie. the other 2 in your 5 card hand).

 If you get 3 of a kind, obviously keep it in the 5 card hand UNLESS it’s 3 Aces – in that case it’s better to have a pair of Aces in the top hand and put the 3rd Ace into your bottom hand.

 If you get a straight of 7 cards (ie. a run of consecutive numbers, for instance 5 – Jack) put the highest 2 in the bottom hand (ie. a 10 and a Jack in the above example).

 In the unlikely (and enviable) event of getting two 3-of-a-kinds, you should put a pair from the higher numbered 3-of-a-kind in your 2 card hand and retain the lower 3-of-a-kind in your top hand.

With this info you’re already on the way to becoming a Pai Gow card shark!



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