Pai gow poker was invented in the 1980s. It’s a popular form of banked poker that allows players to try their luck and skills against the casino.

It is quite similar to Chinese poker, and if you’re familiar with the same, the rules of pai gow poker will be familiar.

Pai gow poker’s house edge is around 2.8%, and this is quite decent all factors considered. The volatility of the game is also relatively low because of how it is played. Many hands will often end up in a tie, and this is good as you can play for extended sessions without making a serious dent to your pocket.

This article will give you tips on how to play Pai Gow poker and offer strategies on how to do it best.

How to play Pai Gow poker -Basic rules

The goal of the game is to beat the dealer just like in any other game in a gambling with bitcoin. You will be required to make two separate hands that are much stronger than the dealer’s two hands. Stay with me, and you will understand what’s going on.

The game is usually played with a standard deck of 52 cards and a joker.

It is important to note that the Joker is a semi wild card in the game. It can be used to complete any flashes of straights. In any other instance, it is counted as an Ace.

It is essential to check in a particular casino’s rules whether the wheel (A 2 3 4 5 ) is counted as is or as the second top straight.

Some casinos still count the wheel as the second-best straight. This feature is essential to know before you even start.

A hand of Pai Gow poker starts when all the players post their ante bets. After the post, everyone receives seven cards, including the dealer, face down. After you receive your cards, you get the chance to look at them. You are also required to arrange them into different hands.

  • One five-card hand combination
  • One-two card hand

The best result you can get is when both of your hands beat the dealer’s hands. Standard poker hand rankings are used as a reference to determine who wins. i.e. two pairs beat a single pair; one pair beats a high-card hand.

It is important to note that your top (two-card hand) should never be more potent than your bottom (five-card) hand. For example, you cannot place a pair of Jacks at the top of your bottom as a pair of 10s. If this happens, your hand is fouled, and your bet is forfeited.

Pai Gow poker payouts

Once all the players have set up their hands, the dealer does the same. They then compare their hands to the players and pay the winners. If you beat the dealer’s hands with both of yours, you’re paid at 1:1 on your ante.

If you beat a hand but lose out on the second, the bet is pushed back (tie). The dealer wears all ties. i.e. if you happen to have the same hand in your top hand, the dealer wins.

An important point to note is that most casinos will charge a 5% commission on your winnings which adds to the house edge. This practice has ended in some places. This feature makes the game much more interesting for the player. The house edge is estimated to be around 1.3% if there is no commission involved.

Side bets in Pai Gow poker

 Several variations of the game have evolved over the years. They share the same basic rules as Pai Gow poker. Some also let you place side bets. It adds to the excitement and a higher probability of some big wins.

You are betting that you can make a hand that’s at least three of a kind or better when side bets are available. Side bets are paid independently of the outcome of the hand and have nothing to do with your primary wagers.

Side bets usually increase the house edge and quite significantly. If this is something that brings you concern, it’s essential to avoid them. Side bets, however, are the only way you can win big in this game.

Pai gow poker strategy

There’s only one bet to make, and this is at the start of the hand. Some decisions, however, are to be made on how you will arrange the cards in your hand.

To make a profit, you need to beat both the dealer’s hands. You’d rather have two reasonably strong hands than have one super strong hand coupled with air.

Consider some of the tips below when arranging your Pai gow hand

  1. If you’re dealt a pair or better, put two-second high-ranking cards at the front and leave your highest-ranking card at the back
  2. Always split five aces if you have a joker unless you have a pair of kings to put out in the front.
  3. If you get quads that are JJ +, it’s advisable to split them into two pair.
  4. When you have quad six or lower, keep the quads at the back and make sure that whatever best hand you can make is in the front
  5. If you have AA with any other pair, always split pairs, JJ through AA or a higher pair that’s coupled with a medium one(7s through 10s)
  6. Unless it is trip aces, always play trips in your backhand. Split Ace-high in the front and Aces into a pair in the back.

Conclusion: Enjoy your session of Pai Gow Poker.

If you’re able to find a casino that doesn’t charge a commission on winning hands, this is a great game choice to pass the time and have fun.

If you are a fan of Chinese poker, you will probably love Pai Gow poker as well. With its low house edge and frequent splits, you will not lose out too much while playing. Don’t have high expectations of winning large either, but similar with any table game, you might be lucky to go on a hot streak when you don’t expect it.


  1. How To Play Pai Gow Poker – The Best Strategies and Rules 
  2. How to Play Pai Gow Poker 

[Written By External Partner]

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