Pai Gow Poker: How to Play

by Gayle Mitchell

This lesson, Pai Gow Poker taught at Learn Poker is about one of the top 10 best casino bets with a casino advantage of less than 3%.
Basic rules follow and are offered for players seeking to learn Pai Gow Poker and add another casino game to their playbook.

Pai Gow Poker is an American derivative played with standard playing cards requiring that the player set two hands--a high and a second highest--trying to beat the banker’s two hands.

The cards are ranked like standard poker hands; the exception being that one joker is found in the deck and can be played as an ace or the high card to finish a straight, flush, straight flush or royal flush.
You must win both hands to win your bet and the house receives a commission on all winning hands. All players play against the banker, which could be the dealer, or a player putting up the required funds. Each player receives seven cards and must make two poker hands, the high hand made up of five cards and the low hand containing two cards.
The highest five-card hand is five aces and the highest two-card hand is two aces based on poker rankings.

The Pai Gow Poker table has six players’ seats and a dealer, similar to a blackjack table. The player’s high hand is displayed closest to the space in front of them, while the 2nd highest or low two-card hand is placed on top of the high hand towards the dealer.
A chung or marker is set in front of the banker.

Rotation is counterclockwise, dealer shuffles and deals seven hands of seven cards face down, which equals 49 cards, therefore, 4 are left in the deck.

Receiver of the first hand is determined by a dice throw from a cup containing three dice. After all the players receive their seven cards face down, they must form two hands.

Pai Gow Poker: the most important rule to remember when playing is that the rank of the five-card high hand must be higher than the two-card low hand. Any player’s hand that is set incorrectly will automatically lose.
Most casino dealers will assist in this placement; and dealer sets bank hand according to fixed house rules.  Once all hands are set, the dealer will compare the player’s hand rank with banker’s hand for payouts. If one of your hands is higher in rank than the dealer and the other is lower, this is a tie (approximately 45% of the time) and your bet remains on the layout.
If the banker bests both of your hands, then you lose your wager. If both hands are identical (copy), the banker also wins.

A win pays even money less a 5% commission paid immediately. Casinos have different rules as to how many times a player can act as banker. Normally, the dealer will ask each player in turn, if they wish to be the banker and the same player cannot bank two consecutive hands.
There is a player advantage if the casino allows you to be banker every second or third hand. In casinos, the banker must have sufficient chips to cover all the other players’ wagers.
Some card rooms will offer co-bank at 50/50 with other players. 

Pai Gow Poker is followed by Pai Gow Poker Strategies
How to Play Poker 1 Program
Learn Poker Games 2 with 7 Game Types

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Tips, Terms & Wins

Let It Ride: After you are shown one of the two community cards, you make your next decision on this ‘fourth’ card. This is your final chance to take back any bets.
If you decide to Let It Ride, the fifth card is revealed.
The dealer then reveals all cards and pays accordingly. 

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