Pai Gow Poker is based on a traditional Chinese domino game. However in this game we use cards instead of dominoes.  The game is played with a standard 52 card deck plus one joker and can be played by up to 6 people at once.

The objective is to make two poker hands out of seven cards dealt.

The first of the two poker hands is called the “high hand”, “back hand” or “big hand” (made up of 5 cards). The second is called the “low hand,” “front hand” or “small hand” (made up of 2 cards).

Your low hand can only be either a pair or a high card. Your high hand must beat your low hand. This means that if you have a pair of jacks in your low hand, your high hand must be a pair of queens or higher. If you have a pair of Aces in your low hand, your high hand therefore must be two pairs or higher, since this is the next highest hand ranking in poker.

How to play Pai Gow poker:

First of all you make your bet by placing your chips in the ante box on the table. You can also place a side bet at this point if it is available.

Once you have made your hands, the dealer will reveal their best hand combinations.

There are 3 possible outcomes to each round. Firstly, is that you win both hands against the dealer and win your bet. Secondly, the dealer wins both hands and you lose your bet. Thirdly, the dealer wins one hand and you win the other hand and the hand is a “push”. You get your bet back.  One thing to note is that if the hands are tied (eg you and the dealer have the same hand) it is the dealer who wins that hand.

How much can you win in Pai Gow poker?

Payout: If both of your hands beat the dealer you win at 1:1 (minus the commission)

The bonus bet payout is usually as follows:
Seven Card Straight Flush – 8000: 1
Royal Flush with Suited Royals – 2000:1
Seven Card Straight Flush with Joker – 1000: 1
Five Aces 400 : 1
Royal Flush 150: 1
Straight Flush 50 : 1
Four of a kind 25:1
Full house – 5:1
Flush – 4:1
Three of a kind – 3:1
Straight – 2:1

One important thing to note is the only way to make a significant win is by placing the bonus bet.  

Other things to remember in Pai Gow:

Casinos often take 5% commission from a player’s winnings, similar to what happens in baccarat.

Now online you’ll often find more interesting variations of Pai Gow which give the player the opportunity to place side bets and hit bigger wins. However, with regards to side bets please be aware that these will eat away at your bank roll.

The joker is not a normal wild card that can replace anything. It can be used to complete a royal flush, straight flush, straight or flush otherwise it is counted as an Ace.

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