Pai Gow poker promises a fascinating take on traditional poker. While this game’s origins are indeed Chinese – hence the Chinese symbols – Pai Gow poker’s popularity has been steadily rising, both at online and land-based casinos.
The object in this particular form of poker is to build two poker hands from seven cards, that is, a five-card hand and a two-card hand. Also, in Pai Gow poker the House is the banker.
This novel form of poker requires you to combine both skill and luck by managing two card hands as opposed to the typical single hand, and betting on your hand as higher value than the Dealer’s.
How to play
To get started playing Pai Gow poker, as in other poker-type games, you commence by placing your bet. The Dealer deals you 7 cards with which you attempt to build two strong hands; a five-card hand and a two-card hand. The Dealer also receives 7 cards and from these tries to build the best possible five-card and two-card hands as well.
In Pai Gow poker your five-card hand is known as your "High Hand" and the two-card hand is your "Low Hand." In order to qualify, your High Hand must be greater in value than your Low Hand.
The online advantage
As we mentioned, your goal in Pai Gow poker is to have both your hands be stronger than the Dealer’s two hands. The exciting feature of this game is having the casino arrange your best possible hands (again the 5-card and 2-card) automatically. All you have to do is click on the "House Way" button!
The winning hand combinations in Pai Gow poker differ somewhat from other poker games. For instance, Pai Gow play employs a 53-card deck, with the 53rd card being a joker/wild card. The joker may be used as an Ace or wild card to form 3 different hand combinations: a Straight, Flush or Straight Flush.
Pai Gow poker is also different with regard to ties. Unlike most other poker variations, whenever your hand and the Dealer's are equal in rank, the result is not a push – meaning your bet is returned to you – but rather the House wins. Hey, such is life.
What’s also important to remember is that the value of a straight in this poker game is a little different than in traditional poker. In regular poker, a straight comprising an Ace-2-3-4-5 would be ranked the lowest straight possible. However, in Pai Gow poker, an Ace-2-3-4-5 straight would rank the second-highest, after only a straight made up of an Ace-King-Queen-Jack-10.