Pai Gow Poker

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Whether you are a fan of traditional Chinese Pai Gow dominoes, or you want to experiment with poker games, wrapping yourself up in an unusual atmosphere, Pai gow poker is an excellent choice for you. Paying tribute to a famous Chinese gambling game, Pai gow is nevertheless a poker game of somehow changed yet quite familiar rules. It won’t take long to learn the ropes since the card combinations are the same except that you’re playing with two hands, a low and a high one.

But let’s not put the cart before the horse: choose your Pai gow poker casino at first. To make it simple, we’ve researched the market and united the best pai gow offers here at Slots Up. Feel free to skim through the tailor-made list of top-notch pai gow online platforms and pick the one you would be happy to spend your time and money with. And, of course, don’t be shy to play your game for free before wagering with real money: all the casinos from the collection below have the free-play mode, and some of them offer it even for unregistered users!

Top Online Casinos with Pai Gow Poker for 2021

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Everything You Need to Know About Pai Gow Poker

With as many as 154,143,080 possible pai gow poker combinations, there’s enough room for different strategies and tricks to utilize at your Pai Gow poker casino, but let’s first sum up how this game differs from classic poker:

  • Pai gow poker is played with two hands, a high one and a low one.
  • You can bet against the dealer and against other players, which is called ‘banking.’
  • The game can end up in a tie.

Well, that’s it – the rest are the details, but, of course, there’s no other way to become a good pai gow player than by learning its rules through and through. Therefore, read on.

Pai Gow Poker History

The historical details are not that important, but we can’t help but treat you with an aperitif before the main course, especially given all the drama that fell upon the creator of this now popular game. As you already know, the historical roots of pai gow poker go back to the game of Pai Gow, a Chinese 7-tile, 2-suit game played by soldiers and the general public about a thousand years ago. But it was not until 1985 that the traditional Chinese games moved to the U.S. and were adjusted to the local ethos: a few alterations were made by Sam Torosian, who named a new game Pai Gow Poker and made it popular within the local casinos. Shortly after that – by the end of 1986, that is – pai gow poker spread to the rest of Los Angeles and, before long, the rest of the world.

And now to the drama part. Surprisingly enough, Sam Torosian didn’t patent his game because of a bad legal opinion claiming card games to be not patentable. He could have made millions out of his idea but earned nothing, allowing hundreds, if not thousands, of casinos worldwide to offer pai gow poker without paying royalties.

Pai Gow Poker Rules

The most common poker games at online casinos rarely include jokers, but pai gow poker always does. The game is played with a single 53-card deck equipped with a joker, which can either complete a flush/straight/straight flush/royal flush combo or – in all other cases – count as an Ace.

  1. As the game starts, you make a bet, and the dealer issues you and himself seven cards. Once you’ve got your cards, you have to separate them into two hands, a low one of two cards and a high one of five cards. The low hand cannot be higher in value than the high hand; the rankings are the same as used in all poker games, except that some casinos might count the A2345 straight as the second-highest straight.
  2. Once your cards are revealed, the skill part of the game starts. You have to separate your seven cards in the best possible way so that you can beat the dealer with both hands of yours. Once you’ve done that, the dealer does the same, and the hands are compared.
    • If you manage to win with both hands, you get a 2:1 payment.
    • If you win with one hand and lose with the other, it’s a push: you get your wager back.
    • If both hands are the same as the dealer’s – a tie, that is – the dealer/banker/house wins.

As an option, you can bet against other players, which is called ‘banking.’

How to Play Pai Gow Poker

So let’s first recap your pai gow poker routine and then proceed to explain the peculiarities of the game that you might meet and therefore should be ready for:

  1. Place your bet.
  2. Receive seven cards face-up (meanwhile, the dealer’s cards are face-down).
  3. Split your cards into a low and a high hand while respecting the rules.
  4. After you’ve made a split, the dealer does the same.
  5. The hands are compared, and whoever wins takes the bank, or it’s a push.

That’s it – playing at your Pai Gow casino is really simple. Nevertheless, there are nuances. First of all, try not to play at casinos that charge a fee for your winnings. A typical fee is 5%, which lowers your potential returns. Secondly, don’t expect your returns to be close to what is stated by the casino: an RTP of 95% does mean that you are supposed to win back 95% of the money wagered, but that only holds true for an infinitely long gaming session. Last but not least, be a banker as if that is possible: a house enjoys an extra edge of 1.27%.

How to Bet in Pai Gow Poker

While the betting routine itself is no different to other games – you just place the wager based on the betting limits at your table, your bankroll management, and your expectations of the game – there are two betting tricks that you can take advantage of to make money in an unusual way:

  • Side bets. Side bets are wagers on certain events – for example, collecting a pair, three of a kind, and so on – that do not depend on the game’s main course. There are a lot of Pai Gow poker games (Pai Gow Manila, Emperor’s Challenge, Fortune Pai Gow, just to name a few) that allow you to make side bets. However, side bets are all about luck since you don’t make any manipulations with the cards.
  • Banking. To ‘bank’ in Pai Gow Poker means to bet against other players, which makes just perfect sense if you feel like you’ve caught your lucky break. In this case, you will get a bigger payout than if betting against the dealer only.

Pai Gow Poker Strategies

Even if you’ve played a few casino card games like Pai Gow, you might get caught off guard by the inability to split your seven cards into two hands effectively. Indeed, that’s the most challenging part and a very peculiar experience with pai gow poker. But we do have some tips for you depending on what you’re dealt:

  • No pair: move the highest card to the high hand (five-card hand) and move the second-highest and the third-highest cards in the low hand (two-card hand).
  • One pair: move the pair to the high hand and move the two highest cards to the low hand.
  • Two pairs: move the highest-rank pair to the high hand and the other pair to the low hand.
  • Three-of-a-kind: move the three cards to the high hand and the two highest cards to the low hand.
  • Two three-of-a-kind: move the highest three-of-a-kind to the high hand and split the other three-of-a-kind to move two cards to the low hand.
  • Full house: move three-of-a-kind to the high hand and a pair to the low hand.
  • Four-of-a-kind: keep 2 through 6 in the high hand; split 7 through 10 unless you have a joker or ace.

Chances-wise, most of the time you’re going to get one pair (41.6%), two pairs (23%), and no pairs (16%), so make sure to find your way to deal with those three combos in the first place. The combinations you are very unlikely to hit are Four of a Kind (0.19%), Straight and Royal Flush (0.13%), and Five Aces (only 0.0007%). Last but not least, don’t rush to split your bets. Take your time, and note that if you fail to split your cards according to the rules, your wager will be forfeited.

Pai Gow Casino FAQ

📌  What is Pai Gow Poker?
Pai Gow Poker is a mix of Pai How, a traditional Chinese domino game, and poker. Whatever Pai Gow casino you play, the game’s goal is to beat the dealer with your two hands, a low one and a high one. You can play Pai Gow Poker at online casinos either against the dealer or against the dealer and other players (up to five). The possible outcomes of the game are:

  • Win: you beat the dealer with your both card hands. Any win pays 2:1 minus the commission charged by the casino (if charged).
  • Push: you beat the dealer with one card hand and lose with the other. In the case of a push, you get your wager back.
  • Tie: both hands of yours are equal to the hands of the dealer. Upon a tie, the dealer wins.
📌  What is the House Edge in Pai Gow?
If the casino applies a 5% commission on your wins, then the house edge rises to 2.84%, which comes from the possibility of a tie (1.27%) and the commission itself (1.57%). If the casino doesn’t charge the commission, then the house edge is only 1.27%. If the casino allows you to be a dealer, then the house edge is even lower and depends on the number of players at the table.
📌  What are Pai Gow Odds?
Chances of scoring hands are as follows:

  • One pair: 41%.
  • Two pairs: 23%.
  • No pair: 16%.
  • Straight: 7.2%.
  • Three-of-a-kind: 4.8%.
  • Flush: 4%.
  • Full house: 2.7%.
  • Four-of-a-kind: 0.19%.
  • Straight and Royal Flush: 0.13%.
  • Five Aces: 0.000723%.

Most of the time, you’ll have one pair, two pairs, and no pairs to work with.

📌  How Many Pai Gow Strategies are There?
There are tons of Pai Gow strategies out there, but essential steps to victory are described in the “Pai Gow Poker Strategies” paragraph on this webpage. You can execute a ready-made strategy or come up with your unique way to win, especially as you become more experienced in Pai Gow Poker.
📌  What are the Low (Front) Hand and the High (Back) Hand?
Once you’ve dealt your seven cards at the beginning of the game, you have to split them into two hands, a low one (two-card one) and a high one (five-card one). The low hand (front hand) mustn’t be lower in value than the high hand (back hand).
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