Table Games
Pai Gow Poker

How to Play Pai Gow Poker

Pai gow poker is a casino table game designed by Sam Torosian. The game came into being in 1980 and has since enjoyed quite a huge followers. Many casinos offer the game to their clients for their enjoyment as it elicits social behaviour from the players. It indicates the level of fun the players are experiencing while at the table.

The game requires the players to beat the high hand, and the lower hands of the dealer or whoever is dealing might be their fellow player. The game is simple, easy to understand but does require a high level of skill. To help you out, we do have an optimal winning strategy that can help you through the game and win. The game can be described as a low-risk game due to the number of pushes made and the rate at which the game is played “slow”. Therefore, it is a winning game for the player with the right playing tips at hand.

Pai Gow Poker Table Layout
Pai Gow Poker Table Layout


Pai Gow Poker rules do not vary much from the usual poker rules. However, there are some differences. Here are the game’s rules:

  1. The game consists of one joker and a 52 card deck. The joker can be played as an Ace, used to complete different poker hands including a Straight, straight flush, a flush or a royal flush.
  2. The game starts with the six players in the game, placing their ante bets. The dealer then deals out seven cards for himself and each of the players. The cards face down.
  3. The player evaluates his cards and separates them into two; a high hand composed of five cards and a low poker ranking hand consisting of two cards. In the low side, individual cards indicate the poker value if there is or there isn’t a pair.
  4. After evaluating, the player sets his hand according to the house rules. The house rules regarding card arrangement must be followed in this game less risking being forfeited from the competition. If unsure of the house rules, ask the dealer to help you out.
  5. The dealer then does the same and reveals his high hand and low hand. He will also similarly place his cards, as described in the house rules.
  6. The cards are then compared; the dealer’s high hand is compared against the player’s top card and the same with the low hand cards. The side with the higher poker hand ranking wins. when the player and the banker experience a tie in their poker rankings, then the dealers win the bets.
  7. If you succeed in both the high hand and the lower hand, then you win all the stakes with a commission of 5% going to the house which in most cases they choose not to take. If you win one hand, the game goes on, and the bets push.
  8. However, the sport enjoys one strange exception from other poker-based games. The straight or A2345 is the 2nd ranking highest straight in this game.
  9. Another exceptional rule is that the player can bank on other players by betting against them as they bet against the dealer. You can also play the dealer according to the house rules. They determine who represents the dealer after the dealer in each game. If the player doesn’t want to play the banker, then the chance is offered to another player, or it goes back to the dealer.

Types of Bets

Variations of Pai Gow Poker
© New Vision Gaming – Pai Gow Poker Mania | © SG Gaming – Fortune Pai Gow Poker | © Galaxy Gaming – Emperors Challenge Pai Gow Poker

The game has several types of bets. These are:

  • Ante Bet

The bet is placed before the game starts.

  • Fortune Pai Gow Bet

It is a side bet made by players dependent on the outcome, i.e. trips or a better hand.

  • Pai Gow Mania Bet

In this type of bet, the player makes two different side bets.

  • Emperors Challenge Bet

The bet gives the player the chance to place a side bet on Pai Gow.

  • Progressive Fortune Pai Gow Bet

The stake allows a player the opportunity to place different types of side bets based on a seven card straight flush poker rank win.


The objective of Pai Gow Poker is to beat the dealers, banker, house or other players hand to win the bet with the highest five-card poker ranks and low two card poker rank.

Hand Ranks

hand ranks

  • Five of A Kind – Highest Hand in Pai Gow poker, includes 4 Aces and a Joker
  • Royal Flush or Straight Flush – Consists of 10, J, Q, K & ace all of the same suit
  • Four Of A Kind – Four cards of the same denominations
  • Full House – Three cards of same denominations and a pair
  • Flush – Five cards of the same suit
  • Straight – Five cards in sequence
  • 3 of a Kind – Three cards of the same denomination
  • Two Pair – Two sets of cards of the same Denomination
  • One pair – 2 cards of the same denomination
  • High Card – All five cards of different denominations and suits


The Pai Gow Poker payouts are as follows

 Winning Hand

Standard Payout

7 card Straight Flush

8000 to 1

Royal Flush and Royal Match

2000 to 1

7 card Straight Flush with a joker

1000 to 1

5 Aces

400 to 1

Royal Flush

150 to 1

Straight Flush

50 to 1

Four of a kind

25 to 1

Full house

5  to 1


4 to 1

Three of a kind

3 to 1


2 to 1

 House Edge

The game has a house edge of 2.8%. It is quite low, and you can reduce the percentage further by following the set Pai Gow Poker strategies.

Playing Strategy Tips

How to play Pai Gow Poker is a question that distracts many as they do not know what they need. Well, apart from the general knowledge of the game rule, here are the strategies or tips for playing this game is to split the cards dealt in a way that you have the highest ranking poker hands or hand. It will ensure that your bet pushes through.


You need a table with the games logo in the middle, six sitting spots for the players and another place for the dealer. Besides, you will require 52 cards and an additional joker to play the game. If playing online, then you need a reliable internet connection, a playing device and a comfortable place to sit.


What is a joker worth in Pai Gow Poker?

The joker is an additional card to your standard 52 card deck, in Pai Gow poker only 1 joker is used, the joker can be used to substitue for a card: to help complete a straight, to help complete a flush, and as an ace.

Is there an optimal strategy I can use to win at Pai Gow Poker?

The predominant strategy is to split the cards into the two best possible hands. However, if you have a straight in one hand (best possible hand) the other hand will not matter since it defeats all other hands. On the contrary, with a bad hand, the strategy is to place the two best cards in the front hands and the rest in the backhand. Other hands that can lead to a strategy e.g. when you have a pair, the best strategy is to put the pair in the back hand and the two other strongest cards in the low hand. Also, if you have two pairs, it is always best to split them. However, the split will depend on the pairs dealt. There are also other generic strategies such as when you have 4 of a kind you should keep them together. Another one is to keep 3 of a kind in the high hand unless you have 3 aces. Straights and flushes should also be kept in the higher hand. If you have all five aces including the joker, you should always split them, unless you also have two kings then you can place all aces in the high hand.

What is the house edge in Pai Gow Poker?

The house edge when playing Pai Gow Poker, house rules can vary depending on each casino and how the player plays can be anywhere from 2.50-2.90 percent. Most of that edge (1.27%) comes from players losing a tie to the bank. The rest comes from the five percent commission that’s paid on winning hands.

What is progressive Pai Gow?

Progressive Pai Gow poker is similar variant of the game Pai Gow Poker with an extra side wager that has various payoffs based on the players hands.

10 Feb 2020 | Adam Shaw | 0 Comments


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