An introduction to Pai Gow Poker
– A fun game with decent odds
Paigow poker is a blend of East and West The basic structure of the game comes from the ancient Chinese game of Pai Gow, and the hand rankings come from the Wild West game of poker. The idea of the game is to make two hands out of your seven cards (one five card and one two card hand) that beat the both of the dealer's hands.
Pai Gow Poker uses a 53 card deck (that's a normal deck of cards with a Joker). After you place your bet you and the dealer are dealt seven cards each. You must make two hands out of these seven cards – one five card hand (the main hand) and one two card hand (the small hand).
The most important rule of Paigow Poker is that the main hand must be higher than the small hand. For example, if you have AA in your small hand then you need two pair or better in your main hand. More commonly, if you're dealt seven cards that don't work together at all (for example A K 9 8 4 3 2 with no flush) then your main hand must have a higher high-card than your small hand. In this case you should leave A8432 in your main hand for Ace-high and put King-Nine in your small hand. This is because you are much more likely to win the small hand with two high cards than you are to tie the main hand with ace-high and need to compare your kicker with the dealer's kicker.
After you arrange your hands (casino software will make sure they are valid before letting you continue and also has a "house way" option which will suggest a good arrangement) the game goes to showdown.
Your main hand is compared against the dealer's main hand, and the best poker hand wins. The dealer wins pushes (when the hands are exactly even, for example two nine-high straights) but these are very rare.
Your two card card hand is compared against the dealer's two card hand, and the best hand wins. The highest possible two card hand is a pair of aces, then down to a pair of twos, then Ace king, all the way down to the very puny 3-2 (there are obviously no flushes or straights in the two card hand).
- If you win both hands then the casino pays you 1-1 less a 5% commission on your winnings (so really you get 1.95 bets back on a win).
- If you win one hand and the dealer wins the other, then the game is a tie and your bet is returned to you.
- If you lose both hands then the casino keeps your bet.
Paigow Poker normally has a casino edge of 2.72%
Some casinos offer the player a chance to be dealer. The more chances you get to be dealer and the more other players are betting against you, the better it is for you.