Pai Gow is a form of poker that originated in Asia. The Western version of the game is easier to play and has grown popular in recent years. Correct betting strategies can be complicated and take some practice, but Pai Gow is so much fun to play that you certainly won’t mind taking the time to master its nuances.
You’re dealt a seven-card hand and you use these cards to create two separate hands. The back hand is composed of 5 cards and the front hand from the other 2. The hands are similar to those in traditional poker. The back hand can consist of a straight, a flush, a full house, three-of-a-kind and so on. The front hand can be a pair or simply two leftover cards, but it is always advantageous to have at least one high card in your front hand so it might beat the dealer’s front hand. Your front hand can never beat your back hand, however, or your play is over.
If both your back and front hands beat the dealer’s, you win. If only one of your hands beats the dealer, it is a push. Understanding how the dealer arranges his or her cards is key in winning at Pai Gow and it makes every hand interesting. Once you try it, chances are you’ll get hooked.
This game combines the elements of the ancient Chinese game of Pai Gow with the American game of Poker. The game is played with a 53-card deck, which includes a Joker. The house is always the banker and the game and is played one on one – you against the dealer. The object of the game is to use 7 dealt cards to construct two hands that will beat the dealer’s two hands.
Ranking of Hands
The ranking of the Pai Gow hands is very similar to that of standard Poker – Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2. The exception in hands between Pai Gow Poker and standard poker is that in Pai Gow the following rules apply:
- The highest Straight hand is A-K-Q-J-10
- The second highest Straight hand is A-2-3-4-5
- The third highest Straight hand is K-Q-J-10-9
Each suit (Spades, Clubs, Hearts and Diamonds) is of equal rank. The Joker serves as a “wildcard” and can only be used as an Ace, or to complete a Straight, Flush, Straight Flush, or a Royal Flush.