Tips and Strategies
and Strategies for Pai Gow Poker
Pai Gow is a Chinese game of dominoes. Pai Gow Poker is
the marriage between Pai Gow and a 7-card Stud Poker.
The goal of Pai Gow Poker is to make two poker hands that
beat the banker's hands. The player is dealt 7 cards that
he/she sets into a 5-card hand (high hand) and a 2-card
hand (low hand). Skill is involved in setting the two
hands, which will help reduce the casino edge to about
3%. The hands are played and ranked as traditional poker
hands except A2345, which is the second highest straight,
and the 5-card hand must be higher than the 2-card hand.
One wins, if both hands are better than the banker's hand.
One loses, if both lose. Otherwise it's a push. The banker
wins absolute ties (i.e. K Q vs K Q). The game is played
with 52 cards and a Joker. The Joker can be used as an
Ace or to complete a flush or straight. The table layout
has 7 spots - one in front of the dealer and 6 for players.
Each player spot has spaces for a bet, low hand, high
hand and sometimes the house commission. The dealer deals
7 7-card hands in front of the chip tray. The banker can
be a player, but is usually the house. The banker designates
which hands go to which player by shaking a dice cup with
three dice. The banker's position is either 1, 8 or 15
and the hands are passed out counter-clockwise. So, if
the dealer is the bank and the dice total to 6, player
5 gets the first hand, player 6 gets the second, the dealer
gets the third and so on. The dice rules are only ritual
- you don't need to worry about anything until you get
The player puts the 2-card hand face down in the box closest
to the dealer, and the five card hand face down in back.
Once everybody has set their hand, the dealer turns over
and sets the bank's hand. The dealer goes counter-clockwise
around the table comparing the banks hand to the players,
and taking, paying, or knocking. There is a 5% commission
on winning bets that you can either put out next to your
winning bet, or the dealer will
subtract from your payoff.
In Pai Gow Poker, the only strategic decisions are how
much to bet and how to set your hand. The simple basic
strategy for setting your hand is to make the highest
2-card hand that is less than your 5-card hand. If you
can't figure out what to do, you can show your hand to
the dealer and they will tell you how the house would
set it. Since pairs generally win the 2-card hands, and
two-pair wins the 5-card hands, the only difficult decisions
are when to split two pairs.
The player may want to play as the bank. The House Dealer
or the player may be the banker. The Bank wagers against
all players. The bank will alternate between the house
and the player (the House Dealer will at least take the
bank every other hand). The BANKER will be designated
by a white plastic marker. A Bank Player must either cover
half or all wagers against him/her. The House will co-bank
at 50/50 only at the Bank Player's request. The hand will
be set according to house way and the table limit will
apply if the House acts as a co-banker. In order to bank,
a player must have played the previous hand against the
House. The House will wager a sum equal to that player's
wager against the house the previous hand. The player
may request that a smaller amount be wagered. A Banker
must be bank at the same spot of the hand he previously
played against the house.
Pai Gow poker is an easy game to play, and since each
hand takes a while to play (dealer has to shuffle for
each game) and most hands push, you can play on $20 at
a $5 table for quite a while.