Pai Gow poker online: Rules and Strategy

This card game is played at a very slow pace, guided by the ancient rules of the Pai Gow Dominoes of Chinese heritage. The game is great, and one poker table can host several players. The main objective of the players is to defeat the dealer’s hand. In this article, we will discuss Pai Gow poker online and its rules and strategy.

Interesting game table

You can also learn how to play Carribean poker and 3 card poker.

Pai gow poker online – basics

The game is quite fun but, understanding the rules can be a little bit tricky. So, let’s discuss the rules of this game and understand them so that we can flow smoothly in this incredible game.

To start with, let’s explain how this game is played.

Like many would expect, it uses a 52 cards deck and one joker. The maximum number of players who can surround a table is six, and the dealer makes it seven.

The main objective of playing this game is to beat the banker and win. The banker can be the dealer, a player-dealer “team” or another player sitting around the table most of the time.

To play the game, you will have to make two poker hands with the seven cards to deal with:

  • There is the two-card “low” hand (it is also referred to as the front hand/small hand)
  • There is the five-card “high” hand which is also referred to as the big hand/backhand.
How to play Pai Gow poker: hand rankings and odds

The trick here is that your high hand must beat the low hand. For instance, if the low hand is a pair of fives, the high hand must ultimately be better than the pair of fives. The moment your hands are set, the dealer will reveal them together with the banker’s hand. Thus, there is a possibility of three outcomes:

  • A player can win one hand while the dealer wins the other, in which case, the hand is simply a push, and also note that no hand changes any money (The only money that people can explain in this scenario is commission).
  • The situation where the player wins with both hands, and in this case, the player ultimately loses the bet.
  • The situation where the player wins both hands, and that means that the player wins the bet.

However, it would help if you understood that in Pai Gow Poker, the tie ultimately goes to the dealer. So, for instance, in case you and the dealer are holding a low hand of A-K, the win goes to the dealer.

How to play Pai Gow poker? Dealing the game

The game has an incredible deal method. Once the cards are shuffled, the dealer places them in seven face-down piles that include a total of seven-card. The cards are one for the dealer and others for those playing. There are a total of four cards not usually put to use that are put on a discard pile.

The funny thing about it is that right before the advent of card shufflers, the dealer dealt with the cards as piles and then designed them in a shape like a dragon with a tail, body, and head.

A set is given a number ranging from 1 to 7. The picking of a random number selected to choose the first person to receive a card follows. What follows is the dealer handing out the cards counter-clock wisely.

Five aces and joker and chips

The Pai Gow Poker Rules that tend to confuse new players

Two rules of this game constantly confuse first-timers. The first rule is about how the joker is treated.

-What does the joker represent in the Pai Gow poker game?

Well, in this game, players can use the joker to complete flushes and straights. In case that option is not available, you should treat it as an Ace. Remember that it is not a wild card that you can use the way you like. To be precise, it is limited to the following scenarios;

  • Flush
  • Straight
  • Ace

When a joker is used in other popular casino games, in most cases, it represents whatever the hand decides to do with it. It can be of help filling a house with any combination. However, the joker is not used in a similar way in this game. Note that the joker only serves as a card that completes a flush or a straight. In addition to that, a straight flush can also fall right within this criteria. In case you are holding a joker, but you aren’t in a position to fill out a flush or a straight, it will function as an Ace. Most first-timers are excited to have a Joker in their set of cards but do not realize that its value is limited.

The next rule of the game that confuses beginners is that your five-card should always rank higher than your two-card hand.

Pai Gow Poker Rules: Online Vs Land-based Casinos

The rules are similar whether you are playing poker in a land-based casino or online. However, there are some minor differences. For example, in a land-based casino, there can be a total of six players around the dealer, whereas, on an online platform, you play against the dealer.

The second difference is that the software prevents you from splitting the seven cards into a five-card hand and a two-card hand while playing online. If you attempt and make an improper split, you will lose the bet automatically.

Pai Gow hand rankings

We begin with the two-card hand. The best combination that you can have is a pair of Aces or a Joker and an Ace. After that, the pair rankings descend to a pair to 2’s. If by any chance, your two-hand card doesn’t have a pair, the high card wins. The easiest way to rank in the game is to have a two-card hand.

By now, you should have realized that flushes are irrelevant within your two-card hand. In ascending order of value, the rankings are as follows;

  • High card.
  • Single pair.
  • Double pair.
  • Three of a kind
  • Flush
  • Full house.
  • Four of a kind.
  • Straight flush.
  • Royal flush.
  • If you are holding a five-card hand, the best combination you can have is a Joker and four Aces, and that’s like having five Aces.
Pai Gow poker online Rules and Strategy

You should note that there is one exception to the traditional poker rankings. This game hand ranks an Ace-2-3-4-5 lower while the Ace-K-Q-J-10 is ranked higher. Right from that, you should note that the highest card of a straight determines its value. A good example is that a combination of Q-J-10-9-8 that outranks a combination of 9-8-7-6-5.

Pai Gow Poker Strategy

You need to boldly believe that Pai Gow Poker isn’t a complicated game at all from a strategic point of view. There aren’t many betting decisions to be made along the way. The only bet you’ll make is the one at the beginning of the hand, and you will not have to think about any other bets regardless of whether they are worth making.

However, you are supposed to make some critical decisions regarding how well you will arrange the cards you are holding. It is important always to remember that your bottom (high) hand must always be ranked lower than your top (low). You need to keep the thought of the best outcome you can probably get.

To make a profitable move on this game, you are supposed to beat both of the dealer’s hands. Therefore, making a very strong hand at the back while at the same time having a nine-high at the top probably won’t cut it.

For instance, if you are holding a combination of K, K, Q, J,10,9,9, you have the option of setting it up as follows;

  • 9,9/K, K, Q, J, 10 (That combination of a fairly strong hand and a strong top hand)
  • Q, J/K, K, 9, 9, 10 (The combination has a very strong bottom hand and a weak top hand)
  • K, 9/K, Q, J, 10, 9 (The combination has an extremely strong bottom hand and a very weak top hand)
Straight flush and chips

The most efficient strategy is learning how to arrange your cuts and form a strong combination for both the top and bottom hand.

Pai Gow Poker Odds

This game has a standard house edge of around 2.84%. However, there are different ways to lower that edge to about 1.42%. You can do this by playing what is known as “Banker”.


Pai Gow Poker online and the real game is an incredible game that has lots of fun in it. However, learning its rules and strategies will help you make the right moves and increase your chances of winning.