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Pai Gow Poker - Information and Tips

Monday, 10 December 2022 13:24

gaming tips pai gow pokerPai Gow History

Pai Gow is an old Chinese game. At the beginning it was played with tiles which were very similar to dominoes. Nowadays, this game is played with cards, which makes it very similar to poker. From many different types of Pai Gow, rules from the 19th century are the most common until today. At that time it was one of the most popular games in China, from where Chinese immigrants brought it to the United States in 1980’s. Initially, Paw Gow was seen in California, and then in 1987 it started to be one of the games offered by Las Vegas casinos.

Pai Gow Poker Rules

Pai Gow is played with one deck of 52 cards plus one joker. The joker functions as a wild card and can be used as an ace, or to complete a flush, a straight or a straight flush. To start the game, the player has to place the ante bet. After that, the player will receive seven cards which must be divided into two hands. The first hand consists of five cards and is called the behind hand. The second one contains two cards and is called the front hand. Players need to structure the best five card poker hand that is possible in a given situation. The values of five card hands are the same as in poker, with small differences, which will be noted below:

Five Aces

The highest ranked hand in Pai Gow, which contains 4 Aces and a Joker:

Royal Flush

Top five cards of the same suit:

Straight Flush

Five cards of the same suit in a sequence. The EXCEPTION from the usual poker values is that in most casinos the hand you see below is actually ranked second highest after Royal Flush:

Four of a Kind

A hand that contains all four cards of one rank and any other card, e.g.:

Full House

A hand consisting of three matching cards of one rank and two matching cards of another rank, e.g.:


A hand that contains five cards of the same suit that are not in sequence, e.g.:


A hand consisting of five cards in a sequence with at least two different suits, e.g.:

Three of a Kind

A hand that contains three cards of the same rank and two of a different rank (also not the same as each other), e.g.:

Two pair

A hands consisting of two cards of the same rank and two cards of another rank (matching each other, but different from the first pair) and one card of either rank, e.g.:

One pair

A hand that contains tow cards of the same rank and three cards which are not of this rank and not the same as each other, e.g.:

No pair

A hand that does not meet any of the above requirements. The only meaningful card in the hand is the highest card since the hand can still win in a showdown with another no-pair hand. Example of a no-pair hand:

Arranging the hands

The player has to arrange his/her cards is such a manner that the behind hand is higher than the front hand.

Playing sequence

After arranging their cards players place their two hands face down. When everyone is ready, the dealer’s cards are exposed and he also arranges then in 2 hands. At this point all players’ cards are exposed. The results are determined by comparing the player’s behind hand with the dealer’s behind hand and the player’s front hand with the dealer’s front hand. The following results are possible:

- If the player wins with both hands the dealer pays out the player’s stake;

- If the player wins with one hand and the dealer with one hand no money changes hands (a “push”);

- If the dealer wins with both hands he/she wins the player’s stake;

- If either hand is tied then the dealer wins that particular hand, i.e. if both hands are tied, or the dealer wins one hand and the other is tied then the dealer wins. Finally, if the player wins one hand and the other is a tie then it is a push.

Pai Gow Poker Glossary

Co-banking – the player can also works as the banker during a game. This is not always available in casinos;

Copies - also means tie. The bet is given to the banker with a tie;

Dragon Hand - this is an extra hand offered to the empty chair at a table. Some casinos allow for the dragon hand to be played by a player;

Behind Hand - this is a five card hand in Pai Gow;

Front Hand - the two card hand that is in front of the five card hand;

High Card - this highest card in the hand;

High Hand - see Behind Hand;

Low Hand – see Front.

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