Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow poker is a renowned card game, also called Double Hand Poker. It is the updated version of the Chinese Pai Gow.
Understanding Pai Gow poker can be a bit tricky, however, once you understood there is never going back. If you are new to gambling and want to learn about Pai Gow poker, then you are in right place.
In this article we will discuss the basic gameplay, strategies of Pai Gow poker.

How to play Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow is played with the standard poker deck of 52 cards, including one joker. The maximum number of players in Pai Gow Poker can be around 6, with a dealer. The main objective of the game is to beat the banker, which can be either dealer or another player.

The alternative name of Pai Gow Poker is Double Hand Poker, as the players use both hands, dealing 7 cards.

  • The hand having 5 cards is called “High hand” or Backhand.
  • The hand having 2 cards is called “Low hand” or Front hand.

Once you get the cards in both hands, the value of your low hand should be less than your high hand. For instance, if your low hand has a pair of two cards, then your high hand must have better cards than that.

  • Now, after all, have set their cards, the dealer will ask to reveal them along with the banker’s hand. There can be four possibilities.
  • The player wins with both hands and also wins the bet.
  • The player wins with both hands and loses the bet.
  • The player wins with one hand and the dealer wins with the other. In this situation no money exchange happens, however, the commission can be given, which we will discuss later in this article.
  • If the game ties, then the dealer wins the bet. For instance, if you and dealers have the same low-hand cards, the bet will go to the dealer.

How to deal cards in Pai Gow Poker

The card dealing in Pai Gow Poker is fun and interesting. The dealer shuffles the cards and makes piles of seven down-faced cards each, depending upon the number of players.

Then, the dealer places extra four cards in the muck or a discard pile. All the seats are given numbers randomly, and the first number gets to the dealt card first, this cycle moves in the counter-clockwise direction.

Interestingly, in past the cards weren’t shuffled, the dealers used to pile the cards in the shape of a dragon, having a head, body, and tail.

How to set the Pai Gow hand

In order to win the bet, you must know which card is to be placed in which hand. Considering your two-card hand, you must make pairs or use high-ranked cards. Whereas, for five-card hand, the usual poker hand rankings are used. For instance, if you contain Ace, K, Q, J, 10 you do a royal flush. Moreover, the five-card hand must outrank the 2 card hand.

For jokers, many casinos have different rules, but in most casinos joker is only used to complete the flush and in some situations can be used as an ace. In some conditions, if the players are unable to make better pairs, for instance, K,10,7, 6, 4,2,1 it is called Pow Gai/non-hand.

Pai Gow Poker Face-off

After the players have set their cards, they place a two-card hand in front and a five-card hand in the back.
Following terms can be used for the card hands.

  • Two card hand: small, top, in front, low or minor
  • Five-card hand: big, bottom, behind, major.

In case of incorrect hand setting, for instance, the five-card hand is outranked by a two-card hand, the hands can be fouled or reset, and also in some casinos, they are disqualified.

The gameplay always depends upon the dealer and banker, here are some rules regarding that:

  • If the dealer or the casino is the banker, the players must set cards as per house rules.
  • If some player is a banker, then the player can set hand according to his choice.
  • If the dealer and players co-banks, then the players have to follow the house rules.

What is Commission?

Many casinos take a particular percentage from the player’s winnings, often 5%. However, some casinos charge a fee per hand depending on the amount of bet.

What are the side bets in Pai Gow Poker?

There are many variants in Pai Gow Poker that have some additional bets, which can increase player’s payouts. The side bets can be placed on a straight flush, royal flush, four-of-a-kind, or full house.

Some most popular side bets that can get you big payouts are mentioned below:

  • Pai Gow Mania—permits the players to place two side bets, to a side bet on Pai Gow.
  • Fortune Pai Gow— it permits the player to place side bets on trips.
  • Progressive fortune Pai Gow— it permits the players to place a side bet with all seven cards, to win straight flush Jackpot.
  • Emperor’s Challenge—it permits the player to place a set bet against the Pai Gow hand of the dealer. It is also done with the seven cards.

Tips and strategies for Pai Gow Poker

The secret behind winning maximum payout through Pai Gow Poker is to develop your own strategy. It totally depends on the dealt cards. Therefore, you must be prepared in dealing and setting hands.

Develop some basic skills and learn gradually to improve them to the pro-level. In order to improve your chances of winning huge payouts, you must learn different hand-setting techniques with the set of cards in your hand.

It is always the preference of the player to set the cards. However, if you have any confusion regarding setting hands, you can ask the dealers, some casinos allow the dealers to help the players.


We hope this article will help you to understand the gameplay and strategies regarding Pai Gow Poker, and it will help you to develop your own strategy.

By Filip Mishevski

As a person that has been involved in the gambling industry for over 5 years, Filip knows all the tricks and trades of online casinos and casino games. He’s here to provide you with the best content and help you have a fun gaming experience. His specialities include online slots, gambling regulations, casino game strategies, bonuses and promotions and much more.