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Detailed Guide to Playing Pai Gow Poker Online

Round Head IconSeptember 22, 2020 - CasinoBloke

Anyone who has played poker knows that it comes in many different forms. There are numerous ways to adjust the title. You can tweak its rules, or adjust the maximum bet limit in online poker to change how it plays. Now, most of us like to stick to Texas Hold’em, but even that can get tiring after a while. At that point, you have a whole world of poker variants that you can explore to spice things up!

One of the more interesting options is Pai Gow Poker. The title takes inspiration from a domino game of Chinese origin, also called Pai Gow. It was adapted and adjusted to fit a poker formula. However, its unique origin has led to the inclusion of some interesting things, like playing with two different hands! It is a great game to enjoy if you have the know-how. In this article, your buddies at CasinoBloke will turn you into a Pai Gow pro!

Pai Gow Poker 101

This game is played with a single deck, with fifty-three cards in them. That means you get the standard fifty-two cards, plus an additional joker! The joker card serves as a selective Wild. It can substitute for other cards, but only under specific circumstances. You can use it as an Ace, or to finish straight, flush, straight flush or royal flush bets.

What is unique about Pai Gow poker is that it is played with two hands of different sizes. After placing a wager, the dealer or computer draw seven cards for you. Players then need to make two hands: a five-card hand and a two-card hand. You cannot make them exactly as you would like. Instead, the five-card hand must be better than the two-card hand.

How are the card hands ranked? The five-card hand uses the same poker ranking system we are already used to. The two-card hand is slightly different, but it works under the same basic principles. If you are playing online, you will probably have different card rankings present in the paytable. You will want to consult it frequently, as it will assist you in forming good hands.

After your hands are all set, the computer or dealer will play their cards. Unlike players, the house has a set way they have to play their cards. Once the dealer draws his two hands, they are compared with the punter’s own. You need both of your hands to be better than your opponent to win. If both of the dealer’s hands are better than yours are, you lose. If one hand is a winner but another loses, then that results in a tie.

Utilising Strategy

Now that you understand the basics, you can begin to appreciate the differences between it and standard poker. Choosing Pai Gow Poker is not as simple as picking between online and live dealer poker. If you truly want to get ahead playing this poker variant, you need to adapt to its different rules. Existing wisdom has to be set aside.

One of the best examples of this would be if you drew a hand with four aces. Having all four Aces in your five-card hand would make it quite good! That said, if the other cards are weak, it will end up resulting in a draw. Fortunately, we have a useful strategy in mind when playing Pai Gow Poker online. While utilising it will not guarantee a win, it will significantly cut down on the house edge when played right.

  1. No pair, straight or flush: Your highest value card should be placed in your five-card hand. Your second and third highest paying cards should be your two-card hand.
  2. One pair: Place the pair in your five-card hand, and move your two highest value cards to your front two-card hand.
  3. Two pairs: If you have two pairs, you should split them between each hand. The higher-ranking pair should be in your five-card hand, while the lower value pair should be your two-card hand.
  4. Three pairs: Your strongest pair should be your two-card hand. The other two pairs should form your five-card hand.
  5. Three-of-a-kind: All three cards of the same rank should form your five-card hand. The only exception is if you have three Aces. In that case, two Aces should form your two-card hand, and the remaining Ace should go into your backhand.
  6. Two three-of-a-kinds: The higher-ranking three-of-a-kind should be split to form a pair for the two-card hand. The remaining cards then create the five-card hand.
  7. Full house: In this scenario, you should usually split. An exception would be if you have a pair of twos and an Ace/King is played in front. If you have a Full House with a three-of-a-kind and two pairs, split your initial hand into two. The highest pair forms your two-card hand, and the rest your five-card hand.
  8. Straight, Flush, Straight Flush, Royal Flush: The straight or flush should be in the five-card hand. You should play as a two pair instead if you come across one of three scenarios:
  • A pair of jacks and a pair of sixes
  • Any pair and a pair of aces
  • Any single ace and two pairs
  1. Four-of-a-kind: There is no exact way to play a four-of-a-kind. Instead, you change the way you play depending on the cards you have drawn.
  • If you have drawn between two to six, you should keep your cards together
  • Seven through ten should be split unless you have ace or better to place in your two-card hand
  • If your four-of-a-kind consists of a jack through king, you should split your hand unless it contains a pair of tens or higher
  • Unless you are holding a pair of sevens or higher that can serve as your two-card hand, you should split the Aces
  1. Five Aces: You should always split Aces, unless you have a pair of Kings to serve as your two-card hand.

You should also remember the rules governing jokers. If you happen to draw one, correctly positioning it can ensure you score a prize.

Online or Brick-and-Mortar?

While playing it in the real world is an experience we cannot top yet, we would still opt for online. Playing an RNG-powered or live casino version of Pai Gow Poker comes with a few advantages that we really like. If you plan to play a lot of this game, there are things that will benefit you in the end, too! We can boil down the advantages in a few simple bullet points.

  • The costs are significantly lower. The asking price to place a bet will always be lower compared to the physical version. This makes it much more accessible to many players.
  • Waiting for a spot on the table is no longer an issue. Online Pai Gow Poker allows you to jump into a round at your leisure. That said, some multiplier lobbies may be limited, especially if it is a live casino table. If that happens, you can always swap to a different table.
  • Unlike the real-world version, you can test the game online. Many versions of Pai Gow Poker allow you to try their demo mode at no cost. It is the best way to get familiar with the strategy and build confidence before you play for real money.

All of these things put together tell us what we have long known. Online casinos and online casino games are the way of the future! If you were ever curious about Pai Gow Poker, we cannot think of a better way to try it.

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