Pai Gow Poker

A Beginner’s Guide to Pai Gow Poker

Online Pai Gow in Canada

Pai Gow Poker is a table game that can be found at both traditional and online casinos. It is played with a single deck of playing cards plus one joker, bringing the total number of cards in play to 53.

Unlike most other card games, Pai Gow Poker gives the player two hands by default for a single bet, and both of those hands must beat the Dealer’s two hands in order for the bet to win. If just one of the player’s hands wins, the game is tied, and the bet is returned to the player. If both of the players’ hands lose, the bet is lost.

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A Brief History of Pai Gow Poker

The game of Pai Gow Poker is a fairly modern one when compared with other table games such as blackjack and roulette. It was invented in 1985 by a man called Sam Torosian, who was the owner of the California Bell Club. It is said to be inspired by the Chinese game of Pai Gow, which is played with dominoes instead of cards.

Sam was hopeful that his Pai Gow Poker game would help him to save his struggling card club, and he originally intended to obtain a patent for it. However, he was incorrectly advised that it wouldn’t be possible to do that, and so no patent was applied for.

When the game was launched at the California Bell Club, it was welcomed with enthusiasm. Unfortunately, the lack of a patent meant that other casinos could offer the same game without its inventor receiving anything in return, and they were quick to do so.

Sam might not have received the financial remuneration that his invention deserved, but his game has certainly been a successful one by all other standards. Pai Gow Poker has become increasingly popular over the last 35 years or so and can now be played at thousands of casinos around the world.

How to Play Pai Gow Poker Online

Pai Gow Poker isn’t quite as simple to learn as Blackjack or Roulette, but it is still a game that anyone can easily get to grips with in a single session. In fact, if you read through the following guide at a gentle pace, you should have most of it figured out before you even sit down to play.

Like most other casino card games, Pai Gow Poker is played on a baize clothed table, and the first thing you need to do is place a bet. You will then be dealt a total of seven cards in a horizontal row, all face-up. The Dealer will deal himself seven cards, all face-down, in two groups - one group of five cards and one group of two cards.

You will notice that the area of the table directly above your horizontal row of cards is marked 2nd Highest. This is because you now need to select two of your seven cards to create a second hand. The five cards that remain will serve as your Highest or first hand.

Pai Gow Poker hand rankings

As the terms suggest, the Highest hand must have a higher value than the 2nd Highest according to the Pai Gow Poker Rankings. These are very similar to the poker hand rankings used in Texas Hold’em and are as follows, from highest to lowest:

Five Aces: Four Aces plus the Wild Card

Royal Flush: 10, J, Q, K, A of the same suit.

Straight Flush: Five consecutively ranked cards of the same suit, such as 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 of hearts.

Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank, such as K, K, K, K, 6.

Full House: Three of a Kind and a Pair.

Flush: Five cards of the same suit.

Straight: Five consecutively ranked cards, such as 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank, such as J, J, J, 2, 3.

Two Pairs: Two Pairs of cards of the same rank, such as A, A, 6, 6, K.

One Pair: One pair of cards of the same rank, such as A, A, 6, 7, K.

High Card: When none of the above hands can be made, the card with the highest value determines its strength.

As you can see from the Five Aces hand, any Joker that is dealt to you serves as a Wild Card. This counts as an Ace or as any card that is needed to complete a Flush, a Straight or a Straight Flush.

How to win at Pai Gow Poker

When you have taken two cards from your initial row of seven and put them on the upper row to form your 2nd Highest hand, the Dealer will turn his cards over. His group of five cards will serve as his Highest hand, and the remaining group of two cards will serve as his 2nd Highest.

At this stage, the strength of your two hands will be compared with the strength of the corresponding hands of the Dealer. You will win, tie or lose according to the following rules:

If your Highest hand beats the Highest hand of the Dealer, and your 2nd Highest hand beats the 2nd Highest hand of the Dealer, you will win. Your bet will be settled at odds of 1:1, but 5% of your winnings will be taken in commission by the casino, so the actual profit on a winning bet is 95%.

If just one of your hands beats the corresponding hand of the Dealer, the bet is declared a tie. In this case, the sum you bet will be returned to you.

If both of your hands are beaten by the corresponding hands of the Dealer, your bet will lose.

A game of luck and skill

Like many other card games, Pai Gow Poker is a game of both luck and skill. It is a game of luck because you have no way of influencing which cards you will be dealt, but it is also a game of skill because it requires you to decide how you will split your initial seven cards into two separate hands.

The more thought you put into which cards you use to form your 2nd Highest hand and which you will leave in place to form your Highest hand, the better your chances of winning will be.

Discover Pai Gow Poker today!

Pai Gow Poker is a great table game for anyone who enjoys blackjack or Three Card Poker but fancies trying something a little different. It can be found at most online casinos, so play at your favourite venue today and you just might become a lifelong fan!

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