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How To Play Pai Gow Poker

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The traditional Asian game of Pai Gow is played with tiles that look like dominos. To make it easier to understand an American version was introduced using standard playing cards and the ranking of hands were fashioned after poker hands. Thus the new game of Pai Gow Poker was developed.

Pai Gow Poker is played with a standard 52-card deck and one joker. The joker can be used as an ace or a wild card to complete a straight, a flush or straight flush only. The game is played on a blackjack-size table with up to six players and a banker. The players are playing against the banker. In most cases the casino acts as the banker although players can chose to bank the game if they wish to. This would require having enough money to cover all of the other player’s bets. The casino collects a five- percent commission on all winning bets.

To start the game, the players make their bets according to the table minimum. The dealer shuffles the cards and deals out seven stacks containing seven cards. This is done no matter how many players there are. The Banker shakes a cup containing three dice to determine who gets the first hand.

The player looks at their seven cards and sets them into a two-card hand and a five-card hand. There is a place marked on the table to place your hands. The two-card hand is placed in front and the five-card hand is placed behind it. If both of your hands beat the Banker’s two hands you win. If one of your hands beats the Bankers and one loses it is a push and there are no winners. If either of your hands has the exact same value as the Banker’s hand it is a tie, which is called a copy and the Banker wins. If the Banker’s two hands beats both of your hands you lose.

When you are setting your hands, your five-card hand must be a higher value than your two-card hand. If you make a mistake and the two-card hand is higher it is a “foul” and you lose automatically. When the casino acts as the Banker the dealers must set their hands according to certain rules, which is called the “House Way.” If you are unsure of how to set your and you can ask the dealer to set it the “House Way.” This will keep you from making a mistake.

Pai Gow is a slower paced game. There are many pushes. The Banker has a slight edge because it wins the copies (Ties).

Pai Gow Strategy:

Back = 5 card hand
Front = 2 card hand

NO PAIR: Use the highest card in the back and second and third highest in front
ONE PAIR: Place pair in back, highest other two cards in front.

TWO PAIR:
Big Pair is Jack thru Ace: Place small pair in front.
Big Pair is 7’s thru 10’s: Place both pairs in back if you can put Ace in front.
Big Pair is 2’s thru 6’s: Place both pairs in back if you can put King in front; otherwise split.

THREE PAIR: Place big pair in front.

THREE OF A KIND:
Aces: Place an Ace and next highest card in front.
Kings and Below: Place three of a kind in back; two highest cards in front.

TWO SETS (3 0f a kind): Place pair from higher set in front.

STRAIGHT; FLUSH; STRAIGHT FLUSH:
With No Pair:
Place two highest cards in front that leave a complete hand in back.
With One Pair: Place two highest cards possible (pair or no pair) in front that leave a complete hand in back.
With Two Pair: Use two pair strategy.
With Three of a Kind: Place complete hand in back, pair in front.

FULL HOUSE: Put pair in front and three of a kind in back.

FOUR OF A KIND:
Jacks thru Aces: Always split and put one pair in front and one in back.
7’s thru 10’s: Place four of a kind in back if you can put Ace or King in front; otherwise split.
6’s or Below: Never split as long as you can put a card higher than the 4 of a kind in front.
With a Pair: Play four of a kind in back; pair in front.
With Three of a Kind: Put highest pair in front; full house in back.

FIVE ACES: Place pair of Aces in front.

That is the basic strategy for the game. When if doubt just ask the dealer to set your cards the House Way.

Until Next time remember:
Luck comes and goes.....Knowledge Stays Forever.

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