Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow Poker Is the Americanized version of the original Chinese game known as Pai Gow. It was first developed in California Card Rooms in the 1980’s. Played with playing cards using poker hand rankings, its popularity quickly spread to casinos everywhere.

How to Play Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow Poker is played with the standard 52-card deck plus one joker. Players must first place a bet on the table. The order of play is determined by the dealer’s roll of the dice or a random number generator selection. Seven cards are then dealt counter clock-wise, face down, to each player and the dealer.

The objectve of Pai Gow Poker is for the player to create two poker hands from his or her seven cards. The five-card hand must rank higher than a two-card hand. When setting the hands, the five-card hand must be placed in front of the two-card hand. In order for a player to win even money, both hands must beat the dealer/banker hands. If one wins and one loses, the hand is a push. If both the banker and player hands are of equal value, the banker wins.

Winning Hands

The house bank takes a 5% commission (vig) on all player winnings.

Players have the option to act as the Bank, provided they have enough chips to cover all wagers.

Winning hands are determined by standard poker hand rankings with the following exceptions:

A joker can be used to complete a flush or a straight. Otherwise it’s counted as an ace.

An A-2-3-4-5- is the 2nd highest straight or straight flush, under 10-J-Q-K-A. Therefore, a 9-10-J-Q-K ranks 3rd.

The house edge for this game is about 1.46 %.

Pai Gow

Pai Gow has its roots in ancient Chinese gambling and is believed to be thousands of years old. It’s played with Chinese domino tiles and is found mainly in casinos which cater regularly to Asian players.

Pai Gow is translated as “Make Nine”. Because it’s played with tiles, it is not as popular with Americans. Also, it’s more complex and therefore requires more study.

How to Play

The game is played with a set of 32 domino tiles known as The Woodpile.  After all the players place their bets on the table, the dealer shuffles the Woodpile face down and stacks them in 8 rows, 4 tiles high. The dealer then rolls three dice to determine the order of play. The dealer will start as the banker and gives each player and his or herself 4 tiles face down.

Each player must make two hands of two tiles each. The hand with the lower value is called The Front. The higher value hand is The Rear. If the totals from the players’ hands beat the dealer/banker’s hand, the player wins even money, minus a 5% commission to the House. If both players’ hands are of lower value, s/he loses. If one hand wins and the other loses, it is a push. In case of tie, the tile with the highest singleton wins. When a banker and player equals zero, the banker wins.

With few exceptions, the best a hand can score is 9. For example, a 1-3 tile and a 2-3 tile totals nine. If two tiles total above 9, such as a 5 & 11, which total 16-drop the tens place (1), and the final value is 6. A 5-5 and 6-4 would equal zero. (10 + 10 equal 20.) Drop 2 to equal zero.

There are some special rankings where certain combinations can score more than 9. These are called “Gongs and Wongs.” Also, there are tiles that can be used like a “wildcard” called Gee Joon.

The house edge for Pai Gow is about 1.5%.

Learning this game requires study. For more detailed instruction, check out:

Additional publications,and games about Pai Gow, casino gaming, and other products can be found on Amazon. Direct link from this page to purchase.

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