How do you play Pai Gow Poker?

A Pai Gow Poker hand is spotlighted against a poker green background showing the hand on top as a Pair-Of-Jacks and the bottom hand as Three-Fours... a very good hand and hard to beat. Pai Gow Poker is also called Double-Hand Poker and is very popular in Vegas.

Most people who enjoy gambling and casinos have a fairly good understanding of the game of poker – one of the most popular card games in the world.

Poker is a game that has numerous variations – Texas Hold’em is probably the most popular, but the precise version of poker that you will play generally depends on where you are playing and who are playing with.

In this article we are going to take a look at one of the poker variations that is becoming increasingly popular around the world – Pai Gow Poker.

What is Pai Gow Poker?

Before we get to talking about Pai Gow Poker we need to take a step back. This variation of poker is actually an Americanised version of a Chinese casino game called Pai Gow. So let’s first take a look at the game of Pai Gow.

How do you play Pai Gow?

Pai Gow is a Chinese casino game that is played with a set of 32 dominoes. It is a game that you will see in all of the Asian casinos (including Macau) but you will increasingly see the game in casinos around the world who are looking for ways to attract Chinese gamblers.

The origins of Pai Gow date back to the Song dynasty in China.

Pai Gow is a game of strategy – your objective is to present the best hand given the four tiles dealt to the player. There are 35,960 four-tile combinations possible. Many players rely on superstition or tradition to choose tile pairings.

How did Pai Gow become a variation of poker?

The poker version of Pai Gow uses playing cards bearing poker hand values instead of the traditional dominoes. This version of the game was originally created by Sam Torsion and Fred Wolf.

The game is played with a standard 52-card deck, plus the addition of a single joker. The set-up is a table for six players, plus the dealer. Each player is playing against the banker – not each other.

What are the rules of Pai Gow poker?

The cards are dealt to the table in seven face-down piles of seven cards per pile.

The object of the game in Pai Gow poker is for a player to create to poker hands out of the seven-card hand that has been dealt. One hand must be a five-card hand and the other must be a two-card hand. The five-card hand’s rank has to exceed the rank of the two-card hand.

The way that the joker is used in this game is sometimes described as a ‘bug’. This means that in the five-card hand the joker can be used to complete a straight or a flush (where possible), otherwise it is counted as an Ace. In the two-card hand it is always counted as an Ace. However there are variations of the game that play the joker as completely wild.

Time to spike up your poker game? Then it could be time to give Pai Gow poker a try.


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