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Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow Poker is a Chinese variation of poker using one joker. The joker may be used as an ace or wild card to complete a straight, flush or straight flush only. The game is played on a table similar to blackjack with a banker and up to six players. In a casino, players may play against the house or choose to act as the banker, if they have enough money to cover all the players' bets - the house get a commission on all bets, of course.

The game begins with players making bets according to the posted betting limits. The dealer then deals seven stacks of seven cards regardless of how many players there are. The dealer shakes a cup with three dice to determine who get the first hand.

The player looks at a stack of seven cards and divides them up into a five card hand and a two card hand. The five card hand must be a higher value than the two card hand. If you make a mistake on this it's a "foul" and you lose. If the casino acts as the banker, they must follow a certain set of house rules around how they must set their hands.

If both of your hands beat both of the dealer's hands then you win. If only one of your hands wins, it's a push and no one wins. If either of your hands ties the banker's hands, the dealer wins.


The key to gaining better odds in a game of Pai Gow Poker is the ratio of your bet when you're the banks to your bet when you're the player. The bigger the ratio the better your odds will be.

There are only a few choices to be made regarding strategy in Pai Gow Poker. These include what amount to bet and how to arrange your cards. A basic strategy is to make the best 2 card hand you can that is less that the hand with five cards. You could show your hand to the dealer and they'll tell you what the house would do. Pairs usually win the hand with two cards and two pair usually wins the hand with five cards. You'll need to decide when to split two pairs. One house rule is to not split low pairs (less than or equal to 6) and don't split pairs less than or equal to 10 if an ace is high in the two card hand.

If you're looking for a slower paced game, Pai Gow Poker may be for you. The bank has a slight advantage due to its win on ties.