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Pai Gow Poker Review

Screen shots of the games


Pai Gow Poker is a casino poker game (meaning that players bet against the banker rather than playing against each other) and is played with a single standard deck of 52 cards with an extra Joker card. The Joker card is usually only counted as an Ace, but is semi-wild and can be counted as any card for the purposes of completing a Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Flush or Straight. The game was developed as a way to combine classic Pai Gow Dominos with a poker structured card game.

The player starts by placing an Ante bet then the dealer will deal out 7 cards to the player and 7 cards to themselves. All of the player’s cards are face up and all of the dealer’s cards are face down. The player then has to split their cards into a 5 card hand (called the ‘Back Hand’) and a 2 card hand (called the ‘Front Hand’). The poker ranking of the Back Hand has to be higher than the Front hand, so if, for example, you had 7 cards and the strongest thing that could be formed from the 7 cards was a Pair, you could not put that Pair in the Front Hand.

Once the player has separated their hands, the dealer will turn over their cards and separate them into two hands using a set of rules called the ‘House Way’. These rules vary from casino to casino and it’s best to check with the game help file (or staff if you’re playing offline) if you want to know the precise system.

The dealer and player hands are then compared to decide the winner. Pai Gow poker uses the standard poker hand rankings other than for Straights and Straight Flushes where A2345 is considered the second highest Straight after TJQKA.

To decide the winner the player’s Back Hand is compared to the dealer’s Back Hand and the player’s Front Hand is compared to the dealer’s Front Hand. If the player wins both they win the round, if they only win one the round is considered a push and if they lose both they lose their bet. Where the player wins their bet will be paid at 1 to 1 minus a 5% commission (so 1 to 0.95).

The optimal strategy for Pai Gow Poker is remarkably complicated and the average player is unlikely to have the time to commit it to memory. We would recommend using our Pai Gow Strategy Calculator when playing this game online.

The House Edge of Pai Gow Poker varies depending on both optimum strategy and the House Way rules in place, but as the House Way rules are usually fairly consistent (online at least) on average the House Edge will be around 2.5-2.6%.