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How to Play Pai Gow Poker: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

  • 17 May 2023
  • How To

Pai Gow Poker is a fascinating and popular casino card game that combines elements of traditional Chinese dominoes with the excitement of poker. If you're new to Pai Gow Poker, this step-by-step guide will help you understand the rules, strategies, and basic gameplay, allowing you to dive into this unique and engaging casino game with confidence.

Step 1: Understanding the Objective:
The goal of Pai Gow Poker is to create two separate poker hands, one five-card hand (known as the high hand) and one two-card hand (known as the low hand), that both rank higher than the corresponding hands of the dealer. Winning both hands results in a win, while winning only one hand results in a push.

Step 2: The Setup:
Pai Gow Poker is played with a standard 52-card deck plus one Joker card. The Joker can act as an Ace or complete a straight or flush. After placing your bet, you'll receive seven cards, which you'll use to form your two hands.

Step 3: Creating Your Hands:
To create your hands, you must divide your seven cards into a high hand and a low hand. The high hand must be a five-card hand that ranks higher than your low hand. The traditional poker hand rankings are used, with the exception that the Ace, 2, 3, 4, and 5 can be used to form the second highest straight: A-2-3-4-5.

Step 4: Comparing Hands:
Once all players have arranged their hands, it's time to compare them to the dealer's hands. To win, both your high and low hands must be stronger than the dealer's corresponding hands. If only one hand is better, it's considered a push, and if both hands are weaker, it results in a loss.

Step 5: Hand Rankings:
Understanding the hand rankings is crucial in Pai Gow Poker. The traditional poker hand rankings are used, with some exceptions due to the two-card hand. The two-card hand can only have a pair or high cards, as there are no straights or flushes in this hand. The five-card hand follows the standard poker hand rankings.

Step 6: House Way:
If you're unsure how to arrange your hands, many casinos offer a "House Way" option. This means the dealer will set your hands based on a predetermined strategy. While this can be a convenient choice for beginners, it's always recommended to learn the game and develop your own strategies over time.

Step 7: Winning and Losing:
If both of your hands are stronger than the dealer's hands, you win and receive a payout. If one hand wins and the other loses, it's considered a push, and your bet is returned. If both of your hands are weaker than the dealer's hands, it results in a loss, and your bet is forfeited.

Pai Gow Poker offers a unique and exciting twist to traditional poker, combining strategic decision-making with the element of luck. By following this step-by-step guide, beginners can grasp the fundamental rules and strategies of the game, allowing them to enjoy the thrilling experience of playing Pai Gow Poker at online or land-based casinos. Remember, practice and familiarity with hand rankings are key to improving your skills and making the most of this captivating casino card game.