6 May

How to Play Pai Gow Poker and Win Online Money

How to Play Pai Gow Poker and Win Online Money

Pai Gow Poker is a two-handed poker game; the modern evolution of an old Chinese tile game called Pai Gow. To win, both of your hands must beat the dealer’s. Some people find it boring, as most hands end in a tie. But if you play your cards right – as detailed below – you can win some serious cash.

 

How to Win Money Playing Pai Gow Poker Online

The following is a written dissertation of what many consider to be a high-end, niche-market casino game. You will learn how to play Pai Gow Poker, the rules of hand development, winning strategic theories, and how you can convert all this knowledge into an online casino bankroll with the highest degree of profit potential.
  1. Root Fundamentals: Learn the basic objective of Pai Gow Poker, who you’re competing against, and the order of events in a game.
  2. Hand Development: This section will teach you how you can and cannot set your hands from the seven cards available.
  3. Strategy & Tips: Find out how to set winning Pai Gow Poker hands, and how to avoid losing when the cards do not fall in your favor.
  4. Online Advantage: We conclude or lesson with a brief discussion on the numerous of advantages of playing Pai Gow Poker at online casinos, as opposed to the land-based edition.
DisclaimerNot all forms of gambling are legal in all provinces of Canada. The legal age to gamble also varies by province. Breaking the law is a serious matter. The information provided on this website is meant for educational purposes only, and we will not be held liable for any irresponsible / illegal activity on your part. Know the gambling laws in your province and follow them. The following pages provide more information on Canadian gambling laws:

1. Pai Gow Poker Basis & Objective

Pai Gow Poker is a multi-player card game, just like blackjack. At a traditional table, there is one dealer and space for up to six players. The game is played with one deck of 53 cards, including a single joker. The joker can take the place of a missing card in straights or flushes. Otherwise, it becomes an Ace.

Being a house-banked poker game, each player is competing only against the dealer (aka banker), not the other players. Note that, in an online game, there are no other players. The game is entirely digitized and computer generated. This makes no difference in terms of the rules, odds, or outcome of a game.

After placing a bet, you will be dealt exactly seven cards. You must split these up into two hands. One will be a standard 5-card poker hand, and the other a 2-card poker hand. Both are valued by standard poker hand ranks (defined below).

The object of the game is for your two hands to beat the dealer’s two hands. To win, your 5-card hand must beat the dealer’s 5-card hand, and your 2-card hand must beat the dealer’s 2-card hand.

There are three possible outcomes to a game.

  • Win: If both of your hands beat the dealer’s hands, you win your bet, earning a 1:1 (even-money) payout.
  • Push: When one of your hands wins, but the other one loses, it is a tie, or push. Your bet is returned.
  • Lose: If both of your hands lose to the dealer’s hands, you lose your bet.
Pai Gow Poker Hand Ranks, Highest to Lowest
5-Card Hand 2-Card Hand
Royal Flush Two Pair
Straight Flush One Pair
4 of a Kind High Card
Full House
Flush
Straight
3 of a Kind
Two Pair
One Pair
High Card

2. Rules of Hand Development

We know that, of the seven cards available, a player must divide them into a 5-card and 2-card hand. That’s the simple part. On top of this, there is just one prevailing rule that all players (and the dealer) must abide by when setting their Pai Gow Poker hands.

  • The 5-card hand must beat the 2-card hand.

Think of it as “bigger hand, bigger value”, if it helps.

Why does it matter?

The rate of tie hands would be much higher, making for a very monotonous (and unpopular) game. As it is, the probability of tying the dealer is 40.5%. That’s nearly half of all games ending in a draw – no win, no loss.

The odds of being dealt a single pair out of seven cards is 43.3%; far more common than no pairs (17.4%), or all combined hands better than a pair (39.3%). If allowed, most would put the pair in their 2-card hand, leaving the 5-card hand to fend for itself with nothing better than high-card; the goal being to tie rather than lose (as strategy would call for). But again, the rate of ties would jump at least another 20% if this were an option. Thus the rule must stand… The 5-card hand must beat the 2-card hand.

3. How to Win Pai Gow Poker More Often

The strategy for Pai Gow Poker isn’t very complicated. When setting your 2- and 5-card poker hands, ideally, you want both of them to be strong enough to net you the win. If that’s not likely, you may be forced to sacrifice the 2-card hand, setting the 5-card hand as strong as possible to reduce the odds of losing the both hands, and the bet.

That’s the basic strategy for the game. When properly adapted, it will result in an optimal RTP of 97.31% (house edge 2.69%). This figure is based on perfect application of the strategy outlined below, and the resulting expectation of wins, loses and ties.

  • Win 29.25% of all hands.
  • Lose 30.30% of all hands.
  • Push 40.45% of all hands.

The more detailed, rule-based strategy requires these guidelines to be followed, based on the 7 cards dealt. This first section applies only if there are No Straights or Flushes. Refer to the next section if a 5-card Straight or Flush is available.

If there is No Straight or Flush Available…
Eligible Hand(s) Appropriate Action(s)
No Pair Place the second and third highest cards in the 2-card hand.
1 Pair Place the two highest kickers in the 2-card hand.
2 Pair Playing these together or splitting them up depends on their combined value. Add the value of the two pairs. Use numeric value for 2 thru 10; J=11, Q=12, K=13, A=14. For example, pairs of Jacks and 5s total (11 + 5) 16. Then, follow these rules:

  • ~6 pts: Play Two Pair together with Q+ high if possible, otherwise split the pairs.
  • 7-11 pts: Play Two Pair with K+ High if possible, otherwise split the pairs.
  • 12-16 pts: Play Two Pair with Ace High, otherwise split the pairs.
  • 17+ pts: Split the pairs.
3 Pair Play highest pair in 2-card hand.
3 of a Kind With 3 Aces, play Ace and highest kicker in 2-card hand. Otherwise, play two highest kickers in 2-card hand.
3 of a Kind + 1 Pair Play the pair in 2-card hand.
3 of a Kind + 2 Pair Play highest pair in 2-card hand.
2x Three of a Kind Play a pair from lowest set in 2-card hand.
4 of a Kind Follow these rules:

  • Do not split up 2, 3, or 4s.
  • Keep 5s with 10+ kicker; otherwise split.
  • Keep 6s with Q+ kicker; otherwise split.
  • Keep 7s or 8s with K+ kicker; otherwise split.
  • Keep 9s, 10s or Js with Ace kicker; otherwise split.
  • Always split up Qs or better.
Four of a Kind + 1 Pair Play pair in 2-card hand.
4 of a Kind + 3 of a Kind Split up the 4 of a Kind for Full House in 5-card hand, Pair in 2-card hand, if the 4 of a Kind ranks at least two higher than the 3 of the Kind. Otherwise, split up the 3 of a Kind for a better 2-card Pair.
5 of a Kind Split it up, playing Pair of Aces in 2-card hand.
5 of a Kind + 1 Pair Play Aces in the 2-card hand, Full House in 5-card.

This next chart applies to all 7-card combinations that can result in any Straight, Flush, Straight-Flush, or Royal Flush.

If a Straight and/or Flush is Available…
Eligible Hand(s) Appropriate Action(s)
No Pair Play best 2-card hand after placing Straight/Flush in 5-card hand.
1 Pair Play best 2-card hand after placing Straight/Flush in 5-card hand, with the following exception:

  • Place A-K in 2-card hand with Pair of 9s, 10s, Js, or Qs in 5-card hand.
2 Pair Figure out the best possible 2-card hand without splitting up the pairs. Then, add up the point value of the Pairs. Use numeric value for 2 thru 10; J=11, Q=12, K=13, A=14. For example, pairs of Jacks and 5s total (11 + 5) 16. Then, follow these rules:

  • ~6 pts: Play Two Pair together with Q+ high if possible, otherwise play the best 5-card hand, then best remaining 2-card hand.
  • 7-11 pts: Play Two Pair with K+ High if possible, otherwise split the pairs.
  • 12-16 pts: Play Two Pair with Ace High, otherwise split the pairs.
  • 17+ pts: Split the pairs.
3 Pair Play highest pair in 2-card hand.
3 of a Kind Play best 2-card hand after placing Straight/Flush in 5-card hand.
3 of a Kind + 1 Pair Play Straight/Flush in the 5-card hand only if the 2-card hand is left with at least a Pair of 7s. Otherwise, Play 3 of a Kind in 5-card hand; Pair in 2-card hand.
4 of a Kind Play Pair of Aces 2-card hand after placing best Straight/Flush in 5-card hand.

4. Advantage of Online Pai Gow Poker Games

There are a number of benefits of playing Pai Gow Poker at an online casino, versus a bricks-and-mortar casino. Most of them relate to the fact that it’s better for your bankroll. There are no travel expenses – that money stays in your bankroll. There is no need to tip the dealer – that money stays in your bankroll. You will not be tempted to purchase food, beverages or other often over-priced items while playing, which again translates to more money for your bankroll.

Every internet casino promotes welcome bonuses that add credits to your balance when making an initial deposit. Such bonuses also extend your bankroll; this time, with money you didn’t have to begin with.

Online casinos also provide instant access to the games, no matter where you are, or how much time you have to play. All you need is a computer or mobile device with an internet connection, and a viable payment method to fund the account.

I’ve saved the most important advantage for last. Online casinos offer 99% of their games for practice or real money play. This means you can play Pai Gow Poker online for free, getting a feel for the rules and practicing the above strategies for as long as you like. Once you feel comfortable, you can then make use of all of your new-found knowledge of how to play Pai Gow Poker and win money.

That being said, it’s critical that you only do business with safe, secure and highly reputable online casinos that are licensed and regulated in responsible jurisdictions, where player protections are the top priority. You can learn more about choosing the right iGaming operator here:

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