Pai Gow Strategy

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Much like the Aruban origins of Caribbean stud poker, pai gow poker showcases the benefits of different cultures converging to create a fun, new twist on a very familiar game.

But what exactly are the rules of this Chinese-inspired poker variant? And what’s the best pai gow poker strategy to maximise your earnings?

Continue reading, below, to find out how to play pai gow poker.

How to play pai gow poker

While pai gow poker rules might seem confusing at first to players accustomed to Ultimate Texas Hold ‘em, it’s actually simple to pick up once you get the hang of the game.

The main difference from other online poker variations is that pai gow poker is not played against other players. Instead, you’re competing against the banker, typically played by the house dealer. You also play pai gow poker with a standard deck of 52 cards plus one joker, which acts as a wild card of sorts to complete certain unfinished hands.

The dealer will start by handing each player seven cards that must be split into two poker hands: a five-card ‘high’ and a two-card ‘low’ hand. There are no requirements as to how you organise your two hands, except pai gow poker rules dictate that your high hand must beat your low hand.

The pai gow poker strategy is to form two poker hands that are capable of beating the banker’s own cards.

Unsure how valuable each pai gow poker hand is? They hold the same value as they do in Texas Hold ‘em! Take a look at our poker hand guide, below, ranked from least valuable to most:

  • High card
  • Pairs
  • Two pairs
  • Three of a kind
  • Straight
  • Flush
  • Full house
  • Four of a kind
  • Straight flush
  • Royal flush

How to win pai gow poker

With your two pai gow poker hands set, it’s time for all players and the banker to reveal their cards. From here, the game can go one of three ways:

  1. Both your low and high hands are more valuable than the banker’s, and you win your bet.
  2. The banker beats your low and high hands, in which case you lose your bet.
  3. You win one hand and the banker wins the other (i.e. you have a more valuable low hand but the banker has a more valuable high hand). No money is exchanged in this situation, which is called a ‘push’. You’ll likely to experience a lot of pushes when you play pai gow poker.

It’s important to also note that any hands that tie will go to the banker. If you both have a pair of twos in your low hand, for example, the banker wins that hand.

What’s the best pai gow poker strategy?

Seeing as you only make one bet at the start of each hand, pai gow poker strategy doesn’t involve folding, bluffing, raising or any of the other game plans that define traditional poker.

Instead, your pai gow poker strategy focuses on how you’ll arrange the cards into your two hands.

And while it might be tempting to make your high hand as valuable as possible, which would give you a better chance to score at least one victory over the banker, you should never do so to the detriment of your low hand. The best pai gow poker strategy is one that splits the best cards across both hands, rather than just one very strong hand.

After all, you must beat both of the banker’s hands to win your bet in pai gow poker.

Pai gow poker tips

Still feel like you need some final pieces of advice before jumping into your very first pai gow poker game? See our top pai gow poker tips, below.

  • Don’t forget about the jokers: The joker card is extremely valuable and can be used to complete a flush or a straight. Otherwise, the joker counts as an ace.
  • Always break up a full house: While it might seem like sacrilege to split up a full house in poker, you’ll actually increase your chances of winning in pai gow poker by putting the three of a kind in your high hand and the pair in your low hand.
  • Never chase your losses: You should never get into the habit of playing pai gow poker just to win back your lost bets, which can lead to further losses. When the fun stops, stop.

Ready to put your pai gow poker strategy to the test? Head over to Mr Green today to play pai gow poker online. Alternatively, you can try some of our other live poker games, such as 2 hand casino hold ‘em . Good luck!