Rules of Pai Gow Poker Game5 min read

Pai Gow Poker Game Rules


Pai gow poker uses a standard deck of 52 cards plus one joker. A maximum of six players sits around the table along with the dealer. 

 The game’s object is quite simple – to beat the banker( banker could be a dealer player or player-dealer team).

 Two poker hand are made from seven cards they are dealt as: 

  1.  A five-card -” high ” hand 
  2. A two-card -” low” hand

A five hand must beat the low hand. 

E.g., if a low hand has a pair of fives, the high hand must have better than those fives.


One player sets their hand, and the dealer reveals them along with the banker’s hand. There are three possible outcomes: 

  1. The player wins both the hand and ultimately win their bet.
  2. The dealer either win both hand and player loses their bet.
  3. The player wins one hand, and the dealer wins the other in such a case the hand is a push, and no money exchange occurs.
  4. Ties go to the dealer in pai gow poker. E.g., if both player and dealer have the low hand of A-K, the dealer wins that hand.


Dealing With the Game

Pai gow poker has an exciting deal method. After the cards are shuffled, usually the dealer places them into seven face-down piles composed of seven cards. – one for each player and the dealer- with four unused extra cards placed in the discard pile or muck.

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Each seat is numbered one to seven, beginning with whoever the banker is. And the player is randomly chosen to decide who gets dealt cards first, and the dealer hand out the cards in a counter-clockwise direction.


The Setting of Pai Gow Hand 

For the two-card hand, it’s possible to make pairs and high cards. For the five-hand card, standard poker hand ranking is applied. The five-card hand must outrank the two-card hand. For example, if the two-hand consist of a pair of aces, the five hands must be better than the two – teams. It can be used to complete a flush or straight. If neither of these situations applies, the joker must be an ace. And if the player not able to make a pair or better hand with cards- for example, if dealt- Q-9-7-5-3-2 this is called Pai gow or non-hand.



Once a player has set their hand, they place the two-card hand in front and the five-card hand in the back. As such, the five-card – hand is referred to as the ” bottom,” “high,” “behind,” or “big” while the two hands are often called ” on top,” small,” “minor,” “in front,” “low.”

If a hand is set incorrectly – such as having the two hand outranking the five-card hand – then the hand is fouled and reset according to house rules or forfeited, depending on the casino.

If the casino/dealer is the banker, the card must be set according to the house rules. However, if a player is a banker for a particular hand, they are free to set their hand however they choose. If a player is a co- bank with the dealer, they must set their hand according to house rule.

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 The house edge in pai gow is pretty low, to begin with, and can be reduced even more ( about 2.8%) if players learn how to set hand optimally. Usually, the casino takes a commission of somewhat – 5% from the winning players. Other casinos charge a flat fee per hand depending on the amount bet. Also, some casinos chose not to take .with With no house commission, the banker has a 1.3% advantage.


Pai Gow Side Bets: 

Casinos are increasingly adopting Pai gow poker variants characterized by side bets that can increase a player’s winning. These side bets neither add nor detract from the stake for the hand itself.

Instead of betting extra from the player, they get three of a kind: 

  • Full house
  • Four of a kind
  • A straight flush
  • A royal flush 

So higher the hand, the higher the bonus payout. 

Among the most common and the popular are: 

  • Fortune pai gow- allow players to make a side bet on trips or better.
  • Pai gow mania- enable players to make two side bets.
  • Emperors challenge- would enable players to make a side bet on a Pai gow.
  • Progressive fortune pai gow- would enable players to place side bets with a combined seven-card straight flush winning the jackpot.

Some casinos have envy bonuses as well. For these, players wager that another player at the table will hit with a premium hand. Its negative side is that it builds high expectations – much more than any other game in the casino.


The Vital Rule to Keep in Mind While Playing Pai Gow Poker

  • 3 – A kind must be played in the player’s high hand unless they have 3- aces. If the player has three aces, they should be spilled as a pair in the high hand and rest ace- high in the low hand.
  • Straight and flushes must be played from high hand unless the player has two pairs. Then they are split according to the rule for two pairs of hands.
  • Quads should be Split ( 4- of-a-kind) into two pairs if they are JJ or above.
  •  Four of a kind should be kept 6s or lower together.
  • Four of a kind (77-TT ) together only if the player has an ace.
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When There is The Whole House: 

  • Players should always pair the 2- and 3- of a kind in the player’s high hand unless the player has a second pair.
  • If so, the player should play the higher of the two teams in their low hand.

How to Determine a Winning Pai Gow Hand: 

  • If both players’ hands are better than the dealer’s hands, the player makes 1:1 on the bet.
  • If both of the hands are better than the dealer then, it’s a push.
  • If both of the player hand are worse than the dealer, then the player loses their bet.
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