Pai Gow Poker

How To Play Pai Gow Poker | Learn The Rules & Strategy

| February 19, 2022 | Last Updated on: April 22, 2022 | Poker

Are you a big fan of card games where all the odds are seemed to be stacked against you? Do you enjoy the thrill of coming out at the top even after these odd bets against you? Then you must be a fan of poker. It is one of the most famous card games globally, mainly played in casinos. 

However, in this article, we are not here to discuss poker. If you are already a fan of card games, then you probably already know everything there is to know about poker. Today, we will discuss one of the most popular variants of Poker – Pai Gow Poker.

What Is Pai Gow Poker?


Pai Gow Poker is one of the most popular types of poker. Also known as Chinese Poker, this game did not originate there. Instead, the game originated in Los Angeles in 1985. It is also known as double-hand poker by players. 

This game was invented by Sam Torosian, the boss of the Bell Card Club in Los Angeles. He got inspired by the Chinese board game Pai Gow. However, to simplify it and bring it to western audiences, he invented Pai Gow Poker. Unlike traditional poker, which is played with 13 cards, this game is played with only seven.

How Do You Play Pai Gow Poker?

If you want to know how to play Pai Gow Poker, read this section very carefully.

 1. Deck

The deck consists of the standard 52 cards deck with a joker (a total of 53 cards), which we are all familiar with.

 2. Hand

At the start of the game, the dealer shuffles the deck and gives seven cards to all the players. You must arrange your hand in a way that it creates two combinations – a five-card combination and a two-card combination. The five-card hand is known as the backhand or high hand. On the other hand, the two-card hand is the front hand or low hand.

 3. Objectives

This game is played between six people and a dealer. One of them is randomly assigned the role of the banker. The objective of this game is to defeat the banker. To beat the banker, both your hands must have a value that exceeds the other dealer’s hand. Also, before you can call out, your high hand must have a value greater than your low hand. 

There are three conditions to end the game:

  • If both your hands exceed that of the dealer, you win.
  • If both your hand’s value is lower than the hand of the dealer, the dealer wins.
  • If you win with one hand but lose with the other, the game gets marked as a tie. 

It is also important to note that if your hand ties with the dealer because both of you have the same cards or total hand value, the dealer wins that hand.

4. Getting Your Hand Dealt

An exciting mechanic of Pai Gow Poker is how the players’ hands are dealt. After shuffling the deck, the dealer creates seven seven-card piles – where all six players and the dealer get one bundle each. The four remaining cards are then removed from the game by placing them on the discard pile.

5. Pai Gow Poker Hand Rankings

If you have never played poker before, then here are the poker hands rankings for your high hand from highest to lowest:

  • Royal Flush: A, K, Q, J, 10, all of the same suite (symbol). This is the highest possible hand. 
  • Straight Flush: All cars are from the same suite and are in numbered order (e.g., 6,7,8,9,10 from the same suite).
  • Four Of A Kind: You have four copies of the same card in hand and one another card (e.g., K, K, K, K, 2).
  • Full House: You have three copies of the same card and two copies of another (e.g., K, K, K, 3, 3).
  • Flush: All five cards are from the same suite (e.g., K, 10, 9, 8, 5, all spades). 
  • Straight: All five cards in your hand follow consecutive numbers, but not of the same suite. This is similar to a Straight Flush, a mix of a straight and a flush. 
  • Three Of A Kind: Three cards in your hand have the same number and two other cards (e.g., 9, 9, 9, 5, 4).
  • Two Pair: Your hand consists of two pairs of matching cards and one extra card (e.g., 2, 2, 3, 3, 8).
  • One Pair: Your hand has one pair of the same cards and three other cards.

High Card: All your cards are of different numbers and suites. This is the lowest possible hand.

6. Setting Your Hand

You must set your cards in a way where your high hand should follow the ranking as mentioned earlier combinations. Also, your low hand should be a pair (numerical) or contain high cards.

The fun of this game is that your high hand must have cards of higher value than your low hand. Also, the Joker is a wild card that you can use as a copy of any card to create a flush or a straight. Otherwise, it is counted as an ace from any suite.

7. Pai Gow Showdown

When you are done setting your cards in two groups (high and low hands), set your two-card stack first (front hand) and your five-card stack behind it (backhand). The person with the best hand wins the game.

Pai Gow Poker Strategy

Unlike traditional poker, there are no betting rounds here since the games are intended to be short. Therefore, the game depends mainly on how the cards are dealt with. 

For example, you have seven cards – 9, 9, 10, J, Q, K, K. Your strategy should be to get the best possible value out of these hands. Therefore, your hand combinations can be:

  1. 9, K (low hand); 9, 10, J, Q, K (high hand) – This makes your high hand mediocre, but your low hand is super powerful.
  2. J, Q (low hand); 9, 9, 10, K, K (high hand) – This makes your high hand mediocre, but your low hand is powerful. 
  3. 9, 9 (low hand); 10, J, Q, K, K (high hand) – This makes your high hand powerful, but your low hand mediocre. 

Out of these combinations, the first option virtually guarantees a push (win one hand, lose one hand), but the last option is the most rewarding and has the highway payout. However, if you make any mistake while setting your cards, it will be considered a foul and automatically lost.

Pai Gow Poker Rules

This game follows a specific set of poker rules. They are:

  1. You cannot touch your set cards after the dealer exposes the banker’s cards. 
  2. You cannot show your hand or discuss it with other players. 
  3. You will automatically lose if you set your cards in the wrong way (low hand being higher in value than high hand). 
  4. You should arrange and set up your cards. If you are an amateur, you can take the dealer’s help. 
  5. A pair of Aces is the most powerful two-card hand. 
  6. A royal flush is the most powerful five-card hand. 
  7. Pai Gow Poker odds differ from casino to casino. 

Pai Gow Poker Online

You can play Pai Gow Poker free by downloading Pai Gow Poker Casino from the App Store if you have an iPhone.

If you have an android smartphone, you can play this game by downloading Pai Gow Poker – Fortune Bet from the Google Play Store. After registering, you can get Pai Gow bonus Poker free as well.


Frequently Asked Questions:

Q1. How Do U Play Pai Gow Poker?

You play Pai Gow Poker with a 53 card deck, played between seven players. Each player is dealt seven cards. The objective is to create high-value combos with those cards and beat the other players. 

Q2. Can You Make Money Playing Pai Gow Poker?

This game is played in almost all casinos in Vegas. Therefore, if you bet your money and play well, the returns will also be relatively high. 

Q3. What Does Pai Gow Poker Mean In English?

Pai Gow in English means “make nine.” Nine is the highest value of the combinations you can achieve with a single hand. 

Q4. What Is The House Advantage In Pai Gow Poker?

House advantage refers to the average gross profits the casino makes from each game, valued on the commission paid out. Generally, it is 2.84%. However, the banker can give 1.42%. 


Pai Gow Poker is a fantastic card game of luck and skill that can make many players addicted to it, just like poker. It requires you to think about the seven cards you have and what combinations you can pull from them critically. At the same time, you also need to predict other players’ hands to make the best bet.

If you want to know about more casino games, then give this article a like and check out our other articles on other casino games as well.

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Debamalya Mukherjee
Debamalya Mukherjee

Debamalya is a professional content writer from Kolkata, India. Constantly improving himself in this industry for more than three years, he has amassed immense knowledge regarding his niches of writing tech and gaming articles. He loves spending time with his cats, along with playing every new PC action game as soon as possible.


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