Pai Gow Poker
Online Pai Gow Poker
Pai Gow Poker is a wonderful twist on the games of Pai Gow and Poker, using elements of both to create a truly strategic game. Played against a dealer, Pai Gow Poker uses a standard 52-card deck, though some casinos may choose to include Jokers as wild cards.
People like to play Pai Gow Poker due to the time it takes and the strategy involved. Bets are often pushed in Pai Gow Poker and can be more common than winning or losing, so most casinos either take a commission per hand or per bet won in order to make up for the number of hands that must be played without a result either way.
How to play Pai Gow Poker?
To begin playing Pai Gow Poker, players make their bets and then get dealt 7 cards each, along with the dealer. Everyone must then make a 5-card hand and a 2-card hand out of their cards, with the 5-card hand having to be more highly ranked than the 2-card hand. The ranks are the same as for standard Poker, except that the 2-card hand can only be a Pair or High Card.
Once the hands have been made, they are then compared to the dealer hands. This means the 5-card hands are compared to the 5-card hand of the dealer and the 2-card hands are compared to the 2-card hand of the dealer. Players who beat the dealer on both hands receive even money on their bet, usually minus a 5% commission. Players who beat the dealer on one hand but lose one hand as well, have their bet pushed. Players who lose on both hands forfeit their bet. When hands are compared, draws go to the dealer.
Pai Gow Poker Example Play
The player puts down a bet of $100 and is dealt 7 cards. He gets 3/Q/A/10/7/10/A. The best possible 5-card hand would be Two Pair, A/A/10/10/Q. This does not have a particularly strong chance of winning, and the remaining 2-card hand of 7/3 would almost certainly lose.
Instead, the player chooses to split the pair and make a hand of A/A/Q/7/3 and 10/10. This is a weak 5-card hand, but it is a very strong 2-card hand. The strongest 5-card hand the player could make did not have much of a chance of winning anyway, so it was likely better to make a 2-card hand that could be dominant.
The player signals his readiness, and his hands are compared to those of the dealer. The dealer has Q/Q/Q/10/2 and A/5. The player has lost on the 5-card hand, but won on the 2-card hand, as expected. His $100 is pushed back to him.
Another hand is dealt, with $100 on the table again. The player receives a much better spread of K/K/10/A/K/4/J. He splits this into K/K/K/10/4 and A/J. The dealer flips over his cards, J/J/7/7/2 and K/7. The player wins on both hands, receiving even money minus a 5% commission.
Pai Gow Poker Strategy
Good hand construction is vital to reducing the house edge in Pai Gow Poker, but it must be remembered that it is a game of two hands, not one. Both need to be strong if you are to win. Having said that, it is a good idea to play defensively in Pai Gow Poker, as winning on only one hand is still preferable to losing on both hands.
Where strategy becomes difficult in Pai Gow Poker is deciding on when to weaken a strong 5-card hand in order to make a better 2-card hand. This is normally only an issue if you have Two Pair, as a Pair is the highest rank you can make in the 2-card hand. Most of the time, it is a good idea to split Pairs, as this gives the 2-card hand a much better chance of winning than a Two Pair hand has of winning the 5-card hand.
A high card can sometimes make it more worthwhile keeping the pair together, however. When both Pairs are low, for instance, it can be preferable to keep them together if you have a King or better for the 2-card hand, as the difference between a high card’s chance of winning and low Pair winning are quite close. When the mix is a low pair and a high pair, though, it becomes necessary to have at least an Ace for the 2-card hand if you do not want to split the Pairs.
Patience and thoughtful hand arrangements keep the house edge of Pai Gow Poker as low as possible. Pai Gow Poker may not be the most popular online casino game, but it can be a great way to spend time. Online play also allows players to take a reasonable amount of time in deciding on their hands, which can make it preferable to playing in a live casino.