How To Play Pai Gow Poker
Pai Gow Poker is a table game that mixes elements of Pai Gow, an ancient Chinese game, with seven-card poker. The game is played using a 53-card deck that includes one Joker.
The Object of the Game
During a round of Pai Gow Poker, each player and the dealer is dealt seven cards that must be arranged into two poker hands: a five-card hand and two-card hand. The object of the game is to bet on whether the player’s hands beat those of the dealer.
Breaking Down Pai Gow Poker
Pai Gow Poker is a sociable game with a relaxed pace of play.
Here are some of the basics:
A Pai Gow Poker table has positions for six players and a dealer’s area. Each position features room for arranging poker hands and placing chips.
The game uses a standard deck of cards with one Joker. The Joker is considered “semi-wild” and can be used to substitute an Ace or to complete hands. For example, a straight could be made using a Joker, i.e., 3-4-5-6-Joker.
Since Pai Gow Poker is scored using traditional poker hands, a basic understanding of how the hands rank is key.
How to play Pai Gow Poker in 5 easy steps
Set a budget. Getting swept up in the heat of the moment is easy in Pai Gow Poker. A predetermined game plan is a great way to keep things cool.
Buy chips. Simply place cash on the table and the dealer will exchange it for chips.
Place bets. Bets should be placed inside the marked chip circle on the table.
Arrange the cards. The dealer will distribute seven cards to each player. These must be arranged into two poker hands—one with five cards, and one with two.
Compare hands to see who wins, the player or dealer.
1. Set a budget
Savvy gamblers know there’s no way to guarantee a win. That’s why they set aside a play budget like one might set aside for a dinner out or concert tickets.
2. Buy chips
Money and chips are never exchanged directly between a dealer and player. To make a purchase, simply place cash on the table and the dealer will replace it with chips.
3. Place bets
The dealer will call for bets before any cards have been dealt. Decide how much to bet and place the required amount of chips inside the marked chip circle. The dealer will then shake a dice cup to see which player receives their cards first.
4. Arrange your cards
Once players have received their cards, it’s time to split them into a five-card hand and a two-card hand. The five-card hand is called the “rear” hand, and the two-card hand is called the “front” hand. The rear hand must have a higher poker score than the front hand.
Keep in mind:
- Five-card hands follow conventional poker rules
- The two-card hand will either be a pair or no pair
- If the two-card hand has no pair, the score is based on the value of each card with Aces high
5. Compare your hands
Once the player and dealer cards have been arranged into front and rear hands, it’s time to compare them.
Keep in mind:
- The player wins their bet if their front and rear hands beat both of the dealer’s hands
- The player’s bet pushes if only one of their hands beats only one of the dealer’s hands
- The player loses their bet if both of their hands tie or lose to the dealer
Play more Pai Gow
Feeling inspired by the challenge of Pai Gow Poker?
Check out the game’s original form, Pai Gow Tiles.