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Pai Gow Poker
Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow Poker Strategies

There’s no way to guarantee a win in Pai Gow Poker, but since the outcome depends on arranging cards into poker hands, there are a couple of ways to increase the chances of outscoring the dealer.

The House Way

A player with seven cards in front of them.

Any player who is unsure how to arrange their hands themselves can ask the dealer to do it for them using the “House Way”. The dealer will then arrange them to form the best two poker hands possible.

The House Way can help players who are unfamiliar with poker hands make the most of the cards they receive—but whether those beat the dealer’s cards is another story.

An Ace and a Jack next to a “Bank” sign with a hand hovering over.

Playing as the Banker

The Banker is the opponent of all other players at the table. They collect bets and payout winnings during each round. By default, it’s the dealer’s role, but before each round begins, the dealer will ask each player if they would like to act as the Banker. The role comes with one major advantage:

The Banker wins on any tie

If only one of a player’s hands beats only one of the Banker’s hands, the tie and winnings go to the Banker.

Two separate pockets each with their own set of banknotes.

Separate your winnings and bankroll

Leaving a casino with cash is a good feeling. Keep a bankroll in one pocket and winnings in another. Once the bankroll is gone, call it a night.

Know when to walk away

At the moment, chasing a loss can feel like a good way to get back on top. A better strategy is to accept that losses happen and roll with it. Keep things fun and light.

Card strategies

  • If dealt only one pair, place it in the five-card hand. Then, use the two highest cards to form the two-card hand.
  • If dealt three pairs, use the highest-ranked pair as the two-card hand.
  • Place any three of a kind in the five-card hand and put the two highest single cards in the two-card hand.
  • If dealt two, three of a kinds, use the lower-ranked three of a kind in the five-card hand and split a pair from the highest-ranked three of a kind, for the two-card hand.
  • If dealt a three of a kind and two pairs, use the highest-ranked pair as the two-card hand and the smaller ranked full house as the five-card hand.
  • If dealt a full house, use the pair for the two-card hand and the three of a kind for the five-card hand.
  • Only split a four of a kind if it is made up of sevens or better.