How to Play Pai Gow Poker?

How to Play Pai Gow Poker?

Table of content:

Pai Gow Poker, or Double Hand Poker, is a relaxing, thoughtful, slow paced version of poker which derives its inspiration from the Chinese Dominoes or Pai Gows! It interestingly pits the player against the banker and not other players and gives the player a relatively longer session to test one’s luck without making a serious dent to their poker bankroll.

To learn how to play Pai Gow poker, you must understand the following before playing it online.

What is the objective of the game?

When learning how to play Pai Gow poker, you must understand the objectives. The main objective of the game is to win the wager by forming two winning poker hands against the dealer of the game. The player is only playing against the poker dealer and not against the other players in the game.

However, if the player manages to win one hand and lose the other, then it is a push, i.e. no money is exchanged. If the player loses both hands then money is to be paid to the bank or the dealer.

Let’s get back to basics first!

§  A 53-card deck is used in this game (i.e. the 52 cards and an additional joker which will act as a wild card to complete any kind of straight or flush).

§  A maximum of 6 players (excluding the dealer, of course), can play this game.

§  If the joker cannot complete any kind of straight or flush, then it will turn into an ace.

Let’s start the game!

Here’s how to play Pai Gow poker!

§  With the central goal of this game as reaping the maximum profit, the bets are placed first.

§  It is only after this that the banker deals 7 cards to each player, proceeding in an anticlockwise manner. It is out of these 7 cards that the player must make two poker hands.

§  Even if there are less than 6 players on the table, the dealer will place 7 cards for each of the vacant spot. Once, each player picks up their cards, then the dealer will pick up the cards from the vacant spot and the extra cards and place them in the ‘discard rack’.

Now that we have the cards, what to do?

§  The player then segregates cards into two sets of cards known as – the High hand or BackHand and the Top hand or Low hand or Front hand.

a.    The High hand contains those cards which are of the highest ranking, such as flushes, or straights and so on.

b.    The Front hand will contain the second highest ranking cards such as one pair etc.

Please note: the poker ranking of the High hand must be higher than the poker ranking of the Low hand. If it isn’t then a foul is called and the wager made by the player is automatically lost.

§  The poker hand rankings are almost the same as a normal game of poker. The ranks, in descending order, for your reference, are as follows –

Poker rankings in a Pai Gow Poker Game
Five- card hand Two- card hand
Five of a kind (includes 4 of a kind and one joker) One pair
Royal flush (A, K, Q, J, 10 of the same suit) High card
Straight flush (when all 5 cards are in sequence and also have the same suit) *  
Four of a kind (consists of 4 cards of the same value)  
Full house (it consists of three of a kind and one pair)  
Flush (consists of 5 cards of the same suit but in random order)  
Straight (all the cards are in sequence but belong to different suits) #  
Three of a kind (it is 3 cards of the same value)  
Two pair (contains two pairs at once)  
One pair (consists of just one pair of same value)  
High card (consists of any hand with no rank or value)  
*A, 2, 3, 4, 5 of the same suit is the biggest straight flush
# A, 2, 3, 4, 5 is the second highest straight

§  If the player wishes to discontinue the game, then they may fold the cards by pushing their cards under their betting chip or throw the cards on the table by calling “fold”.

§  Once the leftover players are done placing their cards in respective slots as High hand and Low hand, the dealer or the bank or the house turns over his/ her card and sets it the house way. The house way is a predetermined manner in which the banker is obligated to set the cards into the High hand and the Low hand.

And now, the most awaited part of Pai Gow Poker…

§  The banker then takes a look at the cards of each of the players individually and compares the High hand first, and then the Low hand.

a.    If the banker has a higher Front and Back hand, then the banker wins and the player forfeits the wager;

b.    If the player has a higher Front and Back hand, then the player wins the wager;

c.     If the player wins either the Front hand or the Back hand and loses the other to the banker, then it is a push and the game proceeds to the next round;

d.    If the player and the dealer have the exact same Front hand and Back hand, then it will be deemed as a Copy hand and the banker will be considered as the winner.

Just to spice things up…

§  The players also have a chance of being the banker.

§  The rules will be slightly different for the round. The dealer will continue to be the one responsible for dealing the cards and unlike other rounds, will have to place a house bet for their own set of cards. The player taking up the role of the banker will be called a player-banker.

§  The house will initiate the round as the banker. Once the cards are dealt, then the position will be handed over to the player-banker. The position will rotate around the table in an anti-clockwise manner, starting from the dealer’s right-hand side. The opportunity of being a player-banker is available only once in a rotation. If it is not compulsory to opt in to be a player-banker.

§  The advantages that the player gets while being the player-banker is that they get to keep the commission that each player has to pay at the end of winning the round and they also have the house edge.

§  If a player wants to be the player banker, then they must have wagered on the previous hand. The amount wagered in the previous round matters as both the player and the dealer must wager that same amount when the player is banking.

§  Also, before the player opts in to being a player-banker, he or she must ensure that he/ she has enough chips to cover wagers of all the players on the table.

§  The game proceeds with the bets being placed and the cards being dealt by the dealer. The dealer himself will have to place a house bet on top of his/ her cards.

§  The players on the table save the Player-Banker and the dealer, will set their Low hand and Back hand first. Once that is done, the player-banker sets his/her card following which the dealer does the same.

§  The dealer will then flip over the player-banker’s cards and compare them with their own cards. If the player-banker bests the dealer’s hand, then the dealer will have to leave the wager and the player-banker’s bankroll begins.

§  If the player-banker happens to lose, then he/she will have to pay the wager and the dealer will take over. The dealer will place his/ her own cards in the discard pile and will take up the player-banker’s cards and proceed as normal.

A New Twist – the Dragon Hand!

§  The Dragon Hand is a side bet that allows a player to play an extra hand.

§  However, only one player can play this at a time.

§  It is non-negotiable that the wager for the Dragon Hand must be of the exact same amount as that of the player’s original bet.

§  It will be offered to all players in an anti-clockwise direction. But, if no player accepts the hand, then the cards will be positioned in the discard rack.

§  The dragon hand cards will be placed to the right of the player’s original cards and will be played in the same manner as the original hand.

§  A player-banker is not allowed to have a Dragon Hand.

Pai Gow Poker isn’t too complicated a game from the strategic point of view but it requires some smart decisions to be made while making arrangements of the cards. The Pai Gow Poker is an excellent choice to destress, pass some time and have your share of weekend fun!

To learn how to play Pai Gow poker, keep practising by downloading the GetMega Poker app!

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About The  

Kanchan Sharma
Kanchan Sharma

Kanchan Sharma started her career as a learning designer at an MNC while pursuing poker as a hobby. However, she soon pivoted to becoming a professional MTT (Multi Table Tournaments) player. She is currently a leading player, who has taken the male dominated poker world by storm. During her stint as a poker player, she has bagged many titles including India Online Poker Championship (IOPC) for Rs. 17,98,906, Winter Celebration Series for Rs. 6,62,500 and has final tabled multiple tournaments. She continually seeks to improve her poker game and work on her mindset to win the WSOP title soon. Her journey from being a recreational player to a poker pro is inspiring for many people out there.

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