How To Play Pai Gow Poker?

How To Play Pai Gow Poker?

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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 in their poker bankroll.

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

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What Is The Objective Of The Game?

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

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

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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, who will act as a wild card to complete any kind of straight or flush).

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

§ If the joker cannot complete any straight or flush, 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. Out of these 7 cards, the player must make two poker hands.

§ Even if fewer than 6 players are on the table, the dealer will place 7 cards for each 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'.

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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 cards of the highest ranking, such as flushes, 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 that 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 in a normal poker game. 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, they may fold the cards by pushing their cards under their betting chip or throw them 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 their card and sets it the house way. The house way is a predetermined manner in which the banker must set the cards into the High and Low hands.

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And Now, The Most Qwaited Part Of Pai Gow Poker…

§ The banker then looks at each player's cards individually and compares the High hand first and then the Low hand.

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

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

c. If the player wins either the Front hand or the Backhand 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 same Front hand and Backhand, it will be deemed a Copy hand, and the banker will be considered 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 responsible for dealing with the cards and, unlike other rounds, will have to place a house bet for their 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 with, then the position will be handed over to the player-banker. The position will rotate around the table anticlockwise, 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 advantage that the player gets while being the player-banker is that they get to keep the commission each player has to pay at the end of winning the round and have the house edge.

§ If a player wants to be the player banker, 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 becomes a player-banker, they must ensure that they have enough chips to cover the 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 their cards.

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

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

§ If the player-banker loses, they will have to pay the wager, and the dealer will take over. The dealer will place their cards in the discard pile, 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 Dragon Hand wager must be the same amount as the player's original bet.

§ It will be offered to all players in an anticlockwise direction. But, if no player accepts the hand, 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 played like the original hand.

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

Pai Gow Poker isn't too complicated a game from a strategic point of view, but it requires some smart decisions while making arrangements for 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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