Just to recall that Pai Gow poker is played with a standard English deck of 52 cards plus the joker. The joker can only be used as an ace, or a card that completes a straight or flush.
Players and the dealer receive seven cards they place into two hands: five cards and two cards. The five card hand must be of a higher total rank than the two-card hand. Also, an Ace-2-3-4-5 straight is the second highest after Ace-K-Q-J-10.
Pai Gow is all about hand setting. The hands are grouped into a high hand made up of five cards, and a lower value low hand of just two cards. Because there are many possibilities with seven cards, a high hand might be a straight and the low hand just a pair, or you might be dealt an actual pai gow – a hand with no straight, flush or pair.
The player’s job is to set their cards into two hands, making sure the five-card hand is the highest. Once the dealer sets the Banker hand using a casino-chosen house way, the hands are compared. If the player’s two-card hand beats the banker’s two-card hand and the player’s five-card hand beats the banker’s five-card hand, the player wins.
If one wins and one loses, it is a push. If either player hand is the same value as the banker’s hand it is a tie or copy, and the Banker wins. If the Banker’s two hands beat both of your hands you lose.
When the Dealer completes the Take-and-Pay procedure, they will always pay the primary Pai-Gow Poker bet first, followed by the Fortune Bonus. Then they’ll pay any Envy Bonuses that might qualify before going to the Dragon Hand. All winning wagers are paid even money minus a 5% commission.
The procedure for a lost bet depends on what casino you play at, so make sure you know your house rules. Some houses will want you to place the lost bet in the rack, while other houses will want you to place it on a designated area on the center of the table and then place it in the rack after all of the lost bets have been taken. This is for security purposes as well as in case there is a dispute, then the dealer will know exactly which bet belongs to what player.
One of the rules that carried over from poker is that the player has the option to fold their hand. If the player wishes to surrender their hand, either before or after the dealer has revealed their cards, the player will either push their cards under the bet and towards the dealer or they will throw their cards towards the dealer. When seeing this, the first thing the dealer will do is collect the player’s bet and lock it up in the rack. Then the dealer will spread the cards face down, verifying that there are seven there before placing them in the discard rack.
Because each casino is different, you might have side bets and bonus bets on your layout that looks different from this one. Not to worry it is just to make sure you get a copy of your house rules so you won’t be confused with the Take-and-Pay procedure when you’re on a live game, and if you have any questions you can always ask your floorman.
Take and Pay Procedures in Pai Gow
As different casinos follow different procedures when it comes to the Take-and-Pay Procedure, there are the two methods that are normally followed.
The first method is a “Pay-As-You-Go” system, which is pretty straight forward. The dealer will start from the right hand side and going left, take or pay the wager depending on the player’s cards. As soon as the wager and commission are taken care of the dealer will place the player’s cards into the discard rack and proceed to the next hand.
The second method is a bit more involved since the dealer’s actions are going to depend on whether the player wins, loses or pushes. The dealer will start from the right hand side and go left. If the player loses, the wager will be taken and the cards will be put in the discard rack.
If the player pushes, the dealer will pat the table, indicating to the cameras that it’s a push, and then place the cards in the discard rack. Also if the player wins, the bet will be left alone and the cards will be left facing up until all of the other hands have been determined. Keep in mind that if you have a full table of winners, the cards will need to be spread far enough that the cameras can see them but not far enough that they get mixed up with their neighbour player’s cards.
When everyone’s hand is resolved, the dealer will start from the right hand side and go left when paying the player’s wager, minus the 5% commission. Make sure to put the cards in the discard rack after each individual bet has been paid.
Winning bets are charged a 5% commission which will be collected immediately by the dealer. This means that for every $5 the player wins they must pay a $0.25 commission. When calculating the math for commission, the dealer has two options. The first option is to take 10% of the bet and divide it by 2. The second option is to memorize the basic chart and add the commissions as you go. So if you can remember that every $5 bet owes a $0.25 commission, every $20 bet owes a $1.00 commission and every $100 bet owes a $5 commission then you should be good to go.
All players with winning bets are responsible for their own commissions. Normally, the dealer will just take the commission out of the player’s winning bet but if the player has the coinage then they may elect to pay the commission themselves instead. If that happens, then all winning payoffs must be sized into the bet and proven before any commission is collected.