If you are interested in playing Pai Gow poker then note that it is fun to play and relatively easy to learn. This game is played against the dealer and as many as 7 players can play at once. It’s played with a standard 52-card deck and a single joker. Your object is to take 7 cards and turn them into two hands which can beat the dealer.
The game starts with you making your bet. Once everyone makes their bets, cards are shuffled and dealt. Each player receives a pile of 7 cards face down.
In live games, betting positions are assigned with numbers 1-7. This is done electronically or with dice. This determines where the action starts. The action will continue from the starting point counter-clockwise around the table.
If no one is in a spot, the hand is still assigned and the cards discarded. However, some casinos will deal the hand to the empty seat. This is called a “dragon hand.” And after each player has had their turn, the dealer will ask who wants to bet on the dragon hand. The first player who accepts the bet gets it. They can bet up to their original wager. Ultimately this is like playing two separate hands.
The rules vary, but dragon hands may have to be set the “house way.” The reason is because the player has already seen their cards, which gives them additional knowledge they could otherwise use to set the dragon hand. It depends on where you play. At most online casinos you’ll play only one hand.
Your objective will be to split your 7 cards into 2 hands: In Front or On Top – This hand will have two cards in it. Bottom or Behind – This hand will have 5 cards in it.
Your objective is for each hand to beat each of the dealer’s hands. But you can’t set your hands however you want. There are a few rules you need to follow like your bottom hand needs to be stronger than your top. The joker is a semi-wild. It can be used as an ace, or to complete a straight, flush, straight flush or royal flush.
Once everyone sets their hand, the dealer will set his hand. Most pai gow poker rules say dealers have to set their hands the house way. What the house way is will vary from casino to casino.
Then hands are compared. Normal poker hand rankings are used. If you have the same hand as the dealer – you tie – you will lose your bet to the casino. It’s not a push. If you win both hands, you win even money on your bet minus a 5% commission. If you lose one hand and win the other, the bet will push. You’ll get your bet back. Then bets are collected and paid out, which signals the end of a round of pai gow poker. Then cards are reshuffled and new bets are made for the next round.
In some live games you’ll have the option to bank or co-bank the game. Most players don’t. They pass when it’s offered. But they’re missing out on a chance to reduce the house edge.
If you want to bank, you’ll need a large enough bankroll to payout players whose hand beats yours. The good news is, if you’re the sole banker, you can set your hands however you want. Between that, and the fact that 41.48% percent of hands tie, you shouldn’t need that large of a bankroll. Doing so will cut the house edge nearly in half. The other option is to co-bank. You’ll split the winnings and losses in half with the casino. This means you can get by on a smaller bankroll. But co-banking also means you’ll need to set your cards the house way. Either way, banking’s the best approach to take in pai gow poker if you want to reduce the house edge as much as possible.
Best optimal ways to be adopted
Pai gow poker’s a low edge game. Almost 42% of hands are pushes. Between that and the slow rate of play, pai gow poker’s house edge is 2.84%. You can reduce the edge even more by banking. Also you can reduce it even more than that by following optimal ways to play and/or following the house way. So following best optimal ways to play needs to be adopted
- Don’t split single pairs. Keep them in your 5-card hand.
- Split two pairs. Keep the strongest pair in your 5-card hand.
- Three pairs – keep the weaker 2 pair in your strongest hand. Place the stronger pair in your 2-card hand.
- If you’re dealt 3-of-a-kind, keep it intact with your 5-card hand. The exception is if you’re holding 3 aces. Then you might consider splitting it up and placing an Ace in your 2-card hand.
- If you’re dealt two 3 of a kind hands, split the highest ranking one and place the pair in your 2-card hand.
The hand-specific way- Straights and Flushes
- Keep straights and flushes together unless you also have two pair or 3-of-a-kind. Then split them up to make a strong 2-card hand.
- If you have two pair, follow the ways outlined above. Split them, while putting the weaker pair in your 2-card hand.
- If you have a 3-of-a-kind, split it. Keep the straight or flush intact (if possible), while moving the pair to your 2-card hand.
The hand-specific way- Four of a Kinds
- If you have quad 7’s through aces, split them. Put a pair in your 2-card hand. The exception is if you also have an ace or king. Then keep your quads intact and set your ace or king-high hand as your 2-card hand.
- If you have quad 2’s through 6’s, always keep them intact.
Therefore keep in mind these best optimal ways that you need to adopt for playing Pai Gow Poker.