When playing Pai Gow Poker you can certainly make money if you know about the game play. You should know that the house edge of Pai Gow poker is about 2.8% and because of the way the game is played, the volatility is very low. Many hands will end up in a tie (push), which means you’re often able to play long sessions without making a serious dent to your budget
Pai Gow Poker isn’t particularly demanding, and with a bit of practice and a basic understanding of what it takes to beat the dealer, you should do just fine.
The goal of Pai Gow Poker is to beat the dealer, just like in 3 Card Poker or Ultimate Texas Holdem or any other casino poker game for that matter. To do this, you’ll need to make two separate hands that are both stronger than the dealer’s two hands.
How to play Pai Gow Poker?
The game is played with the standard deck of 52 cards with the addition of a Joker. Joker is semi-wild in the Pai Gow game, as it can be used to complete any straights or flushes. In all other instances, the Joker is counted as an Ace.
One thing to check in the rules of a particular casino is whether the wheel (A 2 3 4 5) is counted as it is or as the second-highest straight. Some venues still count the wheel as the second-best straight (for whatever reason), and it’s obviously an important piece of information to have before you start.
A hand of Pai Gow Poker begins with all players posting their ante bet. After that, everyone (including the dealer) receives seven cards, face down. When you receive your cards, you’ll have a chance to look at them and will need to arrange them in two separate hands:
- One five-card hand combination
- One two-card hand
As mentioned, the best result you can achieve is for both of your hands to beat both of the dealer’s hands. Standard poker hands rankings are used to determine the winner, i.e., one pair beats a high-card hand, two pair beat any single pair, etc.
One very important rule in Pai Gow to keep in mind is that your top (two-card hand) must never be stronger than your bottom (five-card) hand.
As an example, if you have a pair of 10s at the bottom, you can’t place a pair of Jacks at the top. If you do this, your hand is fouled, and you’ll forfeit your bet.
What are the game Payouts?
As far as the rules of Pai Gow Poker are concerned, all you need to know is described above. Once all players are done setting up their hands, the dealer will arrange their hand. After that, they’ll compare their hands to the players’ hands and pay the winners.
If both of your hands beat the both of the dealer’s hands, you’ll be paid at 1:1 on your ante
If you beat one hand but lose on the second one, the bet is pushed back (a tie)
The dealer wins all ties, i.e., if you have the exact same hand, like a pair of Kings in your top hand, the dealer wins
It is important to note that most casinos charge a 5% commission on your winnings, which adds to the house edge. Some places have done away with this practice, which makes the game much better for the player. If there is no commission involved, the house edge is estimated to be just around 1.3%.
Which bet makes you win more in Pai Gow Poker?
Pai Gow poker earlier was a simple game but now it comes with number of variations. All of these have pretty much the same basic rules. However, some of them will also let you place side bets, which adds to the excitement and provides a possibility for some big wins.
When side bets are available, you’re basically betting that you’ll make a hand that’s at least three of a kind or better.
Side bets don’t have anything to do with your main wagers and are paid independently of the outcome of the hand. Here are common Pai Gow Poker payout tables:
|7-Card Straight Flush||8.000 to 1|
|Royal Flush and Royal Match||2.000 to 1|
|7-Card Straight Flush With Jocker||1.000 to 1|
|5 Aces||400 to 1|
|Royal Flush||150 to 1|
|Straight Flush||50 to 1|
|Four of a Kind||25 to 1|
|Full House||5 to 1|
|Flush||4 to 1|
|Three of a Kind||3 to 1|
|Straight||2 to 1|
Thus Side bets increase the house edge so if this is something you’re concerned about, you should avoid them. At the same time, side bets are the only way you can win really big in Pai Gow Poker, even if you have to get lucky for that happen.
Which is the most lucrative side bet in Pai Gow Poker?
The most lucrative side bet in Pai Gow is the Fortune side bet that adds a jackpot element to pai-gow poker, but the house edge is variable, the house edge is 7.8 percent before taking an envy bonus into account.
At WizardOfOdds.com, Michael Shackelford calculates each additional player at the table reduces the house edge by 0.92 percent because of their potential to trigger the envy bonus.
How you set the cards into a five-card high hand and two-card second-high hand is irrelevant in settling the Fortune side bet. If you have three 8s, two Kings, a Jack and a 4, you’ll get the Fortune payoff on a full house even if you set the cards with three 8s in the high hand and the pair of Kings in the second high hand.
There are several pay tables available, but all start payoffs at five-card straights. In addition, there are big jackpots on three seven-card hand. A seven-card straight flush that includes the joker pays 1,000-1. The jackpot is 2,000-1 on a five-card royal flush accompanied by a suited King and Queen. And the top prize of a 5,000-1 bonanza is for a seven-card straight flush that does not include the joker.
At some casinos the Envy bonus is paid only to players who bet at least $5 on Fortune. Then the bonus is $5 if another player had four of a kind, jumping to $20 on a straight flush, $50 on a royal, $250 on five Aces, $500 on a seven-card straight flush with the joker, $1,000 on a royal flush accompanied by a suited King-Queen and $3,000 for a straight flush with no joker.
The power of the jackpots is strong and Fortune side bet adds a big-money element to pai-gow poker.
Any tips to play Pai Gow Poker?
When playing this game you need to remember that your top (low) hand must always be lower ranked than the bottom (high) hand, you need to think about what the best outcome you can hope for is. To make a profit on a hand of Pai Gow game, you’ll need to beat both of the dealer’s hands, so making a very strong hand at the back while having something like 9-high at the top usually won’t cut it. You’re much better off having two fairly strong hands than having one super-strong hand coupled with air.
Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind when arranging your Pai Gow hand:
- If you’re dealt no made hand (a pair or better), leave your highest ranking card in the back and put two second highest-ranking cards in the front
- Always split pairs if you have AA with any other pair, two high pairs (JJ through AA) or a high pair coupled with a medium pair (7s through 10s)
- Split two medium pairs or a combination of a high pair and a low pair (22 through 66) unless you have an Ace. If you have an Ace, you can play two pair in the back and Ace-high in the front
- Always split two medium pairs or a medium and low pair combo unless you have an Ace or a King. If you have one of these, you can also play Ace or King-high in the front with two pair in the back
- Always play trips in your back hand unless it’s trip Aces. Split Aces into a pair in the back and Ace-high in the front
- If you have quads that are JJ+, always split them into two pair
- Split quad 77 through TT into two pair unless you have an Ace to play in the front
- With quad 6s or lower, keep quads in the back and play whatever the best hand you can make is in the front
- Always split full houses into a trips + a pair combo unless you also have an extra pair to go with it. In that case, you should play the higher of the pairs in the low hand
- Always split five aces (when you have a Joker) unless you have a pair of Kings to put in the front
Where to play Poker online?
You can play Pai Gow Poker at any Australian friendly online casino. You can pick FairGo, Play Croco, Superior Casino, Rich Casino, and many others to play Pai Gow Poker. It’s your choice to play for free or with real money at online casinos. Playing first for free makes you understand the game and you practice before indulging in real money to win or to lose.