Pai Gow Poker is a game that moves around the balance between the high hand and the low hand. The primary objective of play is to achieve this equality. While a number of scenarios like playing high or single pair hands can be played with ease and executed to perfection every time by implementing sound basic strategy, two pair hands pose more difficulty. Let us look at the resulting balance of the two pair hands and the strategy to play them.
The issue with two pair hands in Pai Gow is that you have to decide whether to retain the lower value pair in the high or the low hand. If you have a good high card hand to put in the low hand, then it makes sense to keep the pair in the high. If you don’t do this, your other option is to split your pairs. One way to figure out how to play these hands is through the use of a scoring system where you add the value of the cards that make up the two pairs. For example, if you had a pair of jacks and a pair of fives, then that would be 11 (for the jacks) + 5 (for the fives), which gives you a total of 16. This total tells you how to play the hand.
Holding cards with a total value of 17 you should always split the pair. In these instances, the pairs are strong enough to stand up on their own in spite of the other cards in the hand. If your totals range between 12 and 16, it is also advisable to split, unless you’re holding an ace-high which can be inserted into the low hand. If this is the case you should always keep the pairs together in the high hand instead.
Scenarios with seven to 11 points will have you split the pairs unless you can put ace-high or king-high in the low. Finally, the worst scenarios where you have six or fewer points will have you split the pairs unless you can put queen-high, king-high or ace-high in the low. Sometimes you’re going to have a really weak two pair with no decent high cards to put in the low, and you just have to split the pairs and hope for the best.
Understanding the game rule and wisely balance of the two paired hands is what is all about a strategy to play Pai Gow.