Pai Gow poker is a simple table game that offers the player a chance to hit a big hand that can pay as high as 8,000 to 1 on their bet. Players are dealt seven cards and break those cards up into a five-card hand and a two-card hand. They will play their hands against a dealer in a head-to-head match, getting 1 to 1 on their bet if they win both hands.
The Pai Gow house edge playing house rules against a player who does not bank (acts as the banker for other players to play against) is 2.84%. Most of that edge (1.27%) comes from players losing a tie to the bank. The rest comes from the 5% commission that’s paid on winning hands.
When a player decides that they will be the bank in Pai Gow poker, their chances to win will increase. If the casino allows them to bank half of their hands they will lower the negative expectation from 2.84% down to 1.42%. If they’re able to bank more hands that number will continue to decrease.
Learning proper Pai Gow strategy will also increase your chances of winning more. Proper hand-setting strategy will increase your chances by 0.15%. That’s doesn’t seem like it’s very much, but over a long session it can make a real difference. Gaining any edge you can find, regardless of the size, is what good gaming is all about.
Pai Gow odds can be improved in your favor if you play optimum card sorting strategy. Casinos will have the house way of sorting cards, but players can improve on those Pai Gow odds if they follow a few simple rules.
There is a short list of 11 simple rules to follow to play Pai Gow at near to optimum strategy. Playing by these rules will decrease the house edge down to 2.69% when the dealer is the banker. Most of these rules are logical and are easy to remember after a short time.
1. When dealt only one pair, keep it in the five-card hand and move your two highest cards to the two-card hand.
2. When dealt two pair, split them between each hand by putting the highest ranking pair in the two-card hand.
3. When dealt three pairs, put the highest ranked pair in the two-card hand.
4. When dealt three of a kind, keep it for the five-card hand and place your two highest single cards in the two-card hand.
5. When dealt two three of a kinds, keep the lower ranked three of a kind in your five-card hand and take a pair from the biggest three of a kind for the two-card hand.
6. When dealt three of a kind and two pairs, put the highest ranked pair in the two-card hand and leave the smaller ranked full house for the five-card hand.
7. When you’re dealt a full house, move the pair to the two-card hand and keep the three of a kind for the five-card hand.
8. When dealt four of a kind only split them if they are 7’s or bigger. If it’s four of a kind of 7’s, 8’s, 9’s or 10’s only split them if one of your other cards are an ace or king. Any four of a kind of jacks or higher should be split between the two hands.
9. When you’re dealt a hand that has a straight or flush in it, but has only one or no pairs, keep the straight or flush and put the two highest cards in your hand that are out the run or flush in your two-card hand.
10. When you’re dealt a hand that has a straight or flush in it that also has two pairs, break up the flush or straight and put the a pair in each hand. (Putting the lowest ranked pair in the two-card hand)
11. When you’re dealt a hand that has a straight or flush in it as well as three of a kind, put a pair from the three of a kind that doesn’t break up the flush into the two-card hand.
Pai Gow bonus payouts are what make this game so exciting to play. The player has an option to make a bonus wager, and if they hit a big hand they will win a bonus. The size of the bonus depends on the size of your bet and the hand that you get.
Pai Gow Bonus Payout Chart
7-Card Straight Flush (No Joker) pays 8,000-1
Royal Flush plus two 2's pays 2,000-1
7-Card Straight Flush with Joker pays 1,000-1
Five Aces pays 400-1
Royal Flush pays 150-1
Straight Flush pays 50-1
Four of a Kind pays 25-1
Full House pays 5-1
Flush pays 4-1
Three of a Kind pays 3-1
Straight pays 2-1
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