Many people know how to play pai gow poker, which means you need to learn it so you can win when invited into a game. The rules may be confusing at first but you’ll get the hang of it once you begin. It’s nothing like Texas Hold’em or Omaha poker. Yet, some people prefer this game over the others. So, where do you stand on the matter? Let’s find out.
How to Play Pai Gow Poker: The Official Rules
The game of pai gow poker debuted about 30 years ago in Las Vegas, but it was invented by a casino owner back in the 1890s. The object of the game is to create two winning poker hands. One hand has 5 cards, the other only has 2. If both your hands beat what the dealer has, you win.
When only one hand beats the dealer, it’s called a “push.” Then, you lose your bet if both of your hands come up short. It may sound easy, but there’s actually a lot of strategies involved.
TIP: It helps to know the basic rules of poker before playing pai gow.
Fun Facts About the Game
The odds are a little better in this game than in other forms of poker. That’s because of the use of two separate hands and customizable wagers. In turn, pai gow poker is relatively low-risk and it can be played at home or on the computer, too.
Interestingly, players play against the banker and not each other. This creates a general sense of camaraderie among the players which prevents too much tension. Win or lose, you all do it together.
The game always starts with players placing their bets on the table. You can also make bonus bets on hands you think are especially good. In most cases, that requires a 3-of-a-kind or better.
This fiasco typically uses 6 players for a full game, so making premium hands isn’t always easy. You get 7 cards upfront but the joker remains in the deck. So, what’s the joker worth in pai gow poker? Let’s just say the joker makes the perfect substitute for missing cards (under certain circumstances).
Making the Most of Your Pai Gow Poker Bets
The dealer must pay out all winnings when you get lucky. However, the bonus wager isn’t dependent upon whether you win or lose the main bet. Furthermore, casino pros urge players not to make bonus bets because they can be detrimental in the long run.
If possible, use the joker whenever you get it. These are the three ways you can do that legally:
- To complete a straight
- For a complete flush
- As an acting Ace
NOTE: In the hand with only two cards, the joker always represents an Ace.
Learning how to play pai gow poker isn’t difficult but winning consistently might be. Understand the basic rules of the game and then use your common sense to beat the banker. Remember, though, there’s always the element of chance lurking around the corner.