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How to Win at Online Pai Gow Poker

For a unique experience at the virtual casino tables, try our online version of Pai Gow Poker. This table game pits you against the Banker in a battle of the better poker hand. Unlike other poker-based table games, Pai Gow Poker deals you seven cards and has you divide them into two individual hands. Winning at Pai Gow Poker requires you to beat the Dealer twice.

In this guide, you’ll learn the best way to try to beat the Banker using simple Pai Gow strategies. While there’s no way to completely overcome the Pai Gow Poker house edge, there are ways to minimize it, ensuring you get the most value possible out of your wagers. But first, we’ll start with an explanation on how to play the game.

How to Play Online Pai Gow Poker

A round of Online Pai Gow Poker begins with a wager and seven cards being dealt to you face up; the Banker gets seven cards face-down. The cards are dealt from a standard playing deck that includes a Joker, which can be used to complete a straight, flush, straight flush and royal flush—otherwise, it’s considered an Ace. Your task in the round is to set your hand by dividing the seven cards into two hands: one five-card hand and one two-card hand.

When dividing your hand, there’s one important rule: the five-card hand must be stronger than the two-card hand. If you make this mistake in a land-based casino game, you’ll lose your bet. In our online casino, however, you’ll simply be reminded to rearrange your hands. Once you’re ready to face off with the Banker, your five-card hand is compared with the Banker’s five-card hand, and your two-card hand is compared with his two-card hand. If both your hands are better, you win this game; if only one of your hands is better, you tie. If the Banker’s two hands are better, you lose.

The Banker's Edge

In Pai Gow Poker, the Banker has an edge that only comes up when both you and the Banker have identical hands; for example, both your two-card hands are Ten, Jack. When this happens, the tie goes to the Banker.

Beating Pai Gow Poker

One strategy to beat the Banker in Online Pai Gow Poker games, you need to make your five-card hand the most competitive hand possible, while using your second-best cards to form your two-card hand. For example, if you have a full house, instead of keeping the full house intact in your five-card hand, you should put the three of a kind in the high hand and the pair in the low hand. We’ll explain this in further detail in the Simple Pai Gow Strategies section below.

How to Arrange Your Hands in Online Pai Gow Poker

If you’re wondering how to arrange your hands in online Pai Gow Poker, it’s a fairly straightforward process. Five cards go into the “high” hand, and two cards go into the “low” hand. In order for your arrangement to be accepted by the house, the high hand must be stronger than the low hand. Hand rankings for the high hand are as followed:

5 of a Kind

Royal Flush

Straight Flush

4 of a Kind

Full House

Flush

Straight

3 of a Kind

2 Pair

Pair

High Card

Hand rankings for the low hand are simply pair or high card. Two suited cards aren’t considered a flush, nor are two consecutively-ranked cards considered a straight.

One rule that’s unique to Online Pai Gow Poker is in regard to “the wheel,” which is a straight from Ace to Five. In many versions of Pai Gow Poker, including ours, the wheel is the second-highest straight after Ten-Jack-Queen-King-Ace.

Simple Pai Gow Strategies

Pai Gow Poker strategy is all about setting your hands in a way where both the high hand and low hand are competitive. This strategy is fairly straightforward with most hands, as you’re putting your best hand in the high and second-best in the low. There are some hands that are trickier to set, such as the following five hands:

Three Pair 

When you have three pairs, keep the highest pair in your low hand.

Full House

When you have a full house, keep the pair in the low hand and the three of a kind in the high hand.

Straights and Flushes

Keep your straight and flush intact in the high hand unless you have two pair.

Four of a Kind

When you have four of a kind of Twos to Fours, keep them intact in the high hand. With Fives, keep them together when your high card is 10 or better. With Sixes, keep them together when your high card is Queen or better. With Sevens and Eights, keep them together when your high card is a King or better. With Nines through Jacks, keep them together when your high card is an Ace or better. Four of a kind hands comprising Queens, Kings and Aces should always be split.

Five Aces

Because the Joker is considered an Ace (unless it’s being used in a straight or flush) in Pai Gow Poker, it’s possible to have one five of a kind comprising five Aces. In this case, it’s best to keep three Aces in the high hand and two Aces in the low hand.

Pai Gow Poker House Edge

In a land-based casino, Pai Gow Poker players can take turns acting as Banker, but when you play Pai Gow Poker online, only the house acts as Banker, and it collects a 2.84% commission—most of which comes from the 5% commission that’s collected from wins.

Bonus Bets

There are three popular Pai Gow Poker side bets: the Dealer Bonus, Fortune Bonus and Jackpot.

• The Dealer Bonus pays based on the value of the Dealer’s hand and has a house edge of 4.72%.

• The Fortune Bonus pays based on the value of the Player’s hand and has a house edge of over 7%.

• The Jackpot side bet awards extra-big payouts for big hands, with the top prize often being 20000:1 for a Natural Royal and pair of Aces.

Banking

When playing Pai Gow Poker in a brick-and-mortar casino, you often get the opportunity to act as Banker. That means you will be using your bankroll and going up against the other players at the table, using the “house way” to divide your cards into two separate hands. Every time players make mistakes, they send money your way through the house edge. You will have to pay a commission on the money you collect, but it’s a great way to play Pai Gow Poker with a reduced house edge. For more, read our advanced guide to Pai Gow Poker.

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