What is Pai Gow Poker?
Pai Gow poker is a game that derived from an ancient Chinese dominoes game and was adopted to play against the house. Pai Gow poker can also be played between the players with a pot split between two winners, but it is more popular as a casino game. Another page at this site describes Pai Gow poker as it is played against other players. Here we will describe casino-like formats of Pai Gow poker that can be played as home games.
In casino variant of Pai Gow poker, there are no betting rounds, so players must place their bets before the game starts. For the same reason, stakes in Pai Gow poker must be higher than in other home poker games. At a nickel or a quarter table it is advisable to place bets of 2 dollars or higher to make the game more interesting. The dealer must take into the account that he plays against all players at the table and can win or lose an amount equal to all bets of all players together.
Seven cards are dealt to each player, including the dealer. When players receive their seven cards, they combine two poker hands: a two card hand and a five card hand. The main rule in all Pai Gow poker games is to make the five card hand stronger than the two card one, so if the two card hand is a pair, the five card hand must contain a higher pair or a higher hand.
All hands are then flipped face-up simultaneously and compared to the hand of the dealer. To make the process more simple, players hands that do not beat the corresponding hands of the dealer are flipped face-down. Players who have both their hands face-down, lose their bets. Players who have both hands face-up win and are paid even money by the dealer. Players who have one hand face-up and the other one face-down push and neither win nor lose, but take their bet back.
Pai Gow poker can also be played against the dealer a different way: Cards are dealt face-down. Players combine their two hands and first expose two card hands only. Players whose two card hands do not beat the two card hand of the dealer immediately lose. Those who have better hands expose their five card hands and either lose or push depending on the hands value. Playing this way gives an advantage to the dealer and requires combining the best possible two card hands from the part of the players.