Increase Your Winning Chances with Pai Gow Strategy

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Basic Pai Gow poker strategy says to set the best possible two-card hand that will still leave a higher 5 card hand. The most common example of such combination is an ace-high hand in front and one pair behind. Ideal Pai Gow poker strategy was developed using a computer, but learning such strategy is almost impossible because the huge amount of combinations it contains. Here we post an approximate strategy which is close enough to the ideal one, but is easy to learn. If you are playing in casino and are not sure about a certain situation, you can always ask to set your hand the house way, which usually is reasonable enough.

  • High Card: If you have no better hand than a high card, set the second and the third highest cards in front. For example, Q-10-9-6-4-3-2 should be played as 10-9 and Q-6-4-3-2.
  • A Pair: A pair should be set in the five-card hand, while to highest remaining cards should form a two-card hand. For example K-J-J-10-5-4-2 should be set as K-10 and J-J-5-4-2.
  • Two Pairs: The strategy for two pairs is not completely obvious. One thing you should always take into the account in this and other cases is that a good high card is almost as good as a low pair, so two pairs can either be split, setting a lower pair in front, or, if there is not much difference between the highest remaining card and the lowest pair, two pairs may be left in the five-card hand, and two highest remaining cards should form the hand in front. For example, A-A-Q-J-J-6-3 must be set as J-J and A-A-Q-6-3, while K-Q-Q-10-5-3-3 is played better as K-10 and Q-Q-5-3-3. Two pairs should not be split if the low pair is 8s or lower, and the high card is a King or better or if the low pair is 3s or 2s you can even play a Queen-high front hand.
  • Three Pairs: Always played with the highest pair in the front.
  • Three of a Kind: It is normally preferable to play three of a kind behind and the highest remaining card in front, unless three of a kind are aces. Aces should be split to an Ace-high hand in front and a pair of Aces behind. The same rule may be applicable for Kings if the highest remaining card is a Jack or lower. For example, K-K-K-J-9-4-2 is better played as K-J and K-K-9-4-2.
  • Straight, Flush or Both: In this case the hands must be set the way, the Flush or the Straight will remain in the five-card hand, while other cards will form the highest two-card hand. If a Straight or a Flush includes two pairs, it should be played as two pairs ignoring Straight, Flush and even Straight Flush.
  • Full House: It is advisable to split Full House, placing the pair in front, unless the difference between the pair and the highest remaining card is small. For example, A-J-7-7-7-3-3 should better be played as A-J and 7-7-7-3-3.
  • Two Trips: The higher trip should always be played as a pair in front.
  • Four of a Kind: Split Four of Kind to two pairs, unless the difference between the pair and the highest remaining card is small.
  • Three Pairs and Straight or Flush: This combination is only possible with a joker. Play it as three pairs, ignoring the Straight or the Flush.
  • Four of a Kind and a Pair: You will most probably never receive this and further combinations. However, play it as a pair in front and a Four of a Kind behind, unless the Four of a Kind is very high and the pair is very low. In this case split the Four of a Kind and play a pair in front and two pairs behind.
  • Full House and a Pair: Play the higher pair in front and the Full House behind.
  • Four of a Kind and Three of a Kind: Split the Four of a Kind and play a pair in front and Full House behind.
  • Four Aces and the Joker: Play a pair of Aces in front and three Aces behind. If the remaining cards are a pair, leave it behind, unless it is a pair of Kings.

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