Casino Gambling Guide

Pai Gow Poker rules

On this page we will give a brief overview of pai gow poker rules. Pai Gow Poker combines elements of the ancient Chinese domino game of Pai Gow and the American game of Poker. Pai Gow Poker is a rather new game, being first introduced to Vegas in 1986. The game is played with a standard deck of 52 cards plus one joker. The joker can typically be used only as an ace or to complete a Straight, a Flush or a Straight Flush, but in some casinos the joker is completely wild.

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Pai Gow Poker rules detailed

Both the player and the banker receive 7 cards, which must be divided into two hands of 5 and 2 cards, where the poker ranking of the five-card hand must be greater than the poker ranking of the two-card hand. If you fail to do this, your hand will automatically lose.

The objective of the game is for both of your hands to rank higher than both the banker's hands, according to the ranking of hands in Pai Gow poker discussed below. Your five-card hand must rank higher than the banker's five-card hand, and your two-card hand must rank higher than the banker's two-card hand, in order to win. A hand that matches that of the banker is called a copy hand. All copy hands are won by the banker, giving the banker a natural advantage over the player. The only way to achieve a tie with the banker, is to win either the five-card or the two-card hand, and to lose the other hand.

Payouts are conducted according to the following table.

Result Pays off
Player wins The banker pays a winning player 1 to 1 minus a 5% commission for the house
Banker wins The bets of all losing players are rewarded to the banker. The banker pays a 5% commission to the house if the banker has a net win (the sum of losing player bets minus payouts to winning players is positive)
Tie No money exchanges hands

The difference between the banker and the dealer

In Pai Gow poker one to six players play against the banker. When the game starts the house dealer is the banker. After the first round of play (one or two hands) the role of the banker is offered to a player. In order for a player to be the banker, he or she must be able to cover the bets of all other players at the table. A player may however choose to refuse to be the banker. If a player refuses to bank, the next player is offered to bank. When all players have banked a round (or passed), the dealer becomes the banker again. When the dealer doesn't bank he or she plays like a regular player against the banker.

Pai Gow Poker hand rankings

The following table lists the ranking of poker hands for Pai Gow Poker, starting with the highest rank. Obviously, higher ranking hands pay out more than lower ranking hands. This table is almost identical to the table used for Jacks or better video poker, with the exception that five aces (including the joker) beat a Royal Flush. Also all pairs are included, not just jacks or better.

Hand Cards
5 Aces
4 aces and the joker.
Royal Flush
A,K,Q,J,10 of the same suit.
Straight Flush
5 sequential cards of the same suit .
4 of a Kind
4 cards of the same rank.
Full House
3 of a Kind and a Pair.
5 cards of the same suit.
5 sequential cards ( an ace is either the highest or lowest card).
3 of a Kind
3 cards of the same rank.
2 Pairs
2 cards of one rank, and 2 of another rank.
1 Pair
2 cards of one rank.


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