Casino Gambling Guide

Pai Gow Poker strategy

In this section we will discuss Pai Gow Poker strategy. There are two key factors that determine the optimal Pai Gow Poker strategy. The first and most important is being the banker as much as possible. The second factor is splitting your cards up optimally between the five and the two card hand. For the sake of simplicity we assume that the optimal way for splitting your cards equals 'the house way', being the fixed set of rules that govern the way the banker has to split up his or her cards. These rules can vary slightly from casino to casino, but it is safe to assume the banker will not split cards according to a strategy that is far off from being optimal.

Tip: The best Pai Gow Poker bets (with the lowest house edge) are offered by Boss Media casinos, because of the option to bank.

Being the banker as often as possible

The house edge for being the banker is much lower than for being the player. In fact when you are the banker, you may expect to almost break even. This is true for two reasons. First, the banker wins all copy hands, where the player's two-card hand or the player's five-card hand or both, matches the banker's corresponding hands. Second, the 5% commission that has to be paid on winning bets by the banker, is charged after losses are settled against winnings. Therefore we advise you to:

Never pass when it is your turn to be the banker.
Find tables to bank where the total amount of bets by the other players equals 6 to 14 times the minimum bet you make as a player.

The house edge for Pai Gow Poker is 2.54% when being a player, and 0% when being a banker. So if you were able to bank every other hand the overall house edge would be 1.27%. Please note that often the option to bank is *not* offered at online casinos, except Boss Media casinos.

Splitting your cards up 'the house way'

In this section we will describe the rules most casinos use to split cards between two-card hand and five-card hand. These rules are also called 'the house way'. Nothing stops you from applying these rules to your own split decisions, and thus playing just as optimal as the house itself. Please note that these rules are a simplification of optimal strategy.

Player's hand before split
Player's hand after split
two-card hand five-card hand
No Pair Second & third highest cards Highest card
1 Pair Two highest cards Pair
2 Pair Lower Pair Higher Pair
3 Pair Highest Pair Other Pairs
Straight Highest two cards Straight
Flush Highest two cards Flush
Full House (Highest) Pair 3 of a Kind

There are two exceptions to this table. First, if you have a Straight or a Flush and 2 Pair you should split your cards like you were holding only 2 Pair. Second, if you have 2 Pair and one ace, you should use the 2 Pair in the five-card hand and the ace in the two-card hand.


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