How to play Pai Gow on

Pai Gow Poker is a table game that offers players the chance to win big with a hand that can pay as high as 8,000:1 on their bet. In this game, players receive seven cards which they then split into a five-card hand and a two-card hand. Both hands are stacked against the dealer in a head-to-head faceoff, with players receiving 1:1 on their bet if they win each hand. It’s important to note that Pai Gow Poker is not to be confused with the title game, Pai Gow. Additionally, Pai Gow Poker is not actually a poker game; it is a table game similar to Fortune Three Card Poker, Texas Hold’em Bonus, and Caribbean Stud.


Here are some terminologies that you might encounter when playing Pai Gow Poker:

Hands That Bank

The player-dealer duo sets up a bank against which the remaining players put up wagers. Each player can take the bank twice, after which the button revolves counterclockwise. Additionally, a player can refuse or accept the player-dealer position in turn.

The dealer deals eight hands or piles directly in front of the chip tray, each comprising four dominoes. The player-dealer chooses one of the eight piles to deliver the first hand. Then, the dealer takes action toward the selected hand.

Setting the Hand

Each player lays out one pair into two sets of two tiles each, a high and a low hand, then places them face down in front of said tiles. This process is called setting the hand. A player can ask the house dealer to place the hand for him and set it to the house way, which is a precalculated manner.

Once each player has set their hand, the player-dealer exposes and sets his hand. The house dealer turns each hand of the player counterclockwise, comparing each hand one at a time against the hand of the player-dealer. Generally, all dealing, analyzing, and payouts start with the action button and proceed counterclockwise. The player that wagers the most influences the setting of the hand.

Following the house way, the house dealer is responsible for shuffling and dealing the cards in an orderly game and for paying out each hand.

Roll of Three Dice

In this game, the position of the roll of three dice randomly decides the hands. As such, the player-dealer position can be either 1, 9, or 17. The total of the three dice determines the direction of the first hand.

Also, you might also be interested in learning how to play Sic Bo.

Backline Betting

In this game, multiple players can set wagers on the same hand. Backline betting is when a player bets on a hand but is not in a particular position on the table. Often, backline bettors stand behind a seated player but may also sit in another seat location.

House Edge

The house edge in Pai Gow Poker varies depending on both the player strategy and the House Way rules applied by the particular casino. On average, the house edge in Pai Gow Poker is 1.5%, which is relatively low compared to other casino games.

Additionally, there is a commission of 5% applied to your winnings on top of the house edge. This commission is known as the rake.

Game Rules

Pai Gow Poker is played with 53 cards – a typical 52-card deck with one wild card. The objective of the game is to divide your hand into a five-card hand and a two-card hand, with both hands beating the dealer’s two hands to win. It’s important to note that the wild card is not a genuine wild card and is subject to specific rules. The card only acts like an Ace or the fifth card in either a royal flush or a straight. It can never constitute a pair of Queens or 10s.

The five-card hand is also known as behind, bottom, high, or big. The two-card hand is also known as in front, on top, hair, small, minor, or low. These hands have the same value as they would in traditional poker. However, there is one exception: Ace-2-3-4-5 is the second-highest straight or straight flush, and five aces become the highest hand in the game. For the two-card hand, any pair will beat any two unmatched cards (no other combinations are possible). Unlike other poker games, bluffing does not exist in Pai Gow Poker. Here are other things that you need to know about this online card game:

  • Every player at the table deals in seven cards.
  • Players must divide their seven cards into two. Descriptively, two cards are placed at the front, also known as the low hand (or “front hand”), and five cards are placed at the back, also known as the high hand (or “backhand”).
  • The high hand must be higher than the low. This arrangement means that if the dealer deals you a truly despicable hand, you cannot try and win the low hand by making it more robust at the expense of the high hand.
  • The joker serves as a wild card in any straight, royal flush, or straight flush. Otherwise, it is an Ace. As a point of note, you should be quite careful of this because new players often believe that their high hand is a three-of-a-kind or a full house when they are a pair or two pairs, respectively, not to mention the Joker.
  • The standard poker ranking system applies to the high hand.
  • The low hand counts as a pair or a non-pair. The highest low hand consists of a pair of aces, and the lowest possible hand at the front would be 3-2. Therefore, a wise way of thinking about this from a poker perspective is that in Pai Gow Poker, the low hand ranks akin to the hole cards Texas Hold’em, but with any pair beating an Ace-King (AK).
  • A full house is always split unless the pair is both two, and you have an AK to fire at the front.
  • Full house with three of a kind and two pairs play the highest pair in front.
  • Full house with three-of-a-kind twice always plays the highest pair in front.

Note: four of a kind is a hand made up of four cards of the same rank. It is a hand that consists of four cards of the same class. Effectively, having four aces is the highest-level four of a kind while four two pairs mean the lowest-level four of a kind.

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In Pai Gow Poker, on average, 41% of all games result in a push. Additionally, the odds of the remaining outcomes are virtually even. The odds of the player winning amount to 29%, while the odds of a win by the dealer round up to 30%. As you can see, the dealer, who is playing on behalf of the house, has a slight advantage. While you’re at it, you might also want to check out these other numbers on Bitcoin casino bonuses.


There are different strategies that you can use when playing Pai Gow Poker. The basic strategy involves splitting your 7-card hand into a 5-card hand and a 2-card hand. For example, if your 7-card hand only has a single pair, you’ll need to keep it in your backhand and place your two highest cards in your front hand. The basic strategy for two pairs is simple: split them and put the lower-ranking pair in your front hand. If you’re holding three pairs, put the highest-ranking pair in your front hand.


The only way for the player to win in Pai Gow Poker is to win both hands. These odds will lead to many draws, so the house takes a 5% commission on all player wins, which is automatically deducted from the player’s credits. Aside from the commission, all winning wagers pay out at even money (1 to 1).

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Pai Gow Poker Beatable?

Yes, the game can be beaten. Winning means both his hands beat the dealer. For you to lose, it means both his hands are higher in value than, or equal to, yours.

Does Pai Gow Poker Have Good Odds?

Pai Gow Poker does not broadly have high odds, therefore players should resist folding if they possess a five-card hand.

How Do You Win at Pai Gow Poker?

You win the game by becoming a banker. The banker wins most of the time, so a player becoming one will dramatically improve his chances of winning.

What Does Pai Gow Mean?

The name “pai gow” loosely means “make nine” or “card nine”.


If you have a steady hand, there is a reasonable probability that you will be able to win against the banker. The likelihood of the banker holding a pair is about 42%. Remember that you have the potential to hold five Aces because of the wild card, which beats a royal flush. Your hand of two cards can either be a pair or no pair; thus, your highest possible hand of two cards would be a pair of Aces.

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