Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow Poker is a popular card game featured in casinos across the world. It is particularly popular among the Asian population due to the fact that it’s based on a Chinese domino game known as Pai Gow Tiles in the United States. Like most other card games, Pai Gow Poker utilizes a traditional 52-card deck with one exception. There is one single joker left in the deck. The joker, however is not a standard wild card. It may only be used to complete a royal flush, straight flush, straight, or flush. If the card cannot be used in one of these hands, it is simply counted as an ace.

Read on to learn how to play using proper strategy as well as payouts and other important information before playing at a casino.

How to Play Pai Gow Poker

When you sit down to play Pai Gow, the hand starts with a mandatory bet. This requires you to place your chips in the ante box. Some games have additional side bets which are optional. This will depend on the rules at each individual table/casino.

Once all bets are placed, the next step is to determine which player will receive the first set of cards. Traditional tables will use three dice while more modern ones use a random number generator that chooses a number between one and seven. To give you a frame of reference if you are unfamiliar; the banker’s spot is considered seat one. The numbers then go in order, counterclockwise around the table.

Once all of this has been determined, the game begins. It starts off by the dealer handing seven cards (in a row) off to the first player who was chosen by the dice or number generator from the top of the deck. One unique facet of Pai Gow when compared to other poker games is that the cards are dealt to all seats, even if they are unoccupied.

Playing Your Hand

Once all bets are placed, and each player has been dealt their cards, they then pick up them up. The cards are separated by the player into one five card hand and one two card hand. The main rule being that the five card hand must be higher than the two card hand. This means that a pair cannot be placed in the two card hand unless there is a pair of that value or higher in the back hand or any hand that beats a pair.

Once all players have set their hands, the banker exposes his cards. There is a unique house way for every scenario. This is used when the casino is banker and varies from one house to another. These rules are made available upon request at any casino, so if you play often it may be worth checking before sitting down at a table if it suits you.

How You Win & Lose

Once the banker’s hand is set, it is compared to the players’ hands. Each person is playing against the banker, not each other. So whether each player wins or loses is determined by how their hand compares to the banker.

The five card hands made are compared between each player and the banker individually to determine the winning side. The two card hands are then compared. The player must beat the banker on both the two and five card hands to get paid out. If one wins and the other loses, the hand is a push. If both of the player’s hands lose, the banker wins.

The banker may sometimes have the same hand value, especially on the two card hand. This is called a copy. All copies go to the banker as well. It is also worth noting that all Pai Gow Poker wins are often required to pay a 5% commission to the house, making it one of the highest house-edge poker games at a casino.

Player’s Can Play as the Banker

Pai Gow Poker is an unusual game in that players may be banker on occasion. This is optional. The rules on banking a Pai Gow Poker hand are different from one casino to another. Most casinos will allow a player to bank once every other hand when playing heads up. At a table with multiple players, the dealer option will rotate each hand among the dealer and all occupied seats. A player banker will still have to pay a 5% commission on their net winnings. Any winning player also pays 5% to the house when facing a hand banked by another player.

Fortune Pai Gow Progressive Jackpot

Most Pai Gow Poker tables offer multiple jackpots. The most common is the Fortune Pai Gow Poker Progressive. This jackpot is sometimes linked among multiple casinos in a market. The bet for the progressive is just $1. All hands qualify with or without the joker.


– Seven-card straight flush: Jackpot
– Five aces: 10% of jackpot
– Royal flush: $500
– Straight flush: $100
– Four of a kind: $75
– Full house: $4