Pai Gow is a type of poker where you play against a dealer. It’s more a casino game than a typical poker game. If you are looking to play Pai Gow online, you need to head towards a casino site. In real casinos, you will find Pai Gow near the other table games, like blackjack or roulette. Pai Gow is never played between more than two players: it’s a one-on-one card game.
Origins of Pai Gow Poker
Pai Gow is primarily poker game but its roots trace back to a Chinese domino game. Like other poker games, Pai Gow is played with a standard deck of cards. Nevertheless, this game usually leaves only one joker in the deck of cards. The joker can serve as an ace or can complete a combination of cards, like a straight.
How do you play Pai Gow?
To start the game, each player must place a bet. The dealer then distributes seven cards to each player. Players must divide their cards into two hands; a strong hand and a weak hand. The strong hand includes five cards and the low contains only two cards. The strong hand should logically add up to a greater numeric value than the other hand. If this is not the case, the player can be disqualified. Some online casinos will not tolerate players who don’t respect the standard rules. In a real casino, the dealer will ask you to correct your mistake for the first two or three times. After this though, he may ask you to learn the rules or leave the table.
The first hand has the same value as in poker. The only difference is that the combination Ace-2-3-4-5 is considered as the second strongest hand, after the 10-Jack-Queen-King-Ace combination. The second hand can be formed as a pair or a combination of cards that are weaker than the first hand. A pair of aces is automatically stronger than a hand of two cards of the number 2. If the dealer and player both have a pair, the highest pair wins. If both have a pair of exactly the same value, the dealer wins.
After consulting their cards, players show their cards to the dealer, and compare the results. The five card hand of the dealer is compared to the five card hand of the player and it's the same for the weaker hands - the last two cards -- the dealer and the player’s cards are also compared. If the dealer wins both hands, the player loses. If the player wins both hands, the dealer loses. If the dealer wins one hand and the player wins the other, it’s a tie and the money is returned to the player.
Earnings and house percentages
Most casinos take a percentage on their player’s earnings. This percentage is usually 5%: if the player bets 100 Euros and wins, the casino will give him 195 Euros instead of 200. The second way that casinos make money on Pai Gow is that the dealer wins if there is a tie for two pairs. It’s unusual that there is a tie on the strong five-card hands but not on the low hands, which are composed of only two cards. Sometimes the player and the dealer can both fall on an ace and a king, for example. Therefore, the casinos still retain a small percentage of the players’ winnings, although it is very low.
Why Pai Gow is such a great game
Many players love Pai Gow because it requires a lot of strategy. The player is more in control than with games of chance. The players Pai Gow attracts are people who like to have control of their game and aren’t too attracted by gambling on pure chance games. Pai Gow is a multi-hand game, so it's entertaining and keeps the player active from beginning to end.