Your Complete Guide to Pai Gow Poker
Discover Everything You Need to Know About Online Real Money Pai Gow Poker
Finding Hold'em a bit dull? Omaha not cutting it? Want something wilder? Pai Gow poker is for you. This game dishes out cards and hands like they are going out of fashion. But do not fear. We've got you covered with a detailed guide on how to play, how to win, and where you can find the hottest games.
What's in this Guide?
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1. Playing Pai Gow like a Pro
Have you ever visited a land-based casino? Then you’ve seen the Pai Gow Poker tables. And you’ve probably dreamed of playing—if only you knew exactly how the game worked. For some the name is a little intimidating, but rest assured it’s only a name.
The truth is real money Pai Gow Poker is a lot easier to play than you think. Unfortunately, a lot of newbies make the mistake of approaching the game as if it were a regular game of online poker or Texas Hold’em. It’s not, and thinking that way could cost you.
So stick with us. We’ll show you the best places to wager, how to play your cards right, and what to do to win the most money playing Pai Gow Poker online for real cash. We’ll also show you why online casinos are way better for Pai Gow Poker than land-based casinos, for example:
- You can bet as little as $5 per hand when playing for real money—much less than the $25 often required in Vegas
- You never have to wait for a table—there’s always an open seat and no other players cramping your style
- You can play for free if you want to practice your game before making a deposit
That’s just the beginning of what makes Pai Gow Poker online one of the most popular real money online casino games. Keep reading to discover why it could quickly become your new favorite Internet gambling game.
Getting to Know the Game
Pai Gow Poker for real money uses a 53-card deck. It includes 52 cards, plus a joker that can act as a wild card in certain situations. Unlike video poker games where Jokers are fully wild, in Pai Gow Poker the Joker can be used as an Ace or it can help you finish a straight, flush, straight flush, or royal flush.
To get started, place your bet. The amount of money you can bet depends on which online casino site you’re playing at, but typically you can bet as little as $5. When you’re happy with your bet, click Deal to receive your cards.
You’ll be dealt a total of seven cards. At this point you need to make two hands—a 5-card hand and a 2-card hand. But here’s the deal. The 5-card hand has to be better than the 2-card hand.
The 5-card hand is ranked using the same poker hand ranking system you’re probably used to. After you’ve created your hands, you can ask to see the dealer’s cards. He’ll play his cards in the same manner, using what’s known as the House Way. This determines exactly how the dealer is forced to split up his cards. Every real cash Pai Gow Poker casino you choose to play out will let you know exactly what the House Way is, so you know what you’re getting into before you sit down.
Now that you both have two hands, the software will compare your two hands and pay you out for your bet. If you’ve tied, you’ll push.
Now in land-based casinos, you have the opportunity to bet on or against other players seated at the Pai Gow Poker or the dealer. This isn’t usually offered at online casinos because there are no other players at the table. Remember, in the real world, most people usually decline to bank, so it doesn’t really make a difference.
Learn Pai Gow in 5 Steps
- Place your bet (remember it’s you against the dealer).
You and the dealer both receive seven cards.
- Yours face up and the dealer’s face down.
The goal is to split your seven cards into one hand of five and one hand of two.
- Your five card hand must be higher ranking than your two card hand.
- After you decide on how to split your cards, the dealer will show his/her cards and compare your hand to theirs’.
- If both of your hands are better, you win minus a commission of 5%. If the dealers’ two hands are better, you lose. If one is high and one is low, the hand is a push. You will receive your bet back. All tied hands are a win for the dealer.
2. The Best Online Pai Gow Sites
To ensure yourself the best online Pai Gow game out there, it's good to follow the pro gamers in having a decent set of criteria to judge casino sites on. Below we've listed some popular features and explained how they help improve your gaming:
Payout Percentage: The Higher the Better
This is the amount of winnings that a casino will pay out on the amount of money bet. If a casino boasts a 98% payout rate then it will pay out $98 on every $100 wagered. $2 goes to the casino as profit.
It's important to note that individual bets you make will not see the same payout percentage. This is because the casino's figure is averaged out across the whole site, taking into account several months of play and thousands of players. It's always best to pick the highest payout rate you can find, though, as it gives you the best chance of winning more at your casino games.
Not all casinos pay out the same
Calculate the best bonuses available online.
|Casino||Bonus Awarded ? As some casinos will give the best bonus right on your first deposit, and others might require several deposits to unlock the offer, the casino with the best offer here will change depending on the amount you enter.||Total Bankroll ? Total bankroll figures depend on the way the casinos award their bonuses. A casino might offer the same bonus as another overall, but will require 1, 3 or several deposits to reach the full reward. This is why the same casino can rank differently for different amounts you enter.|
Secure the Highest Bonus Offer
Welcome and sign up bonuses are very popular with casinos for attracting new players. You will likely be rewarded with a percentage of your initial deposit when you sign up at a site.
It's a good boost to your bankroll for when you start to play, and will help boost your chances of winning.
Any bonus you receive is likely to come with playthrough requirements, where certain time or game type restrictions will be placed on your bonus amount. Check with the casino site first before you sign up to make sure you understand the rules.
Tip: Always combine a high bonus figure with wagering requirements that can satisfy your gaming preferences, then you can always be sure you'll get the full use of the bonus amount.
Weigh Out Your Bonus Options
Every casino offers different bonus and promotions. Some are geared towards select games and others are more or less well rounded. On the upside of things whatever you win from a bonus will be yours to play with as you see fit. As you play Pai Gow Poker online, bonuses specifically suited to this game will be made available to you. Before you play it will be a good idea to compare bonus offers, especially if you plan on collecting one or more. All of the recommended Pai Gow Poker sites you find here have excellent bonuses with practical requirements and terms.
Use Your Instincts on Safety & Security
Just as you might not purchase an item from a suspicious, unsecured site you should not make a deposit at a suspicious looking casino. The green bar of trust in your browser signifies an SSL certification which means your information is encrypted upon submission. Other features to look for include firewalls, independent audits, and random security checks by the casino. All of the Pai Gow operators we recommend have passed our high demand for secure wagering.
Additional Features to Look For
In addition to payout percentages, bonuses, and safety protocols, the best Pai Gow casino sites will offer fast payouts, multiple deposit options, superb customer support, and regulation from the most esteemed jurisdictions. These features and more will be discussed on our individual casino review pages as well as the casino website itself.
Why You Can Trust Us
Pai Gow has become incredibly popular among casino players, so naturally a lot of Internet gambling sites have started to offer the game to new players. But before you jump over to play just anywhere, check with us first.
We’re big-time fans of Pai Gow Poker for real cash, so we know what separates the good sites from the amazing ones. And don’t worry about the bad sites. We’ve taken them out of the mix using our proprietary online casino rating system.
Before we recommend any real money online casino Pai Gow Poker website, we put the casino through a series of tests. We pose as new players and review every inch of the experience. That includes creating an account, depositing, testing out the games on various connection speeds, seeing how the software performs on various types of operating systems, cashing out, dealing with customer service, and more.
Every casino is given an overall rating and if that rating falls anywhere below an 8, it doesn’t make our shortlist. Our final list of Pai Gow Poker casino sites includes only the cream of the crop, so you know you’re choosing to play somewhere that’s honest and reputable.
3. Online Pai Gow Strategy
Understanding the best hand
In an ordinary poker game, you would think twice about playing your four Aces. And if you were playing a draw poker game, you wouldn’t dare give those up. But in Pai Gow Poker, you need to create two hands, one of which only has two cards.
Sometimes creating the best two hands involves splitting up a seemingly amazing hand. For example, if you’re dealt quad Aces along with a 2, 3, and 4, you might be inclined to play those four Aces in one hand. But with only a 2, 3, and 4 to work with, you’re pretty much guaranteed to lose the 2-card hand to the dealer.
That’s why you need to strategize before you drop your cards just anywhere. In this case, you’re better of playing with three Aces in your 5-card hand and throwing an Ace and a 4 in the other hand. Chances are you’ll win the small hand because there aren’t any other Aces on the board, so only a pair could crush you.
4. Pai Gow Poker Rules
Before you sit down to play Pai Gow Poker for real money, you need to know the rules. Most important is the hand ranking system. Hands are ranked the same way they’re ranked in stud games and Texas Hold’em, with one exception. In Pai Gow Poker, you can technically hit a five of a kind. This is the top rated hand. However, sometimes it might be worthwhile to split them up, thereby creating a smaller hand. In case you need a refresher, take a look at the Pai Gow hand ranking system:
Three of a Kind
Four of a Kind
Pai Gow Poker Reference Chart - Get Yours!
Want to get started quickly? Easy. We've put together a quick guide to explain Pai Gow for the new player, and made it available at the link below. It's absolutely free. Just click 'Download Now' and you'll be reading it in seconds.
to Pai Gow Poker!
Our guide will show you the layout of the table so you know how to place your bets and where everything goes. We'll also explain the odds and the betting options available to you, so you will be able to make smarter, safer betting choices. Sit down at the Pai Gow poker table feeling confident you know exactly what's going on.
Quick Pai Gow Poker Tips
- Know what to do with a two pair If you’re dealt two pair, make sure you slot the highest ranked pair into the bigger hand
- Not dealt a pair? Put the highest ranked card in your big hand and drop the 2nd and 3rd ranked card into your 2-card hand
- Take advantage of bonuses Before you sit down to play, look out for the bonuses on offer for the game and secure a bigger bankroll for yourself
- Bank as much as possible You get to play your money against everyone at the table, and make more when people make mistakes
5. A Quick History of Pai Gow
Pai Gow Poker infuses an ancient Chinese tile game called Pai Gow, or Make Nine, with the popular card game poker. The current game is relatively new, but has caught on quickly with gambling enthusiasts making it one of the more popular tables online and offline.
- 1000 A.D. (+/-) - When the original game of Pai Gow was invented is unknown. Historians have been able to trace back the Chinese tiled game of Pai Gow to at least one thousand years where it was popular with soldiers and citizens. This is reflected in the two suits: civilian and military. In the original game, players were dealt seven tiles which had to be arranged in the best two combinations. The tiles had a special pattern on each one with a total of 21 patterns and 32 tiles. Bets were placed on who could create the best tile combos.
- 1985-86 - How Pai Gow moved from China to the U.S. is not fully understood, but somehow it made its way across the Great Pacific Ocean and into the mind of California Bell Casino owner Sam Torosian. In 1985 the Los Angeles resident had an idea to combine certain features of Chinese Pai Gow with elements of poker. He named the game Pai Gow Poker and by 1986 most large casinos offered the game on their floor. Before long Pai Gow Poker could be found in every major casino around the world.
- 1990s-2000s - Following Pai Gow’s success, Sam Torosian continued to create popular gambling games along with his partner Fred Wolf. With the onset of online casinos, Pai Gow Poker continued to gain a loyal virtual following. A bonus bet was added to many variations, which now lets players win massive jackpots. Today Pai Gow is available to play on every kind of device. We’re sure players will soon be able to play a live dealer version of Pai Gow in the very near future.
The original Chinese game of Pai Gow is played with a set of tiles or dominoes in a complicated series of layouts. However, the online casino version of Pai Gow is a poker game loosely based on the ancient Chinese game. In short, the modern version is much easier and combines the ancient game with traditional poker.
How do you play Pai Gow online?
In Pai Gow Poker online you will dealt seven cards which must be split into two hands. One hand of five cards and another hand of two cards. The five card hand must be higher ranking than the two card hand. A bet will then be placed on both hands according to whether or not you think you will be the dealer’s two hands.
Each hand is played against the banker. This means you can win one hand, both, or none. In online Pai Gow you can also choose to be the dealer. There is no ‘push’ in this game which is how the house gains an edge over the player.
What is a Low Hand and a Front Hand?
Those are the names of the two split hands in Pai Gow. As the names suggest, the two card hand is the low hand, and the five card hand is the front hand. The five card hand is also called high hand, or the back hand.
Where can I find the best online Pai Gow casino?
There are many online different kinds of Pai Gow casinos, but we can help you find the most reputable casinos with the best game play experience. Our criteria for listing an online Pai Gow casino are that they have excellent graphics, strong security, high bonus allotments and good payouts. These are the online casinos that have a strong history of taking care of their players and reputations for fairness and honesty, so you don't have to worry about a thing.
Can I try Pai Gow for free?
There are many online casinos that offer free versions of their games so you can test out their software, or get a feel for their site. Playing free online Pai Gow lets you develop your strategies, learn the game and get comfortable before you begin betting with real money. When you win a free online Pai Gow hand, the winnings will be displayed on the screen as a way of showing how you are doing, but they will not be available for withdrawal. In order to take your winnings with you into the real world, you must first deposit and bet with real money.
How old do I have to be to play Pai Gow?
The legal age of the country in which you reside will determine how old you have to be to play online Pai Gow. You can, however, play free online Pai Gow games at any age, because it is not actually gambling.
Are there strategies I can use to increase my odds of winning?
There are many strategies to winning at Pai Gow poker online. Many of these are very advanced and take hours of practice. To get you started consider the following strategic tips to help you win. Understand the rules of poker and the betting patterns of the game. Whenever possible choose to be the banker as the odds are more favorable. Do not play a full house as the upper hand; Pai Gow does not favor this. Finally, be careful when splitting pairs and know when to take a break. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to winning.
Pai Gow Glossary
This is the person who is betting against all of the players at the table. The banker typically has to rotate every turn or every other turn. You may need a larger bank roll to take on a full table's worth of action (hey, you're playing against all of the other players), but if you can afford it, this is a great way to play. The banker has the advantage because he or she wins all copies.
A slang term for the Joker – the game's (semi) wild card.
The technical term for either a low hand or a high hand that exactly matches the banker's corresponding hand. In other words, a tie. The banker always wins in the case of a copy.
The 5% fee that the casino takes out of all winnings paid by the bank. This is how the casino can profit from a game that does not have a built-in house edge (remember, players generally play as the bank on a rotating basis).
The term for a hand that is dealt to an empty seat. The dealer must always create seven stacks of cards – enough for six players and the dealer to each receive one. When a seat is empty, the appropriate stack of cards is still dealt as a hand in keeping with protocol.
A term for the five-card Pai Gow Poker hand. It earned this name because of its position, sitting physically behind the two-card hand on the table.
Hand in Front
A term for the two-card Pai Gow Poker hand. It earned this name because of its position in front of the five-card hand on the table.
This is the highest card in a player's hand. Typically only referenced when the player's hand is worth less than a pair.
he five-card Pai Gow hand. Named for sitting “higher” on the table.
The set of rules that all dealers must follow when constructing their two Pai Gow Poker hands. It might not technically be the optimum strategy, but it is close and it keeps the house in the game when the casino is sitting as the bank. This is the system they will advise when players ask them for help.
This is the card that is almost always used as the wild card in Pai Gow Poker. While it may sometimes be completely wild, more often than not it can only be wild to complete a Straight, a Flush, or a Straight Flush. If it does not have an opportunity to create one of these hands, then it is treated as an Ace instead.
The Pai Gow Poker hand that only has two cards. Sits “lower” on the table.
Technical term for a tie. In Pai Gow Poker, this occurs when one of your hands beats the banker's corresponding hand, and the other loses (or ties). This results in your bet being returned to you and nothing further happens. See "copies" for a description of what happens when the corresponding hands are equal.
Random Number Generator
The piece of software that allows an online casino to fairly and randomly draw cards from a digital deck. Should be audited and certified as fair by a third party.
This is the card that can represent any other card to make the best possible hand. It is typically represented by the Joker, and its addition make the deck have fifty three cards.