Pai Gow Poker Rules
The Pai Gow Poker rules described here apply to online casino play. The fastest and easiest way to learn how to play is to visit one of the online casinos listed below and play for free.
In online play the dealer is always the banker (i.e. the games are casino or house banked) and the dragon hand is not available. The object of the game is to beat the banker's high and low hand.
Pai Gow Poker is played with a standard deck of 52 cards plus one joker. The joker is a semi-wild card that may be used to form a straight, flush, straight flush or royal flush. When a joker is not used to complete a straight, flush or straight flush it has the rank of an ace.
Pai Gow Poker uses typical poker hand rankings with two exceptions. The best five-card hand is not a royal flush but five aces which consist of four aces and one joker. Secondly, A-K-Q-J-10 is the highest ranking straight but A-2-3-4-5 is the next highest followed by K-Q-J-10-9.
Before cards are dealt a wager in accordance with table limits must be placed in the bet circle. Each player then receives seven cards that must be separated into two-card and five-card poker hands.
The two-card hand is known as the low hand, the front hand or the second highest hand and must be lower in ranking than the five-card hand. If the two-card hand is ranked higher than the five-card hand it is considered a "foul" and the player automatically loses. The highest ranking two-card hand is a pair of aces while the lowest is 2-3.
The five-card hand is known as the high hand, back hand or the highest hand and is placed behind the two-card hand as shown below.
After the hands are "set" they are compared to the banker's (in online play the banker is always the dealer) two hands to determine the winner.
- If the player's two-card hand and five-card hand beats both of the banker's hands, the player wins even money (1 to 1) minus a 5% house commission.
- If only one of the player's hands beats the banker it is considered a tie or push. No money is won or lost and all wagers are returned to the player (commission is not paid on ties or losing hands).
- If both of the player's hands lose to the banker's hands the banker wins and all wagers are lost.
- If the player and banker have two hands of the same rank it is called a "copy" and the banker wins on all copies.
Every casino uses a strategy for setting hands called the "house way". Some online casinos give players the option of setting cards using the house way after the cards are dealt.
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