Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow poker first emerged in 1980s California when a man named Sam Torosian created new variants of gambling players to entice people to visit his casino. To understand how to play Pai Gow poker online, check out this latest guide from

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What is Pai Gow Poker?

By design, Pai Gow poker was created an American variant of Pai Gow. Players can find the latter in land-based casinos and online sites, but it has greater complexity in that 32 Chinese dominoes are used rather than a deck of playing cards. - Pai Gow Poker - Screenshot (1)

Game Rules

Fundamentally, the game is played with a deck of 52 cards plus the joker. During the gameplay, players have the ability to use the joker as a wild symbol to create a number of hands, including combinations of aces, straights, flushes, or royal flushes, but not any other hands.

For the most part, standard poker values are observed. However, some casinos and sites will value A2345 as the second-highest straight after a royal flush. By and large, this does not impact the experience.

Pai Gow poker differs from Texas Hold’em or five-card draw in that players receive seven cards that are used to form a hand of five cards. The next step is for players to create a higher hand with five cards, while making a weaker a hand of two cards.

Players will face up to the dealer during this game. How it works is that players need to defeat the dealer on both hands to claim an even-money win. If they win on one hand, the bet will push to the next hand, but tying or losing both will lead to a loss.

Playing Strategy

Pai Gow poker strategy can get extremely complex for the most experienced players, but fortunately there are basic tactics for beginners. At the most basic level, you cannot overlook the importance of your two-card hand, as the dealer can keep pushing the stakes if you do not beat them on this.

When splitting cards, players need to play smartly. As a simple example, players would use their strongest pair for the two-card hand if they have three pairs of cards. This gives them the best chance of winning both hands and the entire round.

Variants Compared

Pai Gow poker is closely comparable to a number of popular variants found in land-based casinos and online gaming sites. For reference, check out details on each type underneath.

Pai Gow Classic

In all honesty, Pai Gow classic bears little resemblance to the poker variants. This is because the name translates as ‘make nine’, with players aiming to create the best score of nine points by using two dominoes. When scoring, players drop the 1 if the value climbs past 10. Altogether, players have 32 tiles that can be arranged in 16 pairs in a single session. Ultimately, it is possible to make more than 35,000 combinations.

Casino Hold’em

Casino hold’em is worth comparing because this is a game that requires the player to directly compete against the dealer. However, this is a more stripped back game in that players receive two cards that are combined with three community cards to create the best possible hand.

Texas Hold’em

Texas hold’em is the inspiration for casino hold’em in that players have two of their own cards plus three community cards. But the game then has greater variants because there are two addition community cards called the turn and the river. Of course, the game also varies in that Texas hold’em is played with human opponents and not a dealer.

Five-Card Draw

Anybody who plays five-card draw will understand the importance of creating a strong hand with five cards. These games then differ in that players can swap out cards to create a stronger hand, while Pai Gow poker has an additional hand of two cards. Also, players compete against opponents instead of a dealer.

Basic Pai Gow Odds

For a broad understanding, below are the house edge values for Pai Gow poker and other table games:

Pai Gow poker: 1.46%
Baccarat: 1.06%
Blackjack: 0.28%
Casino hold’em: 5.22%
Craps: 1.41%
Roulette: 2.70%/5.26%
Three-card poker: 3.37%

Pai Gow poker is quite an accessible game, but it also has great depth for players who want to explore complex strategies. Give it a try soon for a new casino experience.