Pai Gow Poker

Your Complete Guide to The Best Real Money
Pai Gow Poker Online Casinos

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.

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1. Playing Pai Gow like a Pro

Been to 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. But the name is a little intimidating for some. You’re familiar with Texas Hold’em poker, not Pai Gow Poker. So what’s it all about?

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. It’s not, and thinking that way could cost you.

So stick with us. We’ll show you the best places to play, how to play your cards right, and how 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, including these top reasons:

  • 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.

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 casino bonuses for Pai Gow Poker

    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

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.

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.

Play at the Best Online Pai Gow Poker Casino

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.

Maximizing every betting opportunity

We showed you how splitting up a great hand sometimes makes the most sense. But that scenario really only applies to Aces. What about other big hands? Just use our advanced Pai Gow Poker tips to make the right move and separate your cards the right way.

Hand Dealt Your Move
No pair, straight, or flush Put the highest card you’re dealt in your 5-card hand and place your 2nd and 3rd highest cards in the 2-card hand
2 pair including two Aces Split them up
2 pair including Kings Split them up, except if the other pair is twos
2 pair, including sixes and anything below Split them up unless you’ve been dealt an Ace (if that’s the case, play them with the ace and place the next highest card in the 2-card hand)
2 pair, sevens through 10s Again, split them up unless you’ve been dealt an Ace (if that’s the case, play them with the Ace and place the next highest card in the 2-card hand)
2 pair, Jacks through Aces Split them up and place the highest pair in the high hand
3 Pair Move the highest pair to the 2-card hand
3 of a kind Never split them up, with the exception of Aces
Full House Split them up, moving the pair to the 2-card hand (if you’ve got a second pair, move the highest of the two pairs to the 2-card hand)
Straights and Flushes Make sure the straight or flush stays in your 5-card hand (however, if you have 2 pair, split them up)
4 of a kind Keep sixes or lower together, split seven through 10 unless you’ve got an Ace, and always split Aces, Kings, Queens or Jacks unless you’ve got another pair
Five Aces Split them up unless you’ve been dealt a pair of Kings, in which case move the Kings to the 2-card hand
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. That’s the top rated hand, but remember that sometimes it might be worthwhile to split them up, thereby creating a smaller hand. Here’s your hand ranking system, in case you need a refresher:

  • High Card
  • One Pair
  • Two Pairs
  • Three of a Kind
  • Straight
  • Flush
  • Full House
  • Four of a Kind
  • Straight Flush
  • Royal Flush

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.

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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 poker table feeling confident you know exactly what's going on.

5. The Quick History of Pai Gow

Fred Wolf’s creation transformed poker in the 1990s, and ever since players have come to love it at online and physical casinos. Here we give you a bit of background, from the traditional Chinese game to the online innovations we enjoy today.

  • Pai Gow Poker was created by Fred Wolf in the 1990s.
  • Wolf was a game inventor and the manager of the Commerce Casino in California.
  • Face with increasing competition from neighboring properties, Wolf invented new games to attract new customers.
  • The game is based off a traditional Chinese game call Pai Gow.
  • The definition of Pai Gow is “to make nine” and the old-school variation of Pai Gow involved tiles, much like dominoes.
  • When the game became popular in America, the traditional dominoes used were changed to playing cards.
6. Pai-Gow Poker FAQ

It's not just about having a good hand. Our reviewers know that because they've been playing Pai Gow and testing these sites for years. They know what gamers expect and the questions they like to ask. That's why we've put together a list of FAQs to answer any Pai Gow queries you may have.

  • What is Pai Gow?
    The original Chinese game of Pai Gow is played with a set of dominos 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.

    When playing Pai Gow you will be dealt seven cards which you have to split into two different hands (one hand of five cards and one hand of two cards). The two card hand cannot be a higher valued hand than the five card hand. You will then bet both hands individually according to whether or not you think you can beat the dealer’s (known as the “banker”) respective hands. Each hand is played individually against the banker which means you can win one of the hands and not the other, both hands, or neither.

    Online Pai Gow is popular because it gives two separate chances to win money with each dealt hand. In the event of a tie in either or both of the split hands, the banker always wins. There is no “push” in Pai Gow. This is how the house derives its advantage.
  • 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.
  • Can I Play 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 obviously 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.
  • What do I Need to Play Pai Gow?
    All you need is a computer or other internet-accessible device. If you have a Mac, iPhone or iPad you will need to find an online Pai Gow casino that does not require a download to play. Otherwise, for PC and Android users, when you choose your casino, you will typically need to download the software for that particular casino. As you may have guessed, these software programs are not interchangeable, so you will need to download each new casino’s software.
  • Where do I Find Pai Gow Online?
    There are many online different kinds od 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.
7. Pai Gow Glossary
  • Banker
    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.
  • Bug
    A slang term for the Joker – the game’s (semi) wild card.
  • Copies
    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.
  • Commission
    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).
  • Dragon Hand
    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.
  • Hand Behind
    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.
  • High Card
    This is the highest card in a player’s hand. Typically only referenced when the player’s hand is worth less than a pair.
  • High Hand
    he five-card Pai Gow hand. Named for sitting “higher” on the table.
  • House Way
    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.
  • Joker
    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.
  • Low Hand
    The Pai Gow Poker hand that only has two cards. Sits “lower” on the table.
  • Push
    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.
  • Wild Card
    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.

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