The online casino is likely the only place where you’ll find the Pai Gow Poker variation, a fun-filled poker event that’s based on an ancient Chinese domino game. Pai Gow incorporates the elements of basic poker along with features from the Chinese domino game which makes this “double-hand poker” a poker experience of fun, excitement and real money wins.
Pai Gow poker online offers the ultimate poker experience. It’s one of the casino’s most popular poker variants which can be played for free or for real money prizes at your leisure. Pai Gow poker takes you back to the mysterious legends of ancient China where your success at the gaming board could determine your future. Some casinos offer Pai Gow online tournaments where players from around the world gather to compete at this ancient game now brought into the 21st century.
Pai Gow was developed as a way to honor a Chinese creation myth that was popular during the Song Dynasty (960–1279). By building pairs in your hand, you tell the story of creation.
The pairs rank with the highest ranked pair being Gee Joon who represents the Supreme Creator of the universe. Gee Joon created Teen, the heavens, and the earth is Day which is placed under the heavens. Gee Joon then created Yun to live on earth, Gor (geese) for man to eat and Mooy, plum flowers for beauty.
The story continues with Bon, robes for people to wear, Foo, hatchets to chop wood, Tit and Look, man’s children and Ping, the house.
Today, the Chinese Pai Gow domino game has been adapted for into a new form of poker online gamers. Players can add high-tech elements to the historic Asian game as they turn it into a poker adventure of fast action and intricate strategy.
Play Pai Gow Poker
Some people choose to play Pai Gow Poker because of its historical and cultural significance while others find it a convenient form of poker that has low volatility and a respectable 2.8% house edge. Pai Gow Poker involves beating the dealer as you build two separate hands, both of which aim to be stronger than the dealer’s two hands.
Pai Gow Poker is played with a standard deck of 52 cards plus a Joker. The Joker is sometimes counted as an ace and at other times, it functions as a wild to complete flushes or straights. At some casinos, the wheel (A 2 3 4 5) is counted either as the second-highest straight or as is. This isn’t true of all casinos so if you’re playing Pai Gow poker, review your casino’s rules before placing your first bet.
You start out by putting up your ante bet and receiving 7 face-down cards. Those cards are to then be arranged into two separate hands, one two-card hand and one five-card hand. The value of the hands is similar to other classic poker games as you attempt to build hands that are better than the dealer’s hands. Your two-card (top) hand can never be stronger than your five-card (hand.
The Payouts are determined after both the player and the dealer have arranged their hands. If you beat one of the dealer’s hands but lose the other, it’s a tie and there are no payouts. If both you and the dealer are holding the exact same cards, the dealer wins such ties. If both of your hands beat both of the dealer’s hands, you win and receive a payout of 1:1 on your ante:
- If you beat one hand but lose on the second one, the bet is pushed back (a tie).
- The dealer wins all ties, i.e., if you have the exact same hand, like a pair of Kings in your top hand, the dealer wins.
There are a number of side bets that you can try to increase the excitement of the game. Not all casinos’ Pai Gow Poker games have side bets but the best ones do offer this chance to add some spice to the game. One of the most popular side bets is the “Emperor’s Challenge”
There’s an insurance bet in Pai Gow poker that wins if you achieve a pai gow. The lower the highest card, the more it pays. With a house edge of 7.35%, this isn’t a bet that you want to make unless you’re willing to take quite a risk.
Pai Gow'd is similar to Pai Gow Insurance but the pay table is modified.
The Jokolor side bet wins if the player has all cards and/or a joker of the same color.
Pai Gow Strategy
As with all poker games, there’s a basic strategy to Pai Gow Poker which, if you are familiar with it, will allow you to increase your chances of achieving real money wins. Some helpful strategies for players playing Pai Gow include:
- Play the highest card with your high hand (the five-card hand) if you aren’t holding a straight or flush.
- Split a two pair where the top pair is an aces or where the top pair is kings for a two-pair (unless the other pair is deuces). Continue by playing together with the two highest remaining cards in the low hand. If you have two pairs that are sixes and below, split if you have an ace and then play them together with the ace.
- Split two pairs: 7's thru 10's unless you have an ace. If you have an ace, play the two pairs together with the ace.
- When you split Jack's thru Aces pairs, keep the highest pair in the high hand.
- If you have a three pair, play the highest pair in the low hand.
- For three of a kind, play them together unless the cards are aces. If the cards are aces, play a single ace with the next highest card in the low hand and a pair of aces in the high hand.