Pai Gow Poker Strategy and Tips

Card table with Pai Gow Tips

Pai Gow poker is an exciting casino variant of poker where you face off against the dealer in a straight showdown. If you’re a fan of the traditional card game or you’re just someone who generally loves games of chance, you’re bound to like this one.

Before you start playing, however, there are a few things you need to know. Pai Gow poker has various elements that make it slightly complicated to begin with. We’ll give you a rundown on how to play the game and what strategies you need to employ.

What is Pai Gow Poker?

When you play Pai Gow poker, you will have to make two hands and beat the dealer with both of them. If you want to know more about the general ways of playing, you can have a look at our handy guide for more information. Once you get the hang of the game, making your hands should come as second nature. However, it will take a bit of time to get accustomed to.

Pai Gow poker is a live casino game played against a real dealer in a heads-up scenario. So, if you want to play the game, head over to the live section of the site and pick out your favourite Pai Gow poker table. You may want to read our expert tips on how to get better at the game before you start, though.

What are the Best Strategies for Pai Gow Poker?

Pai Gow poker is a game of chance, and a lot of what happens comes down to how the cards are dealt. There’s no surefire way of winning, but you can try to stack the odds in your favour by using knowledge and strategy. We’ll give you the lowdown on the fundamental aspects of Pai Gow poker that you need to understand before you start playing.

Read up on the Rules

You can’t just jump into a game of Pai Gow poker without going through all the rules first. This title differs greatly from traditional forms of the game. For one thing, there’s a joker involved, and this can be used as a wildcard to make any hand. This affects the probabilities greatly, and it’s something you need to consider when you’re on a draw.

The other key point about Pai Gow poker is that you need to make two hands and you have to beat the dealer with both of them. You’ll have to make a two-card hand and a five-card hand. The five card hand follows traditional poker hand values, while the two-card hand will be won on the highest pair or a high card.

You need to think carefully about how you arrange your cards into these two separate hands. This is important because both hands need to beat both of the dealer’s hands for you to win the bet.

Know the Hand Values

For your two-card hand, the best possible outcome is that you have a pair of aces. If neither player nor the dealer has a pair, then the winner will be determined on the high card. If the high card is the same, then the other card, known as the kicker, will come into play.

For the five-card hand, you need to know your standard poker hand values. These are listed below, from highest to lowest:

  • Straight flush
  • Four of a kind
  • Full house
  • Flush
  • Straight
  • Three of a kind
  • Two pair
  • Pair
  • High card

Arrange your Hands

When you arrange your hands in Pai Gow poker, there is an important rule that you need to follow. Your top (two-card) hand can’t be of a higher value than the bottom (five-card) hand. This will only come into effect if your bottom hand is a pair. Therefore, you need to arrange your bottom hand first before you set up your top hand.

Remember that you need to beat the dealer with both hands, so there’s no point making a super strong hand at the bottom and then using a weak high card on the top hand. Follow these key points when thinking about how to make your Pai Gow poker hands:

  • If you can’t make a poker hand with any of the cards at your disposal, you should put the highest value card in the bottom hand and the next two highest-value cards in the top hand.
  • If you get two pairs, you should split them and put the lower value pair in the top hand.
  • If you get four of a kind, you should split it between your two hands if they are higher value than jacks.
  • If you have four-of-a-kind 6s or of lower value, it makes more sense to keep the quads at the bottom and play your strongest second hand in the top hand.

It could be handy to have a chart with all the different tactics open, so you know what to do in any situation. These things will become second nature over time, and the more you play, the easier it will be to know what to do.

Manage Your Bankroll Effectively

Before taking part in any casino game, you need to make sure you set yourself some clear ground rules. Punting on these offerings is a bit of fun, and at the end of the day, they are games of chance that you could lose money on.

Managing your bankroll is a key part of getting enjoyment from Pai Gow poker and other table offerings. Before you start, you need to give yourself a set amount that you allow yourself to spend. When it runs out, walk away from the games for a while. Your stakes in each round of betting should be relative to your allowance as well. Rather than bet big on one or two games, you should spread it out a bit more with smaller wagers.

If you’re ready to take your Pai Gow poker strategy to the tables, check out the game now. Remember to have fun and gamble responsibly.

Casino.com blog
Wayne “D22-soso” Chiang is a StarCraft World Champion, the “Live at the Bike” Poker Stream Producer and one of the top Global Poker Tournament winners.

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