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Pai Gow

Home / Casino games / Pai Gow

Pai Gow

Imagine a world where the strategy of dominoes entwines with the thrill of poker. Welcome to Pai Gow, a unique blend that has Aussies hooked! This fascinating fusion promises endless excitement, beckoning players to try their hand at this dynamic mix. Who knew two classic games could come together to create such an electrifying experience?

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What is Pai Gow Poker?

Pai Gow Poker is a captivating card game that seamlessly merges the principles of the traditional Chinese game of Pai Gow or Chinese Dominos with contemporary poker. Its roots can be traced back to ancient China, where Pai Gow, meaning “make nine”, was played with tiles and had the objective of achieving a combination summing up to nine.

In its modern avatar, Pai Gow Poker uses a standard 52-card deck, complemented by a joker. Players are dealt seven cards, which they are required to divide into two distinct hands: a ‘high’ hand with five cards and a ‘low’ hand with two cards. The primary objective is to outperform the dealer on both hands.

The inclusion of the joker adds a unique twist, as it can serve as a wild card to enhance certain combinations or act as an ace. While at first glance Pai Gow Poker might seem a tad intricate, fear not! By the end of this review, you’ll be armed with all the knowledge you need, ready to take on the game with confidence and flair.

Pai Gow Poker: The Dealer

The dealer in Pai Gow Poker is more than just a card distributor; they’re central to the game’s narrative. After shuffling the deck, the dealer hands out cards to the players and themselves, ensuring that everyone receives seven cards. The dealer then organises their cards into two hands – a ‘high’ hand consisting of five cards and a ‘low’ hand of two cards. The way they set their hands is typically guided by a set of house rules, and predetermined strategies that vary across casinos.

Players, on the other hand, have the autonomy to set their hands as they deem fit, with the objective to outdo the dealer’s corresponding hands. The dealer’s actions, from shuffling to hand-setting, are intrinsic to the game, dictating its pace and outcome.

Fun Fact: In days gone by, before automated card shufflers became the norm, dealers would arrange the card piles to echo a dragon’s silhouette, complete with a discernible head, body, and tail.

Pai Gow casino game

Managing Your Hand at Pai Gow

In Pai Gow Poker, managing your hand is the crux of the game. Once dealt the seven cards, you’ll need to split them into two hands – the ‘high’ five-card hand and the ‘low’ two-card hand. This bifurcation requires a strategic mindset:

  • High Hand: This is your primary hand, and its strength should supersede that of your low hand. It follows the conventional poker hand rankings, so you could have anything from a single pair to a royal flush.
  • Low Hand: Comprising just two cards, the best outcome here is a pair. If no pair is possible, the higher card values determine this hand’s strength.
  • Setting Your Hands: The key to success in Pai Gow Poker lies in balancing the strength between these two hands. It’s not just about creating a powerful high hand; if your low hand is weak, it could cost you the game. Aim to set your hands in a way that gives you a competitive edge against the dealer’s two hands.
  • Consider the Joke: Remember, the Joker can be a game-changer. It can be used to complete a straight, flush, straight flush, or royal flush in the high hand. Otherwise, it acts as an ace.

The objective is clear: both of your hands should be stronger than the dealer’s respective hands. If only one of your hands wins, it’s a push (no money changes hands). If both your hands are weaker, you lose your bet.

By understanding the nuances of hand management and applying a bit of strategy, you can significantly influence the outcome of your Pai Gow Poker game.

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Online Pai Gow Showdown

The showdown in Pai Gow Poker is a pivotal moment where players reveal their hands to determine the winner. Once players have strategised and set their hands, they position the 2-card hand at the forefront, with the 5-card hand situated behind. This arrangement has led to unique nomenclature: the 5-card hand often garners labels like the “high”, “big”, or “behind” hand, whereas the 2-card ensemble is commonly dubbed the “top” or “low” hand.

Accuracy in hand-setting is paramount. A misstep, like positioning the 2-card hand with a higher rank than the 5-card hand, is deemed a foul. Depending on the online casino’s protocols, this could result in the hand being either reset according to house rules or outright disqualified.

The role of the banker plays a part here, too. When the dealer or casino assumes this role, the hand must align with house conventions. However, if a player steps into the banker’s shoes, they enjoy greater latitude in hand arrangement. The exception arises when a player co-banks with the dealer, in which case they must strictly adhere to house guidelines.

Casino Commission

Casinos, while offering a myriad of gaming experiences, are businesses at their core. For games like Pai Gow Poker, casinos and online gambling platforms typically charge a commission to ensure they generate a profit. This commission is a small percentage of the player’s bet, generally around 5%.

For instance, if you win a $100 bet, the casino might take a $5 commission, leaving you with a $95 profit. The exact percentage may vary from one casino to another, but the principle remains consistent. It’s an essential revenue stream for the casino, compensating them for providing the platform, game, and potential winnings.

As players, it’s crucial to be aware of these commissions, as they influence the overall profitability of your gaming session. Always check the terms and conditions or game rules on the online casino platform to understand the exact commission structure.

Pai Gow Table

Pai Gow Side Bets

In addition to the primary game mechanics, Pai Gow Poker often presents players with the opportunity to place side bets. These bets are independent wagers, separate from the main game’s outcome, offering players additional chances to win based on different criteria. Side bets add an extra layer of excitement to the game, allowing players to potentially increase their winnings or hedge against potential losses.

While they can be enticing, it’s essential for players to understand the associated odds and payouts, as side bets often come with a higher house edge compared to the main game.

Popular Pai Gow Poker Side Bets

Side bets in Pai Gow Poker offer players a twist on the traditional game, introducing new ways to win and injecting an additional layer of strategy. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular side bets you might encounter:

  • Fortune Pai Gow: Pays out based on the total value of the player’s seven cards. Payouts can range from a straight at 2:1 to a seven-card straight flush at 8,000:1.
  • Pair Plus: Rewards players if their seven cards contain a pair or better. Payouts vary, with a pair at 2:1 and a seven-card straight flush offering 8,000:1.
  • Emperor’s Challenge: Players win if they hold a no-pair hand or a natural seven-card straight flush.
  • Progressive Jackpot: Some casinos offer a chance to win a growing jackpot for specific hands, such as a seven-card straight flush.
  • Pai Gow Mania: This side bet allows for two side bets instead of the traditional one. It adds more variability and potential for bigger payouts.

Remember, while side bets can amplify the excitement, they often come with higher house edges. Always play responsibly and understand the bet before placing it.

Winning at Pai Gow

Victory in Pai Gow Poker hinges on outclassing the dealer. After both the player and the dealer set their two hands (a five-card ‘high’ hand and a two-card ‘low’ hand), they are compared. To clinch a win, both of the player’s hands must surpass the dealer’s respective hands. If only one hand triumphs while the other loses, the round is deemed a ‘push’, meaning no money is won or lost.

Should both of the player’s hands rank lower than the dealer’s, the player loses their bet. It’s this dual challenge of besting the dealer on two fronts that makes Pai Gow both thrilling and strategic.

Winning at Pai Gow casino games

Pai Gow Strategy

Pai Gow Poker is a captivating blend of chance and strategy similar to other casino games such as online blackjack. While the cards you’re dealt play a significant role, how you play them is equally crucial. The game’s unique structure, where you split seven cards into two distinct hands, demands a careful and considered approach. Each decision you make, from how to use the joker to when to bank, can significantly influence the game’s outcome.

A successful Pai Gow player not only understands the rules but also masters the art of strategy, continuously refining their approach based on experience, observation, and outcomes. Dive into the nuances of Pai Gow strategy to elevate your gameplay and increase your chances of outsmarting the dealer.

Understand Hand Rankings Thoroughly

Pai Gow Poker borrows its hand rankings from traditional poker. A solid understanding of these rankings – from the high-value Royal Flush to a simple pair – is fundamental. Knowing the strength of your hand relative to potential dealer hands will guide your decisions.

The Art of Hand Splitting

One of the unique aspects of Pai Gow is the need to split your seven cards into two hands. The challenge is to create a formidable five-card ‘high’ hand without weakening your two-card ‘low’ hand. It’s a delicate balancing act. For example, if you’re dealt two pairs, whether you should split them between the two hands or keep them together in the high hand depends on the rest of your cards.

Making the Most of the Joker

The joker in Pai Gow Poker is semi-wild, meaning it can act as an ace, or help complete a straight, flush, straight flush, or royal flush. Properly utilising the joker can swing a game in your favour. If you can’t use it to complete a higher hand, treating it as an ace is often the best strategy.

Embracing the House Way

Most casinos have established their own ‘house way’, a set of guidelines for setting hands. Familiarising yourself with these guidelines can offer insights into the logic and strategy of hand-setting. While you’re not required to follow the house way, understanding it can help you make more informed decisions.

Banking | The Game Changer

Whenever possible, opt to be the banker. The game dynamics shift slightly in favour of the banker, as ties will be awarded to them. But remember, as the banker, you’re also responsible for covering all player bets, so ensure you have the bankroll to back it up.

Place Side Bets With Caution

Side bets, while enticing with their potential high payouts, come with increased house edges. It’s essential to approach them with a clear understanding of their risks. If you’re on a tight budget or new to the game, it might be wise to avoid them until you’re more confident.

Continuous Learning & Adaptation

No strategy is set in stone. As you play more, you’ll encounter varied situations that will test and refine your approach. Regularly reviewing and adapting your strategy, based on experiences and outcomes, will help you become a more formidable Pai Gow Poker player.

Strategy at Pai Gow casino games

Live Online Pai Gow Australia

Live Pai Gow Poker offers players an experience that closely mirrors the atmosphere of a physical casino. Instead of relying on computer-generated graphics, players interact in real-time with genuine dealers, using real cards. This setting provides a dynamic, interactive environment, adding a layer of authenticity to the online gambling experience.

While rooted in classic Pai Gow rules, the live format can have variations in pace and player-dealer interactions. The tangible dealing of cards and the opportunity for direct communication enhance the game’s transparency and sociability.

When playing Live Pai Gow in Australia, it’s crucial to select reputable online casinos like the ones on our list at the top of this article. Select platforms that prioritise player safety, ensuring data protection and secure transactions.

Where to Find Live Pai Gow

For those ready to dive into this immersive experience, Live Pai Gow is typically housed in the live casino section of an online site like Spin Samurai. But for instance at Ripper casino, it is placed in the casino games section. Here, it sits alongside a medley of other thrilling live games. If poker variants intrigue you, consider exploring Side Bet City, a unique take on live poker. Additionally, for those keen on diverse live casino gaming options, titles like Lightning Dice and Mega Ball are also worth exploring.

Frequently asked questions

What is Pai Gow Poker?

Pai Gow Poker is a card game that blends traditional Chinese Pai Gow and Western Poker. Players are dealt seven cards, which they must split into two hands: a five-card ‘high’ hand and a two-card ‘low’ hand.

How does a player win in Pai Gow Poker?

To win, both of the player’s hands must be superior to the dealer’s corresponding hands. If only one hand wins, it’s considered a ‘push’, and no money is won or lost.

Is there a wild card in Pai Gow Poker?

Yes, Pai Gow Poker often includes a joker, which acts as a semi-wild card. It can be used to complete a straight, flush, straight flush, or royal flush. Otherwise, it’s valued as an ace.

How important is strategy in Pai Gow Poker?

Strategy is crucial in Pai Gow Poker. How you split your seven cards into the ‘high’ and ‘low’ hands can significantly influence the game’s outcome.

Can I interact with the dealer in Live Pai Gow Poker?

Absolutely! Live Pai Gow Poker allows players to chat with the dealer and sometimes other players, enhancing the social aspect of the game.

Are side bets available in Pai Gow Poker?

Yes, many Pai Gow Poker versions offer side bets, providing players additional ways to win based on different criteria. However, these often come with a higher house edge.

How do I ensure safe play in Live Pai Gow Poker online?

Always choose reputable online casinos that prioritise player safety and security, ensuring the protection of personal data and financial transactions.