Pai Gow Poker Tips for Beginners

 

Pai Gow Poker Table. The key is how you set up your hand.

Pai Gow Poker Table. The key is how you set up your hand.

Two years ago, I started playing Pai Gow Poker.  The following Pai Gow Poker Tips for Beginners will get you started. Compared to Pai Gow Tiles, Pai Gow Poker is a relatively easy game. To begin with, it’s important to know the rules to increase your chances of winning.

First, a little Background

Pai Gow Poker as we know it today first came about in the mid 1980’s. There is some controversy surrounding who first developed the game. Generally, its origins are most widely credited to Sam Torosian and his partner Fred Wolf. The game was modeled and named after Pai Gow Tiles. This Chinese domino game dates back about a thousand years to the Song Dynasty, 960 to 1279.

Pai Gow Tiles

Six players join the dealer at the table where they play with a 52-card deck plus one joker. Each player is dealt a seven-card hand. This is divided into two hands, one with five cards and the other with two. The goal is to defeat both of the hands of the banker, a role that is usually filled by either the dealer, Players can bank the hand as well.

pai_gow_poker_intro

How to play

The standard poker rankings apply.  In addition, players must make sure that the five-card hand has a greater value than the two-card hand. Once the players have arranged their hands, they play it against the banker’s. (usually the dealer)

Dealers are allowed to help players arrange their hands. This called “house way.” It is the same rules that the dealer sets their two hands.  If you set your cards incorrectly, you’ll automatically lose. Subsequently, ask the dealer for placement tips before the hand is dealt. Showing your hand to other players and even the pit boss is acceptable for the correct strategy.

A player is a winner if both hands beat the banker; they’re a loser if the dealer/banker beats their hands. If one hand wins but the other loses, a push occurs. This means that no money is exchanged. If a player ties with the banker, the banker automatically wins.

Pai Gow is usually played because it is a slow game, with many pushes.  Approximately >40% of hand are pushes. On these bets, you neither win nor lose your original ante.  Side bets either win or lose.

Winning one of two hands is a push.

Winning one of two hands is a push.

Pai Gow Poker Tips for Beginners – Strategy

Here are some basic strategy tips for beginners from Play Pai Gai Poker.org:

  1. Don’t split pairs. You’re better off keeping the pair in back, and, in most cases, will push the hand (at worst).
  2. With 2 pair, place your strongest pair in back (weakest pair in front).
  3. With 3 of a kind, only split them up when you are holding aces. Keep a pair in back, and one ace up front.
  4. With 3 pairs, split them up to have 2 pair in back and 1 pair in front. Place your strongest pair up front.
  5. With 4 of a kind, split them up and put a pair up front. The exception to this rule is if you’re holding quad 2s through 6s. Always keep these hands intact.
  6. Split full houses. This is counter intuitive, I know. But chances are high that if you keep the hand intact (in back) that you’ll push (at best). When you split the hand up you have a (high) chance of winning.
  7. When in doubt, ask the dealer to set your cards ‘the house way.’ This is better than guessing and making less than optimal plays.

joker-cardThe Joker in Pai Gow by  from About Poker.com

Instead of acting as a whatever-card-you-want wild card, the joker in Pai Gow is called a “bug.” It acts as an ace unless it can be used to fill out a straight or a flush. This also means that you can have five aces, which is the best possible five-card hand in Pai Gow..

So there you have it.  I suggest you check out the Wizard of Odds website to practice before you hit the tables.

Related Post – Resouces for Gambling Part 3 – Pai Gow Poker

That’s all for today.

Binbin