A Guide to Pai Gow Poker

Guide to playing online pai gow poker with strategy, rules and history sections.

Pai Gow Poker Top Tips

  • Play the same way as the house to reduce the house edge.
  • Always split two pairs, unless the combined total of each pair is less than nine and you have a king or an ace.
  • Avoid “no push pai gow poker” because the banker always wins if the game is a tie.
  • When you’re dealt three pairs, always split the highest pair to give yourself the best chance of winning.

Pai gow poker is a cross-cultural card game, combining American-style poker with an ancient domino game originated in China called pai gow. The main objective of online pai gow poker is to create one five-card hand and one two-card hand from the seven cards you’re dealt that will rank better than the banker’s hands. The relaxed and slow game-play, which includes lots of ties, means that big money losses (and wins) are rare.

Although Chinese origins of the game date back to the 1800s, it wasn’t until 1985 that the first hands of modern pai gow poker were dealt in a casino. Sam Torosian, owner of the Bell Club in California, is widely credited with creating the game. Since then, pai gow’s laid back nature has made it a big hit in land-based and online casinos of all shapes and sizes.

Online pai gow poker is played against a banker and uses a 53-card deck, including a joker (wild). Pai gow poker has one of the lowest house edges in casinos at 1.46% and, as a result, the house usually takes 5% commission from any wins you gain.

Pai gow poker can be tweaked slightly to create different forms of the game. Progressive jackpots and insurance can be added to help the player, but these variations are rare in online casinos. The original Chinese game of pai gow is still played in casinos but isn’t easily found. It uses dominos instead of cards to determine hands and has generally been phased out in favour of pai gow poker.