How to Win at Pai Gow Poker
Learning how to win at Pai Gow poker is both easy and hard at the same time. Pai Gow poker is an exciting and fun casino game that's simple to learn, and the nature of the game means that you get to play lots of hands with the money you gamble. Consistently winning at Pai Gow poker is tricky, however, as it's a casino table game played against the house, and like most table games the house always has an edge.
- Learn the rules. The first step in learning how to win at Pai Gow poker is to know the rules. Each player is dealt seven cards and their goal is to make two different poker hands, one with five cards and the other with two cards. Players aren't competing with one another but instead with the dealer, with each player trying to form the best two poker hands they can that will both beat the dealer. Just like the players, the dealer gets seven cards and must form two different poker hands, which are then compared against all the players' hands. The five-card hand must be a better poker hand than the two-card hand.
- Hand rankings. For the two-card hands, flushes and straights don't count; only pairs and high card are possible. For the five-card hands, normal poker rules apply, except in some casinos a straight with A-2-3-4-5 beats a straight of 9-10-J-Q-K (but loses to the best possible straight of 10-J-Q-K-A).
- Setting your hands. Learning how to win at Pai Gow poker does include some basic strategy when players make their hands, as it's up to them how they use their cards to make the two-card and the five-card hands. Players can choose to have the dealer set their hands using the "house way," which is the standard way that all dealers must set their hands. Having the dealer set your hand using the house way is actually quite a good strategy, as the casinos don't want to lose money so the standard strategy is close to optimal.
- Basic Pai Gow poker strategy. If you want to take your own shot at learning how to win at Pai Gow poker and set your hands yourself, here are some general tips. Set your two-card hand to be the best possible while still following the rules of it being a worse hand than the five-card hand. If you have nothing but a pair, use it in the five-card hand and have the two-card hand be the next two highest cards. If you have two pair, only split up the pairs by putting one pair in the two card hand if it's a big pair such as QQ, KK or AA; otherwise put the two pair together in your five-card hand. If you have three pair, play the biggest pair in the two-card hand and the other two pair in the five-card hand.