A Round of Pai-Gow

Posted on: January 15, 2019

Pai-Gow is a game that originates from China using traditional Chinese dominoes. As years went on and the game reached the United States, a variant of this game has surfaced by using regular cards instead of using the dominoes. Some of you might have come across a Pai-Gow table and might have thought, “This seems like a complicated game!” Well, you’re in luck today because we’ve released the essential things you need to know to have a successful round of Pai-Gow:

Also known as a double-hand poker by the enthusiasts, this game is a battle between suits. The game is played using the regular 52-card deck, including one of the two jokers. Five players can join the table plus the dealer, which makes it a six-people game. The goal is for every player to kill the hand of the banker or the dealer. This is called a double poker because players prepare two hands, a suit of five cards and a set made of two cards. That is why all players are dealt seven cards at the beginning of the game.

The five-card hand’s rank must be superior to the two-card hand’s. The two-card hand is often called “in front”, “on top”, “hair”, the “small”, “minor”, or “low” hand. Meanwhile, the five-card hand is called the “behind”, “bottom”, “high”, or “big”, as they are placed that way when players reveal their cards to the table.

In terms of betting, positions are assigned randomly either electronically or manually. As for the dealing of cards, a three six-valued card is rolled to determine who is going to be dealt first. Count betting spots clockwise from the first position until the number on the dice is reached. This will determine who gets the first card. The players have to win against the banker’s high and low hand to be paid the prize, otherwise, the banker wins.

There are more than 10 types of hands that you can use in this game. Here are their rankings, from highest to lowest:

The highest is the Royal Flush. This is made up of five cards of the same suit composed of the King, Queen, Jack, 10, and Ace. In terms of suit ranking, this varies depending where you are playing. Some casino houses would rank diamonds as the highest when playing Pai Gow but others give the clubs the highest rank when playing another game. The Royal Flush is followed by the Straight Flush. This hand is made up of five consecutive cards of the same suit; for example, five cards consisting of 2-3-4-5-6 carrying the sign of a Club. Third is the Four of a Kind. This is composed of four cards of the same rank; like four pieces of Queens and one additional card, any card, to complete the five-card hand. Fourth is the Full House. This is composed of three cards of the same rank and a pair of cards. The highest ranked Full House is composed of three cards of Aces or Kings accompanied by any pair of cards. Fifth is the Flush. This is made up of five cards of the same suit but not necessarily in sequence. If you have a 5-8-3-4-7 carrying the sign of a spade, then it makes a Flush. Sixth is the straight. This hand is composed of any suit but the values of the card are in sequence. Example, if you have 9-8-7-6-5 of various suits, then it makes a straight. Seventh is the three of a kind. It is like your Full House but the accompanying two cards are not a pair. So this can be three cards of the same ranking like three pieces of 7s and two more different cards. The next hand is called a Two Pair. This means in a hand of five, four of the cards make two pairs which mean two sets that have the same ranking. Example, A-10-10-8-8, the two 10s makes a pair; the two 8s make a pair and an accompanying card. The second lowest is the Pair. Out of the five cards on the hand, two of it is of the same rank making a pair. For example, if you are dealt with 2-3-3-8-5, then this hand makes a pair. The lowest in hand in the game is the High Card. This is composed of any five cards that rely on the highest ranking card in the hand. If a player is dealt a 7-3-4-2-K, then the whole hand can win if the Ace beats another High Card hand with a lower rank. If your opponents’ highest card is only a Jack, then the King wins.

Since every casino has their set of rules, be sure to ask about the “wheel”. A wheel is a straight with the combination of an Ace, a two, three, four, and five. Some casinos would rank this as the second highest straight, while others would make this the lowest. There are also places that offer the Golden Dragon Hand. The Golden Dragon Hand are the cards dealt on a spot with no owner. Players can bet on this hand making them play two hands in one round. Players should also be careful when fixing their hand. If the player reveals a foul hand, meaning the in hand or the two-card hand outranks the five-card hand, or if there are incorrect number of cards in each hand, then there will either be a penalty or re-arrangement of the hand according to house rules or, worst, forfeiture of the hand. It also pays to know whether the table is charging a rake or a commission; some would have a flat fee that would cost between five cents to a dollar.

Now, you’re equipped with the Pai-Gow basics. See, Pai-Gow is not as complicated as people think it is. So, next time you see a table of Pai-Gow while inside the casino, give it a try. It might be worth your time, and who knows maybe you can play your luck here and win it.