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Home arrow Types Of Poker Games arrow Pai Gows Poker
Pai Gows Poker

Pai gow poker, also known as Asian poker, is a cross between Pai Gow, the games of Chinese dominoes, and the American games of seven-card poker. It is an easy game to play and it's unique since it allows the player the option to bank bets against all other players, including the dealer.

Pai gow poker is played using a standard 52card deck plus one joker on a table similar to a blackjack table. The layout allows up to six players and one casino dealer. After the players make their bets, the casino dealer will deal out seven cards to each player. Each player must arrange his seven cards into two hands. One hand, called the low hand, consists of two cards. The other hand, called the high hand, consists of the remaining five cards.

Card rankings are based on basic poker rankings. The joker is a special card - not a wildcard as it can be used only as an ace or as a card to complete a straight, a flush, a straight flush, or a royal flush. The objective of the games is to form a high hand and a low hand that are both higher in rank than the respective hands of the dealer.
All pai gow poker hands are ranked according to traditional poker rankings. For example, the highest two-card low hand is a pair of aces. The highest-ranking five card high hand is five aces (four aces plus the joker). A straight flush hand would beat a full house and a straight beats three-of-a-kind. A complete listing of the pai gow poker hand rankings can be found at the end of this page.

The following is a basic description of the pai gow poker rules.

The casino dealer shuffles the 53 cards, which are then cut by a player using a cut card. All players must place their gaming chips on the appropriate betting area of the layout and the dealer will then announce "no more bets."

A dice shaker containing three dice is used to determine who receives the first hand. The casino dealer will shake the dice cup, remove the lid, and announce the total of the three dice. The position of the dealer is number one. The playing position to the right of the dealer is number two, the next position is three continuing counterclockwise around the table. The casino dealer's position is always considered number one, eight and 15. Keep in mind that all six player positions are used in the counting process whether or not a player is actually seated and playing (all empty and full player positions are counted). If the three-dice total is 14, the sixth wagering position (first player position to the left of the dealer) would receive the first card.

Once the determination is made as to who receives the first card, the dealer will deal the cards face down to each player position so that each player and the dealer receives seven cards. The dealer will remove the cards from those player positions where there is no wager and then check that there are four undealt cards left (indicating a valid deal).

The players may then pick up their cards and arrange the cards into two-card low hand and five-card high hand.

It is very important to remember that the five-card high hand must be higher in rank than the two-card low hand; otherwise it results in an automatic losing hand. For example, if the player's two-card hand contains a pair of Ss and the five-card hand contains only a pair of 3s, the hand was not set correctly and automatically loses. In this particular example, if the two-card hand contains a pair of Ss, the five-card hand must contain as least a pair of 6s or higher in order to be arranged properly.

This is the most important rule to remember when playing pai gow poker: The five-card hand must be higher than the two-card hand.

Each player is responsible for arranging his cards into the best high and low hands. Once this is done, the players place their two hands face down on the appropriate area of the layout (the two-card low hand is placed closest to the dealer, and the five-card high hand is placed behind the low hand and closer to the player).

After all the players have set their hands and placed them on the layout, the dealer will turn over his seven cards and set them into a low and high hand. There are specific house rules that the dealer must follow to set his hands. Once the dealer sets his cards into low and high hands, the dealer then turns over the cards of each of the players' hands and compares the rank of each to the dealer's high and low hands.

In order to win your wager, your low hand and high hand must both rank higher than the dealer's low and high hands. If one of your hands is higher in rank than the dealer's and the other is lower, this is a tie and your bet remains on the layout (e.g. your high hand beats the dealer's high hand but his low hand beats your low hand). A tie also occurs if one of your hands is identical in rank to the dealer's hand (this is known as a copy hand) and the other hand is higher than the dealer's respective hand. A player will lose his or her wager under the following situations


Both player hands are lower in rank than the dealer's respective hands.


Both player hands are copy hands.


One player hand is a copy hand and the other hand is lower in rank than the dealer's respective hands.


The player's high hand was set incorrectly and does not rank higher than his low hand.


The player does not set the hands properly; for example, he forms a three-card low
hand and a four-card high hand.

Once the dealer has determined if a player hand wins, loses or is a push, the dealer will collect all losing wagers, leave all tie wagers on the layout and pay off all winning wagers at 1-to-1 (if you bet $5 you win $5). In pai gow poker, the casino collects a 5 percent commission (or vigorish) from all winning hands. This commission is collected by the dealer at the time of the winning payoff. Thus if you bet $5 and won the dealer will give you $5 for your win. But you must then give the dealer 25 cents (5 percent commission). You do not pay any commission if your bet loses or ties.

Each casino at its discretion may offer to all players the opportunity to "bank" the games. Each player, in turn starting from the dealer's right, has the option to be the bank or pass the bank to the next player (counterclockwise). If a player accepts to be the bank, a marker will be placed in front of this player. If no player accepts to be the banker, then the dealer will assume that role.

There are specific rules that casinos use regarding a player who wants to be the banker. For example, in order to be the banker, the player must have placed a wager against the dealer during the last round of play in which there was no player banking the games.

Also, the player must have sufficient gaming chips on the table to cover all of the wagers placed by other players at the table for that round. And in some casinos, the player is not allowed to bank two consecutive rounds of play.

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