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Pai Gows Poker Rules

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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