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Pai Gow Poker Strategy - How to Better Your Pai Gow Game

Pai Gow Poker Strategy - How to Better Your Pai Gow Game

In Pai Gow Poker, you get seven cards with which you create two separate poker hands – one five-card hand and one two-card hand. The five-card hand must have higher value than the two-card hand. The dealer also gets seven cards and makes two hands. Your goal is to beat him both ways.

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Pai Gow Poker Strategy - All About Why You Should Use it 

pai gow poker strategyAs we’ve already stated in our Pai Gow Poker online guide, this version of casino poker is an excellent alternative to play at casinos. Unlike the classic table game, Poker, it isn’t as time consuming, there’s no need to put on a poker face and best of all there’s loads of fun to be had when playing it both online and at any of the brick and mortar casinos this variant of casino Poker is available to play at. Another difference between Pai Gow Poker and Poker is that during the game 7 cards are dealt rather than just 5. That’s a total of 2 more cards. Now if you just stumbled on this article by chance and you haven’t read through our guide just yet, you’re probably reading this article with a look of confusion on your face while saying, ‘What would you do with the extra two cards you’re dealt?’


Why use Pai Gow Poker Strategy?

  •   Pai Gow Poker Strategy can help you reduce the casino’s edge to 2.5%;
  •   You’ll be able to minimize your losses whilst playing the game for real money.

Our Advice: Learn the Rules & Lingo Prior Learning About Pai Gow Poker Strategy

If you have absolutely no clue how to play Pai Gow Poker, we recommend reading our other guides before heading to an online casino to play the table game. Like all casino games out there, Pai Gow Poker has its rules and lingo to learn which you should definitely learn prior to learning any strategy. Why you ask? Well, just imagine you’re at the casino and you don’t know the basics or the Pai Gow Poker terms used. Wouldn’t that just be disastrous? Yes, it would. You’d just end up wasting your bankroll in the end. So don’t just run before you even learn how to walk. Remember, knowledge is power. And in this case, the more knowledgeable you are the more success you’ll be able to bring your way and the more money you’ll be able to walk out of the casino with. Once you feel more knowledgeable about the premise of the game and the terms used, you can then go ahead and learn how to play out your hands during the game.

Beating the House at its Own Game Using Pai Gow Strategy

Just like Blackjack online, a large part of Pai Gow Poker’s appeal is fundamentally the house edge which stands at approximately 2.9%. This is substantially lower than most other casino games out there on the web and at brick-and-mortar casinos too which is absolutely great for all you avid players out there. The core belief held by seasoned players of the game is that using optimal Pai Gow Poker strategy will help you to reduce the house edge by about 0.4%.

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How to Win at Pai Gow Poker

Now that you know a bit more about why you should use strategy, let’s take it to the next level by learning how to win at Pai Gow Poker by using strategy. Fundamentally, the strategy you’ll learn is all to do with how to split your 7-card hand in the most suitable way to reduce your chances of losses.

Pai Gow Tips - A Simple Strategy of Splitting Your Hands in Pai Gow Poker

The easiest way to determine how to correctly play a hand is to see what possible hands you can make from your seven-card hand. Do you have a pair, trips, flush, full house or maybe a combination? Find out what you should do by reading below were our Pai Gow Poker experts go through possible scenarios that might occur in a game of Pai Gow Poker.

No Pair             

When you don’t have a pair, straight, flush or any other real poker hand, put the highest card in the five-card hand (you are forced to do so.) Then place the next two highest in the two-card hand.

Example: A-Q-J-8-7-3-2
Five-card hand: A-8-7-3-2
Two-card hand: Q-J

One Pair

Always put the pair in the five-card hand and the highest two cards in the two-card hand.

Example: K-K-Q-7-6-5-4
Five-card hand: K-K-6-5-4
Two-card hand: Q-7

Two Pair

Two pair is a trickier hand to play. In some cases you should separate them and have one pair in the five-card hand and one pair in the two-card hand, but sometimes it’s correct to play two pair in the five-card hand. It all depends on the value of your pairs, and even more often, the strength of your side cards. If you for instance have J-J-3-3-A-K, you should consider keeping the two pair in the five-card hand and putting A-K in the two card hand. There’s not much difference between 3-3 and A-K, but your five-card hand becomes a lot stronger with two pair compared to a pair of jacks.

These are a few rules to follow when you have two pair in Pai Gow:

Always split a pair of aces and any other pair.

Example: A-A-T-T-8-3-2
Five-card hand: A-A-8-3-2
Two-card hand: T-T

Always split face-card pair and a pair of 6s or higher.

Example: K-K-J-7-7-5-2

Five-card hand: K-K-J-5-2
Two-card hand: 7-7

Keep a small two pair in the five-card hand if you can play an ace or king in the two-card hand.

Example: A-9-8-7-7-2-2
Five-card hand: 7-7-2-2-8
Two-card hand: A-9

These examples don’t cover every scenario, but keep this as a rule of thumb: With two small pairs and high side cards, consider playing two pair in the five-card hand. With small side cards and high pairs, split.

Three Pairs                           

Three pairs is a really strong hand in Pai Gow. Put the highest pair in the two-card hand.

Example: A-A-K-K-T-T-2

Five-card hand: K-K-T-T-2
Two-card hand: A-A

Three of a Kind

You should always play three-of-a-kind in the five-card hand, unless you have three aces. With aces, place a pair of aces in the five-card hand and ace high in the two-card hand. In some scenarios you might even consider splitting kings, especially when the side cards are very low.

Example: A-A-A-7-6-4-2
Five-card hand: A-A-6-4-2
Two-card hand: A-7

Straight or Flush          

With a straight or flush – or perhaps both – the easiest way to determine what to play is to look how strong you can make the two-pair hand.  If you for instance have a six-card flush or six-card straight, make sure you put the highest possible cards in the two-card hand.  If you can create both a flush and a straight, choose the one that makes the highest two-card hand.

Example: Ah-9h-8c-7h-6h-5c-2h
Five-card hand: 9h-8c-7h-6h-5c
Two-card hand: Ah-2c

If you have flush or straight and two pair at the same time, ignore the flush or straight and play the hand as if it was only two pair. Now we’ve mostly talked about how to break up a straight or flush, and the truth is that you should do that quite often, but if you can’t do anything to your two-card hand, just play your straight or flush and hope to win at least one way.

Full House                            

In general, you should always split a full house – trips in the five-card hand and pair in the two-card hand. However if you have a small pair and high side cards you should consider playing the full house.

Example: Q-Q-Q-2-2-A-K
Five-card hand: Q-Q-Q-2-2
Two-card hand: A-K

Since 2-2 and A-K are almost equal in strength, it’s better to play A-K in this situation. In doing so you’ll beat straights, flushes and inferior full houses with your five-card hand.

Two Three of a Kind

With two three of a kind you should always put the highest pair in the two-card hand and play the lower three of a kind in the five-card hand.

Example: Q-Q-Q-6-6-6-2
Five-card hand: 6-6-6-Q-2
Two-card hand: Q-Q

Four of a Kind

A four of a kind can be treated as a two pair, but you shouldn’t split as often. With a low four of a kind – 2 to 6 – you should keep it in the five card hand. With higher cards – 7 to 10 – you should normally split, unless you can play an ace and a face card in the two card hand. With a high four of a kind, split it, unless you have another pair you can place in the two card hand.        

Example: Q-Q-Q-Q-J-6-3

Five-card hand: Q-Q-J-6-3
Two-card hand: Q-Q

Straight Flush

There’s not much difference between a straight flush and a normal flush or straight. The strength of the two-card hand dictates what you should do. See straight and flush above.

Pai Gow Poker Odds 

Combinations Possible
All Other  24,780,420  0.16076246
One Pair  64,221,960   0.41663862 
Two Pair   35,553,816 0.23065464 
Three of a Kind 7,470,676 0.04846585
Straight  11,236,028  0.07289250
Flush  6,172,088 0.04004129
 Full House 7,470,676  0.02717299
Four of a Kind    307,372  0.00199472
Straight/ Royal Flush 210,964    0.00136862
Five Aces 1,128 0.00000732

Pai Gow Poker Betting Strategy

pai gow strategyProvided that you’re interested in using a structured betting strategy at the casino table, you might just want to try using a few betting strategies to help you in spreading out your bankroll adequately. Well, if this is the case, you’ll find many of them out there which can be worth your while. Among them are the ever-so-famous Martingale betting system, the Paroli system, the 1-3-2-6 system and many more. If you plan on using them have a look at our guides to learn all about the pros and cons as well as the rules. Of course, one thing our experts stress in each of the betting system articles on our site is that using one carries a risk and does not guarantee that you’ll win any real money in the end. After all Pai Gow Poker is of course, like any other casino game, heavily dependent on luck. Essentially, the most important thing is that you know when to walk away from the table. As John Milton Hay once said, ‘True luck consists not in holding the best of the cards at the table; luckiest is he who knows just when to rise and go home.’

Practice Your Pai Gow Poker Strategy By Playing Our Free Game

Now that you've read our comprehensive guide, you should go ahead and play our free Pai Gow Poker game on desktop or mobile in order to practice your Pai Gow Poker strategy before going right ahead and playing a real money game at one of the online casinos in our list. The sheer beauty of playing this free casino game is that you won’t have to sign up to an online casino immediately and you won’t be investing your own cash at all. Moreover, you’ll be able to practice the game completely for free and make as many mistakes as you need to without any sort of repercussions. Apart from learning how to split your hand during a game of Pai Gow Poker online, you’ll also be able to choose the ‘house way’ in order to find out exactly how it works.

Strategy for Pai Gow Poker FAQs

  What is house way?

The house way is a method that is used by the house which dictates how a Pai Gow Poker hand should be set. Often, you’ll find that the house way will differ from casino to casino because unlike other games you’ll find online there’s more than one correct way to set your hand in this game. 

  What is the original house edge for Pai Gow Poker? 

The house edge for Pai Gow Poker is 2.9%. However, if there are slight rule changes to the game, the house edge will differ slightly. 

  Where can I find the payout for Pai Gow Poker?

The payout on a Pai Gow Poker hand is typically 1:1. However, we always recommend having a look at the rules pertaining to the game where the casino will disclose how much they payout on a winning hand prior to playing. 

  How much is the house commission on a winning hand? 

Typically, you’ll find that the house commission on a winning hand is 5%.

  Is it possible to be the banker in an online game of Pai Gow Poker? 

In land-based casinos, you’ll find that the role of the banker can sometimes be played by the player for one round and one round only. Basically, players sometimes take this option because it is advantageous and has the capability of reducing the house edge. In online games of Pai Gow Poker, the dealer is always the banker and there is no option for you to ‘run the game’. 

Incorporate Pai Gow Poker Strategy to Bag a Win

Pai Gow Poker is a very underrated game in our opinion. It requires a lot of thinking. Every hand is unique and if you chose to not to “go the house way”, you have to be on your toes all the time. Yet, this does not in any way mean that you should be scared of the game. On the contrary, it means that you’ll need to learn all about Pai Gow Poker strategy before heading to a real money online casino. Once you feel confident about the strategy involved, simply head to one of the casinos listed in our Best Pai Gow Poker toplist and start playing the game as soon as you can.

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