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How to Play Pai Gow Poker – A Step by Step Guide to The Game’s Rules

How to Play Pai Gow Poker – A Step by Step Guide to The Game’s Rules

At first glance, Pai Gow Poker Online might seem like a difficult game to play at the casino. Yet, once you know its rules, you’ll definitely be able to realize that it is actually a much simpler game that it first appear to be. Below we delve into all you need to know about how to play Pai Gow Poker at casinos. Read our guide, then go ahead and sign up to one of the best Pai Gow Poker Online Casinos on the net!

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An Overview of the Rules for Pai Gow Poker

how to play pai gow pokerPerhaps it’s due to the fact that Sam Torosian’s Pai Gow Poker game hasn’t been around for so long, or maybe it’s because other casino classics like Blackjack and Poker are played, but one things for sure - If you want to ever learn how to play Pai Gow Poker properly, you’ll definitely have to be knowledgeable of its rules. And while the game might seem complex at first glance, we can assure you that it’s all a ruse. The game, which uses a deck of 52 cards and 1 joker is in fact quite simple.

The game typically begins when a player places his/her bet on the table’s betting spot. Once that’s been done, both the player as well as the dealer is given seven cards each which they must split into two hands. The cards are then split into what’s known as a High Hand and a Low Hand. The High Hand usually consists of 5 cards and the Low Hand consists of 2 cards which are placed face down on the table until the big reveal. Once the dealer’s hands have also been split, a winner will be determined.


A Quick guide to how to play Pai Gow Poker:

  •   Players must place their bets on the table prior to receiving the cards;
  •   Once you’ve received your 7-card hand, you must then split your hand into a front and backhand;
  •   Wait and see if you’ve won or not.

A Step By Step Guide to How to Pai Gow Poker

1) Place Your Bet in the Betting Spot

The first step to playing Pai Gow Poker online is to place your bet in the betting spot indicated on the table. Typically, bets will range from as low as $1 to as high as $500. However, this will entirely depend on the casino you’re playing at.

2) Press the Deal Button & Wait for Your Cards to Be Dealt Out

Once you’ve placed your bet, there’s no going back. You’ll have to press the ‘Deal’ button for your 7 card hand to be dealt out to you. When you’ve done so, your cards will be dealt out to you and you can take a look at what you’ve got. The dealer’s hand will also be dealt out simultaneously and will remain face down.

3) Split Your 7-card Hand into a Front Hand and a Back Hand

Next thing you’ll need to do is split your 7-card hand into two hands – your front hand and your bottom hand. Essentially, your bottom hand will need to consist of 5 cards and your front hand will need to be made up of 2 cards. Provided that you haven’t got the faintest clue as to how they’re ranked, we really recommend having a look at the handing rankings section below.

4) Press the Split Button to Split Your Cards

After you’ve chosen how you’d like to split your cards, all you’ll have to do is click on the cards and split your hand into two by pressing on the ‘Split’ button. Yet, if you have no idea how to split your cards in the best way possible, you can also choose the house way instead.

5) Wait for the Outcome

Next, all you’ll need to do is wait for the outcome. Provided that you’ve managed to beat both of the dealer’s hands, you’ll be able to pocket the prize. However, if you don’t, the dealer will take your bet. On the other hand, if you and the dealer are tied, this will result in a push.

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Pai Gow Poker Rules - How is the Game Different to Poker?

As we’ve already stated on our Pai Gow Poker online guide, Pai Gow Poker meshes various aspects of Poker and the Chinese domino game, Pai Gow. And although the card game’s name suggests that it’s a type of Poker and the hand rankings are the same as that of the bottom hand, the game’s rules make it different altogether. Below we distinguish what’s different between the two casino games.


Pai Gow Poker Rules vs. Poker’s Rules:

  •   Players are given a 7 card hand rather than a 2 card hand which must be split into a bottom hand and a front hand;
  •   The deck used in the game typically consists of 52 cards plus 1 Joker rather than the 2 that are used in Poker;
  •   Pai Gow Poker doesn’t allow bluffing like Poker does;
  •   Gamblers go head to head against the dealer instead of other players.

Pai Gow Poker Hands & How They Rank

The main problem players often face when attempting to split their hands into two is often very often the same – they’re unsure which hands rank better than others. Luckily, our experts at CasinoToplists have gone through them all and compiled them into two tables for you to keep readily at hand. Yet, before you go through the tables, we recommend keeping the following information as a rule of thumb to go by.


Keep in mind that Pai Gow Poker Hands must:

  •   Always be split in two – one front hand and one backhand;
  •   Be split in such a way that the two-card hand is of lower value than the five-card hand in order to win.

Bottom Hand Pai Gow Poker Hand Rankings

pai gow rules royal straight flushThe bottom hand, which is also known as the back hand or lower hand, offers the same strength as a poker hand. Generally, this type of hand follows standard poker rules. However, there is one small exception to this. In Pai Gow Poker, the A-2-3-4-5 straight (the wheel) is considered the second highest straight. It loses to A-K-Q-J-T but wins over K-Q-J-T-9. One important thing to note, when attempting to form a bottom hand using a joker is that according to the rules of the game you’ll only be able to use it as an ace or to complete a straight or flush. Have a look at the Bottom Hand Rankings in the table below to get a clear picture of which hands rank better than others.

Hand Type


5 of a Kind (Non-Standard Poker Hand) 1st
Royal Flush 2nd
Straight Flush 3rd 
4 of a Kind 4th
Full House 5th
Flush 6th
Straight 7th 
3 of a Kind 8th 
2 Pair  9th
1 Pair 10th
High Card 11th

Front Hand Pai Gow Poker Hand Rankings 

The front hand, which is also known as the low hand, consists of two cards. The best front hand you can possibly have consisted of two Aces. After that, a pair of Kings is the second best hand, followed by a pair of Qs, Js and so forth. Have a look at the table below to get a better idea of which hands rank better than others.

Hand Type


Ace-Ace  1st
King-King 2nd
Queen-Queen 3rd 
Jack-Jack 4th
10-10 5th
9-9 6th
8-8 7th 
7-7 8th 
6-6 9th
5-5 10th
4-4 11th
3-3 12th
2-2 13th
Ace-King 14th
Ace-Queen 15th
Ace-Jack 16th
Ace-10 17th
Ace-9 18th
Ace-8 19th
Ace-7 20th
Ace-6 21st
Ace-5 22nd
Ace-4 23rd
Ace-3 24th
Ace-2 25th

How to Play Pai Gow Poker Using the House Way

Provided that you find it hard to remember hand rankings in Pai Gow Poker, using the ‘house way’ might just be a good option for you to consider using at casinos. When opting to use the ‘House Way’, you’ll be able to organize your two hands in a way that will be best to help you win the game. Ultimately, this option definitely proves to be very convenient for gamblers who’ve played the game very few times.

Pai Gow Poker Payouts

pai gow poker payoutsWhile the payouts of some casino games like Craps online and Roulette online can be quite difficult to remember simply because of the fact that there are so many betting options, the payouts in Pai Gow Poker are far simpler to keep in mind. Basically, all you need to remember is that you’ll only be given a payout provided that you manage to beat the dealer. And as we’ve already explained, you must have both better front and backhands than the dealer himself in order to do so.

Typically, the brick and mortar casino or online casino you’re gambling at will give you a payout of 1:1 on a winning hand. Yet, you should always take the house commission into consideration. The house commission is usually 5% on both hands. So let’s say that you’ve placed a bet of $20 and managed to beat the dealer at his own game. You’ll then be paid $19 due to the 5% commission as a result. Hence, essentially although the payout is 1:1, you won’t get $20 in return.

Pai Gow Poker Rules and Strategy

Once you’ve learned Pai Gow Poker’s rules, it’s now time to move onto strategy in order to give you better prospects of winning the game and taking the money home. Provided that you don’t divide your 7-card hand the right way, you may give the casino a huge advantage. So best start reading this article on Pai Gow Poker strategy and practicing on our free Pai Gow Poker game before you head to a real money online casino. This will enable you to learn the most optimal way to play in every situation.

Pai Gow Poker Rules FAQs

  How do you play Pai Gow Poker? 

Pai Gow Poker is played by placing a bet and splitting a 7-card hand into two hands – a front and a back hand. The winner of the game is the person who manages to get the best ranking two hands. 

  What’s the best way to learn how to play Pai Gow Poker? 

The best way to learn Pai Gow Poker’s rules is by playing a free game at one of the online casinos or right here at CasinoToplists. Provided that you’d like to play the free version of the game, head to our Free Pai Gow Poker game.

  Where can I learn the terms for Pai Gow Poker?

Prior to playing this variant of Pai Gow Poker, we always recommend learning the terms. If you'd like to do so, simply head to the Pai Gow Poker terms page where you'll be able to find everything you'll need to know.

Follow the Rules to Pai Gow Poker & Play at an Online Casino

As you've just read, the rules of Pai Gow Poker are rather simple. Essentially, when playing the game, you’ll just need to decide how much to wager and how to divide your seven cards into two separate hands. Other than that, there really isn’t too much to the game’s rules. So once you know the basics of the game you can go ahead and play at one of the best online casinos on the web where you won’t only be able to find Pai Gow Poker online but also many other popular casino games like Blackjack online, online Slots and many more!

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