How to Play Pai Gow Poker

Man Shrugging With Pai Gow Poker Tables In the Background

Pai gow poker has quickly risen in popularity in recent years. This unique variation of poker combines many elements of other popular card games. It is perfect for casino players looking for a slower-paced card game.

It may be relatively new to the US, but pai gow can be a lot of fun. Players can also win a lot of money if they are able to master this unique casino game.

Keep reading to learn how to play pai gow poker. We will tell you all the tips and tricks you need to know to master this poker game. Also, we will tell you the best online poker sites to use for playing pai gow.

How to Play Pai Gow

Learning how to play pai gow can be intimidating for new players. Unlike most other games, players are given a total of seven cards and have to make two winning poker hands. If the player’s hands beat the dealer’s, then they win.

Another aspect that sets pai gow poker apart from other games is that it uses a joker card. The joker serves as a wild card and completes any poker hand. This also means that pai gow poker is played with a 53-card deck.

Each round of pai gow poker starts with players making an opening bet. You must at least stake the minimum betting amount for the table you are playing at. This amount will vary from casino to casino.

Once all the players have made their bets, the dealer will give everyone seven cards. Then, players must split their hands into their five-card hands and their two-card hands. These are also called your bank and front hands, respectively.

The dealer will then show their hands and compare with the player.

Rules of Pai Gow

The addition of a second hand is one reason why pai gow can be tricky for new players to learn. There are several rules to master as well if you want to learn how to play pai gow poker.

One of the most important rules is that your five-card hand must be better than your two-card hand. This can be tricky and could mean splitting up your best two-card hand. But it is a fundamental rule of the game.

Pai Gow Tiles Casino Table

Pai gow uses the standard poker hand rankings to determine which hands are best. This can make it easier for experienced poker players to learn this game. The addition of the joker makes it easier to get better hands, such as four-of-a-kind or a royal flush.

Casinos may also have different rules for their pai gow games. Betting limits and maximum prize amounts are common at most venues. You check the casino’s rules for pai gow to stay in the loop about these differences.

How to Win at Pai Gow

Winning at pai gow poker can be difficult. You need to have two strong poker hands if you want to walk away from the round as the victor. That is because both of your hands must beat the dealer’s hand in order for you to win.

That is right, both of your hands must be better than the corresponding dealer’s hand. If just one hand is better, then the round is considered a push. The dealer also has the benefit of always winning ties if both parties have the same hand.

Pai Gow Poker Tips

Knowing the basics is the first step to mastering pai gow. Once you learn the rules, you can start practicing the other aspects of the game. Here are some pai gow poker tips to help you along the way.

Know the House Rules

As we noted above, each casino will have different rules for pai gow poker. Most rule changes involve things like betting minimums and pay tables. Learning these rules is an important part of knowing how to play pai gow.

Another key part of the rule books to look at is the option for side bets. Many casinos offer special side bets on each hand. These wagers are independent of the winner of the hand and could lead to huge wins for the player.

Side bets are not always a good option for players, though. If you bet too often on these wagers you can burn through the budget too quickly.

Master Your Bankroll Management Skills

Every serious bettor knows the importance of good bankroll management skills. You need to manage your budget properly if you want to win money with pai gow long term. This can be easier said than done.

Casinos know that they have the advantage of the house edge. This means that they will win money in the long run if you play long enough. A good bankroll involves setting limits on how much you bet and how long you will play.

If you find that your bankroll is not large enough, you may need to find a table with lower betting limits. You can also use casino bonuses to increase your bankroll.

Know When to Split Quads

The trick to learning how to play pai gow is mastering when and how to split your hands. One of the hardest decisions to make is whether or not to split four-of-a-kind, or quads. Remember, your five-card hand must beat your two-card hand.

A good rule of thumb is to always split quads if they are Jacks or higher. This will give you a strong hand in both your five-card and two-card hands that the dealer will struggle to beat. It will also make your five-card hand better than your two-card hand thanks to the kicker.

On the hand, if your quads are sixes or lower, you should keep them together. A four-of-a-kind, even of low cards, will be hard for the dealer to beat. Hopefully, you can make a strong two-card hand out of your remaining cards.

Play Trips in Your Back Hand

Another good rule of thumb is to play three-of-a-kind, or trips, in your back hand. Then, use your other cards to build the best two-card hand possible. Many players even split a full house by keeping the trips in the back hand and playing the pair in their front hand.

One exception to this strategy is when you have trip aces. Many players choose to keep a pair of aces in their back hand and play the ace in their front hand.

Practice With Free Online Games

It can take new players time to learn all of the features available in pai gow poker. Luckily, there is a great way to gain experience without risking any money. Playing free pai gow poker games online is a great way to learn the game.

Free games are also great for practicing new pai gow strategies. You can even use free games to test out new gambling sites to see if they are worth your time. If the site does not offer free games, see if they have welcome bonuses.

A welcome bonus can give you extra cash to play with. This extra money is as close to playing for free as you can get at some venues.

How to Play Pai Gow Poker Online

You can learn how to play pai gow in no time using the tips above. Once you have mastered the rules of the game, you will be ready to play for real. Whether you are practicing or playing for keeps, online betting sites are the best way to play pai gow poker.

There are plenty of online gambling sites that offer pai gow. You will need to choose a safe online betting site if you want to have a great player experience. Thankfully, our casino experts are here to help you make the right decision.

Our experts have spent countless hours reviewing casino sites over the years. All of their hard work was necessary to make sure we only recommend the best online casinos to our readers. We only recommended sites that are safe, have great player bonuses, and offer the best experiences possible.

According to our experts, these are the best poker sites available online:

All of the sites listed above are great options for playing pai gow poker. All you need to do is pick the one that best suits your needs. Then, you can sign up for an account in just minutes and start playing today.

Many of the sites above also offer awesome welcome bonuses for new members to take advantage of. These promotional offers are a great way to boost your bankroll while you are testing out the casino. Some of the above sites even have free online pai gow games available.


Learning how to play pai gow poker can be a lot easier than it looks. The tips above will have you playing pai gow like a pro in no time. Practicing on a great mobile casino app can help you master the game from anywhere.

Check out these blogs to learn more about pai gow poker and other casino games.

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