If you like poker, you’ll love learning how to play Pai Gow. Pai Gow poker is a variation of seven-card stud, based on a Chinese game of the same name played with dominoes. Learning how to play Pai Gow poker is a bit more challenging than other poker variations, but Pai Gow is a lot of fun and can pay off big at the casinos. You can learn how to play Pai Gow in an internet casino that operates on credit or point bets instead of cash; then once you figure out how to play Pai Gow, you can move up to for-money games.
The rules for how to play Pai Gow are similar to straight poker as far as winning hands go, but game play is somewhat different. You should first know that Pai Gow is played with 53 cards, the standard 52-card deck, plus one joker. This makes five-of-a-kind a possibility in Pai Gow poker. In standard poker, the highest possible hand is a Royal Flush (five cards of the same suit in sequential order from Ten to Ace); however, a five-of-a-kind will beat a Royal Flush. Also, the next-highest hand beneath a Royal Flush is a straight flush from Ace to Five. One of the most exciting aspects of how to play Pai Gow is the possibility of getting five-of-a-kind.
Another difference in how to play Pai Gow is that all seven cards are used to determine winnings. In Pai Gow, the dealer plays against the other players. To begin the game, each player puts up a stake. Then, seven cards are dealt face-down to each player. After the deal, each player other than the dealer picks up their cards and arranges them into a five-card hand and a two-card hand.
In learning how to play Pai Gow, it is important to note that players are not allowed to discuss their cards, or touch them after the split is made. The hand ranking for the five-card hand is as discussed previously, with five-of-a-kind being the highest possible. The only possibilities for the two-card hand are Pair or High Card. When players have arranged the two hands, they must then place them face-down on the table side by side, with the highest of their two hands first (so, for example, if a player has a pair of Aces and five unmatched cards, the two-card hand would be placed to the left of the five-card hand).
When all players have arranged their hands, the dealer does the same with his. At this point all hands are revealed and the payouts begin. In learning how to play Pai Gow, you should understand how winnings are awarded. Each player’s five-card hand is compared with the dealer’s five-card hand; and the same is done for the two-card hands. If both of your hands beat the dealer’s, the payout is the amount of your stake at the beginning of the game. If you win one hand and the dealer wins the other, you keep your stake and receive no further payout (this is called a “push”). The dealer wins your stake if both of his hands beat both of yours. As with most casino games, in the event of a tied hand the favor goes to the dealer. Learning how to play Pai Gow is a great way to practice poker skills for seven-card stud games with minimal financial risk. Now you know how to play Pai Gow!