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  Pai Gow Poker:

Pai Gow Poker is a version of the Asian game Pai Gow, which is played with a set of Chinese dominoes. The Chinese game was Americanized and adapted for standard card decks, including the Joker card. The invention of the Pai Gow card game was a collaboration between Sam Torosian and Fred Wolf. Wolf has invented several games, but Pai Gow Poker is one of his most successful ones.

The Pai Gow card game is a good way for players to have an unusual, exotic playing experience without becoming too disoriented. After all, Pai Gow arose in a very different cultural context from most Western card or casino games. The designations and hierarchies used for tiles are likely to confuse people who have no familiarity with basic Chinese philosophical or religious concepts. In addition, a standard card deck is much easier to procure in the West than a set of Chinese dominoes.

Let us start with the basic rules. In Pai Gow Poker, players are given seven cards, which they then use to make two hands. One hand has two cards, and the other five. The value of the five-card hand should be smaller. The usual poker hand rankings are used in order to determine value.

The point is to beat the dealer, or another player. You defeat the dealer when both your hands beat his. You push (get a tie, and return all money to the people who wagered it) if your five-card hand beats the dealers and your two-card hand does not, or vice versa. The dealer has defeated you if both of his or her hands are better than yours.

Pai Gow Poker


As with all the variations of poker, both skill and luck come into play. Luck is important because no player—not even the one dealing—should have much control over which cards he or she ends up with. In Pai Gow poker, however, the player has the option of doing his or her best to divide the cards in a favorable manner to come up with the best possible pair of hands.

There are multiple approaches when it comes to dividing your cards. If you wish, you can come up with one hand that ranks very high, but have to make do with the fact that your other hand will not be of much use. Such an approach may be safe, since you have a high chance of not losing. Then again, the fact that one of your hands is bad means that the outcome of the game is likely to be a push. Your opponent will lose to your good hand, but defeat your bad hand.

Then again, you may decide to try to split your attention—and good cards—between your two hands. If you have been very lucky, you will be able to create two spectacular hands. However, your best outcome will most likely be the creation of two hands that are good, but not spectacular. There is a possibility that you may defeat the dealer. Other outcomes are a push (again) or even a loss, if your dealer happens to have two very good hands.

Also, keep in mind the rule that the cards in your two-card hand must be of less value than those in the other hand. Otherwise, you might end up putting together illegal hands that will not only waste your time and money, but possibly get you into trouble.

Pai Gow Poker Online


The predicament of “raise or fold” does not seem to be a huge feature in Pai Gow Poker. This is a great feature for players with limited budgets, transparent emotions or sensitive nerves. Players are thus freer to focus on the composition of their hands. Betting is also easier to control, in the absence of frenzied rising and sudden folding of players. This may make the game somewhat less thrilling to some players than other versions of poker, but to players who find the other variations too intense, Pai Gow may come as a welcome relief.

One of the possible downsides to playing Pai Gow Poker is the fact that most of the time, the player and the dealer tie. Players who like to watch money changing hands very quickly may find this frustrating. On the other hand, this kind of play experience is great for people who are on a tight budget. They can play for many rounds without losing much money, since ties result in all wagered funds being returned to their original owners.

Players who are familiar with poker in general will have an advantage. After all, a poker player can often learn a new variation of the game after only a few sentences’ worth of explanation. Players who do not know anything about poker may require some more training, especially when it comes to knowing the hand rankings. However, it is often difficult—even for experienced poker players—to learn how to compare the relative values of a two-card hand and a five-card hand. Talk about comparing oranges and apples!

It is true that players looking to augment (or show off) their knowledge of Chinese culture might be somewhat disappointed by the mechanics of the American card game. All the terms are English, and the exotic tiles with the Chinese labels are nowhere to be seen. However, the rules are sufficiently different from those of other poker games to set Pai Gow Poker apart from the crowd. For example, most poker games have only one hand of two, three, or five cards. In this game, you have to deal with seven. It is an interesting twist, but not too confusing.

Pai Gow is a great game for people who love poker, but are getting a bit weary of the older variations of the game. It has enough similarities to the other variations of poker to be easy for poker fans to learn. However, it also has enough unique quirks of its own to draw the interest of both experienced card-players and those who are just starting out. Who knows? You might just be induced to try out the original Pai Gow, too.

  List of casinos with Pai Gow Poker:

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