Pai Gow Poker combines elements of the ancient Chinese game of Pai Gow and the American game of Poker. The game is played with a traditional deck of 52 playing cards plus one Joker. The Joker can be used only as an Ace or to complete a Straight, a Flush, a Straight Flush or a Royal Flush.
RANKING THE HANDS
Each Player at the table is dealt seven cards which the Player arranges to make two hands, a two-card hand and a five-card hand. Pai Gow Poker is essentially two separate Poker hands according to traditional Poker rankings. Thus, the highest two-card hand would be two Aces, and the highest five-card hand is five Aces (four Aces and the Joker). The five-card hand must be equal to or higher than the two-card hand.
OBJECT OF THE GAME
The object of the game is for both of your hands to rank higher than both of your opponent’s hands. Your five-card hand must rank higher than your opponent’s five-card hand, and your two-card hand must rank higher than your opponent’s two-card hand. Should one hand rank exactly the same as your opponent’s hand, this is a Tie. Ties are also called Copy Hands, and whoever is Banker wins all Copy Hands.
If you win one hand but lose the other, this is considered a Push. In Push hands, no money exchanges hands. Winning hands are paid even money, less a 5% commission. Losing hands lose the money wagered.
PLAYING THE GAME
The House Dealer or any Player may be the Banker. All Players bet against the Bank. (The Bank is offered to each Player and each Player may accept or pass, in which case the Bank is offered to the next Player. The Dealer will always take the Bank in turn, then all Players are again offered the Bank until the Dealer banks again.) In order for a Player to be the Bank, the Player must have placed a wager against the Dealer the last time the Dealer was the Bank, and the Player must have sufficient gaming chips on the table to cover all of the wagers at the table for that round of play. The Banker will be identified by a white plastic marker. A Player who is the Bank may use the option to have the Casino cover 50% of the winning wagers; this is known as “Co-Banking.” Co-Banking will be identified by a red plastic marker.
A dice cup containing three dice is shaken by the Banker to determine who receives the first card (the Dealer announces no more bets and then shakes the dice). As an alternative to using the Shaker and dice, the casino may use a computerized random number generator to determine the starting position. In Pai Gow Poker, the Banker’s position is always 1, 8 or 15. The Dealer counts from the Banker’s position. The cards will then be dealt by the Dealer in front of each betting area regardless if there is a Player, in a clockwise rotation from the starting point indicated by the dice.
Each Player then arranges their cards into a two-card hand and a five-card hand. The House Dealer does not look at the cards until all Players and/or Player/Banker have set their hands in the designated spaces face down. The House Dealer then turns their cards over and sets their hand in front of the tray face up. The Player/Banker’s hand is compared to the Dealer’s hand first.
Winning hands are left laying face up next to the betting circle. For losing hands, the wager is picked up by the Dealer and the cards are placed in the discard holder. If the Player wins one hand and loses the other, this is considered a Push. No money exchanges hands and the cards are placed in the discard holder.
RULES TO REMEMBER
Each Player at the table shall be responsible for setting his or her hand and no other person except the Dealer may touch the cards of that Player. Each Player shall be required to keep the seven cards in full view of the Dealer at all times. Once the Player has set a high and low hand and placed the two hands face down on the layout, the Player may not touch the cards again.
Players are not allowed to show their hands or talk to other Players about their hands before all cards are exposed.
Any Player’s hand that is set incorrectly (e.g., the two-card hand ranks higher than the five-card hand, or the Player puts three cards in one hand and four cards in the other) is an automatic loser. Players are responsible for arranging their own hands and should do so with care.
Neither House Bank nor the Player/Bank may set an automatic losing hand. The hand must be reset according to the House way.
4 of a Kind
3 of a Kind
*A, 2,3,4,5 is the highest Straight Flush
**A, 2,3,4,5 is the second highest Straight
A brief look at what a Pai Gow table looks like: