Pai gow poker strategies: The solution to being a winner

Beating Pai Gow Poker at your local casino is not as difficult as you might think! Although there are books on the subject such as Sanford Wong’s Optimal Strategy for Pai Gow Poker, instead of reading a 300 page book, check out our guide to increase your chances of winning!

How to Play Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow poker is played with a standard English deck of 52 cards plus the joker, or bug. The joker can only be used as an ace or a card that completes a straight or suit. Players and the dealer are dealt seven cards which they place in two hands: five cards and two cards. The five-card hand must rank higher in total than the two-card hand. In addition, a straight Ace-2-3-4-5 is the second highest after Ace-KQJ-10.

Ultimately, Pai Gow is about the hand. Hands are grouped into a high five-card hand and a low five-card hand with a lower value of only two cards. Because there are many possibilities with seven cards, a high hand can be a straight and the low hand just a pair, or you could receive a real payout – a hand without a straight, flush or pair.

The player’s job is to put their cards in two hands, making sure that the five-card hand is the highest. Once the dealer puts the banker’s hand in using a house method chosen by the casino, the hands are compared. If the player’s two-card hand beats the banker’s two-card hand AND the player’s five-card hand beats the banker’s five-card hand, the player wins. If you win and lose, it is a push. If one of the player’s hands has the same value as the banker’s hand, it is a tie or a copy, and the banker wins. If both of the banker’s hands beat both of your hands, you lose.

The Banker’s Advantage

It is this aspect of copying that gives the house (or the banker) an advantage since two hands copy about 2.6% of the time, so the banker wins 29.9% of the results and the player wins 28.6%. In addition, when the player wins, the house charges a 5% commission, except in EZ Pai Gow. There will be a general tie 41.5% of the time.

Beating the casino (the house)

The house uses a house method to place each hand, and a player can stay almost even with the house by playing the same way. In fact, you can ask the dealer to help you place the hand. The house always starts with the idea that it doesn’t want to lose. You want to play the two best hands, which is not always the best possible hand in the high hand.

If you get four aces and two, three and four, you can play the four aces in the high hand (five cards) with the two and 4-3 in the low hand (two cards). Or, you can play three aces in the high hand and an as-4 in the low hand (which most players do). However, the house knows that if it plays an as-as in the low hand, it cannot be beaten, because four aces are discarded and the best any other player can play in the low hand is a king, and he will beat a few other hands with the pair of aces in the high hand. So don’t play – always try to play a very good two-card hand. Learn Pai Gow strategy as the basic strategy of blackjack .

Simple Pai Gow strategies

When you do not have a pair, straight or flush, play the highest card in your high hand (the five-card hand) and the next two highest cards in the low hand (the two-card hand).

Two pairs, where the top pair is an ace, split. Two pairs, where the top pair is a king, split except when the other pair is two, then play together and play the remaining two highest cards in the low hand. Otherwise, use the rules for the next two pairs:

Two pairs: six and under, split unless you hold an ace, then play the ace and the next highest card in the low hand.

Two pairs: 7 to 10, split unless you hold an ace, then play with the ace and the next highest card in the low hand.

Two pairs: Jack’s thru Aces, split – obviously with the highest pair in the high hand.

Three pairs
Play the highest pair in the low hand.

A three of a kind
Always play together except when the cards are aces, then play a pair of aces in the high hand and a single ace with the next highest card in the low hand.

Full house
Always split with the pair in the low hand unless you also have a second pair, then play the higher of the two pairs in the low hand.

Straight and flush
Keep the straight or flush in the high hand, choosing the one that gives you the highest card for the low hand. The exception is when you also have two pairs, then split according to the rules for both pairs. Straights and suits are always kept together in the five-card hand unless you also have a pair of tens or better. In cases where you have a pair of tens for a five-card hand WITH an AK or better for the two-card hand – you may consider splitting a straight or flush.

Four of a kind
Four of a kind, six or less, stay together.

Four of a kind, seven to ten, split unless you have an ace or better to play in the low hand.

Four of a kind, face cards, Aces, Kings, Queens, or Jacks, always split unless you have another pair to play in the low hand.

Five Aces
Always split unless you also have a pair of kings, then play the kings in the low hand.

Bonus Bets

The house makes more money on bonus bets (Fortune bonus, etc.) than on the commission it charges Pai Gow. Bonus bets make the game more exciting and allow you to anticipate big winnings, but if you want to beat Pai Gow, don’t play bonus bets.


The best chance a player has of beating Pai Gow is when they are given the chance to Bank regularly. I have seen one-on-one games where the player was allowed to put every other hand. It’s a wonderful game, but don’t expect to find it. Instead, most casinos offer the player a chance to bet once every seven hands. If you have bankroll, take the bankroll, which means you play your money against all the other players at the table!

In this case, you can simply use the house method to set your hand. And you will pay a commission on what you win. The best part of banking is to win when other players make mistakes when placing their hands. That’s your advantage!

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