Pai Gow Poker, while popular in land-based casinos, tends to draw enthusiasts to the table as opposed to beginners. That’s understandable. Pai Gow Poker rules often seem counterintuitive, especially to gamblers who are accustomed to playing conventional poker. That often makes novices leery of getting involved.

On this page, we’ll explain exactly how the rules work in Pai Gow. You’ll discover that the rules, while different than those for other popular casino games, are easy to learn quickly. We’ll give you a complete rule guide so you can get started playing the game immediately (we’ll reveal one of the best online casinos at which to play). We’ll also clarify a couple of Pai Gow Poker rules that occasionally confuse beginners.

Complete Guide To The Rules Of Pai Gow Poker

Master The Rules of Pai Gow Poker and Start Your Quest To Slay The Dragon

Master The Rules of Pai Gow Poker and Start Your Quest To Slay The Dragon

First, the basics.

  • Pai Gow Poker is played with 53 cards, including a standard 52-card deck and a joker.
  • The Joker can only be used to complete a straight or a flush (treated as an ace otherwise)
  • Once you choose your bet amount, you and the dealer will each receive 7 cards. Your cards will be face-up. The dealer’s cards will be face-down.
  • The next step is to split your 7 cards into two hands – one 5-card hand and one 2-card hand. The dealer will do the same.
  • Your goal is to beat the dealer’s two hands with your own.
  • The ranks of your hands follow a standard ranking hierarchy. For example, a single pair beats a high card. A full house beats a flush. And so on.
  • One thing to keep in mind is that the dealer always wins a tie.

There are 3 possible outcomes for each round.

  • You can win both hands
  • lose both hands
  • or win one while losing the other (winning only one hand is a push)

Losing both hands results in your losing your entire bet. If you win both hands, you’ll be paid even money, but a 5% commission is applied to your winnings. For example, if you bet $20 and win both hands, your net winnings will total $19. That’s the rub, and that’s how the casino gets its edge. Once you learn more about the Pai Gow game you’ll see that it is an even match against the dealer, but they win the ties and they take the commission, that’s their edge.

Two Pai Gow Poker Rules That Confuse Novices

There are two Pai Gow Poker rules that tend to confuse beginning players. The first rule involves how the joker is treated.

  • What does the Joker in Pai Gow represent?

In Pai Gow The Joker can be used to complete straights and flushes. If this isn’t available you consider it an Ace. It is not a ‘wild card’ where you can use it however you like, instead it is limited in it’s roll to these scenarios only.

  • Ace
  • straight
  • or flush

When a joker is used in other popular casino games, it usually represents whatever the hand owner wants it to. It can help fill out a full house, 3 of a kind, or even a 4 of a kind. That’s not how the joker is treated in Pai Gow Poker. The Joker can only represent a card that completes a straight or flush (a straight flush would also fall within that criteria). If you have a joker in your hand, but cannot use it to fill out a straight or flush, it functions as an Ace. A lot of novice players are excited to have a joker in their hand without realizing its value is limited.

The second Pai Gow Poker rule that baffles beginners is that your 5-card hand must rank higher than your 2-card hand. For example, if your 7-card hand only has a single pair, you cannot place the pair into your 2-card hand. If you did, it would outrank your 5-card hand.

Pai Gow Poker Rules: Online Versus Land-based Casinos

The rules for Pai Gow Poker are practically identical whether you’re playing pai gow poker online or in a land-based casino. However, there are two small differences; one of them can cost you money. The first difference is the number of players. Online, it’s you against the dealer. In a land-based casino, there can be up to six players at the table (not including the dealer).

The second difference involves how an improper split is handled. Online, the software will prevent you from splitting your 7 cards if you try to make a 2-card hand that outranks your 5-card hand. In a land-based casino, you won’t be as lucky. An improper split is usually considered a foul. You’ll automatically lose your bet.

Where To Put Pai Gow Poker Rules Into Action

Whether you’re a novice or a Pai Gow Poker enthusiast, we recommend that you visit Bodog Casino. Not only are they one of the most trusted names in online gambling, but they have designed a playing environment that is fluid and seamless. You can enjoy the game in their free gambling software or play it online within your browser. Both options allow full betting privileges. You should also make sure you have a grasp of fundamental pai gow strategy because it can be confusing the best way to split up your hand to maximize your chances.

Visit Bodog Casino and take advantage of their free playing environment to learn Pai Gow Poker rules. We have a feeling you’ll love the experience.