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Pai gow (pronounced pie-gow) poker originated some time in the late 1800s when the Chinese helped construct the U.S. railroads. The game is believed to be a combination of American poker and pai gow, a Chinese domino game.
Objective of the Game
To have a 2-card hand and 5-card hand of higher rank than the banker's 2-card hand and 5-card hand.
How to play
Pai gow poker is played with one 52-card deck and a Joker. The Bets. Select an initial bet amount and click Deal to begin the game. There is a minimum bet of $5 and a maximum bet of $100.
The Cards. Aces may be considered high or low (i.e.. the ace can be used in an A-K-Q-J-10 or 5-4-3-2-A straight). The Joker can only be used to complete a Straight, a Flush, a Straight Flush or a Royal Flush -- otherwise, the Joker is considered an Ace.
The Deal. Each player is initially dealt 7 cards. The player then forms a 5-card hand called a high hand and a 2-card hand called a low hand. The high hand must be equal to or higher in rank than the low hand. The low hand will always be either a pair or a high card hand. See the following page for a list of hands and their rankings.
To win, the player's two hands must both have a higher rank than the banker's two hands (i.e.. the high hand must beat the banker's high hand, and the low hand must beat banker's low hand). Should the player win one hand and lose the other, the wager is considered a push and is neither won nor lost. In all other cases, the player loses. When a player's hand and banker's hand are of equal rank, it is called a copy, and is won by the banker.
Pai Gow Poker Hands
Below are examples of all the pai gow poker hands ranked from highest to lowest. In pai gow poker 10-J-Q-K-A is the highest straight, A-2-3-4-5 is the next highest, followed by 9-10-J-Q-K, etc.
1. Five Aces
2. Royal Flush
3. Straight Flush
4. Four of a Kind
5. Full House
8. Three of a Kind
9. Two Pair
11. High Card
A high card hand is valued only by its highest card.
The following is a list of rules that are followed when playing the banker's hand ("the house way").
These rules are followed regardless of how the player has chosen to play his or her hand:
NO PAIR: The highest card is played in the high hand and the next two highest cards in the low hand.
ONE PAIR: The pair is played in the high hand and the next two highest cards in the low hand.
TWO PAIR: Two pairs are handled differently depending on the rank of the pairs. "Splitting" a pair means to place the highest ranking pair into the high hand and the other pair into the low hand. Pairs are categorized as follows: low pair (2's through 6's), medium pair (7's through 10's), and high pair (Jacks through Kings and Aces).
Pair of Aces and Any Pair: Aces are played in the high hand, and the other pair in the low hand.
Low Pair and Low Pair: The pairs are split unless the hand also has a single King, Ace, or Joker. In this case, both pairs are played in the high hand and the highest singletons are played in the low hand.
Low Pair and Medium Pair: The pairs are split unless the hand also has a single King, Ace, or Joker. In this case, both pairs are played in the high hand and the highest singletons are played in the low hand.
Low Pair and High Pair: The pairs are split unless the hand also has a single Ace or Joker. When the hand has a single Ace or Joker, both pairs are played in the high hand and the highest singletons in the low hand.
Medium Pair and Medium Pair: The pairs are split unless the hand also has a single Ace or Joker. When the hand has a single Ace or Joker, both pairs are played in the high hand and the highest singletons in the low hand.
Medium Pair and High Pair: Pairs are always split.
High Pair and High pair: Pairs are always split.
THREE PAIR: The highest pair is played in the low hand.
THREE OF A KIND: The three of a kind in always played in the high hand unless they are Aces. If the three of a kind consists of Aces, a pair of Aces is played in the high hand with the remaining Ace and the next highest card in the low hand.
THREE OF A KIND TWICE: The highest three of a kind is always broken and played as a pair in the low hand.
STRAIGHT, FLUSH, STRAIGHT FLUSH, ROYAL FLUSH: These hands are played differently depending on the contents of the hand.
High Card Only: If choosing between a straight, a flush, or a straight flush, whichever hand leaves the highest two cards for the low hand is chosen.
One Pair: The pair is played in the low hand only if leaves a straight, flush, or straight flush for the high hand.
Two pair: The hand is played using the two pair rule.
Three pair: The hand is played using the three pair rule.
Three of a Kind: A pair from the three of a kind is played in the low hand.
Full House: The hand is played using the full house rule.
FULL HOUSE: The pair is played in the low hand unless the pair consists of 2's and the hand contains an Ace and King singletons. In this case, the full house is played in the high hand and the Ace and King are played in the low hand.
THREE OF A KIND AND TWO PAIRS: The highest of the two pairs is played in the low hand.
FOUR OF A KIND: Four of a kinds are played based on the rank of the four of a kind. "Splitting" means to divide the four of a kind into two pairs and play one pair in the high hand and one pair in the low hand.
2 through 6: The four of a kind is played in the high hand and the next two highest singletons are played in the low hand.
7 through 10: The four of a kind is split unless a King, Ace, or Joker can be played in the low hand.
Jack through King: The four of a kind is split unless an Ace or Joker can be played in the low hand.
Aces: The four of a kind is always split.
FOUR OF A KIND AND A PAIR: The four of a kind is always played in the high hand and the pair is played in the low hand.
FOUR OF A KIND AND THREE OF A KIND: The three of a kind is always broken and played as a pair in the low hand leaving the four of a kind in the high hand.
FIVE ACES: Three aces are played in the high hand, and two aces are played in the low hand unless the hand also contains two kings. In this case, all five aces are played in the high hand and the pair of kings are played in the low hand.
All bets in pai gow poker are paid off at even money minus a 5 percent commission. Even money means simply that the amount you wager is the amount you'll be paid if your hand wins. Remember that the player's high hand must beat the banker's high hand, and the player's low hand must beat the banker's low hand in order to win.
For example, if you bet $25 and your hands beat both the banker's hands, you'll win $23.75 ($25.00 minus 5 percent commission, or $1.25).
Each time you left-click inside the BET circle near the base of the pai gow poker table, you will place your current bet amount on the table -- adding to any chips that might already be there. To remove your current bet amount from the table, right-click inside the circle.
You can change the amount you will be adding or subtracting from your bet by selecting one of the chips in the lower left corner of the table. The chip with that is highlighted in blue, it represents the amount by which you will change your bet.
For example: If you wish to place a $25 bet, make sure the $25 chip in the lower left corner of the screen is selected by clicking on it. It should then be highlighted in blue. You can now left-click in the betting circle to place a $25 bet. If you left-click a second time in the betting circle, you will add another $25 chip to your bet for a total of $50. You could then select the $5 chip and click in the betting circle to increase your bet to $55. Right-clicking in the betting circle performs the opposite function by removing the amount from your bet.
Starting the Deal
Once the minimum bet has been placed, the DEAL button will illuminate to indicate that it may now be clicked to start the deal. Once the DEAL button has been clicked, the game will begin and you can no longer add to or remove from your bet.
You may also notice that the DEAL button may be illuminated, but you do not have a bet placed on the table. In this case, clicking on the DEAL button will quickly and automatically start the deal by using the same bet used for the previous hand. If, for example, you wagered $10 on the previous hand, you may find that the DEAL button is enabled even though you have not placed a new bet on the table. Clicking the DEAL button will then start the next deal with the same $10 starting bet. If you do not have sufficient funds to repeat your previous bet, or this is your first hand of pai gow poker during this session, then clicking the DEAL button with no bet on the table will start the next deal using the currently selected chip amount as your bet.
Playing the Game
After the cards have been dealt, you must then select two of the initial seven cards to create your low hand. Click on the card that you want to move to your low hand, and it will quickly slide from your high hand to your low hand. You may also click on any card already in the low hand to return it to your high hand.
Once you have both cards in your low hand selected, the Done button will illuminate. Click the Done button to indicate that you are satisfied with your two hands and are prepared to complete the game. The game ends with the selection of the banker's low hand, followed by the revealing of the banker's two hands.
At the end of the game, each hand will be sorted and labeled with its highest rank. The status bar along the bottom of the screen will indicate which hands win as well as the overall outcome of the game.