Online casino and table games come in all shapes and sizes, but one of the most popular table games is Pai Gow Poker – an American variation of the Chinese game of dominos called Pai Gow. This slow-played game with a low risk is what makes the game so popular.

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Pai Gow Poker History

Sam Torosian, the owner of the Bell Card Club in California, invented this table game way back in 1985, but it’s a game that few have heard of. Unfortunately for Sam, he couldn’t claim ownership of the game and reap millions, due to bad legal advice, but this didn’t stop other casinos cashing in on his success.  

Free Play Vs Real Money Play

Placing bets via the free play version of Pai Gow Poker online will allow players to practice, without risking real money. Any winnings accumulated during free play will not be credited. It’s often a good choice to try out pai gow poker for free, rather than going in all guns blazing and risking your money, particularly if it’s your first time playing.

Pai Gow’s Table Layout

 The possible poker hands, that players can achieve in Pai Gow Poker are;

  • Five Aces
  • Straight/royal Flush
  • Four of a Kind
  • Full House
  • Flush
  • Straight
  • Three of a kind
  • Two Pair
  • One Pair

Rules Of Pai Gow

A single deck of 52 cards and one joker is used in this game. The joker card can act as a wild card and can only be used as an ace or to complete a straight, a flush or a straight flush. Up to seven players can take part in a single game and the aim of the game is to play against the dealer. Before each deal, every player puts a stake onto the table, by using the pre-set chips. Every game sees the dealer give seven cards to each player at the table. Players can look at their hand and separate them into two hands; a 2-card hand and a 5-card hand. The dealer cannot look at their hand. The value of the cards is the same as they are in your standard game of poker, with just one difference; A, 2, 3, 4 and 5 is the second highest straight or straight flush, which sits between A, K, Q, J and 10 plus K, Q, J, 10 and 9. Having a hand full of aces (five), is the highest hand possible and this beating a straight flush. Now for the 2-card hand, any pair will beat any two non-matching cards, there are no other combinations possible with this hand. It’s important to note that the player must arrange the 5-card hand in a way that is higher than the 2-card hand – an example of this is; if a pair of aces made up the 2-card hand, the 5-card hand must contain 2 pairs or even better. Discussing your hands at the table is forbidden and will not be accepted. When players have arranged their hands, they must be placed on the table face-down. The dealer will then show the seven cards in a 5-card and 2-card hand, just like the players at the table. All hands on the table will then be exposed and the results will be between the dealer’s hand and each individual player. Each player 2-card hand will be compared to the dealers 2-card hand and the same for the 5-card hand, if a player beats both the dealers 2-card and 5-card hand, the dealer pays out the same amount as the player originally staked. If the dealer wins one hand and the player wins the other hand, bets are returned to the player (push). If the dealer beats the player with both hands, the dealer wins the players original bet. A tie is possible, which will result in the dealer winning, so if the dealer has a winning hand and one tied hand – the dealer wins again. If one hand is tied and a player beats the dealer with the other hand, it’s called a push and no money will change hands.

Special Features

Pai Gow Poker is a game that includes playing cards and dice, because after the hands have been dealt (one card at a time), the dealer will throw three dice and count the players around the table, counter-clockwise (starting with the dealer). This will determine who gets the first hand that was dealt. Pai Gow Poker powered by software by Playtech, offers a sophisticated online gaming experience no like no other. Get the casino floor atmosphere in your own home, thanks to top quality graphics with no downloads needed. A green circular table awaits players, with pre-set chip denominations to the left, allowing punters to place bets from 1.00 to 300.00 per hand. A virtual dealer dish out the cards when you are ready to play – no playing against the clock with this version. Drag your chips to the centre of the table and initiate the game to start. Your cards will be dealt and you can drag and arrange them into 2-card and 5-card hands. When you are happy with your hands, click done and the dealers hand will be shown. If you have a winning outcome, the bets are settled instantly. Click on a new game to start the process all over again. Bovada Casino offer a version of Pai Gow Poker which is more oriental, so instead of your traditional green table cloth, you have a blue cloth that features fierce dragons. The chip values of 1.00, 5.00, 25.00, 100.00 and 500.00 sit to the right edge of the table and player’s bankrolls are shown opposite this. Minimum table limits are 1.00 a bet and maximum bets are set at 500.00 a hand. Click the chip value of your choice and select the deal option. Rearrange the cards on the table by dragging the cards. Select two cards for a split. This version of the game offers hints and tips as you play, making it even easier to get a winning hand.

Pai Gow Strategy

Here are a few simple Pai Gow Poker strategies that could help you beat the dealer, when hands cannot form a straight, flush, straight flush or royal flush;

  • Five of a kind plus 1 pair: play your pair of aces in the low hand
  • Five of a kind: as above
  • Four of a kind plus three of a kind: split the 4 of a kind (if less than two ranks higher than the 3 of a kind) or split the 3 of a kind.
  • Four of a kind plus a pair: play the pair in the low hand.
  • Four of a kind: always split queens/kings/aces. Keep 9s/10s or jacks together with ace (otherwise split). Keep 7’s or 8s in a hand with kings or better (or split). Keep 6’s with queens or better (or split). Keep 5’s with 10’s or better (or split). Finally, never split 2’s, 3’s or 4’s.
  • Three or a kind plus 3 of a kind: put a higher pair in the low hand.
  • Three of a kind plus 2 pair: place the higher pair in the low hand.
  • Three of a kind plus 1 pair: put the pair in the low hand.
  • Three of a kind: Play the highest two cards in the low hand (except for three aces). Play an ace and the highest card in the low hand.
  • Three pair: highest pair of cards to be played in the low hand.
  • Two pair: place pairs of queens or better in low hand, or split the hand. Pairs of kings or better play in low hand. Two pairs of aces or better in low hand – any other pairs should be split.
  • One pair: Play the two highest cards in the low hand.
  • No pair: place the second and third highest card values in the low hand.

Below are the best combinations for hands that can make one or more straight, slush, straight flush or royal flush;

  • Four of a kind: play highest straight or flush, leaving the aces in the ow hand.
  • Three of a kind plus 1 pair: play the straight/flush if the low hand has a pair of 7’s or better. If not, play the three of a kind in the high hand, with a pair in the low hand.
  • Three of a kind: the best low hand should be played with a straight/flush in the high hand.
  • Three pair: A pair of aces should be played in the low hand.
  • Two pair: a two pair of queens or better should be in the high hand. A pair of kings or better should be played in the high hand or split the pairs. AA pair of aces should be played in the high hand, otherwise split the pairs. Any other pairs not mentioned, should be split.
  • One pair: a straight/flush should be in the high hand.
  • No pair: the best hand would be a low hand leaving a straight/flush in the high hand.


Pai Gow Poker is a simple table game that can see players hitting a big hand of 8,000 to 1. The standard house edge for this table game is 2.84% and the most of that (1.27%) is a result of players losing a toe to the dealer. The remaining house edge comes from the 55 commission that is paid on winning hands. Being able to place bonus wagers is what makes the game so exciting and rewarding, the size of the bonus offered will depend on the value of the bet staked. The standard Pai Gow Poker payouts are as follows;

  • Straight: 2 to 1
  • Three of a kind: 3 to 1
  • Flush pays: 4 to 1
  • Full house: 5 to 1
  • Four of a kind: 25 to 1
  • Straight flush: 50 to 1
  • Royal flush: 150 to 1
  • Five aces: 400 to 1
  • 7-card straight flush with joker: 1,000 to 1
  • Royal flush plus two 2’s: 2,000 to 1
  • 7-card straight flush (no joker): 8,000 to 1