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Review of Pai Gow Poker (Real Time Gaming)

Poker is the most popular card game in the world … but that’s probably because poker is something of an umbrella term. There are plenty of types of poker – Texas Hold’em is the one that is the most played and is also one that is played professionally. You can play poker against the dealer at many casinos online, although such games perhaps cannot truly be called poker as fans of poker will testify.

One poker variant you might not be overly familiar with is called Pai Gow Poker. Pai Gow is actually a Chinese game that’s played with dominoes. In the 1980s a cards and casino expert called Sam Torosian adapted Pai Gow into a poker-style card game which could be used for gambling.

It’s not a tough game to play as long as you know your poker hands. During play, you are dealt seven cards which you must split into two hands. One hand is a traditional poker hand of five cards, while the other is scored as a poker hand even though it consists of only two cards. The only rule when it comes to making your hands is that your five-card hand must be more valuable – in poker terms – than your two-card hand.

In the dealer-based version of Pai Gow Poker (which is played with a deck of 53 cards, as a joker is added to the normal pack) you play head-to-head against the dealer. Once both your hand and the dealer’s hand are sorted, they are compared. If you win both hands, then you are given double your stake (minus a commission). If you lose both hands, then you lose your stake. If both you and the dealer win a hand, then it’s a push, and you get your stake back.

There are a few versions of Pai Gow Poker available on the internet, and here from Real Time Gaming is what we think is one of the best.

How to Play Pai Gow Poker by RTG

Unlike other versions of Pai Gow Poker this RTG version of the game only has one bet – the table bet. Other renditions of the game typically have a side bet but not having a side bet option here takes absolutely nothing away from the game.

Click on your chips to bet. You can keep adding chips to your bet if you wish until you hit the table max, which is set by the online casino offering the game. Once you’ve set your bet, click on ‘Deal’.

You will be dealt seven cards, face up. You can rearrange the order of the cards by dragging them, but they are automatically arranged by value. You then need to select which five cards will make up your five-card poker hand, and which two cards will make up your two-card poker hand. It would help if you had your wits about you as – unlike other versions of Pai Gow Poker – there is no ‘auto arrange’ option, which will select your best hands for you. This actually makes the game more entertaining and more authentic, as if you play Pai Gow Poker at a real casino the dealer wouldn’t sort your hand for you!

When you’re happy with your hands, click the ‘Split’ button. Your cards will then be re-arranged into your two hands.

It is now the dealer’s turn. They will flip over their cards so that they are face up and then the cards will be split into two hands – the best hands possible.

Finally, both hands will be evaluated as per normal Pai Gow Poker rules, and you will be paid accordingly depending upon the value of your hand compared to the dealer’s hand.

To start the next hand at the same bet level click ‘Rebet’, or if you want to lower or raise your stake, click on the chips just as you did when you started this session.

Games rules

  • Game is played with a deck of 53 cards (includes one joker)
  • Hand ranking is done via normal poker rules.
  • 5% commission is paid only when both player hands win (minimum 0.25)
  • Straight A-to-5 outranks all other straights aside from 10-A.
  • The joker is usually scored as an ace but can be used to complete straights.
  • Expected RTP is approximately 96%

Graphics and Sounds

One of the best things about Pai Gow Poker online is that you do not need flashy graphics to play the game. All you really need are playing cards that are easy to read, and that is precisely what you get here. The numbers are big and bold, so it’s hard to make a mistake when you are evaluating your hand, even if you are playing on your mobile. The interface for the game does all that’s required of it.

The game has barely any audio. All that you will hear is a clicking sound when the cards are dealt, and a ‘ping’ when you click a button. As with the graphical side of this game, you really do not need anything grander.

Final Thoughts

You are not going to get rich playing Pai Gow Poker in any form, that much is for certain. The game was invented as a social one like craps, rather than a deadly serious casino game. It’s the least tense and stressful version of poker that there is, and that includes video poker!

This is a gorgeous rendition of Pai Gow Poker by RealTime Gaming, and we genuinely encourage you to try a few deals. Just make sure your stake is at least $10 per hand else you’ll get nobbled by that minimum $0.25 commission charge!

13 Jan. 2020, by


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