Pai Gow, the ancient Chinese game played with tiles, has been made quite popular in the USA in 1985 when Sam Torosian from the Bell Card Club invented Pai Gow Poker. Pai Gow Poker took Vegas by storm thanks to the interesting changes it introduced to the sometimes boring poker variants. Since then, this version of poker has revolutionized the card game, with many Pai Gow poker tournaments being organized each year.
However, Pai Gow poker isn’t as simple as Texas Hold’em for example – you must have previous knowledge of Pai Gow before you even start planning on hitting the casino. The learning curve is a bit higher, but with practice, you should become quite good at it soon.
Pai Gow Poker Rules
Also known as double-hand poker, Pai Gow poker has been described as some kind of combination of domino and 7-Card Stud. This variation of poker has a lot of pushes and the odds are in favor of the player which is always a good thing.
The game is played with a standard 52-card deck plus a Joker. The table is for six players with each one trying to defeat the banker. The interesting thing about this poker variation is that the banker can be anyone – it can be the casino dealer, but also one of the six players. Additionally, the players may tandem up to defeat the banker, which adds plenty of fun to the game.
The joker can replace any other card in the game – for example, it can be used as an ace to form a royal or straight flush.
Placing a Bet
Just like with any other poker variation, the player must place a bet before the cards are dealt. Of course, the bet needs to be within the minimum and maximum range determined by the casino. Some casinos also give players the option to place a bonus bet on a ‘premium’ hand which is 3-Of-A-Kind or better in most casinos. The good news is that the bonus bet is separate and not affected by the outcome of the game.
The player receives 7 face-down cards, arranging them as he sees fit into two poker hands. The so-called back hand includes 5 cards, while the front hand includes 2. The banker will deal 7 cards to each seat at the table, no matter how many players there are. The remaining 4 cards from the deck are left in the middle of the table. When the dealer picks up the unused hands, the players can arrange their double hand.
The only rule in Pai Gow poker that sets it apart is that the back hand must outrank the front. If you have a Joker, it can replace any card to complete a straight or flush. If used in the front hand, the joker is always an ace.
The other rule that sets Pai Gow Poker apart from other variations is the straight which is ranked second-highest. Yes, it is ridiculous, which is why some casinos have dropped it. However, this straight is still available at most casinos and can help you win many hands.
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