Pai Gow is an interesting poker variant with its origins rooted deep in ancient China. Both in land-based casinos and online, it has a loyal following of players. In this guide you’ll learn how to play Pai Gow and win, what bonuses are best and other useful tips.
However, if you simply want to know which casinos can I play Pai Gow poker at? We’ve covered that, too. Check out the Pai Gow sites we recommend below and find your favourite place to play.
As we’ll discuss later, Pai Gow poker is a very popular game played all across the world. It may not be as well-known as Texas Hold ‘Em, but its two-hand gameplay and extra joker make it an exciting variation. Many of the big-name online casinos have realised this and include it in their card and online table games section.
We’ll also be discussing bonuses and free demos in this article. If you’re not familiar with the game, these are invaluable. Even if you’re an experienced player, they’re great for practicing. For this reason, you should choose the larger Pai Gow poker casinos. Because is it a form of poker that isn’t so well-known among non-players, the smaller sites are less likely to have the bonuses and free demo options available.
What Is Pai Gow Poker
Pai Gow poker is a card game that’s sometimes called double-hand poker. It was created in 1985 by Sam Torosian, the owner of the Bell Card Club in LA.
It is played with a standard 52-card deck plus one joker. There can be up to six players at the table plus the dealer. Virtual (RNG) Pai Gow games are straight up player against dealer match ups. Other variations exist offline, however.
The real question of ‘what is Pai Gow poker’ goes back much further than 1985. It is loosely based on a Chinese game called Pai Gow, which is played with a set of 32 Chinese dominoes. It is widely believed to be the oldest casino game, and also one of the hardest to learn. You have to memorize the ranking order of 16 pairs of tiles before you are able to play. To make things even more confusing, the ranking order relates to a Chinese myth about the creation of the universe!
The original Pai Gow is still played in casinos across the world, including China, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Las Vegas, Reno, and Atlantic City in America.
Pai Gow Poker Rules
Luckily the Pai Gow poker rules are far simpler than the original Pai Gow rules. And there’s no mention of any ancient myths.
Out of the seven-card hand that you’re dealt, the goal is to create two poker hands (a five-card hand and a two-card hand) that beat both the dealer's corresponding hands. Your five-card hand must also out-rank your two-card hand.
The hand rankings are the same as standard poker, with one exception; A-2-3-4-5 (known and the wheel) is the second highest straight. This means it ranks between A-K-Q-J-10 and K-Q-J-10-9.
The joker plays as a wild. Meaning in the five-card hand it can be used to complete a straight or flush if possible, otherwise it is an ace. In the two-card hand, it always plays as an ace.
If your two hands beat both of the dealer's corresponding hands, then you win the bet. You get paid 1:1 minus 5% commission which goes to the house.
If only one of your hands beats the dealer then you ‘push’ (tie). This means neither you nor the dealer wins the bet. However, a rule which favours the casino is in that it wins if there’s an exact match between the hands (known as a ‘copy’).
This all results in Pai Gow offering a 97.15% RTP (or 2.85% house edge) if you follow the optimum strategy.
Pai Gow Poker Bonus
All players want a Pai Gow poker bonus to boost their casino balance, so what do you need to look out for?
A good starting point is the sign up offer. Generally, this is a matched deposit bonus, so you’re getting bonus cash to play with. You will need to review the terms and conditions of the offer to find out what the wagering requirement is and how much playing Pai Gow contributes to clearing it. Some casinos may offer 20%, which gives you a competitive chance of banking some free cash.
Another area where you could pick up a little extra cash is in the live casino. Several sites run specific promotions for live games, so it’s something to keep an eye open for. However, not all live casinos will offer Pai Gow. Playtech Live is one software provider that definitely does though. You can browse through our list of casinos and pick one using this software to experience live dealer Pai Gow.
Play Pai Gow Poker Online
Now that you are up to speed on the basics, you’re ready to play Pai Gow poker online. We listed the very best, fully-licenced casinos offering this unique game.
You’ll find many of these sites allow you to play in practice mode. This is recommended for newcomers so they can get a feel for the game, learn more about the poker hands and find the right betting pattern to suit your budget. That way when you play for real, you’ll be ready to take on the casino and win.
Which Online Casinos can I play Pai Gow Poker at?
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