Internet Casinos » Casino Games » Pai Gow Poker

How to Play Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow Poker TablePai Gow Poker is a casino table game that pits the players against the house rather than against each other. The dealer and each player are dealt two hands apiece. One hand consists of two cards and one hand consists of five cards. The goal is to end up with a stronger two card hand than the dealer’s two card hand and to end up with a stronger five card hand than the dealer’s five card hand.

The casino usually acts as the banker, but if any of the players have enough money to cover all the bets, they may bank the game. The opportunity to bank passes around the table but players may decline. The casino charges a 5% commission on all winning bets.

Hand Outcomes 

There are four possible outcomes in a Pai Gow Poker hand:

  1. Both of the player’s hands are stronger than the dealer’s hands. The player wins even money on the bet minus a 5% commission.
  2. Only one of the player’s hands is stronger than the dealer’s. The bet is a tie and no money exchanges hands.
  3. Both of the dealer’s hands are stronger than the player’s hands. The dealer wins the bet.
  4. Both hands are exact ties. This is called a “copy” and the dealer wins the bet.

The Deal

Pai Gow Poker is played with a standard fifty-two card deck plus one joker. The joker acts as a wild card, but it may only be used to complete straights, flushes, straight flushes, or as an Ace in any hand.

As is tradition in the game, the dealer begins each hand by dealing seven piles of seven cards in the middle of the table. The dealer then shakes three dice in a cup and rolls them to determine which player gets the first pile of cards. The remaining piles are handed out counter-clockwise to the rest of the players at the table.

Pai Gow Poker at Cherry Red Casino

Setting the Hand

Once the players have their seven cards, they must arrange those cards into a two card hand and a five card hand. The five card hand must be stronger than the two card hand. For example, if a player is dealt A-A-K-J-7-8-6, the pair of aces may not be used in the two card hand because that would make it stronger than the five card hand.

If a player accidentally sets his hands so that his two card hand is stronger than his five card hand, the hand will be deemed a foul and that player will lose the bet. If a player is unsure of how to set the hand, he may ask the dealer to set his hand the “house way.” Learn more about setting your hand and Pai Gow Poker tactics.

Hand Ranks

The hand ranks for two card hands are simple. Because there are only two cards in the hand, the strongest hand is Ace-Ace. The second strongest hand would be a pair of Kings, then a pair of Queens and so on. After that, hands are ranked according to high card value. An Ace-King is stronger than an Ace-Queen and a Ten-Jack is stronger than a Seven-Eight.

The five card hand ranks are determined using traditional hand rankings. Because the Joker can be used as an Ace in any hand, there is one hand stronger than a Royal Flush: Five Aces.

Hand Explanation Example*
Five Aces  Five of a kind Aces Ac-As-Ad-Ah-W
Royal Flush Ten through Ace of the same suit Tc-Jc-Qc-Kc-Ac
Straight Flush Any five sequential cards of the same suit 5d-6d-7d-8d-9d
Four of a Kind Four cards of the same value Kc-Kd-Ks-Kh-5c
Full House Three cards of one rank with two cards of another rank Jc-Js-Jd-8c-8s
Flush Any five cards of the same suit Ac-8c-5c-4c-2c
Straight Any five consecutive cards (unsuited) 5c-6d-7s-8h-9d
Three of a Kind Three cards of the same rank Ac-Ad-Ah-5s-3h
Two Pair Two cards of one rank with two cards of another rank Ac-Ad-5s-5h-4d
Pair Two cards of the same rank Jc-Js-7d-4s-2h

*In the example column, W stands for the Wild Card/Joker.

Free Pai Gow Poker Game

Now that you know how to play, make sure to practice on this flash game from

Play More Casino Games at!

Play Bodog Pai Gow Poker!

Other Pai Gow Resources:

Learn to Play More Casino Games: