Pai Gow Poker | The Ultimate Guide to Playing Pai Gow Poker Online 2024

Pai Gow Poker online is a card game based on the ancient creation of the dominoes game in China. The Pai Gow Poker rules for the 53-card game are slightly different from the dominoes version because cards are used. It is best to learn the rules of Pai Gow Poker before playing for real money. Online Pai Gow Poker is offered in a demo version where you can learn how to play Pai Gow Poker. The rules for Pai Gow Poker are fairly straight-forward. Remember, it is a dealer versus player game, where the player needs two hands to win against the banker otherwise a loss or push will occur.

What is Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow or double-hand poker is a traditional Chinese game. Pai Gow online is played with cards; however, the ancient game was played with dominoes. Pai Gow Poker as it exists today was started in 1985 by Sam Torosian. He introduced the card version at the Bell Card Club, in the USA. The game requires a 52-card deck, plus a single joker card. The game is meant to be played with six people, plus the dealer. The players are against the “banker,” dealer or house.

How to Play Pai Gow Poker - Rules Explained

The rules for Pai Gow poker are based on playing the dealer. There is a table minimum and maximum, with wagers that can be made in between those values. A player needs to wager to get cards. There are other wagers, such as bonus or side bets; however, those are not mandatory.

After a player makes a wager, cards are dealt. A player is given 7 cards. From the seven cards, a player needs to create two Pai Gow hands.

It is possible for the player to get the joker. If the joker is in your hand, it can substitute another card in three ways.

  1. It can make a straight
  2. It can be used to complete a flush
  3. The joker can be an ace.

In a two-card hand, the joker will always be an ace.

Rules state that a player will not lose their money if only one hand is better than the dealer. Players need to strategize for the best possible of two winning hands. It is best to make a strong five card hand, but you can alternatively create a good two card hand that will make a win.

How to Arrange Hands in Pai Gow Poker

The player will need to create two hands. There is the back hand also known as the big or high hand. It is the standard five card hand. The front hand is the small or low hand, which is made up of two cards.

It is suggested that you play the pair in your back hand if you have only one pair, and that you use your two other highest cards to make the low hand. You definitely want to make a 3 of a kind or higher in the back hand, even if you use the Joker to make it happen. If you have a full house, it is better to split it into two hands, with a three of a kind in your back hand and a pair in your front hand.

The hand arrangements are important for winning against the banker. The hand rankings as explained in the guide will help you know how to set up your pair or high card win for the front hand, and the five-card back hand. Make sure you know what can happen if you intentionally “fault” a hand to create a win.

Front Hand Rankings

The hand rankings below are in descending order, with the highest rank first. If a player can create a two-card hand with an Ace-Ace, it is the highest pair that can be created for the win. The front hand should be a pair if possible. All other qualifying hands will need to be an Ace paired with another card. For example, Ace-3 may be a winning hand depending on what the dealer has, but an Ace-2 is not a winning hand in online Pai Gow Poker.

Here's the mentioned ranking: Ace-ace, King-king, Queen-queen, Jack-jack, 10-10, 9-9, 8-8, 7-7, 6-6, 5-5, 4-4, 3-3, 2-2, Ace-K, Ace-Queen, Ace-Jack, Ace-10, Ace-9, Ace-8, Ace-7, Ace-6, Ace-5, Ace-4, Ace-3, Ace-2.

Bottom Hand Rankings

The bottom or back hand in Pai Gow Poker rankings are similar to a five-card hand in any poker, with the exception of the wild Joker making a five of a kind possible.

5 of a Kind – four cards with the same denomination or face, and the joker.

Royal Flush – five consecutive cards, in the same suit, all high cards 10 through Ace.

Straight Flush – five consecutive cards in the same suit, but not all high cards.

4 of a Kind – four cards of the same denomination or face, or three of a kind with a joker.

Full House – three of a kind with a pair.

Flush – five cards all in the same suit, or four with a joker.

Straight – five consecutive cards, not of the same suit.

3 of a Kind – three cards of the same denomination or face, or a pair with a joker.

2 Pair – such as two Aces and two Eights, any four cards that create one pair each.

1 Pair – two cards of the same denomination or face.

High Card – a card that is a Jack or higher, only the face cards are referred to as high cards. However, it is possible to say the “highest” card in a hand, which would mean the absolute highest card that one is holding, even if it is a four. Typically, a player needs a face card to have a high card hand for the win.

How to Determine a Pai Gow Poker Hand

Once the hands are set, a virtual program or live dealer determines the winning hands and how they stack up against the dealer’s hands. If your two hands are better than the dealer you gain 1 to 1. If only one hand is better than the dealer the bets are pushed. If both hands are worse than the dealers, you lose all wagers.

House Edge

The standard house edge for Pai Gow is 2.8%; however, it will vary from casino to casino.

Pai Gow Poker Probabilities

Examine a paytable for the Pai Gow Poker online probabilities of gaining a winning hand. The creator of the software can vary the probabilities based on the rules and nuances of their game. The house way strategy with a dealer banker, as would happen in a casino, states a win has 2,402,491,783,820,756 combinations, with a probability of 0.291195 of having two winning hands. A push has more combinations, with a 0.404958 probability of happening. A loss has slightly more than winning combinations, with a probability of 0.303847 of occurring. It is likelier for a player to have a push during multiple games, than to have two winning hands or two losses. However, it is also more likely for two losing hands against the dealer, than two winning hands.


ANTE- the wager required to start the game.

BANKROLL – the amount a player has to use during game play.

COPY HAND – the player’s hand is the same as the dealers.

DRAGON HAND – any empty seat at the table is called “dragon hand.” A dealer will always deal out six hands for players, and one hand for the dealer, even if there are empty seats. It could be you and the dealer, but five other hands will be dealt and discarded.

FOULING YOUR HAND – a player intentionally messes up a hand in favor of a better, bigger back hand, and can result in a wager loss.

HIGH-HAND – a hand behind or bottom hand, it is the five-card hand that is created behind a front hand of two cards.

HOUSE WAY – the dealer has to set their hand in specific ways.

JOKER – in Pai Gow Poker online this is the 53rd card in the deck and it is a wild card.

ONE-PAIR – two cards of the same denomination such as 10-10.

PAIR – two cards that are ranked the same like a King-King.

SINGLETON – a card that has no identical rank to any other card, so it does not form a pair.

SPLIT – a player can separate the 7-cards in the hand to make two hands, one of two cards and another of 5 cards, and in these two hands, a pair is split rather than kept.

WIN – in online Pai Gow Poker this occurs when the player has two winning hands, a back and front hand that are better than the dealers two hands.

WILD CARD – a card that can become anything to complete the best hand possible.

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