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Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow poker was derived from the Chinese game of Pai Gow by Fred Wolf in the early 80’s. He needed a new kind of card-room attraction, that would catch on fast with the public and attract gambling masses to his Bell club in Bell city, and sure enough, Pai Gow poker achieved just that.

The game is played with a 53 card deck, that is, the regular 52 cards plus a joker.

The dealer hands each player seven cards face down. Players will eventually be required to make two poker hands out of their seven cards, a five-card hand and a two card-hand, keeping in sight that the two card hand needs to be ranked lower than the five-card hand. The only possible ranking for two card hand, by the way, is a pair or high cards.

One of the players will play the ‘banker’, a position that changes every hand, much like the dealer button goes around in Texas Holdem.

The game itself is rather simple. The banker and players set their hands (the two card hand up front and the five card hand behind) If a player’s two card hand beats the banker’s two card hand AND his five card hand beats the banker’s five card hand, he wins. If only one of the hands comes through for him ( only the two card hand OR the five card hand beats the banker’s corresponding hand) he pushes, if both his hands lose to those of the banker, he will lose.

Whenever there’s a tie between one of the hands of the banker and a player’s, the advantage goes to the banker. So if the player loses on the two card-hand and ties the five card hand, he will still end up losing.

Usually it is recommended to build as strong a two card hand as possible, without taking too much out of the five card hand. The most common strategy is the following:

- let’s suppose the player doesn’t get any pairs, flushes or straights only a bunch of wayward cards. In this case, he should place the highest card together with the third highest one into his two card hand, leave the second highest in his five card hand.

- in case a player gets a single pair he should put that in his/her five card hand and put the two highest remaining cards into his/her two card hand.

The joker is used as a bug, (that is, it can be used to round up a potential straight or a flush, and it will act as an ace otherwise) or it is completely wild.

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