Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow Poker

Game Description


Blackjack When to Hit - Ignition Casino

Pai Gow Poker Rules

It’s a simple game to play, but there are some added Pai Gow Poker rules you need to learn. First, your high hand always has to rank higher than your low hand. If you play at a live casino and get this wrong, you’ll foul your hand and lose your bet. Ignition Casino protects you by letting you know you’ve made a mistake and giving you the chance to try again.

Second, the Joker in Pai Gow Poker is a very special card. It’s considered a “semi-wild” card; you can only use it to complete Straights or Flushes, including the rare Straight Flush and Royal Flush. Otherwise, your Joker always counts as an Ace. Four Queens and a Joker cannot be used to make Five of a Kind – only four Aces will do.

Finally, there’s a special twist to the rankings for your high hand. The second-best Straight you can make in Pai Gow Poker is Five-Four-Three-Deuce-Ace, also known as the wheel. In regular poker, this would be the lowest possible Straight. Other than this special rule, the following standard poker rankings (plus Five of a Kind) apply for your high hand:

Five of a Kind (Joker-Ac-As-Ad-Ah)
Royal Flush (Ac-Kc-Qc-Jc-Tc) Straight Flush (8d-7d-6d-5d-4d) Four of a Kind (As-Ah-Ad-Ac-6s) Full House (Ks-Kh-Kc-Qd-Qh) Flush (As-Ks-Js-5s-3s) Straight (5h-4h-3d-2s-Ac) Three of a Kind (7s-7c-7d-Ah-2c) Two Pair (5s-5c-4c-4h-Jc) One Pair (9s-9c-Ah-8d-2c) High Card (Ah-Qs-7h-5s-3s)

If you and the Dealer each have a hand of the same rank, the hand with the higher kicker will win – if there is one. Occasionally, you’ll have exactly the same hand down to the kicker(s), but it’s rare, and it usually happens with unpaired 2-card hands. Don’t forget, these ties go to the Dealer at showdown.


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Pai Gow Poker Basic Strategy

Like most card games, smart players have done the math and figured out how to play Pai Gow Poker optimally, leaving the smallest house edge possible. As with Video Poker, these optimal strategies are quite complex; you’ll do better using a simplified strategy that doesn’t sacrifice much value, but is much easier to learn. Then you can figure out the subtle differences between the basic and the more advanced optimal strategies.

You can find versions of these Pai Gow Poker strategies online, including here at Ignition Casino. Generally speaking, you’ll be comparing the strength of your seven cards to the list of 20 possible categories in Pai Gow Poker, then following the instructions for how to split your cards. Here’s an example: If your hand contains a Pair, and you can’t make a Straight or a Flush, keep the Pair in your high hand and play the two strongest kickers in the low hand. You’ll get dealt cards like this roughly 30% of the time, so if you can remember this simple step, you’ve already covered nearly a third of the plays you’ll make.

Five Aces 0.000732%
Straight or Royal Flush 0.137%
Four of a Kind 0.199%
Full House 2.72%
Flush 4.00%
Straight 7.29%
Three of a Kind 4.85%
Two Pair 23.1%
One Pair 41.7%
High Card 16.1%

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Betting and Side Bets

Every hand of Pai Gow Poker begins with a bet. At Ignition Casino, you’ll start by placing anywhere between the minimum $1 and the maximum $500 on the virtual table, then the cards will be dealt. That’s all there is to it. But if you’re playing at a live casino, you might have the option of making a number of side bets. There’s the Fortune Bonus bet, where you’re betting that you’ll get at least Three of a Kind with the seven cards you’re dealt. There’s the Tiger 9, where you’re betting that the Dealer will have Nine-High in their low hand. Other side bets are available, depending on location.

You might also find yourself playing for a progressive Pai Gow Poker jackpot. By chipping in $1, you can win a massive jackpot by receiving seven consecutive cards of the same suit. It’s very rare, of course, but these jackpots are usually six figures or higher. Combined with the other side bets, Pai Gow Poker makes for a very lively and social game.

So here’s the deal. We’ve covered the basics for you, and now it’s your turn to go at it. Head on over to Ignition Casino and test your newfound skills using the Practice Play mode or, if you feel confident enough, play for real money.

And don’t forget about all the sign-up bonuses available at Ignition, including the welcome bonus for new players. See you on the felt.



Blackjack When to Hit - Ignition Casino

How to Win in Pai Gow Poker

If you can manage to figure out the optimal Pai Gow Poker strategy, you can narrow the house edge down to around 2.5%. Simplified strategies will get you close to 2.7%. Either way, you’ll be facing a house edge that’s lower than most of the poker-based table games you can play at Ignition or at the live casinos. But it’s still an edge, which means Pai Gow Poker should be played for entertainment, and not as a source of income.

Having said that, you can maximize your short-term wins in Pai Gow Poker by using an optimal strategy, and by using some common sense when you’re at the tables. Bankroll management is critical; play only at stakes you can afford, and don’t fall for the siren song of progressive betting systems like the Martingale – these systems will not help you beat the game and might drain your bankroll. Instead, divide your roll into smaller units of at least 100, and stick with a consistent bet size of one unit. Don’t chase your losses by increasing your bet size. This will give you the best chance of finishing ahead in any one session without going bust.

Once you’ve had some practice at Pai Gow Poker, consider planning your sessions based on how long you’d like to play. This can be done with a little math. You know the house edge, and you’ll have some idea of how many hands of Pai Gow Poker you can play per hour. Once you choose an appropriate bet size for your bankroll, you can calculate, on average, how many hands you can afford to play in your desired session length. That’s on average; some sessions will be more successful than others. Even when you end up ahead for the day, don’t extend your session unless you feel very comfortable and you actually have the time in your schedule.

In theory, if you play Pai Gow Poker at a live casino, you may have some opportunities for “advantage play” that can make you some money in the long run. These methods are legal, but of course, they’re frowned upon by casinos – who have the right to refuse service, and may ask you, nicely or otherwise, to leave at any time. Also, most of the advantage play tricks that have been used to beat Pai Gow Poker live have already been discovered by the casinos, who have taken measures to negate them. You can still try to take advantage of other players at the table; when you play live, Pai Gow Poker gives you the chance to play the role of Banker, and you can use this to get an edge on less savvy opponents. Again, this can get you in some hot water if you’re not careful. There are easier and safer ways to make money, and in the end, Pai Gow Poker is a game that should really be played for fun.

So here’s the deal. We’ve given you the info and tips. We told you the rules and what goes into making a proper Pai Gow strategy. Now it’s your turn to test your skills at Ignition Casino. Use Practice Play mode or play for Real Money once you’re ready for action. If you haven’t already signed up for an account at Ignition, now’s your chance – make sure to collect our generous online casino welcome bonus, and keep an eye out for the other valuable promotions we offer our customers.