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Pai Gow Poker Rules

In Pai Gow Poker, the object is to divide your seven card hand into a five-card (“Highest”) and a two-card hand (“2nd Highest”). The five-card hand must always outrank the two-card hand (hence the names “Highest” and “2nd Highest”). The five-card hand is ranked as in Poker, except that an A-2-3-4-5 straight is the second highest straight. The two-card hand can be either a pair or individual cards. The highest two-card hand is a pair of aces and the lowest is a 2-3. You can divide your hand yourself, or let the computer split it, using a method called the House Way (see below).

Pai Gow Poker is played using a standard 53 card deck, including a Joker. The joker can only be used to complete a straight, flush, or straight flush, otherwise it is treated as an ace.

House Way

The House Way is a set of rules that describes how the dealer arranges his hand. You can use the House Way on your own hand as well, by clicking the House Way button.

The "front" refers to the two card hand and the "back" refers to the five card hand.

  • No pair: Place the highest card in the back and the next two highest cards in the front.

  • One pair: Place the pair in back and the next two highest cards in the front.

  • Two pair: Play two pair in back, except split in the following situations:

    • One pair is 7's or greater and no ace singleton.

    • Pair of jacks or better and 6's or better and an ace singleton.

    • Pair of aces and any other pair.

  • Three pair: Always play highest pair in front.

  • Three of a kind: Always play three of a kind in back except break up three aces.

  • Full house: Split except with pair of 2's and an ace/king can be played in front.

  • Full house with three of a kind and two pairs: Play the highest pair in front.

  • Three of a kind twice: Always play highest pair in front.

  • Straights, flushes, straight flushes, and royal flushes:
    Always play straight or flush in the high hand except play as a two pair if one of the following:

    • Any two pair and an ace singleton.

    • Pair of jacks and pair of 6's.

    • Pair of aces and any other pair.

    With a six or seven card straight or flush put the highest hand possible in front while maintaining the straight or flush in back.
    Play staight or flush over straight flush to improve front hand to jack or better.
    Play staight or flush over royal flush to improve front hand to king or better.

  • Four of a kind: Play according to the rank of the four of a kind:

    • 2 through 6: Always keep together.

    • 7 through 10: Split unless an ace or better can be played in front.

    • Jack through king: Split unless hand also contains a pair of 10's or higher.

    • Aces: Split unless a pair of 7's or higher can be played in front.

  • Five aces: Split unless pair of kings can be played in front.

After the hands have been arranged, your hands are compared to these of the dealer’s and the winner is determined:

  • If both the dealer’s hands are higher, you lose your bet.

  • If one of the dealer’s hands is higher, one lower, it is a push and your bet is returned.

  • If both your hands are higher, you win even money on your bet (1 to 1) minus 5% bank commission.

In case of an exact match between hands (called a copy) the tie goes to the banker.

Back to Pai Gow Poker Page.

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