Pai Gow Poker Strategy - Winning the Pot

The thought of beating the house at its own game is one that excites many a gambler in the online casino world. Ultimately, if your primary goal is to win a game of Pai Gow Poker, you’ll find that a gambler’s ability to implement a strategy is what distinguishes a poorly prepared player from one who is fully armed to meet all that the casino can throw at you. So evidently, the best thing you can aim to do is to prepare yourself before you sign up to an online casino and hit the Pai Gow Poker table. Have a look at our Pai Gow Poker Strategy article in order to learn how to implement strategy whilst playing the game.

Beating the House – Overcoming the Pai Gow House Edge

Playing Pai Gow Poker offers gamblers the opportunity to enjoy a casino game with a relatively low house edge of approximately 2.9%. In fact, the house edge in Pai Gow Poker is just slightly more than that of the much loved casino classic; blackjack. Now, you might be asking yourself, ‘Can one possibly eliminate the house advantage whilst playing the game?’ Well, eliminating the house edge altogether is impossible due to the fact that the house usually takes 5% commissions on winning hands. Yet, you can effectively cut it down to 2.57% by implementing a Pai Gow Poker Strategy, if desired.

Taming the Dragon in Pai Gow Poker

The wise Roman philosopher, Seneca once said, ‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.’ This is especially true in regards to some casino games such as the casino classic Blackjack, but also Pai Gow Poker. Ultimately, many gamblers who play this game, which is deeply rooted in Chinese culture, will agree that you must be prepared to implement some kind of strategy in order to tame the dragon. Since you only play against the dealer and no other players, Pai Gow Poker strategy is not as rich as regular poker strategy. Nevertheless, you will obviously benefit from playing an optimal game.  This will definitely increase your prospect of winning at the casino game by about 0.15%. Ok, so we know what you’re thinking. It’s a really small percentage which perhaps in your opinion will not make any difference. In fact, we bet you $10 that you’re thinking it can be totally disregarded. But, wait before you take us on for that bet, you should listen up first to see why strategy is in fact so important. If you play the game over a long session, implementing a Pai Gow Poker Strategy will be beneficial as your odds of winning will improve in your favor.

House Way Strategy

If you want to beat the house, you should think and act as if you were the casino’s dealer. Think about it. How would a dealer play his hand? Would he split his two pairs? Would he place a pair in the front hand? Or would he simply leave them both in the back hand? What about if he/she has absolutely no pair, what do you do then? Well, if you’re worried about all these things, we have it down to a tee. Have a look at our Pai Gow Poker Strategy which mimics the way that the house would play below!

pai gow poker strategy

1/ If you happen to have been dealt absolutely no pair, you should place your highest card in your back hand and whatever your next two highest cards in the front whaterver they may be.

2/ When you’re dealt one pair, you should always keep it in your back hand, which is the five card hand, and move your two highest cards to your front hand. This will give you a better chance of beating the dealer, even though they are both not the best hands you could have.

3/ If you happen to be dealt a two pair, which consists of two different pairs, you should split them between each hand. Put the highest ranking pair in the back hand and the lower ranking pair in the front hand. Why? This is due to the fact that if you do the opposite, you’ll be fouling your hand. However, don’t split the two-pair into two separate hands, provided that you’ve come across the following situations:

- A pair of 7s or greater with absolutely no single ace.

- A pair of Jack’s or better and 6’s or pairs which are better and an ace.

- A pair of aces and any other pair.

4/ Put the highest pair of cards in the two-card hand and the two other pairs in the back hand, provided that you have been dealt a three-pair.

5/ When you’re dealt three-of-a-kind, make sure you keep all the three cards which are of the same rank in your back hand. Yet, if you happen to be holding a three-of-a-kind with three aces, you should put two aces in the back hand and one in the front.

6/ If you’ve ended up with two three-of-a-kinds, you should play the lowest three of a kind in the five-card and split the higher three of a kind to play a pair in the front hand and the other hand in the back hand.

7/ If lady luck is on your side and you find yourself holding a full house, you should split with the exception of when you have a pair of 2’s and an ace/king is played infront.

8/ If you’ve been dealt a full house with three of a kind and two pairs, you should split your initial hand into two and paly the highest pair in front and the rest in your back hand.

9/ When you’re dealt two three-of-a-kind hands, you should always play your highest pair in front.

10/ Whenever you’re dealt straights, flushes, straight flushes and royal flushes, you should always play a straight or a flush in the back hand. However, you should play as a two pair only if you come across one of the following:

- A pair of jacks and a pair of 6s.
- Any pair and a pair of aces.
- Any single ace and two pair.

11/ If you’ve got a four-of-a-kind, play according to the rank of your cards. For example:

- Provided that you’ve got 2 through 6, you should always keep it together.

- If you’ve got 7 through 10, you should split unless you have an ace or better which can be played in front.

- When you’re holding a 4-of-a-kind consisting of a Jack through King, you should split the hand unless it contains a pair of 10’s or higher.

- You should split aces in this case, unless you’re holding a pair of 7’s or higher which you can put in your front hand.

12/ If you happen to be lucky enough to be holding five aces, you should split unless there is a pair of kings which can be put in your front hand.

Using Jokers to Your Benefit

pai gow poker strategy jokerMost variations of Pai Gow Poker include Jokers which act as semi-wild cards. A joker is either counted automatically as an Ace. However, if it's used to complete a pair, flush etc, it can stand for whichever card you need to make up the hand. So, count yourself luck, if you've got one present in your hand.


In brick-and-mortar casinos, a hand of Pai Gow Poker sometimes starts with a player taking on the responsibility of being banker. This enables the player to have some advantage over other players around the table and reduces the house edge.

Although, this is seen very often at land- based casinos, you’ll find that online Pai Gow Poker generally doesn’t have this option. The house is always the banker by default. So, in online Pai Gow, you won’t get the chance to “run the game”. Thus, in its digital variation you’ll always find the player trying to beat the dealer.

Consider the Pai Gow Poker Odds

Whether you’re playing online or at a brick and mortar casino, you must always keep in mind that the lion’s shares of casino games are based on luck. Pai Gow Poker is of course no exception to this statement. So, you really should pay attention to the odds involved. Yet, the house way as well as the strategies used by players at casinos can vary. So, the probabilities which are shown below are not set in stone. Nonetheless, the calculations our experts at CasinoTop10 have made based on various house way methods have determined that the dealer will win both hands approximately 30% of the time, the player will win both hands about 29% of the time and they will draw hands approximately 41% of the time.

As a player you can acquire any of the 154,143,080 hand combinations in Pai Gow Poker. Ergo, what you need to know is how likely it is to get a specific hand through the cards you’re dealt. Due to the fact that each hand consists of seven cards, there is a great probability of acquiring a pair or possibly even two pairs. So, you’re probably asking yourself, what are the probabilities of getting certain hands? Well, let us spell it out for you through the two tables below:

Combinations Possible
Five Aces  1,128  0.00000732
 Straight/ Royal Flush 210,964   0.00136862
Four of a Kind   307,372  0.00199472
 Full House  4,188,528  0.02717299
 Flush  6,172,088   0.04004129 
 Straight  11,236,028  0.07289250
 Three of a Kind 7,470,676   0.04846585
 Two Pair  35,553,816   0.23065464 
One Pair   64,221,960    0.41663862 
All Other   24,780,420    0.16076246 

Implement Pai Gow Poker Strategy and Walk away with the Prize!

Pai Gow Poker is a product of Chinese history and American ingenuity which has been adopted by many brick-and-mortar casinos as well as online casinos around the globe. It is one of the very few casino games which is not totally based on luck and can incorporate some sort of strategy. Ultimately, if you incorporate strategy into your game, instead of playing instinctually, you’ll be able to better your game and possibly walk away with some cash in your pocket! If you’ve already read through this page, we highly recommend that you practice implementing your strategy by playing one of the online casino’s Free Pai Gow Poker games. Once you feel satisfied with how you’re playing the game you can go ahead and dive right into a real money game! Have a look at our Best Pai Gow Poker Casinos list to find one of the best casinos to suit your gambling needs!


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